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NHL: Best ever starts to an NHL season

Getting off to a positive start can often prove crucial in an NHL season and there have been some stunning starts made over the years.

With the 2022/23 NHL season up and running, we have taken a look at the best ever openings to a campaign.

Toronto Maple Leafs - 1993/94

The 93/94 Maple Leafs became the first NHL team to win each of their first 10 games of the regular season, which remains an all-time league record.

Nine of the victories came in regulation and one in overtime with a plus-23 goal differential.

The streak ended with a 5-2 defeat to rivals Montreal Canadiens and the Leafs went on to finish the season with a 43-29-12 record, which ranked second in the NHL Central Division.

Led by the likes of Doug Gilmour, Felix Potvin, Wendel Clark and Dave Andreychuk, Toronto made it to a second consecutive Western Conference Final but were again denied a Stanley Cup Final appearance, losing in five games to the Vancouver Canucks.

Buffalo Sabres - 2006/07

It took until 06/07 for the Leafs' record to be matched by the Buffalo Sabres who, like Toronto, managed to win their first 10 games of the regular season.

The Sabres benefited from having the shoot-out, though, rather than games being called a tie, which they used to win their first three games, making the Leafs' achievement stand out.

With Ryan Miller in goal, Brian Campbell on defence and productive forwards Thomas Vanek, Chris Drury and Daniel Briere, Buffalo extended their sensational start to 15-1-1 through 17 games which is tied for most points in league history through that number of fixtures.

The Sabres won their division and the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's best regular season team with a 53-22-7 record (113 points).

In the playoffs, Buffalo reached the Eastern Conference Final but fell to the Ottawa Senators, who finished behind them in their division.

Chicago Blackhawks - 2012/13

With Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane leading the charge, the 12/13 Blackhawks didn't lose a game in regulation or overtime until the 25th match of the season after a 21-0-3 start, which remains an NHL record.

Their only three losses to that point were all in the shootout, including two in the first eight games of the season.

Chicago finished the campaign with a 36-7-5 record in the shortened 48-game season and won the Presidents' Trophy and Stanley Cup, the second of three in a span between 2010 and 2015.

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Edmonton Oilers - 1984/85

The 84/85 Edmonton Oilers hold the record for the longest undefeated streak to begin an NHL season with 15 (12-0-3).

Voted by fans as the best NHL team of all-time as part of the NHL Centennial Celebration in 2017, the 84/85 Oilers went on to rack up 109 points with a 49-20-11 record, scoring 400 goals for a fourth of five consecutive seasons. No other franchise has ever reached 400 goals in a season.

Surprisingly, the Philadelphia Flyers ended the season with more points (113) and the two would meet in the Stanley Cup Final where the Oilers proved their dominance with a five-game victory.

The Championship was the second of five Stanley Cups over a seven-year span.

Seven Hall of Famers featured in the line-up, including the Great One Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Grant Fuhr, Kevin Lowe, Paul Coffey and Jari Kurri.

Records almost matched last season

The Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers each enjoyed one of the best starts to an NHL season in 2021/22 and came face-to-face as each aimed to match records.

Carolina (9-1-0) was bidding to join the 93/94 Leafs and 06/07 Sabres as the lone teams to start a season 10-0-0, while the Panthers were attempting to match the best 11-game start in NHL history.

Florida won 5-2 which tied the 1994/95 Pittsburgh Penguins and 06/07 Buffalo Sabres as the only NHL teams to reach 21 points after 11 games.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes had to settle for joint-second in NHL history with the 2015/16 Montreal Canadiens on nine straight wins to start the season.

The Panthers lost to New York Rangers in the next game but did go on to win the Presidents' Trophy (58-18-6) in what was their best season in franchise history.

The Hurricanes won the Metropolitan Division (54-20-8) but suffered a disappointing playoff campaign, going out at the second-round stage, proving ultimately that it's about how a team ends the season, not how they start it.

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