Posted: Thursday April 13, 2006 12:56PM; Updated: Thursday April 13, 2006 4:19PM
Peter Laviolette's Isles improved by 44 points in 2001-02. His Hurricanes are now 33 points better than their '03-04 mark.
Dave Sandford/Getty Images
The New York Rangers have not made the playoffs seemingly since Ron Greschner and Carol Alt were an item. OK, it hasn't been that long, but 1997 is ancient times considering all that has happened in the NHL since fans of the Blueshirts last had the opportunity to purchase playoff tickets.
With 100 points heading into play April 13, the Rangers have improved upon their 2003-04 standing by 31 points and counting. Meanwhile, the Southeast Division champion Carolina Hurricanes, Cup finalists in '02, have added 33 points in a resounding about-face.
While neither team will author the greatest turnaround in league history, they could still crash the list below: the top regular-season turnarounds in NHL history as measured by points. (The list does not include 1995-96, which followed the abbreviated lockout season of '94-95.)
1. 1993-94 San Jose Sharks, 58-point improvement Coach: Kevin Constantine
The Sharks moved from the Cow Palace, their temporary home in Daly City, to San Jose and the high-rent district in the form of a lift from 24 points the previous season to 82. Sergei Makarov led the team with 30 goals and Arturs Irbe won 30 games. But the most memorable moment was yet to come as the Sharks would stun the Red Wings in the opening round of the playoffs before taking Toronto to a seventh game.
2. 1992-93 Quebec Nordiques, 52 points Coach: Pierre Page
Instead of wearing bonnets and sucking on pacifiers, Quebec fans should have handed out thank-you notes whenever Eric Lindros arrived in town. Two of the players the Nords got from Philly in the mega offseason deal for Big E -- Mike Ricci and Steve Duchesne -- combined for 160 points. Another, Ron Hextall, won 29 games as the team doubled its point total. Joe Sakic (48) and Mats Sundin (47) flirted with 50 goals.
3. 1981-82 Winnipeg Jets, 48 points Coach: Tom Watt
The reward for finishing 1980-81 with an abysmal nine wins and 32 points was first overall pick Dale Hawerchuk. The future Hall of Famer had an immediate impact as he scored 45 goals and 103 points to lift the Jets to second place in the Norris Division. Morris Lukowich added 43 goals, but the success did not carry over into the playoffs as the Jets were swept by St. Louis in their first NHL playoff series.
4. 2001-02 New York Islanders, 44 points Coach: Peter Laviolette
After failing to reach the 60-point level in three previous seasons, the Isles' offseason was highlighted by the acquisitions of Alexei Yashin, Michael Peca and Chris Osgood. Yashin would lead with 32 goals, Peca netted 25 and Osgood tied Billy Smith's team mark with 32 wins. The Isles went on to lose a spirited seven-game series against the Maple Leafs in the opening round.
5. 1967-68 Boston Bruins, 40 points Coach: Harry Sinden
In the first season of expansion, the Bruins did not beat up on the six new teams, going only 14-9-1 against them. Rather, the B's were steady throughout. Their 84 points marked the first time they'd reached 50 since 1959-60. After ending an eight-year playoff drought, they were swept by the Habs in the first round. Seven players scored at least 20 goals, led by Phil Esposito's 35. Gerry Cheevers won 23 games with a 2.83 GAA in his first full season.