Which Stanley Cup Contenders Have the Most Playoff Experience?

Rob Vollman@robvollmanNHLContributor IMarch 8, 2014

Which Stanley Cup Contenders Have the Most Playoff Experience?

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    There's no substitute for experience. It is one of those intangibles that have historically given teams like New Jersey and Detroit such an edge in the postseason and why teams like the Blues, Maple Leafs and Rangers competed to acquire as many Oilers as possible in the early 1990s. Which teams have the greatest edge today?

    To answer that, we used the Hockey Reference playoff finder tool and cross-referenced the results with each team's current roster. The total number of postseason appearances of each roster was calculated, along with total combined games, goals, assists and points in the postseason.

    Teams were then ranked on how much postseason experience their rosters had. Teams like the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals just missed a list that was topped by two teams currently fighting for their playoff chances.

    Though the title says "Stanley Cup Contenders," it is being used in the broadest possible sense and excluding only those teams that are realistically eliminated from the playoff race. As it turns out, that distinction was unnecessary, as no such team appeared in the top 10 anyway, with the possible exception of the Vancouver Canucks.

    Without any further explanation, let's begin our look at the 10 teams with the most combined playoff experience, including their key playoff performers.

    All advanced statistics are via writer's own original research unless otherwise noted.


10. Vancouver Canucks

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Experience: Vancouver's roster has 87 combined postseason appearances, including 746 playoff games, 122 goals, 217 assists and 339 points.

    Their goalies—Eddie Lack and Jakob Markstrom—however, have yet to compete in a single postseason game.

    Coach John Tortorella has 89 games of postseason coaching experience over eight seasons, including wining the 2004 Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay.

    Key Players: The Sedins have 10 appearances apiece, with 99 games for Henrik and 96 for Daniel. Together, they have generated 141 of the team's combined 339 career postseason points.

    Dan Hamhuis is next with eight appearances but only 56 games. All six Vancouver players with only six appearances have at least as many games: Alex Burrows, Kevin Bieksa, Alexander Edler, Jannik Hansen, Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins.

    Burrows is the leading goal scorer of that bunch with 19 goals in 67 games, while Kesler leads them in scoring with 38 points in 57 games.

    All this experience could be for naught, as the Canucks are four points out of the final playoff position and may miss the postseason for the first time in six years and the third time in 13.

9. Montreal Canadiens

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Experience: Montreal, the highest-ranked Canadian team on this list, has a roster with 97 combined postseason appearances, 780 playoff games, 140 goals, 186 assists and 326 points.

    The Habs don't seem to go far once they qualify for the playoffs, however. Their 8.0 average games per appearance is the lowest among these 10 teams.

    Key Players: Daniel Briere is fifth among active players with 50 goals and 109 career postseason points. Having scored those points in just 108 games, he's also one of only seven players to average at least a point a game in the playoffs (minimum 40 games).

    Briere led the NHL with eight postseason goals in 11 games in 2011-12 and with 30 points in 2009-10. With 27 goals in his past 45 playoff games, Briere is one of the most effective postseason performers in the NHL today.

    Brian Gionta is, however, the team leader in postseason appearances with 10 to Briere's nine. He also won a Stanley Cup with New Jersey in 2003.

    Travis Moen, who won the 2007 Stanley Cup with Anaheim (along with George Parros) on the famous shutdown "No-No Line," is another player to watch closely.

    Other prominent playoff participants include Tomas Plekanec and defensemen Francis Bouillon, Douglas Murray, Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges. Montreal will have plenty of blue-line experience.

8. New York Rangers

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    Laurence Kesterson/Associated Press

    Experience: The New York Rangers have missed the playoffs just one time over the previous eight years, and their current roster has 86 combined postseason appearances, 863 playoff games, 128 goals, 199 assists and 327 points.

    New head coach Alain Vigneault has 78 games of playoff experience over seven seasons, including the 2011 Stanley Cup Final with the Vancouver Canucks.

    Key Players: Brad Richards won the Conn Smythe after Tampa Bay's Stanley Cup victory in 2004. He led the NHL with 26 points in 23 postseason games that year and scored an amazing seven game-winning goals.

    Richards and Henrik Lundqvist are tied with seven postseason appearances, but Richards has played 93 games to King Henrik's 67. Lundqvist is fifth among active goalies in games played and has been brilliant the past two seasons with a .932 save percentage and five shutouts in 32 games.

    Richards was recently reunited with former Lightning teammate Martin St. Louis, who is also one of only seven active players averaging a point a game in the postseason (minimum 40 games), with 68 career playoff points in 63 games over five appearances. St. Louis led the postseason in 2004 in assists and also scored 20 points in 18 games during Tampa Bay's 2010-11 run.

    On the blue line, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are the most experienced, with 11 postseason appearances and 107 games between them.

    Surprisingly, there is actually one Ranger with more playoff appearances than any of these players—35-year-old depth forward Arron Asham leads the club with 10 postseason appearances.

7. Boston Bruins

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    Experience: Boston is poised to qualify for the postseason for the seventh straight time. The Bruins have made the Stanley Cup Final in two of the past three seasons, winning it all in 2011.

    Their roster has 80 combined postseason appearances, 1,074 playoff games, 183 goals, 293 assists and 476 points. The Bruins have seven players with at least 80 playoff games and five more with at least 50. Boston also has the most average playoff games per appearance with 13.4.

    Coach Claude Julien has 97 postseason games over seven appearances.

    Key Players: Zdeno Chara has 10 postseason appearances, three more than any other current Bruin. In that time, he has played 129 games, ninth among active players, and last year, he scored 15 points in 22 playoff games.

    One of only four active players with a higher career playoff plus/minus than Chara is Milan Lucic, who is second to Henrik Zetterberg with a plus-37. He had 19 points in 22 games last year.

    Their current scoring leader, David Krejci, is also their career postseason leading scorer with 73 points in 81 games over six appearances. He has twice led the postseason in scoring, in 2011 and in 2013 with 23 and 26 points, respectively.

    Jarome Iginla is the only Bruin with more career playoff goals than Krejci, with 32 in 69 games. He led the NHL with 13 postseason goals in Calgary's run to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final.

    Shawn Thornton joins Iginla and Chara as the only players with at least seven postseason appearances, though Chris Kelly has more games (90 to 89). Thornton is the only two-time Stanley Cup champion on this team, having won with Boston in 2011 and Anaheim in 2007.

    The only area of lesser experience is in nets, where Tuukka Rask's 35 games over two post seasons rank 14th on the team. Then again, his .930 career postseason save percentage is fifth among active goalies (minimum 20 games). No problem there!

6. Los Angeles Kings

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    Reed Saxon/Associated Press

    Experience: Los Angeles' roster has 89 combined postseason appearances, including 1,077 playoff games, 168 goals, 273 assists and 441 points. This will be the Kings' fifth straight postseason appearance after a six-year absence.

    When the Kings do make the postseason, they tend to go deep. They are second to Bruins with an average of 12.1 games per appearance and have a playoff series win-loss record of 6-1 over the past two seasons.

    Darryl Sutter has coached in the postseason 12 times for a total of 139 games and has twice taken marginal teams most unexpectedly into the Stanley Cup Final, winning with the Kings in 2012.

    Key Players: The Kings have three players with 20 career playoff goals: Justin Williams (21) and former Flyers Mike Richards (23) and Jeff Carter (27).

    They are also the only three Kings with at least seven trips to the postseason. Of those, Richards and Carter have advanced as far as the conference finals four times. Richards, the team's current career scoring leader with 77 points in 98 games, scored 23 points in 23 games for the Flyers in 2010.

    Williams has won two Stanley Cups in his seven appearances—one with the Kings and one with the Hurricanes back in 2006. Colin Fraser, who has made only four postseason appearances, is the only other King with two Stanley Cups (with Los Angeles and Chicago).

    During their 2012 Stanley Cup triumph, captain Dustin Brown led the NHL in postseason goals, assists, points and plus/minus. Anze Kopitar was tied on all fronts and also with his two shorthanders, while Carter tied them with goals and Doughty with assists.

    The Conn Smythe, nevertheless, went to their goalie Jonathan Quick instead, who has a mighty .929 save percentage in 50 postseason contests, including .940 over the past two seasons combined.

5. Chicago Blackhawks

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Experience: A team that has reached the postseason five straight years, made the conference finals three times and won the Stanley Cup twice is bound to have a lot of playoff experience.

    In total, Chicago's roster has 109 combined postseason appearances, 1,216 playoff games, 212 goals, 362 assists and 574 points.

    Coach Joel Quenneville has 163 games of experience spread out over 14 postseasons, with a 88-74 record with St. Louis, Colorado and Chicago. As a player, he only made the playoffs five times in 13 seasons, competing in just 32 games and winning only a single series.

    Key Players: Marian Hossa has a whopping 152 postseason games and 113 points over 13 postseason appearances. He famously made the Stanley Cup Final three years in a row with three different teams, capped by his first Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010.

    Hossa managed 56 points over those three seasons and has scored at least 15 points in a postseason five times, something matched by Jaromir Jagr and exceeded by no one. Fellow Slovakian Michal Handzus is the only other Hawk with at least 10 postseason appearances. He has 43 points in 97 games with six different teams.

    After Hossa, Patrick Kane is the team's leading scorer with 71 points in 74 games, including 28 points in 22 games in 2010. However, he is strangely minus-four on his career. He won the Conn Smythe last year with 19 points in 23 games.

    As for 2010's Conn Smythe, that went to Jonathan Toews, who scored 29 points in 22 games, including a league-leading 22 assists and five power-play goals.

    Last year, Patrick Sharp led the postseason in goals with 10, and his 33 goals in 87 career games is second only to Hossa's 43 in 152. Sharp led the NHL in shots in both 2010 and 2013.

    Another noteworthy playoff performer is Bryan Bickell, who has just four appearances and 38 games but 24 points thanks to 17 points in 23 games last year.

    In nets, Corey Crawford had a sparkling .932 save percentage last year, the fourth postseason in which he's played a game. If he does that again, then the team won't even miss Nikolai Khabibulin and his 72 postseason games, almost double Crawford's 37.

4. San Jose Sharks

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Experience: San Jose's roster has 123 combined postseason appearances, 1,259 playoff games, 199 goals, 349 assists and 548 points.

    San Jose will be making the playoffs for the 17th time in their 22 seasons and have missed only once in their last 16 seasons.

    It will be coach Todd McLellan's sixth postseason appearance in six seasons as a head coach, where he actually has a losing record of 27-28.

    Key Players: Though the Sharks have never made the Stanley Cup Final as a team, the individual players on this roster have done so in six of the last nine seasons.

    In 2004, Dan Boyle won the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay. He has 44 points in 55 games over five appearances as a Shark.

    In 2006, Raffi Torres reached the Stanley Cup Final with Edmonton.

    In 2008, Brad Stuart won the Stanley Cup with Detroit. He is eighth among active players with 135 postseason games.

    In 2009, Tyler Kennedy won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh, leading the postseason with three game-winners.

    In 2010, Antti Niemi backstopped the Blackhawks to the 2010 Stanley Cup despite a .910 save percentage and has a 32-23 win-loss record despite a career .909 save percentage. Adam Burish was also on that team.

    And in 2011, Raffi Torres once again reached the Stanley Cup Final, this time with Vancouver. In all, Torres has reached the playoffs six times with six different teams.

    The Sharks have four players with at least 100 games of postseason experience, including, most notably, Patrick Marleau, who has 14 postseason appearances, during which time he has scored 57 goals and 96 points.

    The former total is surpassed only by Jaromir Jagr among active players, and that latter total is surpassed among Sharks by only Joe Thornton's 97 points in 125 games over 13 appearances. Thornton is infamously second worst among active players with a career minus-21 rating.

    Other players to watch include Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski, both of whom have led the postseason in power-play goals with five—Couture last year and Pavelski in 2010 when he scored 17 points in 15 games.

3. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Experience: Pittsburgh will be qualifying for the postseason for the eighth straight time, making head coach Dan Bylsma 6-for-6.

    Consequently, Pittsburgh's roster has 124 combined postseason appearances, 1,277 playoff games, 182 goals, 340 assists and 522 points. 

    Key Players: Sidney Crosby leads the team with 40 goals and 105 points in 82 postseason games. He led the postseason in goals in 2009 with 15 in 24 games and in assists and points in 2008 with 21 and 27, respectively.

    His 1.28 points per game leads all active players, and Crosby is only one of three who has scored at a point-per-game pace or better in the postseason (minimum 40 games).

    Despite Crosby's tremendous success against the league's top opponents, it was actually second-line center Evgeni Malkin who won the Conn Smythe in 2009. He led the NHL with 22 assists, 36 points, seven power-play goals and three game-winners that year.

    Amazingly, the Penguins actually have nine players with more postseason appearances than Malkin and Crosby. The team leader is Paul Martin with nine, but he is without a Stanley Cup and is actually only 11th on the team in terms of games.

    There are three Penguins with multiple Stanley Cups—Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz and Rob Scuderi—who won their respective other Cups with Carolina in 2006, Anaheim in 2007 and Los Angeles in 2012. Kunitz and Scuderi are the leaders with 99 games, and Scuderi leads the team with a career plus-22 rating.

    Pittsburgh also has a number of extremely low playoff scorers. Tanner Glass, who has the most recent Stanley Cup Final experience, didn't score a single point in his 20 games with Vancouver in 2011. Chuck Kobasew had only a single point in his 26 games with Calgary in 2004, Craig Adams was shut out in his 25 games with Carolina in 2006 and Pascal Dupuis didn't score in Pittsburgh's 2009 run.

    In nets, Marc-Andre Fleury has an awesome 45-34 postseason record but just a .903 save percentage. He has topped .900 just twice in his seven appearances.

2. New Jersey Devils

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    Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press

    Experience: If New Jersey misses the playoffs for the second consecutive season since their 2012 loss in the Stanley Cup Final, a lot of experience will be going to waste.

    New Jersey's roster has 127 combined postseason appearances, 1,353 playoff games, 228 goals, 378 assists and 606 points.

    A failure to qualify would also mean that their deep run in 2012 was head coach Peter DeBoer's only postseason appearance in seven seasons.

    Key Players: Jaromir Jagr has more career playoff points that the current rosters of 10 teams: St. Louis, Nashville, Edmonton, Buffalo, Carolina, Colorado, Winnipeg, Calgary, Columbus and the New York Islanders.

    Jagr won back-to-back Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh as a teenager in 1991 and 1992 and made the finals last year with the Boston Bruins. In all, he leads active players with 78 goals, 121 assists and 199 points in 202 games over 17 postseason appearances.

    And then there's Patrik Elias, who has been here for all but the first New Jersey Stanley Cup and all but the first of five appearances in the Stanley Cup Final. Elias led the postseason with 13 assists and a plus-nine rating in 2000 and is second only to Jagr among active skaters with 162 games played, 80 assists and 125 points and is sixth with 45 goals.

    Martin Brodeur, of course, has been here for all three New Jersey Stanley Cups and all five appearances in the Stanley Cup Final. He leads active players with 205 postseason games, posting a. 919 save percentage. Only Patrick Roy has played more postseason games among goalies, and no one has more than his 24 shutouts.

    Brodeur has led the postseason in save percentage once, goals-against average three times (and has been under 2.00 seven times), shutouts three times and he has 13 playoff points. That's more than double any current member of the New York Islanders.

    Other players with Stanley Cups include Ryan Carter, who played four games in Anaheim's 2007 run, and Michael Ryder, who scored 17 points in 25 games for the Bruins in 2011. Another interesting player is Steve Bernier, who has never been knocked out in the first round in five appearances with three teams.

1. Detroit Red Wings

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Experience: If Detroit misses the postseason, it will be for the first time since 1989-90 and only the third time since 1982-83. Its roster has 132 combined postseason appearances, 1,373 playoff games, 300 goals, 411 assists and 711 points.

    The Red Wings have five players who have made the postseason at least 10 times, six players with at least 100 postseason games and three with 100 points.

    Coach Mike Babcock has 131 games of postseason coaching experience, with a sparkling 78-53 record and three trips to the Stanley Cup Final in nine seasons.

    Key Players: The postseason leaderboard among active players features a lot of Red Wings.

    In terms of goals, Henrik Zetterberg is third with 55, Daniel Alfredsson fourth with 51, Johan Franzen eighth with 42 and Pavel Datsyuk 11th with 36.

    Alfredsson actually leads Jaromir Jagr with 25 power-play goals and Zetterberg is third with 21. Alfredsson led the postseason with 14 goals and 22 points, including six power-play goals and four game-winners in Ottawa's 2007 run to the Stanley Cup Final.

    In terms of points, Zetterberg is third with 114, Datsyuk is seventh with 103 and Alfredsson is ninth with 100 even. Datsyuk is the only current member of the 2002 Stanley Cup team.

    Zetterberg leads all active players with a career plus-41, while Datsyuk is third with plus-34 and both Johan Franzen and Dan Cleary are in the top 10 with plus-28 and plus-24 ratings, respectively.

    Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe in 2008 when he led the NHL with 13 goals and 27 points, a plus-16 rating and two shorthanders. It was the second of two straight seasons where he led the postseason in shots. He also again led the postseason with a plus-11 rating in 2010.

    The Red Wings have several other players who are at their best in the postseason. Niklas Kronwall led the postseason with a plus-16 in their 2008 Stanley Cup season, and Danny Cleary led the way the next season with a plus-17, the year he scored three game-winning goals and 15 points in 23 games.

    Johan Franzen is another famous postseason performer, leading the NHL with 13 goals in 16 games in 2008, a year that included six power-play goals, two shorthanders and five game-winners. He again led the NHL with three game-winners the following season when he scored 12 goals in 23 games.

    In nets, goalie Jimmy Howard has 42 games in four postseasons with a combined .918 save percentage.

    Rob Vollman is author of Rob Vollman's Hockey Abstract, co-author of the annual Hockey Prospectus guides and a featured ESPN Insider writer. @robvollmanNHL.


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