In their 12th game of the season, the Golden Knights reached a plateau that took them 17 games to get to last year and a whopping 23 games to reach back in 2018-19.
Along with the Boston Bruins, Vegas became the first team in the NHL to reach the double-digit win plateau. It’s the first time in Golden Knights history they’ve been the first in the conference to reach 10 wins. It’s not Bruce Cassidy’s first time in this place though, as his Bruins did it two years ago in the shortened season.
The question is, how significant is it to be the first team to reach 10 wins?
The answer is… not much.
Over the course of the last nine years, no team to be the first to reach 10 wins has reached the Cup Final, while three failed to make the playoffs altogether.
The last sentence said nine years because exactly 10 seasons ago, in 2012-13, the Chicago Blackhawks were the first team to reach 10 wins in the lockout-shortened season. They went on to steamroll the entire league on their way to their second of three Cups last decade. However, that team wasn’t like all the rest of the teams to reach 10 wins. First, they are one of just two teams to do it without a regulation loss (last year’s Florida) and they didn’t exactly stop at 10. That Blackhawks team started the season on a 24-game point streak with an insane 21-0-3 record. They finished the year 36-7-5 (the equivalent of 132 points in an 82-game season) before going 16-7 on their way to winning the Cup.
So, in the last 10 years, one team to be the first to reach 10 wins won the Cup.
Before that Hawks team, you have to go back another five seasons to find the first team to do it in a regular year. The 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings went 10-2-1 to start the year, finished 54-21-7 (115 points), and won the Cup in six games over the Penguins.
In the past 15 seasons, there have been 33 teams to be among the first to reach 10 wins in their conference (on multiple occasions teams in the same conference did it on the same day). 28 of the 33 went on to reach the playoffs.
The most recent team to miss the postseason was the 2017-18 St. Louis Blues who got off to a 13-3-1 start before bumbling their way to 94 points, one short of the 8th-seed Avalanche.
Of the 28 that made the playoffs, just 13 advanced past the first round. Since the Golden Knights joined the league, six of the 10 teams to be the first to reach 10 wins either missed the playoffs or lost in the first round, while just two reached the conference final and zero of them played for the Cup, let alone winning it.
Here’s the full breakdown of the last 33 teams to be the first in their conference to reach 10 wins.
Missed Playoffs – 5
Qualifying Round – 1
1st Round – 14
2nd Round – 6
Conference Final – 4
Cup Final Loss – 1
Stanley Cup Champions – 2
One last thing. Of the 33 counted, a total of four of them had exactly a 10-2-0 record when they reached 10 wins. Last year’s Edmonton lost in the Conference Final to the Avs. The 15-16 Canadiens missed the playoffs, the 09-10 Penguins lost in the 2nd round, and the 08-09 Sharks went out in the 1st round.
So, adding it all up, being the first to reach 10 wins in your conference is a pretty strong indicator that you’ll reach the playoffs (85%), but doing much beyond that isn’t as promising as may be expected for teams off to the best start in the league. There’s just a 39% chance you’ll get past the first round, a 21% chance you’ll reach the conference final, and a 6% chance you’ll lift the Cup.
First team to 10 wins in each conference
Florida: 10-0-1 2nd Round
Edmonton: 10-2-0 Conference Final
2020-21 *Shortened season without conferences, these are the first two*
Toronto: 10-2-1 1st Round
Boston: 10-1-2 2nd Round
Washington: 10-2-3 1st Round
Edmonton: 10-4-1 Qualifying Round (Would have made playoffs)
Nashville: 10-3-0 1st Round
Tampa Bay: 10-3-1 1st Round
St. Louis: 10-2-1 Missed Playoffs
Tampa Bay: 10-2-1 Conference Final
Montreal: 10-1-1 1st Round
Chicago: 10-3-1 1st Round
Montreal: 10-2-0 Missed Playoffs
Dallas: 10-3-0 2nd Round
Anaheim: 10-3-0 Conference Final
Pittsburgh: 10-2-1 1st Round
Tampa Bay: 10-3-1 Cup Final
Montreal: 10-4-1 2nd Round
San Jose: 10-1-1 1st Round
Colorado: 10-1-0 1st Round
Toronto: 10-4-0 Missed Playoffs
Chicago: 10-0-2 (21-0-3) Won Cup
Pittsburgh: 10-5-0 Conference Final
Dallas: 10-3-0 Missed Playoffs
Toronto: 10-5-1 Missed Playoffs
Los Angeles: 10-3-0 1st Round
Washington: 10-4-0 2nd Round
Pittsburgh: 10-2-0 2nd Round
Colorado: 10-1-2 1st Round
New York Rangers: 10-2-1 1st Round
San Jose: 10-2-0 1st Round
Detroit: 10-2-1 Won Cup
Ottawa: 10-1-0 1st Round