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Putting the off in playoff

Kings, Coyotes carry on postseason ineptitude

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Posted: Saturday April 22, 2000 04:36 AM

  Jeremy Roenick (left) and Rob Blake have endured more than their share of postseason pain. Allsport

By Ryan Hunt,

Perhaps, in the interest of fairness, the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes should be matched up against each other in the first round of next year's Stanley Cup playoffs.

That way, at least one team is guaranteed to have some postseason success.

The Coyotes and Kings are easily the NHL's most playoff-cursed teams. Next season, with just a little more ineptitude, both can match records for playoff failure.

Los Angeles, thanks to its first-round sweep, has lost 12 straight postseason games -- four shy of the NHL record.

The Kings have not won a playoff game since Game 1 of the 1993 Stanley Cup finals against the Montreal Canadiens, a series they went on to lose in five games. And after missing the playoffs from '94-97, Los Angeles has been swept in each of the past two years -- by St. Louis in '99 and by Detroit this year.

Postseason Problems
Longest NHL playoff losing streaks
No.  Team  Years 
16  Chicago Blackhawks  1975-79 
12  Toronto Maple Leafs  1979-83 
12  Los Angeles Kings  1993-pres 
10  New York Rangers  1968-70 
10  Philadelphia Flyers  1968-73 
10  Chicago Blackhawks  1992-94 

With one more sweep, the Kings would match the dubious mark held by the 1975-79 Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago's streak started in the '75 quarterfinals against Buffalo and ended on April 8, 1980 with a 3-2 win over St. Louis in the opening game of their preliminary round.

Toronto also lost 12 consecutive postseason games, from 79-83.

But at least Phoenix can claim a win every once in a while.

The Coyotes, which were eliminated Friday by Colorado, have not won a first-round playoff series since 1987 -- when the then-Winnipeg Jets beat Calgary in six games -- a stretch of nine straight one-and-out postseason encounters.

Only the Montreal Canadiens have been eliminated as early and as often -- and that was in "Original Six" era . The Habs were knocked out in their opening round 10 consecutive times from 1932-43, sandwiching Stanley Cup titles in '31 and '44

Not Staying Long
Most consecutive opening-round exits
Team  No.  Years 
Montreal Canadiens  10  1932-43 
Phoenix Coyotes*  1988-pres 
New York Rangers  1956-70 
Carolina Hurricanes**  1987-pres  
Buffalo Sabres  1984-92 
Calgary Flames  1990-pres 
Calgary Flames  1974-80 
Boston Bruins  1931-38 
Vancouver Canucks  1983-91 
Vancouver Canucks  1974-80 
Toronto Maple Leafs  1969-75 
* Moved from Winnipeg in 1996-97
** Moved from Hartford in 1997-98

Montreal actually was knocked out in the semifinals in 1932, '37 and '43, but it was the Canadiens' opening round.

With the five-game loss to the Avalanche, the Coyotes broke a tie with the New York Rangers for second. The Rangers lost eight straight opening-round series in a span from 1956-70.

Now, Carolina and Calgary aren't too far behind when it comes to "one and done."

The Carolina Hurricanes currently have lost seven straight first-round series, dating to their days as the Hartford Whalers. The Whalers beat the Quebec Nordiques (now the Avalanche) in 1986 for the franchise's only postseason series win.

The Flames, meanwhile, have been knocked out in the opening round six straight times since winning the Stanley Cup in '89. But Calgary, which also lost six straight series from 1974-80, has missed the playoffs in each of the past four seasons.

Related information
Bourque leaves Bruins, rare club loyalty behind
Tampa Bay's Lecavalier earns NHL record with captaincy
Wings complete sweep of Kings with shutout
Avalanche hand Coyotes ninth straight first-round series loss
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