This topic came up in one of the comment threads a while back and I promised a post on it, so here it is.
According to one particular brand of mythology, Dominik Hasek played on a ridiculously stacked Detroit team in 2002, and his Cup win was entirely because of his fantastic teammates. In contrast Martin Brodeur, some say, played a huge role in all of his Cup wins and never had the same level of excellent team support.
I think that the best team that either Hasek or Brodeur ever played for was probably the 2001 New Jersey Devils. If you include the goalies in the analysis it's pretty close, but comparing only the 18 skaters on the 2001 Devils with the 18 skaters on the 2002 Wings I think the Devils were better. That may seem blasphemous because the Devils didn't have 10 future Hall of Famers, but here are the statistics:
'01 Devils: 48-19-12-3, 111 pts
'02 Wings: 51-17-10-4, 116 pts
'01 Devils: 3.60 G/G, 2.38 GA/G, +1.22 G/G
'02 Wings: 3.06 G/G, 2.28 GA/G, +0.78 G/G
'01 Devils: 31.6 S/G, 24.7 SA/G, +6.9 Diff, outshot opp 60 times
'02 Wings: 31.0 S/G, 26.3 SA/G, +4.7 Diff, outshot opp 50 times
5 on 5 Play:
'01 Devils: 152 GF, 127 GA, +25
'02 Wings: 149 GF, 121 GA, +28
'01 Devils: PP: 22.9% (1st), PK: 84.6% (12th)
'02 Wings: PP: 20.3% (2nd), PK: 86.0% (7th)
'01 Devils: 1.0 SA per PP, .861 PK SV%*
'02 Wings: 1.3 SA per PP, .889 PK SV%
*-Had to estimate shots faced by Brodeur's backups since they got traded midseason and NHL.com combines stats for players with multiple teams.
'01 Devils: .905 save %, 2.32 GAA
'02 Wings: .914 save %, 2.22 GAA
Those very impressive New Jersey statistics seem to indicate that the Devils' skaters were remarkably effective. They were a better offensive team than Detroit, they were better at outshooting their opponents, they had a better power play and it looks like the only reason they didn't have a better penalty kill as well was because Detroit got more saves from their goalies.
There is an argument to be made that the weakest part of that New Jersey team was the goalie, given that save percentage was just about the only thing that wasn't well above average. Not that the goalie himself was weak, just that everything around him was better.
If the numbers indicate that New Jersey was better at most areas of the game, why did Detroit have a better record? It is mainly because they were either "unclutch" or unlucky in close games. The Devils were 12-10-3 in one-goal games, compared to the Red Wings' record of 20-6-4. In games decided by 2 goals or more, which tends to be a better measure of a team's strength than their record in one-goal games, the Devils were a fantastic 36-9, compared to 31-11 for the Red Wings.
In the playoffs, both teams were dominant in the early rounds against lower seeds. The successes of both teams came down to a series against the Colorado Avalanche, one of which was a Cup Final and one of which was the de facto Cup Final (no offence to the 2002 Carolina Hurricanes). Both series went 7, with New Jersey losing 3-1 and Detroit walking away with a 7-0 blowout.
That gives us a strong common opponent to measure both teams against. The NHL tracked the amount of time the puck spent in each zone back then, and those numbers show that both teams were dominant in terms of controlling puck possession, even against a powerful opponent like Colorado:
Detroit: 40% off. zone, 35% def. zone, 25% neut. zone
New Jersey: 41% off. zone, 33% def. zone, 26% neut. zone
The reason Colorado beat New Jersey and lost to Detroit was simply percentages. New Jersey scored on just 6.2% of their shots while the '01 Avs scored on 13.0% of theirs, enough to make up the shot gap. The '02 Avs held the edge in percentages right up until Patrick Roy got lit up in game 7, which turned it around so that overall Detroit shot 9.9% and Colorado just 7.7%.
If you were a goalie trying to win the Stanley Cup, would you rather have the '01 Devils or the '02 Wings in front of you? Detroit did better than New Jersey did in their respective series against Colorado, but if I was going into a postseason without knowing what teams I was going to face I'd pick the Devils because I think they were the stronger team.