By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Nearly a week has passed since the Bruins lost the Stanley Cup, and the disappointment still lingers. It might not be the best time for bad news.

Nevertheless, with the Bruins coming off a Cup-losing season and heading into the offseason, this is a worthwhile time to explore exactly how Cup Final-losing teams have fared in the seasons following their bitter ends.

If you’re the Bruins right now, that history is not particularly friendly.

Given that the league has experienced various eras, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact spot to trace the history. But considering the Blues just won the Cup, and considering the Blues lost three consecutive Cup Finals back in the late ’60s and early ’70s, that figures to be a good starting point. There have been two years since then where a team has not had to play a season after losing the Cup — the missed lockout season of 2004-05, and the year following that.

So, of the 49 teams to play a season after losing the Stanley Cup Final, here’s how they have fared:

  • 6 out of 49 (12%) missed playoffs.
  • 17 out of 49 (35%) made playoffs but failed to win a round.
  • 3 out of 49 (6%) made the Cup Final but lost.
  • 2 out of 49 (4%) won the Cup.

Those two Cup winners were the 2009 Penguins and the 1984 Oilers. Interestingly, both of those Cup Finals were straight rematches of the year before. The Penguins beat the Red Wings in seven games after losing in six games a year prior, while the Oilers beat the Islanders in five games a year after getting swept by Mike Bossy and Co.

The three teams that were able to reach the Cup Final a year after losing it were the 1978 Bruins, and of course the Blues in ’70 and ’69.

Put another way, 23 out of 49 teams (47 percent) have failed to win a playoff series a year after losing the Cup Final, while only five of 49 teams (10 percent) managed to climb their way back into the Stanley Cup Final.

The ability to get back to the Cup Final after losing it has grown increasingly difficult in recent years, too. In the past 41 years, the ’09 Penguins and ’84 Oilers are the only Cup-losing teams to get back to the Final a year later. In that same span, 21 Cup-losing teams have failed to win a playoff series in the following season.

And since the Penguins pulled off their 2009 Cup win, the 10 Cup losers have combined to win just eight of their 17 playoff series.


2019: Golden Knights – Lost first round, 4-3 to Sharks
2018: Predators – Lost second round, 4-3 to Jets
2017: Sharks – Lost first round, 4-2 to Oilers
2016: Lightning – Lost conference finals, 4-3 to Penguins
2015: Rangers – Lost conference finals, 4-3 to Lightning
2014: Bruins – Lost second round, 4-3 to Canadiens
2013: Devils – Missed playoffs
2012: Canucks – Lost first round, 4-1 to Kings
2011: Flyers – Lost second round, 4-0 to Bruins
2010: Red Wings- Lost second round, 4-1 to Sharks

How all of this history actually impacts the Bruins on the ice is questionable, of course. The failures of the 2003 Hurricanes or 1982 North Stars won’t impact Patrice Bergeron’s ability to play hockey next year. The ’09 Penguins proved that trends can be shattered, and in another sport, the Patriots proved that history of championship-losing teams can be rendered meaningless.

Nevertheless, trends tend to be trends for a reason. And in this case, the already-difficult journey to a Cup Final appears as though it will be slightly steeper for Boston next season.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.


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