This is the first in a series of posts looking at the "success" of the Nashville Predators franchise. This first post will look at the playoff history of this franchise since its inception, and weigh the results against the other teams in the league during that same timeline.
Success - The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted
Success is something that is difficult to define and normally the ultimate measure of success differs from person to person, or in business, from company to company. The Nashville Predators have achieved success on many fronts. The new Ownership has succeeded in increasing the number of corporate sponsorships. We are no longer facing the threat of relocation each year, and we are spending more on payroll than at any other time in the history of the franchise. Those are just a few of the successes this team has seen in the first 15 years, and they are all significant. One of the things that Predator fans are most proud of, and pound our chest over, is this team's string of Stanley Cup Playoff visits over the last decade, but is making the playoffs a real measure of this teams success? Are we really that much more successful in that area than the other teams in the league? How do we really stack up? I have pulled the numbers for each team in the league since the Predators joined the NHL. Let's take a look and see how it shakes out.
The Entire Playoff Picture
The first thing that we can look at is the overall playoff success since the Predators joined the league. You would expect them to struggle more in this scenario being an expansion team coming into the league (Part 2 of this series will look further into this aspect as we examine all of the expansion teams and the success they have had, or not had). Just where do the Predators rank? Below is a list of each team and their playoff appearance rankings since the Predators have joined the league.
|Team||Playoff appearance %|
|New York I||35.71|
|New York R||50.00|
Looking at these numbers we can see that the Predators fall in the middle of the pack here. Anaheim, Boston, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, Montreal, New Jersey, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Jose, St. Louis, Vancouver, and Washington all have a higher Playoff appearance percentage than the Predators do. The Rangers, Los Angeles, and Toronto have identical playoff percentages as the Predators. 14 teams have attained playoff appearances higher than that of the Predators over the history of the franchise. I would say that is not that surprising. No one expected this team to come into the league and light things on fire. It was a tough southern market, finances would be tight, and the quality of players was just not there. I think it is safe to say we are average at best in at least making the playoffs since we have joined the league. Is that success? I don't know, but I would certainly listen to the argument.
The Golden Years
So all Predators fans point to what we have done over the last 10 years as a franchise. This is the "badge of honor" for us. Sure we haven't won a Cup, made the Stanley Cup Finals, or even the Western Conference Finals, but we are in the chase each year. Well just how much of a measure of success is that? How many other teams can boast the same claims over this stretch?
|Team||Last 10 years appearance%|
|New York I||33.33|
|New York R||77.78|
|Winnepeg||11.11|8 teams actually have a higher playoff attendance percentage than the Predators in the last 10 years. Detroit, Montreal, New Jersey, the Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and San Jose have all been to the playoffs more than we have in the last 10 years. Washington Vancouver, Boston, and Anaheim all have identical appearance percentages to that of Nashville at 66.67%. That puts us in the top half of the league in appearances over the last 10 years, but is that enough? Over half the teams make the playoffs each year. I would argue that this is not as impressive a goal as some would believe.
Update: The Predators Appearance % is a 77.78%. The number has been corrected in the list above and puts them in tie with most of the teams above in Playoff appearances in the last 10 years.
They remember what you do in May
Now lets take a look at the playoff winning percentages of the teams that have had success similar, or greater, to ours over this 15 year period. This will start to paint a picture of just how successful we have been once we have made the playoffs.
|Team||Playoff winning %|
|New York R||44.12|
Uh Oh. The Predators are not faring very well here. Of all the teams that have been to the playoffs as much, or more, we have the lowest winning percentage. We actually have the 6th worst winning percentage in the league over this time span. Only winning 38% of your games is abysmal. For perspective, the entire Western Conference's playoff winning percentage is 45.30% over the same time period. The league as a whole is 44.59%. The Predators are significantly below that average. I don't know of any argument that could define this winning percentage as successful. Sure we made it, but we didn't do much once there.
Update: Cisar made a good point in the comments below so this has been updated to include the Playoff series winning % for each of the teams with similar appearances to the the Predators. Again we see that the Predators are last in this measurement as well. The average winning percentage is 45% for this group of teams. The league average is 43%. The Predators actually have the 6th worst percentage in the league.
|Team||Playoff Series Winning %|
|New York R||46.15|
Let's take a look at a couple more statistics. We are one of only 5 teams in the entire NHL to have not made a Conference Finals in the last 15 years. One of only 2 in the Western Conference. The average number of trips to the Semi-Finals of each conference playoff is 3.80 trips over the last 15 years. We have been twice. That is the lowest of any team that has been to the playoffs as often as we have over the last 10 years. Those numbers also point to the fact that we have not done much once there.
Now that we have seen the numbers what do you think? I would say sure we have been successful. There is something to be said for making the playoffs 67% of the time over the last 10 years. But I would also say that relative to the rest of the league we have performed at an average level at best. When I factor in all of the playoff data, it appears that we are beneficiaries of a playoff system that allows more teams in than it precludes.
Yay Gary Bettman!!!!!
We have not been able to compete with the best teams in the league during the playoffs on a consistent basis. Does that mean we haven't been successful? I can't answer that question for each of you. To me it means that we have not been as successful as many would like to believe, and not as successful as we should be. What do you think? Vote in the poll below and fire away in the comments. Remember that we will be looking at the Predators performance versus the other expansion teams later in the week. It will be another chance to establish this team's level of performance against a more defined, and maybe more relative, group.