The Carolina Hurricanes, Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars all stand to miss the playoffs by fewer than five points. That means a single bad break in just one four-point game could be the only reason each ends up on the outside looking in next week. Looking at the 58 teams that have been squeezed out of the postseason in the past 25 years by a similar margin, are there any common, avoidable traits they share? And what ultimately happens to these teams in the future?
Missing the playoffs by the smallest of margins certainly appears to be a fate more common to some teams than others -- more than half of modern history's heartbreaks have been shared by just seven franchises. For example, this would be Carolina's record-setting sixth time, with Dallas' fifth occasion pulling that franchise into a second-place tie with Vancouver. Four other clubs have had their hearts broken on four occasions: the Edmonton Oilers, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the victims of the old Patrick Division, the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
In the 21-team days, the Pennsylvania teams found themselves in the only division in which two teams missed the playoffs. As a consequence, each was edged out four times in five seasons -- first the Penguins from 1985 to 1990 and then the Flyers from 1989 to 1994. These were two highly physical teams, with somewhat suspect defenses, a pattern that seems to hold among those that missed the ball. Here's the breakdown of all 58 teams and how each facet of the team ranked relative to the league average.