With an impressive 113 points after 75 games, the Washington Capitals are en route to finishing with one of the best records ever in an NHL regular season. However, of the 10 teams posting the most points ever in an NHL regular season, only two actually went on to win the Stanley Cup Finals. The Detroit Red Wings have three different teams in the top 10, the Boston Bruins show up twice and the Capitals are there as well from not too long ago, when a great regular season turned into first round disappointment.
(List is for teams since the switch to 82 games, since the 1995-1996 season)
2013-2014 Anaheim Ducks: 116 Points
The Ducks finished the season on top of the Pacific Division with a 54-20-8 record, the best in the Western Conference. They made it to the conference semifinals, where a 3-2 lead over the Los Angeles Kings wasn’t enough for them to close out the series, losing the final two games, including 6-2 on their home ice in game 7.
2001-2002 Detroit Red Wings: 116 Points
The Red Wings finished on top of the Western conference with a 51-17-10-4 record, 17 points ahead of their closest chasers in the conference. It set them up towards their 10th Stanley Cup win in franchise history, beating the Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche (7 games) and Carolina Hurricanes en route.
2008-2009 Boston Bruins: 116 Points
The Bruins finished with the best record in the East (although not in the league) that season with a 53-19-10 record. They swept the Canadiens in the conference quarterfinals, but lost in 7 games to Carolina (who got swept in the next round by the Penguins) in the conference semifinals.
2008-2009 San Jose Sharks: 117 Points
With a 53-18-11 record, they were on top of the West and had the best record in NHL. It didn’t help them in the playoffs, losing to the #8 seed in the West, the Anaheim Ducks, in six games.
2010-2011 Vancouver Canucks: 117 Points
With a 54-19-9 record, the Canucks finished with the best record in the NHL, putting them on track to play for the Stanley Cup. After a difficult 7-game series with the Chicago Blackhawks, things were a bit easier against the Predators (six games) and the Sharks (five games) before another Finals disappointment, losing to the Boston Bruins in 7 games. Obviously, it led to this.
2013-2014 Boston Bruins: 117 Points
The Bruins show up on this list for a second time, but championships don’t come from finishing with the best record, at least not for them. The best record in the NHL (54-19-9) wasn’t enough for the Bruins, who did beat the Red Wings in five games to open the playoffs, but fell in the conference semifinals against the Montreal Canadiens, losing in 7 games.
2000-2001 Colorado Avalanche: 118 Points
With a 52-16-10-4 record, the Avalanche finished with the best one in the NHL. They swept Vancouver, struggled through the Kings (7 games) and beat up the Blues in the conference finals before a Stanley Cup showdown with the New Jersey Devils. It went down to 7 games, climbing out of a 2-3 hole with a 4-0 win in New Jersey followed by winning 3-1 in game 7. It was their second Stanley Cup victory.
2009-2010 Washington Capitals: 121 Points
The Capitals really though that in the 2010 playoffs, after going 54-15-13 in the regular season, will be their big chance to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. Instead, they lost in 7 games to the Canadiens in the conference quarterfinals, collapsing after a 3-1 lead in the series.
2005-2006 Detroit Red Wings: 124 Points
Another case of first round playoff shock, the Red Wings had a 58-16-8 record backing them up heading into the postseason against the Edmonton Oilers. After winning the first game they lost two in a row, and after leveling things at 2-2 lost twice more. The Oilers went on to lose against the Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup Finals.
1995-1996 Detroit Red Wings: 131 Points
Same story, more or less. The Red Wings were light years ahead of everyone in the regular season with a 62-13-7 record with Fedorov and Yzerman pushing them forward. In the playoffs it all went well until they ran into the Avalanche, on their first season in Denver after relocating from Quebec City. Colorado beat them 4-2 in the conference finals and went on to sweep the Panthers in the Stanley Cup Finals, winning the Stanley Cup for the first time.