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Comparing Wings' streak to teams they passed

Friday, 02.17.2012 / 11:14 AM / Inside the Numbers

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

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Comparing Wings' streak to teams they passed
Detroit's record home win streak and those of the two teams they passed came in different eras. NHL.com goes inside the numbers to see which was best.
They took place in different eras, with different rules and under different conditions. So which home winning streak is the best?

Detroit's is unquestionably the longest -- the Wings set the single-season mark with their 21st straight home victory by beating Dallas 3-1 on Tuesday night. A win Friday against Nashville will match the most consecutive wins at home ever, equaling the 22 in a row won by the Boston Bruins in 1929-30 and '30-31.

Before this season, the 1929-30 Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers shared the record with 20 consecutive wins, a total the Wings matched last Sunday -- ironically by beating the Flyers. Detroit hopes to avoid the ultimate fate of its predecessors: Though both the Bruins and Flyers finished first in the regular season, neither won the Stanley Cup -- both lost in the Final.

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The Bruins played without the red line, in an era of train travel and 44-game seasons. Philadelphia played with airplane travel and the red line -- but no stretch passes and a lot more fighting. The Wings' streak has come in a League with players who are bigger, faster and represent a much wider variety of nationalities -- but fight less and face better goaltending on a nightly basis.

So which team is more dominant? Here's a look at how they match up in a number of categories.

Offense: The '75-76 Flyers, playing in a higher-scoring era (teams combined for an average of 6.8 goals per game), piled up 106 goals (5.3 per game) during their streak. The '29-30 Bruins scored 94 (4.7 per game) in a season that saw an average of 5.9 goals per game. The Wings scored 84 non-shootout goals in their 21 wins, exactly 4.0 per game -- but they've done it in a season that has seen teams combine for an average of 5.3 goals per game.

The Flyers were tops in big offensive nights -- they scored six or more goals in 10 of their 20 wins. Boston had six or more six times; the Wings did it only twice. The Flyers averaged 40.4 shots per game during their streak; the Wings have averaged 32.8. Shots weren't an official stat during the Bruins' streak.

Defense: The Wings surrendered 30 goals during the first 20 games of their streak, then allowed only one in the record-setting 3-1 win against Dallas on Tuesday. The '29-30 Bruins allowed 33 goals (1.65 per game) during their streak, the same number given up by the Flyers.

Detroit has shut out four opponents during its streak, all by Jimmy Howard. Boston put up three shutouts, all by Tiny Thompson -- while Philadelphia, perhaps surprisingly, had none. The Flyers did limit 10 opponents to a single goal and allowed as many as four goals only once. Boston allowed five goals in one game and four in another; the Wings have not allowed more than three goals to any opponent during the streak, and only Calgary (Nov. 23) and Philadelphia (Feb. 12) managed that many.

Shots on goal weren't kept during the '29-30 season, so we can't compare Boston's ability to limit chances, but the Flyers held opponents to an average of 27.5 shots, slightly more than the Wings' 25.8 in a tighter-checking era.

Domination: Given their offensive and defensive numbers, it's more than fair to say that all three teams were dominant by any standard of measurement.

The '29-30 Bruins won 12 of their 20 victories during the streak by three or more goals, just two by two goals (this was the era before the empty-net goal) and six by a single goal. The '75-76 Flyers won 13 games by three or more goals, four by two and just three by a single goal. Ten of Detroit's 21 wins have come by three or more goals; five were two-goal games and six were by a single goal.

Winning in regulation: The biggest difference in the rules is that games tied at the end of regulation are now decided by shootouts -- something that didn't exist for either of the other 20-win teams.

The Wings have taken full advantage of the tiebreaker -- they've played three of them during the streak and won all three. Detroit also won one game in overtime, meaning that only two of its six one-goal wins during the streak were 60-minute victories.

A fan holds up a sign congratulating the Detroit Red Wings on their NHL record-breaking 21st consecutive home victory on Feb. 14 at Joe Louis Arena. (Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
It's easy to forget that while overtime didn't exist for nearly four decades, it was in the rule book during the Bruins' streak. Boston went to overtime twice and won both games, beating the New York Americans 2-1 and Toronto 6-5.

The Flyers were the only one of the three teams to win every game of its streak in regulation.

Not that the streak started with a bang -- the Flyers trailed the New York Islanders 2-0 early in a 5-3 victory that became the first of the 20 wins. It was one of a pair of two-goal deficits the Flyers overcame during the streak; they also spotted Vancouver a 2-0 lead before winning 3-2.

Detroit has faced only one two-goal deficit -- the Wings trailed St. Louis 2-0 in their first home game after the Christmas break, but rallied for a 3-2 win.

Ultimate outcome: In addition to their length, the streaks by the Bruins and Flyers had one other thing in common -- both were halted only by the end of the season, and the NHL Guide and Record Book doesn't officially recognize multi-season streaks.

Boston won its last 20 regular-season home games after beating the Rangers 3-2 in their home opener and losing 6-1 to the Montreal Maroons on Nov. 26. The Bruins did lose their first home playoff game (1-0 in double overtime to the Maroons) and dropped a 3-0 decision to the Canadiens in the opener of the Final.

The Bruins started the 1930-31 season with two more wins, extending their two-season streak to 22 wins, before losing 4-3 in overtime to Chicago on Nov. 25, 1930 -- then went 14-0-5 in their last 19 at Boston Garden. If points were awarded for games tied after regulation, as they are today, the Bruins would have had points in 42 consecutive home games (36-0-1-5) in a two-season span.

The Flyers lost their last home game of 1975, a 4-2 decision to the Boston Bruins on Dec. 28 that ended an eight-game winning streak at the Spectrum. Philadelphia won all 20 home games during the 1976 portion of its schedule and won four games against Toronto at the Spectrum in the quarterfinals before Boston won 4-2 in Game 1 of the semis -- meaning they won 32 of 33 in one stretch at the Spectrum. The New York Islanders ended the Flyers' regular-season streak by winning 3-0 in Philadelphia to open the 1976-77 season.

Detroit won its first three home games this season, lost the next three (one in overtime) and has won the last 21 entering tonight's game against Nashville. With some help from the longer schedule (41 home games instead of Boston's 22) and an earlier start (November, rather than January for the Flyers), the Wings have a chance to stretch their streak to a length that could make it next to impossible to beat.

Quote of the Day

Obviously a lot happened in a short period of time. At the end of the day, considering everything I went through, I really felt close to my teammates and I really feel like what we accomplished, I know we didn't win it all. ... I'm really proud of how we got there and what we did once we got there.

— Rangers forward Martin St. Louis to Jim Cerny of BlueshirtsUnited.com