In 1986 the NHL changed their postseason format adding two games to opening playoff rounds, making it a best-of-seven series. Since then, there have been 30 first-round sweeps… 31, including last night’s Golden Knights sweep of the LA Kings.
Only four (‘01-COL, ‘00- NJ, ‘99-DAL, ‘94-NYR) of the thirty teams went on to win the Stanley Cup. Not the highest percentage (13%), but winning the first-round in four has proven to be an early indication of further success.
Looking back over the past ten years, teams that swept their first-round series had extended success in the postseason.
10 First-Round sweeps
- 3 Stanley Cup Runner-ups
- 3 Conference Championship Runner-ups
- 4 Teams lost in Second-Round
- 0 Stanley Cup Champions
The full breakdown of every sweep teams success is below, and as you’ll see, many clubs got very close to winning it all. Teams that close out their series in four games will have a better chance of going deeper. However, it has been 17 years since the last time a first-round sweeper hoisted the Cup.
Interesting enough, over that same ten-year span four NHL teams (‘17- PIT, ‘16- PIT, ‘13- CHI, ‘12- LAK) won the Stanley Cup winning their opening round series in five games, the gentleman’s sweep.