Ranking the Most Dominant Regular Season Campaigns in NHL History

Brad KurtzbergContributor IApril 23, 2013

Ranking the Most Dominant Regular Season Campaigns in NHL History

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    As the 2012-13 NHL season winds down, it's time to examine the most dominant regular-season teams in NHL history.

    This list includes the teams with the highest point percentages in NHL history. It is based on regular-season play only. Surprisingly enough, many of the 15 clubs on this list did not go on to win the Stanley Cup.

    Despite the lockout this year, the Chicago Blackhawks have found their way on to this list with their outstanding regular season (so far).

    Feel free to comment on the teams on this list and share any memories or opinions you may have on them or to name any teams you feel deserve to be on this list.

    Here are the 15 most dominant regular-season teams in NHL history.

15. 2009-10 Washington Capitals

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    Record: 54-15-13  121 PTS in 82 GP  PCT: .738

    The 2009-10 Washington Capitals became the first non-Original Six team ever to total more than 120 points in an NHL season.

    The Caps were led by Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Alexander Semin. By the end of the season, seven players scored 20 or more goals.

    The strength of the Caps that year was their offensive firepower. They led the league with 313 goals scored, but goaltending was an issue for the club.

    Jose Theodore was the starting goalie for much of the season, but in the playoffs, Washington turned to Semyon Varlamov.

    In the end, all of that firepower wasn't enough as Washington was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in seven games by the Montreal Canadiens.

14. 1985-86 Edmonton Oilers

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    Record: 56-17-7  119 PTS in 80 GP  PCT: .744

    The 1985-86 Edmonton Oilers were favored to win their third straight Stanley Cup and did capture the President's Trophy with the league's best record.

    1985-86 was the most productive season of Wayne Gretzky's career. "The Great One" again led the league in scoring with an incredible 163 assists and 215 points, highest single-season point total of his career.

    It was also the sixth straight season Gretzky won the Art Ross Trophy as the league's highest point producer (and in his rookie year, he tied for the league point total but lost the Art Ross Trophy to Marcel Dionne because Dionne scored two more goals than Gretzky that year).

    Besides Gretzky's incredible season, three other Oilers' players topped the 100-point mark on the season, Paul Coffey (138), Jari Kurri (131) and Glenn Anderson (102).

    But in the playoffs, the Oilers lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Calgary Flames. In the seventh and deciding game, rookie defenseman Steve Smith accidentally put the puck in his own goal to end Edmonton's chance at a third straight title.

13. 1983-84 Edmoton Oilers

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    Record: 57-18-5  119 PTS in 80 GP  PCT: .744

    The Edmonton Oilers won their first Stanley Cup in 1983-84. Edmonton was an explosive team, leading the league with 446 goals scored, which was a new NHL record.

    Wayne Gretzky again led the Oilers and the league with 205 points and won his fourth straight Art Ross Trophy.

    Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri and Mark Messier all topped 100 points while Glenn Anderson would finish the season with 54 goals and 99 points. Coffey's 126 points was the second only to Bobby Orr among defensemen in a single season.

    In the playoffs, the Oilers dispatched the Jets in three straight in the opening round before squeaking past the Flames in seven games in Round 2. Edmonton swept the Minnesota North Stars in the Campbell Conference Final before a rematch with the Islanders in the Stanley Cup Finals.

    The previous year, the Oilers weren't quite ready to defeat the Isles but this year, they won the Cup in five games, beginning a dynasty of their own that would see them win four titles in five years.

12. 2005-06 Detroit Red Wings

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    Record: 58-16-8  124 PTS in 82 GP  PCT: .756

    The Detroit Red Wings were a dominant team in 2005-06, totaling 124 points in an 82-game season which earned them the President's Trophy for the league's best record.

    The Red Wings weren't just talented, they were deep. Eight different players scored 20 or more goals including Brendan Shanahan, Henrik Zetterberg, Robert Lang, Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom, Jason Williams, Mathieu Schneider and Mikael Sameulsson.

    Add future HOFers Steve Yzerman, who was in his final season, Chris Chelios and Nicklas Lidstrom, who totaled 80 points, and you can see how much talent was assembled on Detroit's roster.

    There was tragedy during this season, too, as Jiri Fischer went into cardiac arrest on the bench in a November game against Nashville. Fischer survived, but his hockey career was over.

    Goaltending was an issue for Detroit. Manny Legace played very well during the season and played in 51 games, backed up by Chris Osgood.

    In the playoffs, Coach Mike Babcock went with Legace. The Red Wings were eliminated in the opening round by the Edmonton Oilers. Two of Detroit's losses came in overtime. It was a disappointing end to a very promising season for the Red Wings.

11. 1972-73 Montreal Canadiens

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    Record: 52-10-16  120 PTS in 78 GP  PCT: .769

    The Montreal Canadiens won the 18th Stanley Cup in their illustrious history after completing a 52-10-16 regular season. The 120 points was 13 points higher than the next best team in the league that year.

    The Habs were loaded with great players led by goalie Ken Dryden. Other key cogs included forwards Yvan Cournoyer, Frank and Peter Mahovlich, Jacques Lemaire, Guy Lafleur, Henri Richard and Marc Tardif. On defense, Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard and Jacques Laperriere were all key contributors.

    In the playoffs, the Canadiens ousted the Buffalo Sabres in the opening round before beating the Flyers in the semifinals in five games.

    In the Stanley Cup Final, the Habs faced the Chicago Blackhawks who they had defeated in the final just two years earlier. Montreal won again, beating the Blackhawks in six games. Cournoyer won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

    This was also the first Stanley Cup win for Montreal's head coach, Scotty Bowman.

10. 1938-39 Boston Bruins

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    Record: 36-10-2  74 PTS in 48 GP  PCT: .771

    The 1938-39 Bruins were a dominant team in a seven-team NHL. They finished the season with 74 points, the second-place Rangers had only 58.

    Coach Art Ross' club was led by the outstanding goaltending of rookie Frank Brimsek who won both the Calder Trophy as the top rookie and the Vezina Trophy after finishing the season with 1.56 GAA and 10 shutouts. Amazingly enough, Brimsek only joined the Bruins after an early-season injury to Tiny Thompson.

    The Bruins featured "The Kraut Line" of Milt Schmidt, Bobby Bauer and Woody Dumart. Other stars on this talented club included "Flash" Hollett, Roy Conacher, Bill Cowley, Mel Hill and Eddie Shore.

    Boston finished the season with an eight-game winning streak and then faced the Rangers in the semifinals. The Bruins took a 3-0 lead in the series but the Rangers came back and forced a Game 7 which they won in overtime 2-1. Boston won three games in that series in overtime and all of them were scored by Mel Hill who then earned the nickname "Sudden Death."

    In the Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in five games to win the second Stanley Cup in franchise history.

9. 1970-71 Boston Bruins

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    Record: 57-14-7  121 PTS in 78 GP  PCT: .776

    The 1970-71 Boston Bruins were an offensive juggernaut like the NHL had never seen before. The club scored 399 goals that season, an NHL record. The next closest team scored just 291 or more than a goal per game less than the "Big Bad Bruins."

    By season's end, Boston had the league's four top point producers and seven of the top 10. Phil Esposito set a new record with 76 goals and 152 points to lead the league. Bobby Orr was second in the league with 139 points, Johnny Bucyk third with 116 and Ken Hodge fourth with 105.

    Other key contributors included Derek Sanderson, Wayne Cashman, Don Awrey, Dallas Smith, Ed Westfall, Ted Green and Fred Stanfield. In goal, the duo of Gerry Cheevers and Ed Johnston was back after helping them win the Stanley Cup a season earlier.

    Boston was a heavy favorite to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, but it ran into an unproven rookie goalie named Ken Dryden who helped lead the Canadiens to a huge opening-round upset of the Bruins in seven games.

    Boston would win its second Stanley Cup in three years in 1971-72, but its most explosive team during that three-year stretch, the 1970-71 club, didn't even win a playoff round.

8. 1975-76 Montreal Canadiens

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    Record: 58-11-11  127 PTS in 80 GP  PCT: .794

    The Montreal Canadiens' dynasty of the late 1970s was one of the most dominant teams of all time. They won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1976-1979, and three of those four teams made this list.

    In 1975-76, the Canadiens won their first of the four straight titles and the 19th in franchise history.

    Offensively, they were led by Guy Lafleur who second in the league in goals and points and Pete Mahovlich who was second in the league in assists. Other key players included Steve Shutt, Jacques Lemaire, Guy Lapointe, Larry Robinson and goalie Ken Dryden.

    The Habs continued to dominate in the playoffs, sweeping the Blackhawks in four games in the quarterfinals and beating the Islanders in five games in the semifinals before facing the two-time defending champion Flyers in the Stanley Cup Final. Each of the four games were close, but the Canadiens won in four straight games, three of them by one goal and the clinching game by two.

    Montreal capped its 127-point season by going 12-1 in the playoffs.

7. 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings

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    Record: 62-13-7  131 PTS in 82 GP  PCT: .799

    The Detroit Red Wings were a tough team to beat in 1995-96, setting a new record with 62 wins in a season.

    Scott Bowman's club won the President's Trophy with the NHL's best record, finishing 24 points ahead of the next best team (Philadelphia).

    The list of talented and well-known players on the Wings' roster is impressive. Stars included Steve Yzerman, Paul Coffey, Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Federov, Slava Festisov, Dino Ciccarelli and Vladimir Konstantinov. Goalies Mike Vernon and Chris Osgood gave Detroit a solid one-two punch in net.

    The Wings were expected to win the Stanley Cup after such a strong season, but they were unable to accomplish that feat. After defeating Winnipeg in the opening round, the Red Wings and Blues battled in a tight, hard-fought seven-game series. Steve Yzerman scored a double overtime goal in Game 7 to advance to the Western Conference Final. Once there, Detroit lost to the Colorado Avalanche in six games.

6. 1944-45 Montreal Canadiens

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    Record: 38-8-4  80 PTS in 50 GP  PCT: .800

    World War II made things tough for many NHL teams, but the Montreal Canadiens managed to put together a team that dominated the league.

    The Habs won 38 games that season while losing only eight and tying four. They finished 13 points ahead of the second-place Detroit Red Wings.

    This team is best known for Rocket Richard's feat of becoming the first player ever to score 50 goals in a single season.

    Other stars on this Montreal team included Elmer Lach, Butch Bouchard, "Toe" Blake, Buddy O'Connor and Bill Durnan.

    The Canadiens didn't fare as well in the playoffs as they did in regular season. The Maple Leafs eliminated Montreal in six games in the first round of the postseason.

5. 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens

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    Record: 59-10-11  129 PTS in 80 GP  PCT: .806

    The Montreal Canadiens won their third straight Stanley Cup in 1977-78 and had nearly as dominant a season as they had the previous year.

    This Montreal team was loaded with talent, led by Guy Lafleur's 60 goals. Other stars on this team included Jacques Lemaire, Steve Shutt, Rejean Houle, Ken Dryden and the superb defensive trio of Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe and Serge Savard. Ken Dryden gave the Habs a Hall of Famer in goal as well.

    They finished the regular season 16 points better than any other team in the NHL and then once again rolled through the playoffs. After getting a first-round bye, the Habs ousted the Red Wings in five games in the quarterfinals before sweeping the Maple Leafs in the semifinals.

    For the second straight year, the Canadiens and Bruins met in the Stanley Cup Final and once again the Habs emerged victorious, winning the series in six games.

4. 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks

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    Record: 34-6-5  73 PTS in 45 GP*  PCT: .811* *(season not finished and shortened by lockout)

    It's tough to compare this season's Chicago Blackhawks against many of the other teams on this list. The 2012-13 season was compromised by the lockout. It was limited to 48 games and teams only played teams within their own conference. As a result, the Blackhawks never had to play tough teams from the Eastern Conference like the Penguins, Bruins or Canadiens.

    That being said, the Blackhawks had a pretty impressive season despite the lockout. They went through the first half of the season without a regulation loss, going 21-0-3.

    They have the inside track on the President's Trophy this season and could clinch it with another win in their final three games.

    Stars on this club include Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and the goaltending duo of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery.

    Chicago faces the task of winning the Stanley Cup to solidify their impressive regular season.

3. 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens

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    Record: 60-8-12  132 PTS in 80 GP  PCT: .825

    The 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens are considered the best team in modern NHL history. They played 80 games that season and only lost eight of them while outscoring opponents 387-171.  Montreal scored more goals than any other team in the league while giving up fewer tallies than any other club. They also finished 20 points ahead of any other team in the league in the standings.

    The Habs had eight players with 20 or more goals and featured future Hall of Famers like Ken Dryden, Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard, Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Lemaire and Steve Shutt. Shutt led the club with 60 goals while Lafleur 56 goals and 136 points.

    In the playoffs, Montreal kept on rolling. After a first-round bye, the Habs swept the St. Louis Blues in four games, outscoring St. Louis 19-4 in the series. They then rolled past the Islanders in six games in the semifinals before sweeping the rival Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final.

    For Scotty Bowman's club, it was the 20th championship in franchise history.

2. 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens

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    Record: 38-5-7  83 PTS in 50 GP  PCT: .830

    Coach Dick Irvin helped lead the Montreal Canadiens to a dominant regular season and a Stanley Cup championship, ending a 13-year drought.

    The key to the club's success was rookie goalie Bill Durnan who won the Vezina Trophy after posting a 2.18 GAA and two shutouts.

    In his first full season, Rocket Richard scored 32 goals. Other stars included Buddy O'Connor, Toe Blake, Elmer Lach, Gerry Heffernan and Ray Getliffe.

    The Canadiens defeated the Maple Leafs in five games in the semifinals. They won the clinching game 11-0

    They then swept the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final. Toe Blake scored the Cup-clinching goal in overtime of Game 4 to give the Canadiens their fifth Stanley Cup title.

1. 1929-30 Boston Bruins

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    Record: 38-5-1  77 PTS in 44 GP  PCT: .875

    The 1929-30 Boston Bruins had the highest points percentage of any team in NHL history. The Bruins went 38-5-1 during the regular season. They scored more goals than any other team in the league and gave up fewer goals. They also won 20 straight home games during the season, a new NHL record at the time.

    The Bruins were led by Eddie Shore, Dutch Gainor, Dit Clapper, Ralph Weiland, Marty Barry and Tiny Thompson.

    Despite their outstanding regular season, the Bruins stumbled in the postseason. After beating the Montreal Maroons in five games, the Bruins fell in the Stanley Cup Final to the Montreal Canadiens in two straight contests. It was the first and only time all season Boston lost back-to-back games.