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20 Longest Active Playoff Streaks in Pro Sports

by: Esteban On  Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Tags:  Playoffs   Sports Streaks  

Intro

longest active playoff streaks

Earlier this year, the Miami Heat fell just six games short of breaking the NBA’s record for longest winning streaks. Was that an impressive accomplishment? Absolutely it was. A team doesn’t win 27 games in a row without being extremely deep and talented. However, while you wouldn’t expect them to put together another historic winning streak like that any time soon, in theory, at least, another streak could begin at any time. And that mitigates the heartbreak for Heat fans.

However, not all sports streaks are like that. Consider, for example, a postseason appearance streak. It doesn’t just take a good team to build one of those; it takes a good franchise. And when the streak ends, you can’t just start another one the next day. You have to wait a whole season just to get the opportunity…then another whole season…then another…and another.

For that reason, playoff appearance streaks are pretty special and ought to be appreciated. And to that end, with both the NBA and NHL playoffs now underway, we’re going to take a look at the longest active streaks in pro sports.

Enjoy!

 

20. Los Angeles Kings – 4 Seasons

los angeles kings - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

The reigning Stanley Cup Champions are one of four teams with four-season playoff streaks going right now. The last time they missed the playoffs was the 2008-09 season.

Interestingly, exactly half of the streaks on this list are just four or five seasons long. What this means is that it is extremely difficult for a franchise to be good every single year without missing a beat.

Championships during streak: 1 (2012)

 

19. Oklahoma City Thunder – 4 Seasons

okc thunder - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

The Thunder’s current playoff streak coincides with the emergence of Kevin Durant as the league’s top scorer (he won his first of three consecutive scoring titles in 2009-10) and the maturation of point guard Russell Westbrook. Funny how that works.

Championships during streak: 0

 

18. New England Patriots – 4 Seasons

new england patriots - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

If the Patriots hadn’t missed the playoffs in 2008 (thanks mostly to Tom Brady’s injury), they would have a 10-season streak going—and that would be an NFL record.

However, the Patriots did miss the 2008 playoffs, and so their current streak sits at just four seasons.

Championships during streak: 0

17. Green Bay Packers – 4 Seasons

green bay packers - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

The Packers had playoff streaks of six seasons and four seasons with Brett Favre as QB. Their current streak of four seasons in the playoffs began during Aaron Rodgers’ second season manning the Green Bay offense. Personally I wouldn’t expect it to end any time soon.

Championships during streak: 1 (2010)

16. New York Yankees – 4 Seasons

new york yankees 2009 - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

Historically, baseball has been the sport least likely to produce long postseason appearance streaks. The reason for this is obvious: until 1969, only two teams made “the playoffs” (i.e. the World Series), and then until 1995 only four teams made the playoffs.

From 1995 through 2011, eight teams made the playoffs, and of course beginning last year there were 10 teams involved. However, MLB’s “Wild Card Era” has still only produced two really long streaks—the 14-season run by the Braves and the 13-season run by the Yankees.

Anyway, the point here is that long postseason appearance streaks are rare in baseball. Thus, the Yankees’ current four-season run is the only MLB streak on the list.

Championships during streak: 1 (2009)

 

15. Chicago Bulls – 5 Seasons

chicago bulls 2011 - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

The Bulls had a pretty good winning streak from 1985 to 1998. Of course, that one spanned the career of Michael Jordan and included six NBA Championships. The current Bulls streak hasn’t been as fruitful.

Championships during streak: 0

 

14. Miami Heat – 5 Seasons

miami heat lebron wade bosh - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

The Heat’s current playoff streak of five seasons began before LeBron James and Chris Bosh arrived. And unless two or more of the big three suffer serious injuries, it won’t end any time soon.

Championships during streak: 1 (2012)

 

13. Chicago Blackhawks – 5 Seasons

chicago blackhawks 2013 - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

The Chicago Blackhawks made the playoffs every year from 1970 to 1997. That 28-year streak is the second-longest in the history of pro sports. Then the franchise followed that run by going to the postseason just once over the next 11 years.

Today, however, the Hawks are back to their winning ways.

Championships during streak: 1 (2010)

 

12. Vancouver Canucks – 5 Seasons

vancouver canucks - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

The Canucks have put together nice playoff streak thanks to the slick offense of the Sedin twins and the superstar goaltending of Roberto Luongo…and now Cory Schneider. Unfortunately, despite twice finishing at the top team in the NHL during this streak, the Canucks have yet to win a Stanley Cup. Ever.

Of course, they did come within one game of hosting hockey’s Holy Grail in 2011.

Championships during streak: 0

 

11. Baltimore Ravens – 5 Seasons

baltimore ravens super bowl - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

The Baltimore Ravens have rather quietly become one of the NFL’s best and most successful franchises over the last decade or so. First they won a Super Bowl to kick off the new millennium  then the drafted Joe Flacco, who has started every game in his career, led his team to the playoffs every season, and won a Super Bowl.

That’ll do.

Championships during streak: 1 (2013)

 

10. Atlanta Hawks – 6 Seasons

atlanta hawks - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

The Atlanta Hawks’ current playoff streak is probably the second-lowest profile run on this list. In three of the six playoff appearance (so far) they advanced to the second round. However, in none of those seasons were the Hawks considered serious contenders for the championship.

Championships during streak: 0

 

9. Boston Celtics – 6 Seasons

boston celtics garnett - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

The Boston Celtics missed the playoffs in 2006 and 2007. Then they acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen before the 2008 season, and together with Paul Pierce they led the Celtics into a new (shorter) golden age.

Championships during streak: 1 (2008)

 

8. Washington Capitals – 6 Seasons

washington capitals - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

The Washington Capitals’ postseason streak began in 2006-07. Not coincidentally, that’s just one year after the arrival did the NHL career of Alex Ovechkin, who has scored a whopping 371 goals in just seven seasons. (Goals = wins = playoffs.) However, the Caps have yet to achieve any real success in playoffs.

Championships during streak: 0

 

7. Boston Bruins – 6 Seasons

boston bruins stanley cup 2011 - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

The Boston Bruins made the playoffs for 29 straight years from 1968 to 1996. That’s the all-time record in North American pro sports. So you’ll understand if Bruins fans aren’t all that impressed with their current six-season streak.

Now, that Stanley Cup victory…that impressed them.

Championships during streak: 1 (2011)

 

6. Pittsburgh Penguins – 7 Seasons

pittsburgh penguins sidney crosby stanley cup - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

The Penguins have the third-longest active playoff streak in the NHL. The last time they missed the playoffs, Sidney Crosby was just a rookie.

Championships during streak: 1 (2009)

 

5. Los Angeles Lakers – 8 Seasons

los-angeles-lakers-2010-championship-longest-active-postseason-streaks-pro-sports

The Lakers had a 17-season streak from 1977 to 1993 during which they won five NBA titles. So by comparison, their current streak of eight seasons doesn’t seem so impressive.

However, you have to look more closely. The Lakers missed the playoffs in 1994, ending their 17-season streak. But they were right back in the postseason in 1995, kicking off a nice 10-season streak. Then they missed the playoffs again in 2005, following that with the current eight-season streak.

Add that all up, and the Lakers have made the playoffs 35 out of the last 37 seasons…which is a sorta okay run I guess.

Championships during streak: 2 (2009-10)

 

4. San Jose Sharks – 9 Seasons

san jose sharks - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

The San Jose Sharks might have the most disappointing playoff streak on this list. Unlike some other teams who haven’t been expected to win championships, the Sharks have been Stanley Cup contenders for the majority of their current streak—and yet they’ve never even made the Finals.

Ouch.

Championships during streak: 0

 

3. Denver Nuggets – 10 Seasons

denver-nuggets-longest-active-postseason-streaks-pro-sports

If the Hawks have the second-lowest profile streak on this list, the Nuggets have the first. I mean, did you even realize they had made the playoffs for 10 straight seasons? Sure, they were pretty formidable with Carmelo Anthony, making the Western Conference finals in 2009. But with the Lakers and Thunder and Spurs dominating the Western Conference for the last decade, the Nuggets’ success has gotten lost in the mix.

Championships during streak: 0

 

2. San Antonio Spurs – 16 Seasons

san-antonio-spurs-longest-active-postseason-streaks-pro-sports

To put it simply, the San Antonio Spurs are one of the best franchises in all of pro sports. They’ve made the playoffs every year since 1998, winning four NBA Championships while transitioning from one superstar leader to another.

Championships during streak: 4 (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007)

 

1. Detroit Red Wings – 22 Seasons

detroit red wings stanley cup - longest active postseason streaks pro sports

Is there a better pro sports franchise on earth than the Detroit Red Wings? Like the Spurs, they too have made the seamless transition from one superstar leader to the next, and they’ve done it all without ever having premium picks in the NHL draft.

This year, of course, the Wings almost missed the playoffs. But a late surge propelled them into the Stanley Cup playoffs once again, and I for one wouldn’t bet against them.

Championships during streak: 4 (1997-98, 2002, 2008)

 




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