Which NHL fan bases have it the worst right now? It's a question that the Sports Misery Index tackled, and after we did an article on the top 25 in all sports, it's time to delve deeper into which NHL fans feel good about life and which are, quite frankly, miserable.
The Index takes into account five factors: championships, playoff berths, playoff wins, heartbreaks and rival comparison, with recent events being 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. Results are through the 2017-18 season.
Total score: 23.17
All-sport rank: 4
Ranking by category: championships: 8; playoff berths: 2; playoff wins: 2; heartbreaks: 20; rival comparison: 2
Where they're especially miserable: The 23 years since the Panthers surprisingly made the Stanley Cup Finals have been brutal, as Florida has only made the playoffs four times since and hasn't won a postseason series since the 1996 Eastern Conference finals. And while this has been going on, the cross-state Lightning won a Cup, have gone on frequent playoff runs and are the Cup favorite this season.
Rays of hope: The Panthers won the Atlantic Division in 2015-16 and have good, young players in Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck. They weren't too far off from making the playoffs last season, and hey, at least they built a fun tradition of peppering the ice with plastic rats after a goal.
Trend: It can't get much worse for the Panthers than it's been the past couple of decades, but it doesn't look like it's getting better, either. Florida is once again on the outside looking in when it comes to the postseason. Perhaps Joel Quenneville will come to the rescue?
Total score: 19.76
All-sport rank: 10
Ranking by category: championships: 4; playoff berths: 5; playoff wins: 6; heartbreaks: 23; rival comparison: 1
Where they're especially miserable: The fact that the Brett Hull "in the crease" heartbreak in the 1999 Cup Finals was their recent high-water mark. That was a terrible way for the Sabres to lose a chance at the Cup, but their performance since then has been rough, as they haven't made the playoffs since 2011 and haven't won a playoff series since 2007.
Rays of hope: Winning hockey is definitely doable in Buffalo, as the Sabres made the playoffs 13 times in 14 seasons from 1988 to 2001. Sabres fans have also been blessed with top-level goaltending over the years in Dominik Hasek and Ryan Miller and get to watch one of the best young players in the game now in Jack Eichel.
Trend: The Sabres showed potential this season thanks to Eichel and a big year from new acquisition Jeff Skinner. Even though they fell off late and didn't make the playoffs, there's hope for the first time in a while.
Total score: 18.95
All-sport rank: 11
Ranking by category: championships: 9; playoff berths: 3; playoff wins: 3; heartbreaks: 26; rival comparison: 4
Where they're especially miserable: The move from Winnipeg to the desert has been a disaster for the Coyotes, who have only won two playoff series in their 22 seasons in Arizona. The Coyotes haven't made the playoffs since 2012 and have missed the postseason 13 times in the past 16 seasons. And the franchise was part of an embarrassing gambling scandal.
Rays of hope: The two playoff series both came in one semi-glorious season, as the Coyotes won their only division championship in 2012 and advanced to the Western Conference finals. So Arizona fans have gotten some enjoyment and success out of this team, even if it was fleeting. And you can't beat the winter weather in the desert.
Trend: The Coyotes improved quite a bit and stayed in the playoff mix before falling short at the end. That gives Arizona fans some hope despite the franchise's future in the desert being up in the air.
Total score: 16.65
All-sport rank: 20
Ranking by category: championships: 20; playoff berths: 1; playoff wins: 9 (tie); heartbreaks: 29; rival comparison: 6
Where they're especially miserable: The Hurricanes had the longest playoff drought in the NHL, as they hadn't qualified for the postseason since 2009 prior to this season. Making the playoffs has been more difficult for Carolina than any other franchise, as the Hurricanes only made the playoffs five times in their first 20 seasons since moving from Hartford.
Rays of hope: In the rare instances that the Hurricanes make the playoffs, they do pretty well in them. Carolina made the Eastern Conference finals the last time it was in the playoffs in 2009, won the Stanley Cup in its second-most recent appearance in 2006, and lost to the Red Wings in the Cup Finals in 2002 in its third-most recent appearance in the playoffs.
Trend: On the upswing. They've ended their postseason drought and have gotten a breakthrough season from Sebastian Aho. He's one to watch going forward, and perhaps so are the Hurricanes.
Total score: 15.98
All-sport rank: 24
Ranking by category: championships: 11; playoff berths: 12; playoff wins: 7; heartbreaks: 3; rival comparison: 7
Where they're especially miserable: The fact that it's been over a half-century since the Maple Leafs have been to the Stanley Cup Finals, much less won one. Toronto hasn't won a playoff series since 2004 and has lost in heartbreak fashion to the Bruins in Game 7 in two of their past three series, including blowing a three-goal third period lead in the first round in 2013.
Rays of hope: If you care about championships that happened way before you were born (unless you're in your 50s or older), the Maple Leafs did win 13 Stanley Cups from 1917 to 1967. Toronto has also qualified for the playoffs the past two seasons, an uptick after missing the postseason in 10 of 11 seasons from 2006 to 2016.
Trend: The Maple Leafs will likely exit the top 25 after this season, as they're making their third consecutive playoff appearance. If Auston Matthews and John Tavares can lead them to that elusive series victory, then the misery will tumble drastically.
Total score: 14.59
All-sport rank: 32
Ranking by category: championships: 15 (tie); playoff berths: 9; playoff wins: 1; heartbreaks: 31; rival comparison: 3
Where they're especially miserable: How does zero playoff series victories sound for starters? The Blue Jackets are the only franchise in the NHL that doesn't have a postseason victory. In fact, the Blue Jackets have never forced a Game 7 in a series and have only made the playoffs five times since the franchise began play in 2000.
Rays of hope: The Blue Jackets are on an uptick right now, as four of their five postseason berths have come in the past six seasons, including three straight. Columbus actually won the first two games of their first-round series with the Capitals last season, which might not seem like much but is a sizable upgrade from their previous postseason performances.
Trend: Columbus is making its third consecutive playoff appearance (fourth in sixth seasons), but it's time for the Blue Jackets to get a series victory -- or at least force a Game 7. Do that, and the misery will fall.
Total score: 14.32
All-sport rank: 34
Ranking by category: championships: 12; playoff berths: 6; playoff wins: 4; heartbreaks: 15; rival comparison: 8
Where they're especially miserable: Forget the 36-year drought since their last Stanley Cup championship, they've only won one playoff series in the past 25 seasons. During that time the Islanders have gone through an embarrassing ownership fiasco and missed the postseason in nine of the 14 seasons after the league returned from its 2005 lockout.
Rays of hope: At least the Islanders have the 1980s. While most of their fans probably don't remember it, the Isles won the Stanley Cup four years in a row from 1980 to 1983 and made a fifth Finals appearance in 1984. But at least they're moving back to their Long Island home, as they plan to leave Barclay Center and head back to their Nassau County roots.
Trend: Well, this has been a pleasant surprise. The Islanders have attacked their post-John Tavares era with aplomb, as they've been atop the Metropolitan Division for much of the season. This might be the most delightful Isles team since that 1980s dynasty, and in no way is that an exaggeration.
8. Dallas Stars
Total score: 10.76
All-sport rank: 52
Ranking by category: championships: 19; playoff berths: 8; playoff wins: 14; heartbreaks: 16; rival comparison: 9
Where they're especially miserable: The Stars have seen themselves take quite a fall during the past decade, as they missed the playoffs eight of the previous 10 seasons, including the past two. The one year they had a good team came when they won the division in 2016, and that season ended with a 6-1 loss to the rival Blues in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Rays of hope: While the past 10 years have been a bummer in the Big D, the previous decade was pretty nice. The Stars went to the playoffs nine times from 1998 to 2008, advancing to the Western Conference finals four times, making the Stanley Cup Finals twice and winning the Stanley Cup over the Sabres in 1999.
Trend: It's still hard to say and it's been a little weird, as Stars CEO Jim Lites publicly ripped Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Despite that, Dallas is in the playoffs and could be in line to make some postseason waves.
Total score: 10.66
All-sport rank: 53
Ranking by category: championships: 14; playoff berths: 4; playoff wins: 8; heartbreaks: 17; rival comparison: 17
Where they're especially miserable: The glory days of old seem eons ago, as the Oilers have only made the playoffs once in the past 13 seasons, including missing 10 years in a row from 2007 to 2016. It's been 29 years since Edmonton won their last Stanley Cup and 13 years since the Oilers last made a Cup Final in 2006. And yes, the Wayne Gretzky trade still hurts 31 years later.
Rays of hope: Older fans can look back at the Gretzky/Mark Messier/Grant Fuhr era with pride, as the Oilers won five Stanley Cups from 1984 to 1990 and played in a Cup Final in 1983. The 2016-17 season was also a ray of hope, as the Oilers not only broke a decade-long playoff drought, but won a playoff series and came with a game of making the Western Conference finals.
Trend: At a crossroads. Connor McDavid is as good a player as you'll see, but the Oilers still aren't a playoff-caliber team. As great as McDavid is, it's going to take more than him and Leon Draisaitl to reverse the misery trend in Edmonton.
10. Calgary Flames
Total score: 7.55
All-sport rank: 61
Ranking by category: championships: 10; playoff berths: 7; playoff wins: 5; heartbreaks: 25; rival comparison: 15
Where they're especially miserable: It's been a pretty barren existence for the Flames since their surprise run to the 2004 Cup Final, as they've only won one playoff series in the 13 seasons since. The Flames missed the playoffs seven of the past nine seasons prior to this year, haven't won a playoff game since 2015, and don't have the history the rival Oilers have to fall back on.
Rays of hope: While Calgary might not have Edmonton's history, it does have some good times to look back on. Whether it's watching the career of future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla, the 1989 Stanley Cup title over the Canadiens or beating the Oilers in the 1986 Smythe Division finals on an own goal by Edmonton late in Game 7, there have been some glimmers of hope.
Trend: The misery is going to fall like a rock. The Flames have exploded, pun intended, on the scene this season, as they've been atop the Western Conference all year behind a high-scoring, super-fun offensive attack. Expect Calgary to be much lower in these rankings after the season and going forward.
Total score: 6.99
All-sport rank: 64
Ranking by category: championships: 5; playoff berths: 23; playoff wins: 18; heartbreaks: 13; rival comparison: 5
Where they're especially miserable: In finishing the job. The Flyers have fallen short in their past five trips to the Stanley Cup Final, from being swept by the Red Wings in 1997 to losing in 7 to the Wayne Gretzky Oilers in 1987 to losing to the Blackhawks on Patrick Kane's walk-off goal in 2010. Watching the cross-state Penguins win five Cups is more salt in the wound.
Rays of hope: The Flyers did get two titles in the 1970s via the Broad Street Bullies, but if you don't remember that, you do remember the Flyers being in the playoffs a lot. The Flyers only missed the postseason four times since 1995 prior to this year and pulled off one of the best comebacks in NHL history in 2010, erasing a 3-0 series deficit and a 3-0 Game 7 deficit to knock out the Bruins.
Trend: Despite a revival after the all-star break the Flyers find themselves outside of the postseason and likely making a jump in the rankings. We'll see whether their second-half improvement is sustainable going forward.
Total score: 6.72
All-sport rank: 65
Ranking by category: championships: 21; playoff berths: 11; playoff wins: 12; heartbreaks: 14; rival comparison: 11
Where they're especially miserable: The Avalanche have petered out after a very strong start in Denver, as they've missed the playoffs six of the previous eight seasons and haven't won a playoff series since 2008. Things haven't been the same for the Avalanche since they blew a 3-2 lead to the rival Red Wings in the 2002 Western Conference finals, losing Game 7 7-0.
Rays of hope: For as bad as the past decade has been, Denver was extremely spoiled by the Avalanche during their first decade in town. Colorado won two Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001, with the first title coming in the franchise's first year after moving from Quebec. Avs fans have also gotten to watch all-time greats such as Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg.
Trend: The Avs wanted to build on their massive 2017-18 improvement but had to scramble to get back in the postseason. They can be dangerous in the postseason with Nathan MacKinnon, but this season was very close to being annoying.
Total score: 5.95
All-sport rank: 67
Ranking by category: championships: 2; playoff berths: 13 (tie); playoff wins: 13; heartbreaks: 21; rival comparison: 14
Where they're especially miserable: Think of the Canucks as the Canadian version of the Flyers -- if the Flyers didn't have a couple of old championships. Vancouver has lost all three of its Cup Final series, including losing Game 7 at home to the Bruins in 2011. They haven't won a playoff series since that defeat and have now missed the postseason four years in a row.
Rays of hope: For as bad as things have been for the Canucks since that Game 7 loss, their Western Canada rivals haven't done much of anything in that time, either (though the Flames could alter that this season). Vancouver also tends to win a playoff series or two when it qualifies for the playoffs, as the Canucks won six postseason series from 2003 to 2011. Also, the Sedin brothers were fun to watch.
Trend: Looking up. The young Canucks stayed alive for a while thanks to a recovered Brock Boeser and a wonderful rookie season from Elias Pettersson. Even though it didn't make the playoffs, Vancouver's sizable improvement this season bodes well for the future.
14. St. Louis Blues
Total score: 2.98
All-sport rank: 74
Ranking by category: championships: 1; playoff berths: 24; playoff wins: 19; heartbreaks: 18; rival comparison: 10
Where they're especially miserable: It's one thing to make the Stanley Cup Final a lot and not win. The Blues can't even get to the final round, a place they haven't been since making it their first three years of existence. But the Blues are oh-fer since 1970 despite being a playoff regular, most recently losing to the Sharks in the 2016 Western Conference finals.
Rays of hope: The fan bases above are jealous of the amount of times the Blues have made the playoffs. They made the postseason six years in a row before barely missing this past season, and their 25-year playoff streak from 1980 to 2004 is tied for third longest in NHL history. St. Louis fans have also had the pleasure of watching all-time greats such as Wayne Gretzky and Brett Hull.
Trend: After sleepwalking through the first couple of months this season (and getting coach Mike Yeo fired in the process), the Blues have woken up and surged into the playoffs. The Blues could fall in misery if that surge continues into the postseason.
15. Winnipeg Jets
Total score: 2.96
All-sport rank: 75
Ranking by category: championships: 22; playoff berths: 10; playoff wins: 11; heartbreaks: 30; rival comparison: 20
Where they're especially miserable: Winnipeg fans went 15 years without NHL hockey, as the original Jets moved to Arizona in 1996 while the current Jets arrived from Atlanta in 2011. The first six years back in Winnipeg were a grind, as the Jets missed the playoffs five of their first six seasons and got swept by the Ducks the one time they did make the playoffs.
Rays of hope: The Jets blew up that failure last season, as they had one of the best records in the league and went on a run to the Western Conference finals. How Winnipeg did it was especially sweet, as they whipped the rival Wild in the first round before routing the Predators, who had the best regular-season record in the league, in Game 7 on the road in Round 2.
Trend: Moving down in misery. The Jets have used last year's run to the Western Conference finals as momentum for this season, as they're back in the playoffs and hope to improve on last year's performance. Either way, things are as good in Winnipeg as they've ever been.
16. Ottawa Senators
Total score: 2.59
All-sport rank: 77
Ranking by category: championships: 7; playoff berths: 15; playoff wins: 16; heartbreaks: 11; rival comparison: 22
Where they're especially miserable: It's been a disaster for the Senators since Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference finals, when Chris Kunitz eliminated them with a walk-off goal in double OT. Since then they had a terrible record in 2017-18, had the assistant GM resign due to sexual harassment, and had a player's girlfriend bully another player's wife on social media. Yikes.
Rays of hope: Before all of the recent drama the Senators were a pretty successful organization. They made the playoffs 14 times in 16 seasons from 1997 to 2013, making the Eastern Conference finals twice and qualifying for the Stanley Cup Final in 2007. That's a lot better than the neighboring Maple Leafs could muster and Ottawa held its own against Montreal, too.
Trend: The predictable trainwreck has been as bad as feared, as the Senators finished as the worst team in the league. With the organizational turmoil still going, expect Ottawa to move up these standings.
Total score: 2.08
All-sport rank: 79
Ranking by category: championships: 24; playoff berths: 13 (tie); playoff wins: 17; heartbreaks: 19; rival comparison: 16
Where they're especially miserable: The Devils haven't won a playoff series since the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, missing the postseason five consecutive seasons before losing in the first round last year. The Devils also saw star forward Ilya Kovalchuk, who signed a then-NHL-record contract with the team in 2010, bolt for Russia in his prime.
Rays of hope: The Devils did break their recent playoff drought last season and look to be on the rise. Devils fans also got to enjoy the fruits of the Martin Brodeur/neutral-zone trap era, as they won three Stanley Cups between 1995 and 2003, something the rival Rangers and Islanders can't claim. They also went to the playoffs 21 times in 24 seasons between 1988 and 2012.
Trend: Last year's playoff berth seems to be an aberration -- at least for now. The Devils backslid this season and missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons.
18. Minnesota Wild
Total score: 1.26
All-sport rank: 82
Ranking by category: championships: 15 (tie); playoff berths: 19; playoff wins: 9 (tie); heartbreaks: 27; rival comparison: 12
Where they're especially miserable: While the Wild have become playoff regulars, they haven't done much lately in the postseason. Minnesota has lost four consecutive playoff series dating to 2015 and haven't made it past the second round since 2003, its third year of existence. They haven't even won a conference finals game, as they were swept by the Ducks in 2003.
Rays of hope: Playoff hockey has become a regular thing in the Twin Cities, as the Wild made the playoffs six seasons in a row before this season and have won two postseason series in that time. Considering that they had made the playoffs only three times in the first 12 years of the franchise (only winning two playoff series), things have gotten better for Wild fans.
Trend: The Wild found themselves right at the playoff cutline again, but fell short this time. While Wild fans were sick of early playoff losses, they'd rather have that than no postseason at all.
Total score: -1.34
All-sport rank: 86
Ranking by category: championships: 13; playoff berths: 20; playoff wins: 22; heartbreaks: 12; rival comparison: 18
Where they're especially miserable: With increased success comes increased heartbreaks. The Predators have made a leap, going to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017 and winning the Presidents' Trophy last year, but saw those seasons end disappointingly, especially in their 5-1 loss to the Jets on home ice in Game 7 of the second round last May.
Rays of hope: Despite the disappointing finishes, the past two seasons have seen the Predators reach new heights. Nashville won four playoff series the past two seasons after winning only three in the first 17 seasons of the franchise. Preds fans were used to the postseason before the recent uptick, too, as Nashville has only missed the playoffs three times since 2004.
Trend: The Predators find themselves on the Stanley Cup shortlist, which is a pretty cool new normal for Nashville fans. But will the Preds have a less heartbreaking finish this time around?
20. Anaheim Ducks
Total score: -2.8
All-sport rank: 91
Ranking by category: championships: 17 (tie); playoff berths: 29; playoff wins: 23; heartbreaks: 7; rival comparison: 13
Where they're especially miserable: Losing Game 7s at home. The Honda Center has been cursed for the Ducks in winner-take-all playoff games, as they lost four Game 7s in a row on home ice from 2013 to 2016. The stomach punches have been immense, from losing to the Blackhawks with the Cup Final on the line in 2015 to being blasted by the SoCal rival Kings in 2014.
Rays of hope: The Ducks have a relatively recent Stanley Cup in their possession, as they beat the Senators to hoist Lord Stanley in 2007. Anaheim has also been a playoff fixture since its unlikely run to the Cup Final in 2003, as the Ducks have missed the playoffs three times in the 15 seasons prior to this one and had made the postseason six years in a row.
Trend: The Ducks stayed in the playoff hunt for a bit, but their older roster wasn't able to keep the postseason streak going. That will likely lead to a rebuild, which was started with the firing of coach Randy Carlyle. It could be a rough next few years in Anaheim.
21. Boston Bruins
Total score: -5.84
All-sport rank: 96
Ranking by category: championships: 26; playoff berths: 27; playoff wins: 25; heartbreaks: 2; rival comparison: 29
Where they're especially miserable: The Bruins have the second-highest heartbreak score across all sports. While the heartbreaks have happened in every decade, the 2010s have seen Boston blow a 3-0 lead to the Flyers, while also blowing a 3-0 lead in Game 7 of that series, in 2010 and falling in OT in Game 7 to the Capitals two years later, among others.
Rays of hope: A byproduct of heartbreak is being good enough to get in position to get your heart broken, and the Bruins are usually good enough. They're about to make their third straight playoff appearance and 10th of the past 12 seasons and have the NHL record for longest-ever playoff streak, making it 29 years in a row from 1968 to 1996. The Bruins also won a Cup recently, beating the Canucks in 2011.
Trend: The Bruins are set to make another playoff appearance and have surged toward the top of the league (or at least the top of the not-Lightning teams). If they continue that surge in the postseason, the Bruins will be moving down these rankings.
Total score: -6.32
All-sport rank: 97
Ranking by category: championships: 27; playoff berths: 16; playoff wins: 15; heartbreaks: 24; rival comparison: 26
Where they're especially miserable: It's hard to have misery when you make the Stanley Cup Final in your first year of existence, but the Golden Knights did go from laying waste to the competition (13 wins in their first 15 playoff games) to losing four in a row to the Capitals. And there might be a lack of appreciation for having so much success so quickly.
Rays of hope: I think being the first expansion team since the 1968 Blues to make the Cup Final is enough hope, isn't it? The Golden Knights not only rushed through the Western Conference playoffs, but they took out two of their division rivals in the course of making the Final -- the Kings and the Sharks. And their pregame introductions are pretty outstanding, too.
Trend: Last season wasn't beginners' luck, as the Golden Knights are in the playoffs again. While another run to the Cup Final might be unrealistic, expect more fun in Sin City this spring.
Total score: -6.39
All-sport rank: 98
Ranking by category: championships: 25; playoff berths: 26; playoff wins: 21; heartbreaks: 9; rival comparison: 23
Where they're especially miserable: Hockeytown hasn't had a lot to cheer about lately, as the Red Wings have missed the playoffs the past three seasons and haven't won a playoff series in the past six. The Red Wings have lost four playoff series in a row dating back to a second-round loss to the rival Blackhawks in 2013 in which they blew a 3-1 series lead.
Rays of hope: Excuse the rest of the NHL if they don't have sympathy for Detroit's plight, as the Red Wings were the league's standard for a quarter-century. The Red Wings went to the playoffs 25 seasons in a row from 1991 to 2016, good enough to tie for third in NHL history, and qualified 28 times in 29 seasons. The Red Wings won four Stanley Cups during that time and played in two other finals.
Trend: This is now three years in a row with no postseason, and the memories of Stanley Cup runs in the past are starting to fade. Seems like Detroit will be ascending up these misery rankings rapidly.
Total score: -6.61
All-sport rank: 99
Ranking by category: championships: 23; playoff berths: 21; playoff wins: 20; heartbreaks: 22; rival comparison: 24
Where they're especially miserable: Sure, the Canadiens have won way more championships than any other franchise in the NHL. But unless you're a Habs fan in your early 30s, you don't remember any of them, as Montreal last held Lord Stanley's Cup in 1993. That's the last time the Canadiens have played for the Cup, too. And the Patrick Roy trade still hurts to this day.
Rays of hope: It has been a while since Montreal has won a Cup, but c'mon, it has 24 Stanley Cups, so no one is going to have sympathy for the Habs fans. And unlike the rival Maple Leafs, the Canadiens have been a consistent postseason qualifier (12 playoff berths in 14 seasons from 2003 to 2017) in their title drought and made the Eastern Conference finals as recently as 2014.
Trend: Having a healthy Carey Price between the pipes was nice, and Max Domi has been a nice, youthful addition for Montreal, but the Canadiens fell short of the postseason for the second straight season. So expect the misery to increase.
25. New York Rangers
Total score: -7.29
All-sport rank: 100
Ranking by category: championships: 3; playoff berths: 22; playoff wins: 27; heartbreaks: 5; rival comparison: 27
Where they're especially miserable: I'm guessing that Rangers fans would put themselves higher on this list, as championships have been tough to come by in the Big Apple. The Rangers haven't won a title since Mark Messier & Co. grabbed the city's heart in 1994. Their previous Stanley Cup before that famously came in 1940.
Rays of hope: Sure, it's been a while since the '94 ticker-tape parade, but the Rangers have a much shorter championship drought than the hated Islanders (1983) and the rival Flyers (1975). The Rangers also make the playoffs a lot (12 years in a row before missing last season) and stay for a while when they do (six playoff series wins since 2014, including a trip to the '14 Cup Final).
Trend: The misery is increasing. The Rangers will miss the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since before the 2004-05 lockout and could have a couple of more rough seasons before things improve.
26. San Jose Sharks
Total score: -8.02
All-sport rank: 105
Ranking by category: championships: 6; playoff berths: 30; playoff wins: 26; heartbreaks: 10; rival comparison: 25
Where they're especially miserable: They're still lacking that Stanley Cup. Despite frequent playoff appearances, the Sharks haven't won the ultimate prize in their 26 seasons of existence. The closest San Jose has come to glory was a trip to the Final in 2016, when the Sharks lost in six to the Penguins. They also blew a 3-0 lead to the Kings in 2014.
Rays of hope: It's rare for the NHL playoffs to start without a Northern California presence, as the Sharks have only missed the playoffs six times in franchise history and only four times since their initial postseason appearance in 1994. They've only missed the playoffs twice since 1998, which is why San Jose has the second-best playoff berth score in the league.
Trend: The Sharks' window for getting that elusive Stanley Cup is still wide open, as San Jose is one of the best teams in the Western Conference this season and is on the shortlist of prime Cup contenders. Can the Sharks finally get to the top?
Total score: -8.03
All-sport rank: 106
Ranking by category: championships: 17 (tie); playoff berths: 17; playoff wins: 28; heartbreaks: 8; rival comparison: 28
Where they're especially miserable: The last few Lightning playoff defeats have been heart-wrenching, as the Lightning have been eliminated in a Game 7 in three of their past five playoff appearances. That span of time also saw Tampa Bay lose to the Blackhawks in six games in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning have also only made the postseason 11 times in 26 seasons.
Rays of hope: The 11 playoff appearances stat is a bit deceiving, as 10 of those have come since 2003. And when Tampa makes the playoffs it goes on a run, as the Lightning have been to the Eastern Conference finals four times since 2011. Lightning fans in their 20s remember the 2004 Stanley Cup over the Flames, and Tampa has easy bragging rights over in-state rival Florida.
Trend: The Lightning will have a say on who wins the 2019 Stanley Cup one way or another. Tampa Bay has been the best team in the league from the jump, and while the NHL playoffs are often a crapshoot, the Lightning have all the necessary pieces to grab their second Cup.
Total score: -11.47
All-sport rank: 110
Ranking by category: championships: 29; playoff berths: 18; playoff wins: 24; heartbreaks: 28; rival comparison: 19
Where they're especially miserable: The Kings have lost their mojo from their glorious 2012-14 run, as they haven't won a playoff series since 2014 and are going to miss the playoffs for the third time in five seasons, as Daryl Sutter's brand of hockey ran its course. The Kings also have three droughts of four or more straight seasons without making the playoffs, a rarity in the NHL.
Rays of hope: While the past five years have been mediocre, the three before that were glorious. Not only did the Kings win Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014, but they also made the Western Conference finals in 2013. They also got to troll their rivals, defeating the Ducks in a Game 7 in Anaheim and erasing a 3-0 deficit to the Sharks to spark the 2014 title.
Trend: There's going to be a misery spike. Not only did the Kings not jell this season, therefore missing the playoffs, they're approaching the five-year anniversary of their last Cup championship. The significance of that title will continue to lessen, while misery will grow.
Total score: -11.5
All-sport rank: 111
Ranking by category: championships: 28; playoff berths: 28; playoff wins: 29; heartbreaks: 1; rival comparison: 21
Where they're especially miserable: If it wasn't for this past season, the Capitals would be way higher on the list, as their heartbreak score is the highest in all sports. There are too many Washington gut-punches to mention, but we'll say that the Caps have lost seven Game 7s in the past decade, three of those losses came in OT, and they blew 3-1 leads in two of those series.
Rays of hope: All of that heartbreak went away with the Caps' magical run to the Stanley Cup title this past season. Alex Ovechkin's celebration tour is reason enough to be hopeful, but Washington not only got over one of the biggest humps in hockey, but the Caps did it by overcoming a 2-0 lead in their first series and vanquishing their rival tormentors, the Penguins, along the way.
Trend: The Cup hangover has been muted thus far, as the Caps find themselves in prime position to make some noise in the playoffs. While they might not win another Cup this year, the ghosts of failed postseasons past won't be a part of the D.C. playoff experience this spring. They're gone, baby, gone.
Total score: -26.03
All-sport rank: 119
Ranking by category: championships: 30; playoff berths: 25; playoff wins: 30; heartbreaks: 6; rival comparison: 30
Where they're especially miserable: The Blackhawks' championship window seems to be barricaded shut, as they have steadily gotten worse since their 2015 championship. Chicago has missed the playoffs the past two seasons, evoking memories of the Bill Wirtz days in which they missed the playoffs nine of 10 seasons from 1998 to 2008.
Rays of hope: Don't shed a tear for the Blackhawks' fan base, as it got to witness what will likely be considered the team of the teens. Chicago won Stanley Cups in 2010 (on an overtime goal by Patrick Kane), 2013 and 2015, and their 2013 title run was buoyed by a 3-1 comeback over the hated Red Wings in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Trend: The misery will start to have an effect after missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season, as any hopes of getting the old core a fourth Cup will be gone. The misery might not shoot up completely after this season, but it's certainly coming.
Total score: -36.88
All-sport rank: 121
Ranking by category: championships: 31; playoff berths: 31; playoff wins: 31; heartbreaks: 4; rival comparison: 31
Where they're especially miserable: The Penguins weren't able to pull off the first three-peat since the Islanders in the 1980s, as they lost to the rival Capitals in the second round. Pittsburgh also has the fourth-highest heartbreak score, as they've been eliminated in a Game 7 three times since 2009. But otherwise, we're really reaching on this one.
Rays of hope: The Penguins are the least miserable franchise in every metric beside the heartbreaks category. They've won three Stanley Cups since 2009 (including back-to-back Cups in 2016-17) and have won five Cups since 1991. They've made the playoffs 13 consecutive seasons and Penguins fans have gotten to watch all-time players such as Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby and Jaromir Jagr.
Trend: Do the Penguins have another Cup run in them? They'll be a lower seed heading into the playoffs, but that's never stopped them before. Playoff hockey is a fun time in the Steel City, and it'd be surprising if this year was any different in that regard.