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Sports Misery Index: How miserable is each NHL fan base?

It's hard for Panthers fans to get fired up about a franchise that hasn't won a playoff series in 22 years and has qualified for the postseason only five times. Wilfredo Lee/AP

Which NHL fan bases have it the worst right now? It's a question that the Sports Misery Index tackled, and after we did an article on the top 25 in all sports, it's time to delve deeper into which NHL fans feel good about life and which are, quite frankly, miserable.

The Index takes into account five factors: championships, playoff berths, playoff wins, heartbreaks and rival comparison, with recent events being weighted more than events that took place decades ago. We'll identify how each NHL team rates in each category. In this exercise, the higher the ranking, the more the misery.

1. Florida Panthers

Total score: 23.17
All-sport rank: 4
Ranking by category: championships: 8; playoff berths: 2; playoff wins: 2; heartbreaks: 20; rival comparison: 2

Where they're especially miserable: The 22 years since the Panthers surprisingly made the Stanley Cup Final have been brutal, as Florida has made the playoffs only four times since then and hasn't won a postseason series since the 1996 Eastern Conference finals. While that has been going on, the cross-state Lightning have won a Cup and gone on frequent playoff runs.

Rays of hope: The Panthers won the Atlantic Division in 2015-16 and have some young players to build around in Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck. They weren't too far from making the playoffs last season, and hey, at least they built a fun tradition of peppering the ice with plastic rats after goals.

Trend: It can't get much worse for the Panthers than it has been the last couple of decades, and there is enough talent to get back to the playoffs. An upgrade at goaltender would be helpful toward that cause.

2. Buffalo Sabres

Total score: 19.76
All-sport rank: 9
Ranking by category: championships: 4; playoff berths: 5; playoff wins: 6; heartbreaks: 23; rival comparison: 1

Where they're especially miserable: The fact that the Brett Hull "in the crease" heartbreak in the 1999 Cup Final was their recent high-water mark. That was a terrible way for the Sabres to lose a chance at the Cup, but their performance since then has been rough, as they haven't made the playoffs since 2011 and haven't won a playoff series since 2007.

Rays of hope: Winning hockey is definitely doable in Buffalo, as the Sabres made the playoffs 13 times in 14 seasons from 1988 to 2001. Sabres fans have also been blessed with top-level goaltending over the years in Dominik Hasek and Ryan Miller, and they get to watch one of the best young players in the game in Jack Eichel.

Trend: The presence of Eichel gives fans hope, as Buffalo could start to move up if it can hit on a few more draft picks. Sabres fans are desperate for anything that will distract from the nearby Penguins juggernaut.

3. Arizona Coyotes

Total score: 18.95
All-sport rank: 12
Ranking by category: championships: 9; playoff berths: 3; playoff wins: 3; heartbreaks: 26; rival comparison: 4

Where they're especially miserable: The move from Winnipeg to the desert has been a disaster for the Coyotes, who have won only two playoff series in their 21 seasons in Arizona. The Coyotes haven't made the playoffs since 2012 and have missed the postseason 12 times in the last 15 seasons. Plus, the franchise was part of an embarrassing gambling scandal.

Rays of hope: The two playoff series came in one semi-glorious season, as the Coyotes won their only division championship in 2012 and advanced to the Western Conference finals. As such, Arizona fans have gotten some enjoyment and success out of this team, even if it was fleeting. Also, you can't beat the winter weather in the desert.

Trend: Not looking great. While Clayton Keller gives Arizona fans a young star to follow, it's hard for the Coyotes to compete with the likes of the Ducks, Kings and now the Golden Knights.

4. Carolina Hurricanes

Total score: 16.65
All-sport rank: 21
Ranking by category: championships: 20; playoff berths: 1; playoff wins: 9 (tie); heartbreaks: 29; rival comparison: 6

Where they're especially miserable: The Hurricanes have the longest playoff drought in the NHL, as they haven't qualified for the postseason since 2009. Making the playoffs has been more difficult for Carolina than for any other franchise: The Hurricanes have made the playoffs only five times in 20 seasons since moving from Hartford.

Rays of hope: In the rare instances when the Hurricanes make the playoffs, they do pretty well. Carolina made the Eastern Conference finals the last time it was in the playoffs in 2009, won the Stanley Cup in its second-most recent appearance in 2006 and lost to the Red Wings in the Cup Final in 2002 in its third-most recent appearance in the playoffs.

Trend: The Hurricanes are moving into a new ownership era with Thomas Dundon buying the team. He'll keep the Hurricanes in Raleigh, but it remains to be seen if he'll be able to turn around their losing ways.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs

Total score: 15.98
All-sport rank: 24
Ranking by category: championships: 11; playoff berths: 12; playoff wins: 7; heartbreaks: 3; rival comparison: 7

Where they're especially miserable: The fact that it has been more than a half-century since the Maple Leafs have been to the Stanley Cup Final, much less won one. Toronto hasn't won a playoff series since 2004 and lost in heartbreaking fashion to the Bruins in Game 7 in two of its last three series, including blowing a three-goal third-period lead in the first round in 2013.

Rays of hope: If you care about championships that happened way before you were born (unless you're in your 50s or older), the Maple Leafs won 13 Stanley Cups from 1917 to 1967. Toronto has also qualified for the playoffs the last two seasons, which is an uptick after missing the postseason in 10 of 11 seasons from 2006 to '16.

Trend: Looking up. Toronto's building through the draft is starting to pay dividends, as Auston Matthews leads an up-and-coming team that should break the Maple Leafs' playoff series wins drought pretty soon.

6. Columbus Blue Jackets

Total score: 14.59
All-sport rank: 30
Ranking by category: championships: 15 (tie); playoff berths: 9; playoff wins: 1; heartbreaks: 31; rival comparison: 3

Where they're especially miserable: How does zero playoff series victories sound, for starters? The Blue Jackets are the only franchise in the NHL that doesn't have a postseason series victory. The Blue Jackets have never forced a Game 7 and have made the playoffs only four times since the franchise began play in 2000.

Rays of hope: The Blue Jackets are on an uptick right now, as three of their four postseason berths have come in the last five seasons, including two straight. Columbus won the first two games of its first-round series with the Capitals last season, which might not seem like much but is a sizable upgrade on previous postseason performances.

Trend: Looking up. With back-to-back playoff berths under their belts, the Blue Jackets are building momentum and have young talent such as Seth Jones and Artemi Panarin capable of moving the franchise forward.

7. New York Islanders

Total score: 14.32
All-sport rank: 32
Ranking by category: championships: 12; playoff berths: 6; playoff wins: 4; heartbreaks: 15; rival comparison: 8

Where they're especially miserable: Forget the 35-year drought since their most recent Stanley Cup championship, the Islanders have only won one playoff series in the last 25 years. In the years since, the Islanders have gone through an embarrassing ownership fiasco and have missed the postseason in nine of the 13 seasons since the league returned from its 2005 lockout.

Rays of hope: At least the Islanders have the 1980s. While many of their fans probably don't remember it, the Isles won the Stanley Cup four years in a row from 1980 to '83 and made a fifth Final appearance in 1984. But at least they're moving back to their Long Island home, as they plan to leave Barclays Center and head back to their Nassau County roots.

Trend: The Islanders might be heading back home, but the team will be lacking. The Islanders lost star John Tavares in free agency and are in line for more painful seasons.

8. Dallas Stars

Total score: 10.76
All-sport rank: 48
Ranking by category: championships: 19; playoff berths: 8; playoff wins: 14; heartbreaks: 16; rival comparison: 9

Where they're especially miserable: The Stars have seen themselves take quite a fall in the last decade, as they've missed the playoffs eight of the last 10 years, including the last two. The one year they had a good team came when they won the division in 2016, and that season ended with a 6-1 loss to the rival Blues in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Rays of hope: Although the last 10 years have been a bummer in the Big D, the previous decade was pretty nice. The Stars went to the playoffs nine times from 1998 to 2008, advancing to the Western Conference finals four times, making the Stanley Cup Final twice and winning the Stanley Cup championship over the Sabres in 1999.

Trend: It's hard to say, as the Stars have lost all momentum from their 2016 division championship and are starting over with new coach Jim Montgomery. There don't look to be many postseasons at home in the near future.

9. Edmonton Oilers

Total score: 10.66
All-sport rank: 50
Ranking by category: championships: 14; playoff berths: 4; playoff wins: 8; heartbreaks: 17; rival comparison: 17

Where they're especially miserable: The glory days of old seem eons ago, as the Oilers have made the playoffs once in the last 12 seasons, including missing 10 years in a row from 2007 to '16. It has been 28 years since Edmonton won its most recent Stanley Cup and 12 years since the Oilers made a Cup Final in 2006. And yes, the Wayne Gretzky trade still hurts 30 years later.

Rays of hope: Older fans can look back at the Gretzky/Mark Messier/Grant Fuhr era with pride, as the Oilers won five Stanley Cups from 1984 to '90 and played in a sixth Cup Final in 1983. The 2016-17 season was also a ray of hope, as the Oilers not only broke a decade-long playoff drought but also won a playoff series and came one game from making the Western Conference finals.

Trend: Still promising. Yes, missing the playoffs last year was a step back, but when you have a generational talent like the Oilers have in Connor McDavid, good times are bound to follow.

10. Calgary Flames

Total score: 7.55
All-sport rank: 60
Ranking by category: championships: 10; playoff berths: 7; playoff wins: 5; heartbreaks: 25; rival comparison: 15

Where they're especially miserable: It has been a pretty barren existence for the Flames since their surprise run to the 2004 Cup Final, as they've only won one playoff series in the 13 seasons since. The Flames have missed the playoffs seven of the last nine seasons, haven't won a playoff game since 2015 and don't have the history the rival Oilers have to fall back on.

Rays of hope: While Calgary might not have Edmonton's history, it has good times to look back on. Whether it's watching the career of future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla, the 1989 Stanley Cup title over the Canadiens or beating the Oilers in the 1986 Smythe Division finals on an own goal by Edmonton late in Game 7, there have been glimmers of hope.

Trend: It has been a while since the Flames have made a run, but they have some intriguing talent to move forward with in Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk. Perhaps they can get Calgary over the playoff hump.

11. Philadelphia Flyers

Total score: 6.99
All-sport rank: 64
Ranking by category: championships: 5; playoff berths: 23; playoff wins: 18; heartbreaks: 13; rival comparison: 5

Where they're especially miserable: Finishing the job. The Flyers have fallen short in their last five trips to the Stanley Cup Final, from being swept by the Red Wings in 1997 to losing in seven to the Wayne Gretzky Oilers in 1987 to losing to the Blackhawks on Patrick Kane's walk-off goal in 2010. Watching the cross-state Penguins win five Cups is salt in the wound.

Rays of hope: The Flyers got two titles in the 1970s via the Broad Street Bullies, but if you don't remember that, you remember the Flyers being in the playoffs a lot. The Flyers have missed the postseason only four times since 1995 and pulled off one of the best comebacks in NHL history in 2010, erasing a 3-0 series deficit and a 3-0 Game 7 deficit to knock out the Bruins.

Trend: The Flyers are stuck in the middle of the pack right now, as they've exchanged playoff berths with missing the postseason the last six seasons. That won't cut it for a fan base that's hungry to hoist the Cup again.

12. Colorado Avalanche

Total score: 6.72
All-sport rank: 65
Ranking by category: championships: 21; playoff berths: 11; playoff wins: 12; heartbreaks: 14; rival comparison: 11

Where they're especially miserable: The Avalanche have petered out after a strong start in Denver, as they've missed the playoffs six of the last eight years and haven't won a playoff series since 2008. Things haven't been the same for the Avalanche since they blew a 3-2 lead to the rival Red Wings in the 2002 Western Conference finals, losing Game 7, 7-0.

Rays of hope: For as bad as the last decade has been, Denver was extremely spoiled by the Avalanche during their first decade in town. Colorado won Stanley Cup championships in 1996 and 2001, with the first title coming in the franchise's first year after moving from Quebec. Avs fans have also gotten to watch all-time greats, such as Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg.

Trend: Moving up. The Avs bounced back in a big way from a tumultuous 2017, going from the worst record in the NHL to a playoff berth. Making the playoffs again would show the good times are back for Avs fans.

13. Vancouver Canucks

Total score: 5.95
All-sport rank: 67
Ranking by category: championships: 2; playoff berths: 13 (tie); playoff wins: 13; heartbreaks: 21; rival comparison: 14

Where they're especially miserable: Think of the Canucks as the Canadian version of the Flyers -- if the Flyers didn't have a couple of old championships. Vancouver has lost all three of its Cup Final series, including Game 7 at home to the Bruins in 2011. The Canucks haven't won a playoff series since that defeat and have missed the postseason three years in a row.

Rays of hope: For as bad as things have been for the Canucks since that Game 7 loss, their Western Canada rivals (the Oilers and Flames) haven't done much of anything in that time, either. Vancouver also tends to win a playoff series or two when it does qualify for the playoffs, as the Canucks won six postseason series from 2003 to '11. Also, the Sedin brothers were fun to watch.

Trend: It might be a few years before the Canucks are back to winning playoff series and contending, but a healthy Brock Boeser is the type of foundational talent Vancouver can use to support its rebuild.

14. St. Louis Blues

Total score: 2.98
All-sport rank: 73
Ranking by category: championships: 1; playoff berths: 24; playoff wins: 19; heartbreaks: 18; rival comparison: 10

Where they're especially miserable: It's one thing to make the Stanley Cup Final a lot and not win. But the Blues can't even get to the final round, a place they haven't been since making it their first three years of existence. The Blues are 0-fer since 1970, despite being playoff regulars, most recently losing to the Sharks in the 2016 Western Conference finals.

Rays of hope: The fan bases above are jealous of the number of times the Blues have made the playoffs. They made the postseason six years in a row before barely missing this past season, and their 25-year playoff streak from 1980 to 2004 is tied for third-longest in NHL history. St. Louis fans have also had the pleasure of watching all-time greats such as Wayne Gretzky and Brett Hull.

Trend: The Blues did fall short of the playoffs last season, but that's typically the exception, not the rule. The Blues were aggressive this offseason and should be in their familiar postseason spot again.

15. Winnipeg Jets

Total score: 2.96
All-sport rank: 74
Ranking by category: championships: 22; playoff berths: 10; playoff wins: 11; heartbreaks: 30; rival comparison: 20

Where they're especially miserable: Winnipeg fans went 15 years without NHL hockey, as the original Jets moved to Arizona in 1996, and the current Jets arrived from Atlanta in 2011. The first six years back in Winnipeg were a grind, as the Jets missed the playoffs in five of six seasons and got swept by the Ducks the one time they made the playoffs.

Rays of hope: The Jets blew up that failure this past season, as they had one of the best records in the league and went on a run to the Western Conference finals. How Winnipeg did it was especially sweet, as the Jets whipped the rival Wild in the first round before routing the Predators, who had the best regular-season record in the league, in Game 7 on the road in round two.

Trend: This is the best Jets fans have felt about their team since their championship teams in the old WHA in the 1970s. With a boatload of momentum and a young, loaded roster, the Jets aren't going away anytime soon.

16. Ottawa Senators

Total score: 2.59
All-sport rank: 76
Ranking by category: championships: 7; playoff berths: 15; playoff wins: 16; heartbreaks: 11; rival comparison: 22

Where they're especially miserable: It has been a disaster for the Senators since Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, when Chris Kunitz eliminated them with a walk-off goal in double OT. Since then, they had a terrible record this past season, had the assistant GM resign due to sexual harassment and had a player's girlfriend bully another player's wife on social media. Yikes.

Rays of hope: Before all of the recent drama, the Senators were a pretty successful organization. They made the playoffs 14 times in 16 seasons from 1997 to 2013, making the Eastern Conference finals twice and qualifying for the Stanley Cup Final in 2007. That's a lot better than the neighboring Maple Leafs could muster, and Ottawa held its own against Montreal, too.

Trend: Dropping like a rock. With the off-ice drama of the last couple of months, drama and dysfunction within ownership and a roster that's losing power fast (see the Erik Karlsson trade), the Senators could be bottoming out for a while.

17. New Jersey Devils

Total score: 2.08
All-sport rank: 78
Ranking by category: championships: 24; playoff berths: 13 (tie); playoff wins: 17; heartbreaks: 19; rival comparison: 16

Where they're especially miserable: The Devils haven't won a playoff series since the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, missing the postseason five consecutive years before losing in the first round last year. The Devils also saw star forward Ilya Kovalchuk, who signed a then-NHL-record contract with the team in 2010, bolt for Russia in his prime.

Rays of hope: The Devils ended their recent playoff drought this season and look to be on the rise. Devils fans also got to enjoy the fruits of the Martin Brodeur/neutral-zone trap era, as they won three Stanley Cups between 1995 and 2003, something the rival Rangers and Islanders can't claim. They also went to the playoffs 21 times in 24 seasons between 1988 and 2012.

Trend: The Devils have rebuilt their roster with young players and have plenty of salary-cap room going forward. Don't be surprised if they become postseason regulars again.

18. Minnesota Wild

Total score: 1.26
All-sport rank: 81
Ranking by category: championships: 15 (tie); playoff berths: 19; playoff wins: 9 (tie); heartbreaks: 27; rival comparison: 12

Where they're especially miserable: While the Wild have become playoff regulars, they haven't done much lately in the postseason. Minnesota has lost four consecutive playoff series dating to 2015 and hasn't made it past the second round since 2003, the team's third year of existence. The Wild haven't won a conference finals game, as they were swept by the Ducks in 2003.

Rays of hope: Playoff hockey has become a regular thing in the Twin Cities, as the Wild have made the playoffs six seasons in a row and have won two postseason series in that time. Considering they made the playoffs only three times in the first 12 years of the franchise (winning two playoff series), things have gotten better for Wild fans.

Trend: Now that the Wild have become playoff regulars, will they take the next step and be true Stanley Cup contenders? That forecast is cloudy, as Minnesota might have already maxed out its success with its current roster.

19. Nashville Predators

Total score: -1.34
All-sport rank: 87
Ranking by category: championships: 13; playoff berths: 20; playoff wins: 22; heartbreaks: 12; rival comparison: 18

Where they're especially miserable: With increased success comes increased heartbreak. The Predators have made a leap, going to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017 and winning the Presidents Trophy last year, but they saw those seasons end disappointingly, especially in their 5-1 loss to the Jets on home ice in Game 7 of the second round this past May.

Rays of hope: Despite the disappointing finishes, the last two seasons have seen the Predators reach new heights. Nashville won four playoff series the last two seasons after winning only three in the first 17 seasons of the franchise. Preds fans were used to the postseason before the recent uptick, too, as Nashville has missed the playoffs only three times since 2004.

Trend: The good times are going to continue. The Predators have a loaded roster filled with playoff savvy and a fan base that has quickly become one of the most voracious in the NHL. Expect a lot more catfish to be thrown on the ice.

20. Anaheim Ducks

Total score: -2.8
All-sport rank: 91
Ranking by category: championships: 17 (tie); playoff berths: 29; playoff wins: 23; heartbreaks: 7; rival comparison: 13

Where they're especially miserable: Losing Game 7s at home. The Honda Center has been cursed for the Ducks in winner-take-all playoff games, as they lost four Game 7s in a row on home ice from 2013 to '16. The stomach punches have been immense, from losing to the Blackhawks with the Cup Final on the line in 2015 to being blasted by the SoCal rival Kings in 2014.

Rays of hope: The Ducks have a relatively recent Stanley Cup in their possession, as they beat the Senators to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup in 2007. Anaheim has also been a playoff fixture since its unlikely run to the Cup Final in 2003, as the Ducks have missed the playoffs only three times in the last 15 seasons and have made the postseason six years in a row.

Trend: At a crossroads. The Ducks have had plenty of success with their core of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, but those players are getting a bit long in the tooth. Does Anaheim have a run left, or is it time for a rebuild?

21. Boston Bruins

Total score: -5.84
All-sport rank: 94
Ranking by category: championships: 26; playoff berths: 27; playoff wins: 25; heartbreaks: 2; rival comparison: 29

Where they're especially miserable: The Bruins have the second-highest heartbreak score across all sports. While the heartbreaks have happened in every decade, the 2010s have seen Boston blow a 3-0 lead to the Flyers in 2010, including blowing a 3-0 lead in Game 7 of that series, and fall in overtime in Game 7 to the Capitals two years later, among others.

Rays of hope: A byproduct of heartbreak is being good enough to get in position to get your heart broken, and the Bruins are usually good enough. They've made the playoffs the last two seasons and nine of the last 11 and have the NHL record for longest playoff streak, making it 29 years in a row from 1968 to 1996. The Bruins also won a Cup recently, beating the Canucks in 2011.

Trend: The Bruins are trending back up after a two-year blip of missing the playoffs, as they made it to the second round last season for the first time in four years. Expect the Bruins to continue to contend.

22. Vegas Golden Knights

Total score: -6.32
All-sport rank: 96
Ranking by category: championships: 27; playoff berths: 16; playoff wins: 15; heartbreaks: 24; rival comparison: 26

Where they're especially miserable: It's hard to have misery when you make the Stanley Cup Final in your first year of existence, but the Golden Knights did go from laying waste to the competition (13 wins in their first 15 playoff games) to losing four in a row to the Capitals. And there isn't a long run of success to fall back on to deal with that defeat.

Rays of hope: I think being the first expansion team since the 1968 Blues to make the Cup Final is enough hope, isn't it? The Golden Knights not only rushed through the Western Conference playoffs but also took out two of their division rivals -- the Kings and the Sharks -- in the course of making the Final. Their pregame introductions are pretty outstanding, too.

Trend: The Golden Knights joined the NHL with a bang, but it hardly was a fluke. This isn't a team of veterans having one last hurrah. It is a smartly put together roster with youth that could be very good for a while.

23. Detroit Red Wings

Total score: -6.39
All-sport rank: 97
Ranking by category: championships: 25; playoff berths: 26; playoff wins: 21; heartbreaks: 9; rival comparison: 23

Where they're especially miserable: Hockeytown hasn't had a lot to cheer about lately, as the Red Wings have missed the playoffs the last two seasons and haven't won a playoff series in the last five. The Red Wings have lost four playoff series in a row dating to a second-round loss to the rival Blackhawks in 2013 in which they blew a 3-1 series lead.

Rays of hope: Excuse the rest of the NHL if they don't have sympathy for Detroit's plight, as the Red Wings were the league's standard for a quarter-century. The Red Wings went to the playoffs 25 years in a row from 1991 to 2016, good enough to tie for third in NHL history, and qualified 28 times in 29 seasons. The Red Wings won four Stanley Cups in that time and played in two others.

Trend: More misery is on the way. The Red Wings have started their lengthy rebuild but find themselves in a precarious salary-cap position. That doesn't lend to much success in the short term.

24. Montreal Canadiens

Total score: -6.61
All-sport rank: 98
Ranking by category: championships: 23; playoff berths: 21; playoff wins: 20; heartbreaks: 22; rival comparison: 24

Where they're especially miserable: Sure, the Canadiens have won way more championships than any other franchise in the NHL. But unless you're a Habs fan in your early 30s, you don't remember any of them, as Montreal last held Lord Stanley's Cup in 1993. That's the last time the Canadiens have played for the Cup, too. Also, the Patrick Roy trade still hurts to this day.

Rays of hope: It has been a while since Montreal has won a Cup, but c'mon, it has 24 Stanley Cups, so no one is going to have sympathy for the Habs fans. Unlike the rival Maple Leafs, the Canadiens have been consistent postseason qualifiers (12 playoff berths in 14 seasons from 2003 to '17) in their title drought and made the Eastern Conference finals as recently as 2014.

Trend: Not good at all. The Canadiens have a ton of problems on their roster right now, not least of which is the injury to Shea Weber (for whom they traded away P.K. Subban). It's going to be another rough year for le Club de hockey Canadien.

25. New York Rangers

Total score: -7.29
All-sport rank: 101
Ranking by category: championships: 3; playoff berths: 22; playoff wins: 27; heartbreaks: 5; rival comparison: 27

Where they're especially miserable: I'm guessing Rangers fans would put themselves higher on this list, as championships have been tough to come by in the Big Apple. The Rangers haven't won a title since Mark Messier & Co. grabbed the city's heart in 1994. Their most recent Stanley Cup championship before that famously came in 1940.

Rays of hope: Sure, it's been a while since the '94 ticker-tape parade, but the Rangers have a much shorter championship drought than the hated Islanders (1983) and rival Flyers (1975). The Rangers also make the playoffs a lot (seven years in a row and 11 of 12 before missing last season) and stay for a while when they do (six playoff series wins since 2014, including a trip to the '14 Cup Final).

Trend: The Rangers missed the playoffs for the first time since 2004 last season and could very well miss them again this season, as they're dedicated to rebuilding with youth instead of restocking with free agents. We'll see if the step back is worth it.

26. San Jose Sharks

Total score: -8.02
All-sport rank: 104
Ranking by category: championships: 6; playoff berths: 30; playoff wins: 26; heartbreaks: 10; rival comparison: 25

Where they're especially miserable: They're still lacking that Stanley Cup championship. Despite frequent playoff appearances, the Sharks haven't won the ultimate prize in their 26 seasons of existence. The closest San Jose has come to glory was a trip to the Final in 2016, when the Sharks lost in six to the Penguins. They also blew a 3-0 lead to the Kings in 2014.

Rays of hope: It's rare for the NHL playoffs to start without a Northern California presence, as the Sharks have missed the playoffs only six times in franchise history and only four times since their initial postseason appearance in 1994. They've missed the playoffs twice since 1998, which is why San Jose has the second-best playoff berth score in the league.

Trend: Another year, another playoff appearance. The Sharks have another loaded roster and the ability to make a playoff run. They could even get that elusive Cup with a few breaks and end Joe Thornton's career on the highest of notes.

27. Tampa Bay Lightning

Total score: -8.03
All-sport rank: 105
Ranking by category: championships: 17 (tie); playoff berths: 17; playoff wins: 28; heartbreaks: 8; rival comparison: 28

Where they're especially miserable: The past few Lightning playoff defeats have been heart-wrenching, as the Lightning have been eliminated in a Game 7 in three of their last five playoff appearances. That span of time also saw Tampa Bay lose to the Blackhawks in six games in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning have also made the postseason only 10 times in 25 seasons.

Rays of hope: The 10 playoff appearances stat is a bit deceiving, as nine of those have come since 2003. When Tampa makes the playoffs, it goes on a run, as the Lightning have been to the Eastern Conference finals four times since 2011. Lightning fans in their 20s remember the 2004 Stanley Cup championship over the Flames, and Tampa has easy bragging rights over in-state rival Florida.

Trend: The Lightning are, quite simply, loaded. With Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos leading a deep, talented and relatively young roster, Tampa Bay could easily go from being prime Cup contenders to hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup for a second time.

28. Los Angeles Kings

Total score: -11.47
All-sport rank: 107
Ranking by category: championships: 29; playoff berths: 18; playoff wins: 24; heartbreaks: 28; rival comparison: 19

Where they're especially miserable: The Kings have lost their mojo from their glorious 2012-14 run, as they haven't won a playoff series since 2014 and missed the playoffs two of the last four seasons as Daryl Sutter's brand of hockey ran its course. The Kings also have three droughts of four or more seasons without making the playoffs, a rarity in the NHL.

Rays of hope: Although the last four seasons have been mediocre, the three before that were glorious. Not only did the Kings win Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and 2014, but they also made the Western Conference finals in 2013. They also got to troll their rivals, defeating the Ducks in a Game 7 in Anaheim and erasing a 3-0 deficit against the Sharks to spark the 2014 title run.

Trend: Still kicking and capable of contention. Los Angeles already has one of the top defensemen in hockey in Drew Doughty, but the free-agent signing of Ilya Kovalchuk gives the offense a boost and the Kings a possible second wind.

29. Washington Capitals

Total score: -11.5
All-sport rank: 108
Ranking by category: championships: 28; playoff berths: 28; playoff wins: 29; heartbreaks: 1; rival comparison: 21

Where they're especially miserable: If it weren't for this season, the Capitals would be way higher on the list, as their heartbreak score is the highest in all sports. There are too many Washington gut punches to mention, but we'll say that the Caps have lost seven Game 7s in the last decade, three of those losses came in OT, and they blew 3-1 leads in two of those series.

Rays of hope: All of that heartbreak went away with the Caps' magical run to the Stanley Cup title this past season. Alex Ovechkin's celebration tour is reason enough to be hopeful, but the Caps not only got over one of the biggest humps in hockey but also did it by overcoming a 2-0 deficit in their first series and vanquishing their rival tormentors, the Penguins, along the way.

Trend: It's probably too much to ask for a repeat championship, but the Capitals have a couple of years left in this window with their current core. With a championship won and pressure off, there should be more fun times in the nation's capital.

30. Chicago Blackhawks

Total score: -26.03
All-sport rank: 119
Ranking by category: championships: 30; playoff berths: 25; playoff wins: 30; heartbreaks: 6; rival comparison: 30

Where they're especially miserable: The Blackhawks' championship window seems to be barricaded shut, as they have steadily gotten worse since their 2015 championship. Chicago missed the playoffs this past season and finished last in the Central Division, evoking memories of the Bill Wirtz days in which they missed the playoffs in nine of 10 seasons from 1998 to 2008.

Rays of hope: Don't shed a tear for the Blackhawks' fan base, as they got to witness what will likely be considered the team of the teens. Chicago won Stanley Cup championships in 2010 (on an overtime goal by Patrick Kane), 2013 and 2015, and their 2013 title run was buoyed by a 3-1 comeback over the hated Red Wings in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Trend: Things will likely get worse before they get better, as the championship core has gotten stale. Expect some mediocre-at-best seasons while the Blackhawks reshuffle the deck a bit.

31. Pittsburgh Penguins

Total score: -36.88
All-sport rank: 121
Ranking by category: championships: 31; playoff berths: 31; playoff wins: 31; heartbreaks: 4; rival comparison: 31

Where they're especially miserable: The Penguins weren't able to pull off the first three-peat since the Islanders in the 1980s, as they lost to the rival Capitals in the second round. Pittsburgh also has the fourth-highest heartbreak score, as they've been eliminated in Game 7 three times since 2009. But otherwise, we're really reaching on this one.

Rays of hope: The Penguins are the least miserable franchise in every metric but heartbreaks. They've won three Stanley Cups since 2009 (including back-to-back in 2016 and '17) and have won five Cups since 1991. They've made the playoffs 12 consecutive seasons, and Penguins fans have gotten to watch all-time players such as Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby and Jaromir Jagr.

Trend: They didn't get the three-peat, but the Penguins aren't quite done yet. While Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are starting to get older, there will be plenty more playoff games in Pittsburgh and maybe another Stanley Cup.