Over the past several years, we have heard the word “parity” thrown around quite a bit, especially in the world of sports. Professional teams like the Montreal Canadians, the New York Yankees, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakes, and at various times in the NFL, the Cowboys, Steelers, Packers and 49ers, have all enjoyed long success in their respective league.
While the fans in those towns may enjoy the dynasties that were built, other cities and executives within each of the four major sports leagues would rather see the wealth spread around a bit to other teams.
Back-to-back titles have happened in each of the four major sports in the last two decades. The Yankees won three straight titles in the late ’90’s; the Patriots won back-to-back Super Bowls in 2004 and 2005 (there has not, however, been a team that has won three straight Super Bowls); the Lakers won three consecutive NBA titles earlier this century (and the Miami Heat are hoping for a third straight title this year); and, the Detroit Red Wings won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1997 and 1998. But those days when a franchise won five or more straight championships are very much a distant past.
So which of the four major sports in the last 20 years has seen the “most” parity? Let’s start the discussion with a few numbers.
Different champions: Of the four sports, the NHL has had 13 different franchises win the Stanley Cup in the last 20 years. The NFL is close behind with 12 teams winning at least one Super Bowl in the past two decades. The World Series has been won by 11 different teams since 1993, while the NBA Championship has seen only eight franchises hoist the title trophy since 1993. Slight advantage to the NHL.
Repeat champions: Of the four sports, the NFL has had the most repeat champions (teams that won more than one title) in the last 20 years with seven (Baltimore, Dallas, Denver, Green Bay, New England, New York Giants and Pittsburgh). The other three sports have each had five repeat champs in the past 20 seasons. No advantage.
Back-to-Back titles: In the past 20 years, the NHL has had the fewest consecutive titles by a team, one. That happened in 1997 and 1998 when the Red Wings won back-to-back titles. It has happened only twice in major league baseball in the last 20 years; it has occurred three times in the last 2o Super Bowls. In the NBA, there have been seven times when a team won back-to-back titles (on two occasions, those teams won a three-peat). Advantage NHL.
So based on these three factors, the NHL, in my opinion, has had the most parity over the past 20 years.
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.
With their 2-1 win last night, the New Jersey Devils became only the third team in NHL history to go from being down three games to none in a seven-game finals to win the next two games and force a Game 6. The Kings will try to end the series at home on Monday night.
Depending on which team wins the series, history will be made:
* The Kings are looking for their first Stanley Cup in the team’s 45-year history.
* The Devils, should they win the next two games, would become the first team in 70 years to win a Stanley Cup after being down 3-0 in the series.
The Kings are also looking to become the first team since 1997 to win the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals on the road and then win the title (The Detroit Red Wings in ’97 won the first two games of the finals on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers and then went on to sweep the Flyers in four games).
Since the 2000 playoffs, there have been 135 series played (not counting the 2012 Stanley Cup finals). In 29 of those series, the road team won the first two games of the playoff series. In 23 of those 29 series, that road team went on to win the series and advance to the next round.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what playoff round had the most series where the road team won the first two games of the series (since 2000):
Conference Quarterfinals: 15 (those road teams won the series 10 of the 15 times)
Conference Semifinals: 9 (those road teams won eight of the nine series)
Conference Finals: 5 (those road teams won the series each time)
The Kings are also the first road team to win the first two games of the series in each of four rounds of a playoff. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim won the first two games of the first three rounds of the 2003 playoffs as the road team. In the finals, however, they lost Games 1 & 2 to the New Jersey Devils.
In 1949, the Toronto Maple Leafs won Games 1 and 2 as the road team in the semifinals and the Stanley Cup Finals. Whereas the Maple Leafs accomplished this feat in two rounds of the playoffs, the Kings accomplished it this year in four rounds of the playoffs.
The Kings are the 12th team to win Games 1 & 2 of the finals as the road team in a seven-game series. Of the previous 11 teams to accomplish this, nine went on to win the title. Will the Kings follow suit?
Here’s a look at the road teams that won Game 1 & 2 of a seven-game Stanley Cup finals:
Year, Road team wins games 1 & 2 (series outcome)
2012 L.A. Kings (?)
1997 Detroit (won Cup over Philadelphia)
1995 N.J. Devils (won Cup over Detroit)
1990 Edmonton (won Cup over Boston)
1983 N.Y. Islanders (won Cup over Edmonton)
1970 Boston (won Cup over St. Louis)
1968 Montreal (won Cup over St. Louis)
1966 Detroit (lost Cup to Montreal)
1952 Detroit (won Cup over Montreal)
1949 Toronto (won Cup over Detroit)
1945 Toronto (won Cup over Detroit)
1942 Detroit (lost Cup to Toronto)
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.
The National Hockey League playoffs begin with three of the eight first-round series dropping the puck tonight. The Detroit Red Wings will be looking to extend their current streak of winning at least one playoff series to six. They are, however, as the #5 seed, the underdog in their series against fourth-seeded Nashville.
Following is a look at how many seasons each NHL team has won at least one playoff series in the past 25 years (since 1986).
Seasons with one playoff series win (1986-2011), Teams
11: Philadelphia, St. Louis
10: Boston, Colorado, San Jose
9: Edmonton, New Jersey, N.Y. Rangers, Toronto, Vancouver
8: Dallas, Washington
7: Buffalo, Chicago
5: Anaheim, Los Angeles, Ottawa
4: Calgary, Carolina
3: Tampa Bay
2: N.Y Islanders
1: Florida, Minnesota, Nashville, Phoenix
0: Columbus, Winnipeg
Note: Of the teams that have won a playoff series in the last 25 years, three franchises – Florida, the N.Y. Islanders and Phoenix – have not won a playoff series this century. Florida last won a playoff series in 1996; the Isles last won a series in 1993; and the Phoenix franchise last won a playoff series in 1987.
Did you know? Detroit and San Jose have each won a playoff series in eight years in this century. They are followed by Colorado and Philadelphia (six each) and the N.J. Devils, Pittsburgh and Vancouver (five each).
Not only does Detroit lead the NHL with five straight seasons with at least one playoff series win, but it also leads all of professional sports in that same category. Here are the major sports teams that have a current streak of winning at least one playoff series (or game, in the case of the NFL) in three straight seasons (or more).
Current streak of winning at least one playoff series, Team
5: Detroit Red Wings
Note: The Texas Rangers were the only MLB team to have won a playoff series in both 2010 and 2011.
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday.
The New York Yankees are comfortably above .500 as the second half of the Major League Baseball season begins its second week. And if the Yankees want to keep pace with the Detroit Red Wings, they need to finish the season over the .500 mark. (You’re probably thinking to yourself, “This guy is nuts; he’s mixed up his sports. When did the Red Wings start playing baseball?”)
Here’s the simple explanation: The Red Wings finished the most recent NHL season with a 47-25 record with 10 overtime losses). That .634 points percentage was the 19th straight season that the Red Wings had a winning season (better than .500 winning percentage). That’s the longest current streak of winning seasons among teams in the four major sports (MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL).
The Yankees, however, can tie the NHL’s Red Wings’ mark of 19 straight winning seasons by finishing above the .500 mark at the end of the 2011 campaign. If they do, that would also give the Yankees an active streak of 19 straight winning seasons.
Following are the current longest streaks of winning seasons in the four major team sports.
Team, league Current streak of winning seasons
Detroit Red Wings, NHL 19
New York Yankees, MLB 18
San Antonio Spurs, NBA 14
Dallas Stars, NHL 14
Boston Red Sox, MLB 13
Vancouver Canucks, NHL 11
Dallas Mavericks, NBA 11
New England Patriots, NFL 10
Indianapolis Colts, NFL 9
Philadelphia Phillies, MLB 8
Denver Nuggets, NBA 8
Minnestoa Wild, NHL 8
Note: A pair of NHL teams saw their active streak of winning seasons end after the just-completed 2010-11 season. The New Jersey Devils finished under .500 this season, ending their streak at 18 seasons (had they finished above .500, they would be tied with the Detroit Red Wings for the longest active streak). The Ottawa Senators saw their streak of 12 winnings seasons end this past year when they finished below .500.