NHL Teams of the Decade From WhatIfSports.com From WhatIfSports.com image

The NHL's Best and Worst from 2000-2009

Give the 2000-01 Colorado Avalanche an 'A' for effort
By Eric Schmoldt, WhatIfSports.com
March 2, 2010
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What do Martin Brodeur, Eric Staal and Sidney Crosby have in common?

More than just a gold medal, eh.

Yes, the hat trick of hockey superstars all fashioned gold medals around their necks on Sunday, capping off an Olympic run with a thrilling overtime victory against the United States.

But they've also been key figures for teams familiar with hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup above their head over the last decade.

Brodeur almost single-handedly helped the New Jersey Devils win it all in 2000. He gave up just 1.61 goals per game and saved nearly 93% of the shots he saw during the playoffs. Staal had 14 more goals and 24 more points than any of his teammate during Carolina's run in 2006 and led the Hurricanes with 28 more points in the playoffs. Crosby had a little more help, combining with Evgeni Malkin, to help the Pittsburgh Penguins raise the Cup in 2009.

Maybe those teams weren't completely one-dimensional, but they were close to it. That's what earned them a spot amongst the weakest NHL champions of the past decade.

Thanks to Whatifsports.com's hockey simulation engine, our Teams of the Decade series continues on the ice, where it became pretty clear that the best champions of the last 10 years might not have had the biggest names and most highly touted superstars, but a more balanced attack across the board.

Then again, one team dominated the field like no other has to this point thanks to a balanced effort from a bevy of stars.

Who topped the list? Make your pick and then scroll down to see if you were right.

3. 2003-04 TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Ah yes, the coming out party for another Martin. Nikolai Khabibulin

Martin St. Louis showed some promise with 70 points one year earlier, but exploded for 94 in 2003-04 and had nine goals and 24 points in the playoffs.

But he didn't do it alone.

Cory Stillman had 80 points in the regular season, Brad Richards led the team with 26 in the playoffs and Ruslan Fedotenko had nearly as many goals in the playoffs as he did in the entire regular season. And a goaltender with one of the best names ever in the history of sports -- Nikolai Khabibulin -- stopped just about every puck that came his way.

The Lightning also have the dubious honor of reigning as champions for two years thanks to the strike, but even that wasn't enough to propel them to the top spot of the decade.

2. 2006-07 ANAHEIM DUCKS

All they needed to do was drop the "Mighty."

Teemu Selanne led the way for the Ducks in their first year since dropping the Mighty from their Disney-given name. He had 94 points in the regular season, but Anaheim then produced one of the most balanced efforts the playoffs have seen.

Andy McDonald, who had 27 goals in the regular season, led the way with 10 in the playoffs. Ryan Getzaf, just sixth in points on the team during the year, led the way during the playoffs. And nine players overall had between 10 and 17 points as the Ducks rolled through the playoffs.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere also gave up less than two goals per game during the playoffs and Anaheim lost just five games in four playoff series.

Perhaps if they would have had a knuckle puck or used the Flying V, they'd be the top champion of the past decade.

NHL Best of the Decade
TeamWin%Avg Goals
2000-01 Colorado Avalanche65.03.2
2006-07 Anaheim Ducks54.03.1
2003-04 Tampa Bay Lightning52.53.1
2007-08 Detroit Red Wings51.12.9
2001-02 Detroit Red Wings48.92.9
2002-03 New Jersey Devils48.12.4
2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins47.63.2
2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes42.73.5
1999-00 New Jersey Devils40.02.8

1. 2000-01 COLORADO AVALANCHE

They had the balance, they had the big names and they had one of the greatest video game teams ever -- or at least one of my favorites ever to play with.

The 2000-01 Avs had a 100-point scorer in Joe Sakic. They had three others with at least 77 points in Peter Forsberg, Milan Hejduk and Alex Tanguay. They had Ray Bourque, a defensemen, nearly get to 60 points. They made a trade for Rob Blake and Steve Reinprecht. They had Patrick Roy, one of the greatest netminders in NHL history.

Translation: They had a team that kept your friends up at night as they tried to figure out how to beat you.

And that talent and balance transferred over to them in Whatifsports.com's round robin play against every other Stanley Cup champion from the past decade.

The Avalanche didn't just win that competition, they obliterated the field. The Avs won nearly two-thirds of the games they played and won 11% more games than the second-place Ducks.

They also didn't have anyone from a certain 2010 gold medal team.

I'm just sayin'.

How'd did your guess compare to our results? If you want you can simulate any match-up of Stanley Cup champions for FREE by using our NHL SimMatchup tool.

WORST OF THE DECADE

Scott Langkow
Scott Langkow and the 1999-00 Atlanta Thrashers were Whatifsports.com's worst NHL team of the decade.

NHL Worst of the Decade
TeamWin%Avg Goals
1999-00 Atlanta Thrashers24.63.4
2003-04 Pittsburgh Penguins34.33.9
2001-02 Atlanta Thrashers44.33.7
2002-03 Carolina Hurricanes47.33.2
2005-06 St. Louis Blues53.33.7
2000-01 New York Islanders54.33.7
2006-07 Philadelphia Flyers54.24.0
2008-09 New York Islanders56.83.5
2007-08 Tampa Bay Lightning80.64.9

The best of the best rose well above everyone else and worst of the worst sunk well below the level of any other NHL team over the last ten years.

Four years after winning the Stanley Cup, the Tampa Bay Lightning found themselves in the cellar and on this list of Worst Teams of the Decade. Apparently they didn't like being on the list, however, as they destroyed the field in round-robin play.

Tampa Bay won more than 80% of its games, but with one team winning that much, it opened the door for another to lose at an epic rate.

The 1999-2000 Atlanta Thrashers probably deserve a little bit of a break since they were in their first year of existence, but that didn't exclude them from our list of the worst teams in the NHL in the last 10 years.

The Thrashers didn't have a single player with more than 50 points. They had just four with more than 30. Atlanta relied on four different goalies throughout the year who all gave up at least 3.49 goals per game. And they didn't have a single player that you could probably name right now.

In other words, they were the anti-Avs. They weren't very balanced and they didn't have anybody that was very good.

That's a recipe for disaster, even against the worst teams on the ice. Atlanta proved that, winning less than one-quarter of their games against the other cellar-dwellars of the decade.

Agree, disagree or have a cool "what if" NHL idea? Shoot Beyond the Boxscore an email at BtB@whatifsports.com

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