The Los Angeles Kings have had a remarkable run through the 2012 playoffs so far, having defeated the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks in 5 games, swept the Central Divison champion St. Louis Blues in four, and holding a commanding 3-0 series lead over the 3rd-seeded Phoenix Coyotes.
Not that the Kings have really won anything yet but it got me wondering, how many games do the champs usually lose in the playoffs? As usual, I'm only looking at the period since 1987 because before that the playoffs were not composed of four best-of-seven series.
The best record for a Stanley Cup Champion ever was that of the 1988 Edmonton Oilers, who went 16-2 over the course of the playoffs.
No Cup champ has ever gone 16-3.
An additional 4 squads went 16-5, starting with the 1987 Edmonton Oilers. They were followed by the 1989 Calgary Flames, 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins, and even though I refuse to admit it happened, the 2007 Anaheim Ducks.
5 champs went 16-6. They were the 1990 Oilers, 1996 Colorado Avalanche, 1998 Detroit Red Wings (meaning in their back-to-back championships, Detroit lost a mere 10 games against 32 wins, but still 3 more than the '87-'88 Oilers), the 2008 Wings, and the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks.
At 16-8? The 1991 Penguins, 2003 Devils, and 2009 Penguins.
No team has ever lost 10 games en route to the Cup (the Rangers this year are already perilously close to that number with 7 defeats through two games of the Conference Finals; hopefully they won't be joining this list though!!), but a pair have lost 9. They are the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes and last year's Boston Bruins.
So, of 24 Stanley Cup Champions in the modern 16 wins to win it all era, no one has ever been perfect or suffered only a single loss. One team lost only twice. 3 averaged a single loss per round. 4 lost only five times. 5 teams lost six times. 6 teams lost seven games. Only 3 averaged two losses per round. And only two have fared worse.
If the Kings can complete the sweep of Phoenix, they would have the chance to join the very exclusive company of the '88 Oilers, '93 Habs, '95 Devils, and '97 Wings as the only teams to win it all with four or fewer losses. That certainly goes to show just what an impressive run they have put together, all in the era of "parity."
The Kings also still have a chance to make history.