Florida Panthers fans have gotten good at finding other things to do besides watching their team on the ice. 

T.J. Berka

Which fan bases have it the worst right now? It’s a question the Sports Misery Index tackled, and although we did an article on the top 25 across pro sports, it’s time to delve deeper into which fans feel good about life and which are, quite frankly, miserable.

The Index was originally released in September 2018 and now has factored in the most recent NHL season. That’s good news for the champion St. Louis Blues and several other franchises, as many of the most miserable franchises in the original rankings actually made playoff runs.

The Index takes into account five factors: championships, playoff berths, playoff wins, heartbreaks and rival comparison — plus a recently instituted “misery bonus” for franchises that haven’t won championships in 25-plus years (something Blues fans don’t have to worry about anymore). Recent events are weighted more than events that took place decades ago. We’ll identify how each NHL team rates in each category. In this exercise, the higher the ranking, the more the misery.

NHL movement: Even

Total score: 23.97
All-sport rank: 5 (down 1)
Ranking by category: championships: 8; playoff berths: 1; playoff wins: 1; heartbreaks: 19; rival comparison: 1 (tie)

Why they stayed the same: Because unfortunately, things didn’t change. While teams such as the Hurricanes, Blue Jackets and Islanders were winning playoff series, the Panthers found themselves outside of the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons. Florida has made the playoffs only twice since 2000 and only five times since the franchise began play in 1993. And winning playoff series? Forget it, as the Panthers haven’t advanced in the postseason since their unlikely run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996, by far the longest streak in the NHL.

Moving forward: Florida has lingered on the wrong side of the playoff bubble the past few seasons, but perhaps upgrading its goaltending with Sergei Bobrovsky can get the Panthers over the hump and into the postseason. Panthers fans are certainly itching to get theirs after watching several other downtrodden fan bases have fun this spring.

NHL movement: Even

Total score: 21.81
All-sport rank: 8 (up 2)
Ranking by category: championships: 1 (tie); playoff berths: 5; playoff wins: 4; heartbreaks: 25; rival comparison: 1 (tie)

Why they stayed the same: Because they aren’t quite as miserable as the Panthers, but, other than that, it’s not pretty. With Carolina making the playoffs, Buffalo now has the longest playoff drought in the NHL, as it hasn’t made the playoffs since 2011. The Sabres haven’t won a playoff series since 2007 and haven’t won a championship in the 48 seasons of the franchise, earning them a misery bonus. The only time they’ve come close, the 1999 Cup Final against the Stars, saw the Sabres lose in controversial fashion.

Moving forward: The Sabres showed some potential this past season before running out of gas in the last few months. They might still be a year or so from making the playoffs, but having Jack Eichel, one of the league’s premier young players, will at least provide a little bit of entertainment.

NHL movement: Even

Total score: 16.7
All-sport rank: 26 (down 15)
Ranking by category: championships: 9; playoff berths: 2; playoff wins: 2; heartbreaks: 27; rival comparison: 5

Why they stayed the same: Mostly because they didn’t finish the job. The Coyotes were on the verge of making the playoffs for the first time since 2012 but couldn’t quite get there, falling behind the Avalanche in the final week. That keeps them in the No. 3 spot in the NHL, though they fell quite a bit in the overall standings thanks to (A) not having been around long enough to qualify for the misery bonus and (B) getting to look down on their Southern California rivals, something that’s been pretty rare.

Moving forward: Might Arizona actually get bragging rights soon? The Kings and Ducks seem destined for painful rebuilds, and the Golden Knights are coming off an especially heartbreaking end to their season (we’ll hit on that later). Coyotes fans hope the acquisition of Phil Kessel can provide the oomph to get them into the playoffs.

NHL movement: Up 1

Total score: 16.51
All-sport rank: 27 (down 3)
Ranking by category: championships: 14; playoff berths: 15; playoff wins: 5; heartbreaks: 3; rival comparison: 7

Why they moved up: They can’t get past the Bruins. While Toronto moved down the overall standings thanks to making the playoffs for the third consecutive season, the Maple Leafs found themselves facing a similar heartbreak — losing a Game 7 in . This year’s Game 7 loss to the Bruins was the second consecutive season the Leafs lost a winner-take-all game to and the third time since 2013. It’s pretty hard to get rid of their other streaks (no playoff wins since 2004, no Stanley Cup Final appearances or championships since 1967) when they can’t get by Boston in Round 1.

Moving forward: Toronto has built a roster full of firepower, with Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Mitch Marner providing as explosive a trio as there is in the NHL. But for the Maple Leafs to fall down this list, they have to conquer that Boston boogeyman.

The five primary factors in the Fan Misery Index formula:

1. Championships: The more (and more recently) you win championships, the less you have to complain about. However, if your most recent championship was 25-plus years ago, it’s almost as if you’ve never won at all.

2. Playoff berths: How are you going to win a championship if you don’t make the playoffs? It’s bad enough to not hoist the big trophy at the end of the year, but not even putting yourself in the postseason is cause for a venting session or 10. We won’t tolerate too much bellyaching from teams that are always in the postseason.

3. Playoff wins: Great, you’re in the playoffs, but what’s the point if you don’t do anything once you’re there? Seeing your team go one-and-done in the postseason is quite painful — almost as bad as not going in the first place. But if you win playoff games every year, you have less reason to complain.

4. Heartbreaks: It’s one thing to lose — it’s another to get your heart ripped out of your chest “Temple of Doom” style. Whether it’s blowing a big lead, losing a Game 7, losing at the last second or simply losing a title game, it’s OK to be miserable. However, some winning teams scored high in this metric because you’re going to have more “bad beats” the more you play at the final table.

5. Rival comparison: Having your team stink and break your heart is bad enough, but having the fans of the teams you hate celebrating championships and playoff wins is salt in the wound.

Misery bonus: Teams that have gone 25-plus years without winning a championship are assigned a “bonus.” The longer a team goes without a title, the bigger that bonus.

Note that this formula takes into account the recency factor: Winning a championship in the past five years does not allow you to be miserable, nor does anyone care about some heartbreak that happened 30-40 years ago (cough, Bill Buckner, cough). Stuff that happened last season is factored more than stuff that happened two to five years ago, which means more than stuff six to 10 years ago, which means more than stuff 11 to 20 years ago, which means more than … you get the picture.

Significant relocations are also downplayed. For example, an Indianapolis Colts fan should not bellyache about the heartbreaks of the Colts in , and a Los Angeles Rams fan does not get to strut his stuff about what “The Greatest Show on Turf” did in St. Louis. The Los Angeles Chargers get to own San Diego’s misery because (a) L.A. and San Diego are quite close and (b) I’m pretty sure most of the Chargers’ fans still live in San Diego. Also, Houston Texans fans don’t get to complain about the Houston Oilers, but we’ll allow new Winnipeg Jets fans to complain about the old Winnipeg Jets.

NHL movement: Up 3

Total score: 12.84
All-sport rank: 42 (up 10)
Ranking by category: championships: 11; playoff berths: 8; playoff wins: 14; heartbreaks: 6; rival comparison: 6

Why they moved up: This is where the rankings start to get goofy. In most years, the Stars would have less misery for (A) making the playoffs and (B) winning a series in said postseason. However, a lot of the top-ranked miserable teams in the NHL did as well as or better than Dallas, and the nature in which the Stars were eliminated was extremely painful. Not only did Dallas lose Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals in overtime but the team it lost to (the Blues) went on to win the Cup. Being that close to knocking out the champs, who are also a rival, isn’t very fun.

Moving forward: The Stars are now 20 years removed from winning their only Cup and 11 years separated from their last trip to the conference finals. However, this past season was a positive one for Dallas (sans the ending) and they’ve added some offensive firepower in Joe Pavelski. Don’t be surprised if the Stars have more postseason success.

NHL movement: Up 3

Total score: 12.45
All-sport rank: 46 (up 7)
Ranking by category: championships: 16; playoff berths: 4; playoff wins: 9; heartbreaks: 18; rival comparison: 15

Why they moved up: Because it’s looking as if the 2017 playoff run was an aberration. The Oilers foundered again this past season, missing the playoffs for the 12th time in 13 seasons. Despite having one of the NHL’s best one-two scoring punches in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton was never really in the postseason hunt. And while the Oilers were sinking, the rival Flames had their best season in 15 years. Memories of the five Stanley Cups in the seven seasons from 1983-84 to 1989-90 are lessening by the day, as Edmonton fans in their mid-30s and younger have no memory of that dynasty.

Moving forward: It’s not looking as if the McDavid-Draisaitl duo is going to be the 2.0 version of Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. The Oilers don’t seem close to making a leap into playoff contention, as Edmonton has done little to improve its roster in the offseason. The Oilers could be top-5 miserable this time next year.

NHL movement: Down 1

Total score: 12.11
All-sport rank: 49 (down 17)
Ranking by category: championships: 12 (tie); playoff berths: 7; playoff wins: 3; heartbreaks: 31; rival comparison: 4

Why they moved down: They won a playoff series! The Blue Jackets’ first series victory in the playoffs (they hadn’t won more than two games in a postseason series before that season) came in style, as they pulled off possibly the biggest first-round upset in playoff history by sweeping a record-setting Lightning team. Columbus also gave the Bruins a battle in the second round before falling in six games, but getting that first playoff series win (and getting to the playoffs three years in a row) gave Blue Jackets fans a chance to celebrate.

Moving forward: The glow from the sweep of the Lightning might have to last for a while for Columbus fans, as the Blue Jackets saw a lot of players leave in free agency this summer. Columbus might take a step back this season without the likes of Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene and Sergei Bobrovsky, among others.

NHL movement: Down 4

Total score: 10.38
All-sport rank: 54 (down 34)
Ranking by category: championships: 19; playoff berths: 3; playoff wins: 17; heartbreaks: 29; rival comparison: 8

Why they moved down: The Hurricanes not only ended the NHL’s longest playoff drought, making the postseason for the first time since 2009, but advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference finals. The “Bunch of Jerks” emerged in the second half of the season, then proceeded to dethrone the defending Cup champion Capitals in overtime in Game 7 of the first round. Carolina then swept the Islanders before getting swept by the Bruins, but the “Jerks” brought hockey fever back to the Research Triangle.

Moving forward: The Hurricanes got the playoff drought out of their system — now they have to make back-to-back playoff appearances, something they haven’t done since 2001 and 2002. If they can do that, they’ll continue to plummet down the misery rankings. Re-upping with Sebastian Aho is sure to help.

NHL movement: Up 4

Total score: 9.96
All-sport rank: 56 (up 11)
Ranking by category: championships: 1 (tie); playoff berths: 9; playoff wins: 10 (tie); heartbreaks: 20; rival comparison: 11

Why they moved up: The Canucks have now gone four years without making the playoffs, and they haven’t won a playoff series since losing Game 7 of the 2011 Cup Final to the Bruins. Vancouver has not won a championship in its 48 seasons, qualifying it for a misery bonus. And while the Canucks struggled yet again this year, two of their rivals thrived, as the Flames won the Pacific Division and the Sharks made another lengthy playoff run.

Moving forward: It’s hard to tell what direction Vancouver is going. The Canucks have some good young talent in Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson, who had a great rookie season, but they strangely traded away a future first-round draft pick this offseason. Can’t blame Vancouver fans for being a bit confused.

NHL movement: Up 1

Total score: 9.95
All-sport rank: 57 (tie) (up 7)
Ranking by category: championships: 4; playoff berths: 21; playoff wins: 18; heartbreaks: 17; rival comparison: 3

Why they moved up: The Flyers are almost a carbon copy of the Canucks, except with a couple of Stanley Cup titles in the mid-1970s. Of course, no Flyers fan under the age of 50 can remember those titles, but many of them can remember the five Cup Finals in a row that Philadelphia has lost since, the most recent coming in 2010. Philly fans probably would trade those Final losses for what they’ve dealt with lately, though, as the Flyers haven’t won a playoff series since 2012 and missed the playoffs last season after a horrendous start put them in a huge hole.

Moving forward: Despite missing the playoffs, the Flyers became a tough out once they made rookie Carter Hart their primary goaltender. Can 21-year-old Hart carry over or improve his play in his second season? If so, Philadelphia might get back into the postseason hunt.

NHL movement: Down 4

2 Related

Total score: 8.6
All-sport rank: 62 (down 28)
Ranking by category: championships: 15; playoff berths: 11 (tie); playoff wins: 10 (tie); heartbreaks: 16; rival comparison: 12

Why they moved down: New coach Barry Trotz provided a spark to energize the long-suffering Islanders, who rode the best defense in the league to a playoff berth and a first-round sweep of the Penguins before the Islanders were themselves swept by Carolina in the second round. But that exit did little to take away from an unexpected breakout season, as went from losing star John Tavares in the offseason to winning only its second playoff series since 1993. The Isles still have a championship drought that dates to 1983, but there’s hope for once.

Moving forward: Trotz brought his Stanley Cup-winning pedigree to Long Island, but will the Islanders’ defense keep rolling despite losing Jennings Trophy-winning goaltender Robin Lehner to the Blackhawks? Semyon Varlamov takes Lehner’s spot, but the Isles might need a few more goals this year to continue their surge.

NHL movement: Down 2

Total score: 6.16
All-sport rank: 66 (down 5)
Ranking by category: championships: 5 (tie); playoff berths: 10; playoff wins: 6; heartbreaks: 24; rival comparison: 20

Why they moved down: The Flames were one of the most fun teams to watch this past season, as their explosive offense led them to a Pacific Division title and the best regular-season record in the Western Conference. Although that performance didn’t carry over into the playoffs, as the Flames were upset by the Avalanche in five games in the first round, notching their first division title in 13 years was a huge sign of progress for a franchise that generally has struggled since losing to the Lightning in the 2004 Cup Final.

Moving forward: We know Calgary can score with anyone, as Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan lead a potent, young offensive core. But the Flames’ goaltending issues were exposed in the playoffs, so finding stability in net is key for a team that has legitimate Stanley Cup championship potential.

NHL movement: Up 5

Total score: 6.08
All-sport rank: 67 (up 15)
Ranking by category: championships: 12 (tie); playoff berths: 17; playoff wins: 7; heartbreaks: 28; rival comparison: 9

Why they moved up: After three consecutive seasons in which they lost in the first round of the playoffs, the Wild did one worse and missed the postseason entirely, finishing last in the Central Division. Minnesota has made it out of the first round only three times in its 18 seasons, and its trip to the Western Conference finals in 2003 (the Wild’s third season of existence) remains the high-water mark for the franchise. Meanwhile, the Wild’s roster is aging quickly, and Minnesota fans had to watch rival St. Louis hoist the Cup this past June.

Moving forward: The Wild have been slowly trending in the wrong direction the past four seasons and face a tough battle to get back into the postseason and reverse their slide. Although Minnesota fans hope free agent Mats Zuccarello is a shot in the arm, eventually the Wild will have to make an effort to get younger.

NHL movement: Down 2

Total score: 4.27
All-sport rank: 70 (down 5)
Ranking by category: championships: 20 (tie); playoff berths: 11 (tie); playoff wins: 13; heartbreaks: 14; rival comparison: 17

Why they moved down: Not only did the Avs string together back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since before the 2005 lockout but they did some solid damage in the postseason. Colorado whipped the Western Conference-leading Flames in five games in the first round, then took the Sharks to seven games in Round 2 before going out. The victory over Calgary was the Avalanche’s first postseason series victory since 2008 and gives Colorado’s young corps of talent some momentum to build on.

Moving forward: Now that the Avalanche have tasted playoff success, they’re in good position to move even higher going forward. Colorado has a lot of young talent on the blue line and must hope the signing of Nazem Kadri can help give it some scoring depth behind star Nathan MacKinnon.

NHL movement: Up 1

Total score: 3.74
All-sport rank: 73 (up 4)
Ranking by category: championships: 7; playoff berths: 14; playoff wins: 15; heartbreaks: 12; rival comparison: 24

Why they moved up: The Senators have been a dumpster fire for well over a year, as they had an assistant GM resign after being charged with sexual harassment, one player’s girlfriend bully another player’s wife over social media and some awful hockey. Ottawa had the worst record in the NHL this past season and has missed the playoffs the past two seasons after making the postseason in 16 of the previous 20 campaigns. The thing keeping the Senators this low on the list, other than previous success, is the recent struggles of their rivals.

Trend: The misery ranking will continue to gain based on the awful product on the ice, as the Senators have several years of pain ahead of them. And if the Canadiens make the playoffs or the Maple Leafs figure out a way to get past the first round, Ottawa’s angst will take a sizable spike upward.

NHL movement: Up 1

Total score: 3.13
All-sport rank: 79 (even)
Ranking by category: championships: 23; playoff berths: 6; playoff wins: 16; heartbreaks: 23; rival comparison: 16

Why they moved up: The Devils weren’t able to follow up their 2018 playoff appearance, as they started slow and finished last in the Metropolitan Division. New Jersey has missed the playoffs six of the past seven seasons and hasn’t won a postseason series since it lost to the Kings in the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. The Devils don’t have a misery bonus thanks to their three Cups from 1995 through 2003, but memories of those championships aren’t exactly giving their fan base comfort at the moment.

Moving forward: The Devils have a young base of solid talent and selected wunderkind phenom Jack Hughes after winning the draft lottery. Hughes, plus the acquisition of All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban, could provide the necessary oomph to get New Jersey back in the playoffs and on the right track.

NHL movement: Down 2

Total score: 2.86
All-sport rank: 80 (down 5)
Ranking by category: championships: 20 (tie); playoff berths: 13; playoff wins: 8; heartbreaks: 30; rival comparison: 18

Why they moved down: For the first time since the Jets 2.0 moved to Winnipeg in 2011, they made the playoffs in back-to-back years. Although the Jets weren’t able to duplicate the run to the Western Conference finals that they had in 2018 — they lost to the eventual champion Blues in the first round — having a Winnipeg franchise make the NHL playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1992 and ’93 is definitely a step in the right direction and a show of consistency that’s long been lacking.

Moving forward: Does this year’s first-round loss indicate that the Jets have already peaked, or is the window still open for Winnipeg to contend? That’s the question the Jets have to answer, and their fans wouldn’t mind getting some offensive reinforcements heading into next season.

NHL movement: Up 6

Total score: -0.19
All-sport rank: 84 (up 15)
Ranking by category: championships: 22; playoff berths: 18; playoff wins: 19; heartbreaks: 21; rival comparison: 19

Why they moved up: All those old Stanley Cup titles aren’t cutting it right now. The Canadiens have lapped the field when it comes to Cups won, as they’ve won 23 Stanley Cups. Problem is, the last of those titles came over a quarter-century ago in 1993, qualifying Montreal for the misery bonus. Younger Canadiens fans (early 30s and below) have no idea what it’s like for their team to hoist the Cup. It isn’t just the lack of championships moving the Canadiens up this list, though — Montreal has missed the playoffs the past two seasons and three of the past four.

Moving forward: The Canadiens made a move for Sebastian Aho in the offseason, making him an offer the Hurricanes matched without flinching. Without Aho (or any other big-time moves), Montreal finds itself on the playoff bubble once again, a position that hasn’t been kind to it lately.

NHL movement: Up 1

Total score: -0.22
All-sport rank: 85 (up 6)
Ranking by category: championships: 18; playoff berths: 24; playoff wins: 23; heartbreaks: 13; rival comparison: 13

Why they moved up: Their window for contention closed completely. One of the most successful franchises in the NHL as far as getting to the playoffs, the Ducks blew a tire midseason and fell out of the race down the stretch, as their aging core couldn’t quite get it going again. This past season was the first time Anaheim missed the postseason since 2012 and only the fourth time it missed the playoffs since 2003, a stretch that included a Stanley Cup championship in 2007.

Moving forward: Now the hard part starts, as the Ducks have to part with several fan favorites who have led them through the past 12 to 15 years and start over. Corey Perry was the first to get purged, but he won’t be the last. There’s a chance that Anaheim fans will even miss the frustrating Game 7 home losses that dogged them this decade.

NHL movement: Down 1

Total score: -0.49
All-sport rank: 86 (even)
Ranking by category: championships: 10; playoff berths: 27; playoff wins: 22; heartbreaks: 8; rival comparison: 14

Why they moved down: The Predators continue to be a postseason staple, as they made the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season and won their second straight Central Division title. All told, Nashville has made the playoffs 11 times in the 14 seasons since the 2005 lockout, a run that was highlighted by a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017. Celebratory catfish tossing has become a beloved tradition in “Music City, USA.”

Moving forward: While the Predators have become consistent playoff participants, their rate of return has diminished the past few seasons. Does that mean Nashville’s window is closing? The front office is making some moves, signing Matt Duchene while parting with P.K. Subban. It’ll be interesting to see whether they pay off.

NHL movement: Up 1

Total score: -1.47
All-sport rank: 87 (up 10)
Ranking by category: championships: 26; playoff berths: 19; playoff wins: 12; heartbreaks: 5; rival comparison: 26

Why they moved up: Despite the youth of the Vegas franchise, it suffered a stomach punch as brutal as any in its first-round playoff series with the Sharks. Not only did the Golden Knights lose in a Game 7 in overtime but Vegas also squandered a 3-1 series lead and lost a 3-0 third-period lead in Game 7 in large part because of a controversial five-minute major that completely flipped momentum. Even if you think Vegas fans have been spoiled in their two seasons, they’re now veterans at receiving playoff hockey heartbreak.

Moving forward: As far as expansion teams go, the Golden Knights have been a rousing success. But now the franchise is dealing with its first bit of adversity. Will Vegas continue to buck convention and be the model NHL start-up, or are tougher times on the horizon?

NHL movement: Up 1

Total score: -1.88
All-sport rank: 88 (up 10)
Ranking by category: championships: 24; playoff berths: 23; playoff wins: 20; heartbreaks: 11; rival comparison: 21

Why they moved up: The Red Wings are officially among the dregs of the NHL, as they’ve missed the playoffs three seasons in a row and haven’t won a playoff series since 2013. Detroit used to be a playoff staple, as it made it to the postseason 25 seasons in a row and 28 times in 29 seasons from 1987 to 2016. During that time, the Wings won four Stanley Cup championships and made it to the Final six times, but the last of those titles came in 2008 and is quickly fading from memory.

Moving forward: Drafting Steve Yzerman in 1983 was the first step in the Red Wings evolving from an NHL bottom-feeder to arguably its most successful franchise. Can Yzerman, who built a powerful Lightning team, have the same effect as a GM? Detroit fans hope so, though they should expect a few more lean years regardless.

NHL movement: Up 2

Total score: -2.25
All-sport rank: 90 (up 10)
Ranking by category: championships: 3; playoff berths: 22; playoff wins: 24; heartbreaks: 10; rival comparison: 25

Why they moved up: The Rangers missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season, the first time that’s happened since the Rangers missed seven seasons in a row before the 2005 lockout. Even though the Rangers have had their share of playoff success this decade, winning nine postseason series since 2012, they haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1994. That qualifies them for a misery bonus, as memories of Mark Messier hoisting the Cup in the Garden don’t exist for Rangers fans in their early 30s or younger.

Moving forward: The Rangers clearly feel as if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel of their rebuild, as they signed Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba in the offseason. That might not get them to the playoffs this year, but it indicates that could be a team to watch out for in the future.

NHL movement: Up 4

Total score: -3.56
All-sport rank: 92 (up 18)
Ranking by category: championships: 28; playoff berths: 16; playoff wins: 21; heartbreaks: 26; rival comparison: 10

Why they moved up: The bottom fell out for the Kings this season, as they missed the playoffs after finishing last in the Western Conference. The Kings have missed the postseason three of the past five seasons and haven’t won a playoff series since winning the Stanley Cup in 2014. Los Angeles’ two Cups this decade (the other came in 2012) will keep Kings fans content for a while, but it’s clear that their championship window is barricaded shut at the moment.

Moving forward: There’s going to be a lot of rebuilding in Southern California, as the Kings are joining the Ducks in what is likely to be a painful overhaul of the roster. Los Angeles has started its renovation by trading Jake Muzzin, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done before the Kings are contenders again.

NHL movement: Up 4

Total score: -5.9
All-sport rank: 99 (up 12)
Ranking by category: championships: 27; playoff berths: 30; playoff wins: 25; heartbreaks: 1; rival comparison: 22

Why they moved up: The Capitals reverted to their heart-wrenching form. After a year off in which they won the Stanley Cup, the Caps reminded their fans of how painful supporting them can be. Washington has the highest heartbreak score in all sports for a reason and added to that total in this year’s playoffs, as it fell to the Hurricanes in overtime of Game 7 of their first-round playoff matchup, at home no less. While last year’s Cup lessened the sting of the loss, seeing the title defense end in familiar pain brought back old memories.

Moving forward: How many more opportunities to win another Cup does Washington’s core have? Although Alex Ovechkin is coming off another banner season, he will be 34 next season, and several of its other stars will be 30 or older. There’s still an opening, but the Caps aren’t getting any younger.

NHL movement: Up 1

Total score: -6.13
All-sport rank: 100 (up 6)
Ranking by category: championships: 17; playoff berths: 20; playoff wins: 26; heartbreaks: 4; rival comparison: 30

Why the moved up:

Moving forward: It’s easy to panic and overreact after a postseason failure of this magnitude, but the Lightning did something right in putting together a team that won 62 games. Don’t be surprised if Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos & Co. rebound next season and make a big play for Tampa’s second Cup.

NHL movement: Down 6

Total score: -9.47
All-sport rank: 108 (down 12)
Ranking by category: championships: 25; playoff berths: 26; playoff wins: 29; heartbreaks: 2; rival comparison: 29

Why they moved down: The Bruins were able to avoid the upset trend in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs (at least until the very end), as they advanced to the Cup Final before falling to the Blues in Game 7. They didn’t quite keep Boston’s professional sports championship streak going, as they finished one win from joining the Red Sox and Patriots as Beantown champions, but this year marked the third time this decade that the Bruins made it to the Cup Final, with them winning the title in 2011.

Moving forward: The Bruins have gradually improved their playoff performance over the past three seasons and will return much of the same nucleus that just missed out on a championship. Don’t be surprised if Boston is smack dab in the mix for its seventh Stanley Cup next spring.

NHL movement: Down 2

Total score: -12.18
All-sport rank: 110 (down 5)
Ranking by category: championships: 5 (tie); playoff berths: 29; playoff wins: 30; heartbreaks: 15; rival comparison: 27

Why they moved down: Quite frankly, the Sharks were pretty fortunate to get to the Western Conference finals, as they needed a lot of luck to get by Vegas and survived the Avalanche before falling to the Blues. While San Jose has never won a Stanley Cup, qualifying for the misery bonus, the Sharks have missed the playoffs only twice since 1998 and only four times since 1994. In their 21 playoff appearances since ’94, the Sharks have won at least one playoff series 17 times. They typically match or exceed their regular-season performance in the postseason, and, although the lack of a Cup is frustrating, they’ve been highly successful in every other metric. Needless to say, this might be the most polarizing ranking in the Misery Index.

Moving forward: San Jose’s erratic goaltending finally caught up to it against St. Louis and needs to be rectified in some way next season. If the Sharks get more consistent play between the pipes, they’ll be right in the mix again, as they always are.

NHL movement: Down 15

Total score: -17.16
All-sport rank: 114 (down 40)
Ranking by category: championships: 29; playoff berths: 28; playoff wins: 27; heartbreaks: 22; rival comparison: 23

Why they moved down: The Blues eradicated a half-century of frustration with a magical run that started in January, as St. Louis went from having the worst record in the entire NHL and having an interim coach in Craig Berube to surging to make the playoffs to defeating the Bruins in Game 7 in Boston to win their first Stanley Cup. With thousands of renditions of “Gloria” and Brett Hull’s colorful celebrations, life is good for the Blues, who hadn’t even appeared in the Cup Final since 1970 before this year’s magical run.

Moving forward: The pressure is off for the Blues, but will the magic of 2019 carry over to next season? If Jordan Binnington can continue to star at goalie, don’t be surprised if St. Louis makes a run at a repeat, as five months of exemplary hockey isn’t a fluke.

NHL movement: Even

Total score: -19.75
All-sport rank: 117 (up 2)
Ranking by category: championships: 30; playoff berths: 25; playoff wins: 28; heartbreaks: 9; rival comparison: 28

Why they stayed the same: Even though the Blackhawks missed the playoffs for the second straight season and haven’t won a playoff series since beating the Lightning for the 2015 Stanley Cup, the memories of their dominant stretch from 2010 through 2015 are still a source of pride for Chicago fans. The Blackhawks also won titles in 2010 and 2013 to go with their ’15 Cup, the most of any franchise in the 2010s. Although the memory of those Cups will fade in the near future, it’s hard for Blackhawks fans to get too bent out of shape now.

Moving forward: Despite having an aging roster, Chicago played tough in the second half of the season and stayed in the playoff race until the end. Now that the Blackhawks have Jennings Trophy winner Robin Lehner in goal, perhaps they can take a step forward into the postseason.

NHL movement: Even

Total score: -32.63
All-sport rank: 121 (even)
Ranking by category: championships: 31; playoff berths: 31; playoff wins: 31; heartbreaks: 7; rival comparison: 31

Why they stayed the same: Even though the Penguins were swept by the Islanders in the first round, there’s more than enough happiness in reserve for Pittsburgh fans. The back-to-back Stanley Cups of 2016 and ’17 are still quite recent, and the Penguins have won five Stanley Cups overall since 1991. Pittsburgh fans have enjoyed two great eras of hockey — the Mario Lemieux/Jaromir Jagr stretch in the early 1990s and the Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin brilliance of the past decade. There’s a reason the Pens are the least miserable in every category besides heartbreaks.

Moving forward: Although the Crosby/Malkin era has been quite fun, this year’s sweep by the Isles could be a warning that Father Time is catching up to Pittsburgh. The Pens have been active this summer to change things up a bit, but an improved Matt Murray in goal would be the most helpful.


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