Does Leading NHL in Goal Differential Translate into Stanley Cup Success?

Does Leading NHL in Goal Differential Translate into Stanley Cup Success?
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

As people in the state become familiar with Massachusetts sportsbooks, the Boston Bruins continue to dominate the 2022-23 NHL regular season.

Boston has a 55-11-5 record for 115 points, 15 ahead of the second-place Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference and NHL.

A strong finish could see the Bruins surpass the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2019 record of 128 points in the standings and cement them as one of the greatest regular season teams of all time.

Furthering the Bruins’ claim on the top spot in the league is their goal differential. Through 71 games, the Bruins have a staggering goal differential of +116, more than double that of the next best team (the New Jersey Devils at +54).

That 2019 Lightning team that put up 128 points? They only had a differential of 98 at the end of the regular season, which was the best since 2013.

Historically, any goal differentials above 100 have been saved for the dynasties of yesteryear, with the Montreal Canadiens of the ‘70s and the Edmonton Oilers of the ‘80s the types of teams that would put up such numbers.

While those stats often translated into Stanley Cup championships, that was a different era with less teams and a different style of hockey.

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Goal Differential and Stanley Cups — your source for Massachusetts betting apps — wanted to see how often leading the NHL in goal differential would lead to winning the Stanley Cup. We looked at the goal differential leaders of the past 10 seasons to see how common the feat was.

Here are the results, understanding that the Bruins’ 2023 number is as of March 24:

SeasonTeamDifferentialWon Stanley Cup?
🏒 2013Chicago Blackhawks+ 52Yes
🏒 2014Boston Bruins+ 87No
🏒 2015New York Rangers+ 61No
🏒 2016Washington Capitals+ 57No
🏒 2017 Washington Capitals+ 84No
🏒 2018Winnipeg/NashvilleTied + 57No
🏒 2019Tampa Bay Lightning+ 98No
🏒 2020Boston Bruins+ 60No
🏒 2021Vegas Golden Knights+ 68No
🏒 2022Florida Panthers+ 95No
🏒 2023Boston Bruins+ 116TBD

Only the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks, who dominated a lockout-shortened regular season, have managed to turn the trick of leading the NHL in goal differential and winning the Stanley Cup in this span.

The 2019 Lightning? They didn’t even win a playoff game, getting upset by the Columbus Blue Jackets in a monumental sweep. Of course, that same Tampa Bay team went on to win the next two Stanley Cups.

Boston is no stranger to topping this list, leading the league in the 2020 season with a +60 mark. The Bruins lost out in the second round to — you guessed it — the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Bruins also topped the list in 2014, a year in which they were upset in the second round by the Canadiens.

This isn’t to say these league-topping teams did not see any type of playoff success. In addition to the 2013 Blackhawks Cup team, there were three other teams that made the conference finals. All but the 2019 Lightning managed to get out of the first round, and even that team was the start of something special.

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Will These Bruins Buck the Trend?

There is a different feeling with this Boston team, especially when compared to that 2019 Lightning squad. This Bruins team is littered with veterans, several of whom are near the end of their careers. Some already have won the cup once with Boston.

Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand all won in 2011 with the Bruins and have made trips to the finals with Boston since then. They are no strangers to playoff success and know this is likely their last run with this group all together.

Oddsmakers in Massachusetts NHL betting tend to agree.

BetMGM Massachusetts has the Bruins as a +375 favorite to win the Cup, with the defending champion Colorado Avalanche (+600) and Toronto Maple Leafs (+900) closest to them.

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The 2019 Lightning were just learning how to win and needed that playoff failure to grow as a team. These Bruins have been through both successes and failures and know exactly what it takes.

History says that their strong goal differential does not guarantee anything come playoff time, but the leadership group on the team is well aware of that and will do whatever it takes to make sure the Bruins don’t become yet another team on the list that couldn’t get it done when it mattered most.

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Cecil Peters is a Senior Betting Analyst for A professional sports bettor in Canada, Cecil specializes in analyzing the latest odds impacting professional sports teams across North America.

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