Throughout the month of September, James Bisson and a cast of editors from theScore will share their rankings of the greatest players, teams, and moments in the 100-year history of the National Hockey League. This week’s list focuses on the greatest Stanley Cup champions in the NHL era:
100-81 | 80-61 | 60-41 | 40-21 | 20-1
- James Bisson, National Sports Editor
- Josh Wegman, NHL News Editor
- Sean O'Leary, NHL News Editor
- Esten McLaren, NHL News Editor
- Lucas Casaletto, News Editor
- Michael Amato, Senior News Editor
- Craig Hagerman, NHL News Editor
- Lanny Foster, Senior Social Media Editor
- Arun Srinivasan, News Editor
80. 1994-95 New Jersey Devils
One voter was enamored with this Devils team, but it's hard to see why: the team stumbled into the postseason as the fifth seed after an uninspiring offensive showing in the regular season. However, any team with Martin Brodeur in goal has a shot at the Cup – and New Jersey caught fire in a major way, winning 16 of 20 games in the playoffs for its first NHL championship.
79. 1989-90 Edmonton Oilers
The second year of the post-Wayne Gretzky era had its share of bumps, but with Mark Messier leading the charge, the Oilers still had plenty of firepower. And after outlasting a plucky Winnipeg Jets club in seven games in Round 1, Edmonton wasn't seriously challenged again, going 12-3 the rest of the way for its fifth Stanley Cup championship in seven years.
78. 1934-35 Montreal Maroons
Nothing came easily until the very end for the Maroons in their run to a second Stanley Cup championship. They finished in the middle of the pack in goals scored during the regular season, then squeaked out one-goal decisions over Chicago in the quarterfinal and the Rangers in the semis. In the finals, however, Alec Connell (pictured above) dominated Toronto en route to a Montreal sweep.
77. 2013-14 Los Angeles Kings
No team in NHL history has worked harder to win the title than the 2013-14 Kings, who reached the postseason as the No. 6 seed despite reaching triple digits in points. Los Angeles needed seven games each to dispose of the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, and Chicago Blackhawks, then somehow found an extra gear to stun the New York Rangers in five games in the finals.
76. 2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins’ ascension to Stanley Cup champion – the first of the Sidney Crosby era – occurred despite significant questions about a goaltending and defensive unit that ranked 18th in goals allowed during the regular season. But it was the team’s top-five offense that thrived in the postseason, with Crosby and Evgeni Malkin combining for 29 goals in 24 games.
75. 1922-23 Ottawa Senators
The 1922-23 Senators were the best of the bunch in the four-team league, boasting the NHL's top defense and goaltending. Led by 23-goal scorer Cy Denneny (pictured above), Ottawa put itself in great position in the two-game final against Montreal with a 2-0 win in the opener. They then held on for dear life, as the Canadiens prevailed 2-1 in Game 2, but dropped the final 3-2 on goals.
74. 1920-21 Ottawa Senators
In addition to being a collection of dapper gents, the ’20-’21 Senators were far and away the best team in the league before stumbling to a seven-game losing skid on the eve of the playoffs. But they put any questions about their title chances to rest in the two-game final, posting 5-0 and 2-0 victories over the Toronto St. Patricks behind sensational goaltending from Clint Benedict.
73. 1985-86 Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens were one of the best teams in the league, but it didn’t matter as long as the Edmonton Oilers were ruling the roost. When the Oilers were stunningly eliminated by Calgary, the fight for the Cup became a free-for-all – and the Canadiens prevailed thanks to the goaltending exploits of rookie Patrick Roy, who flashed Hall-of-Fame form in the five-game title series.
72. 1946-47 Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs were one of two teams head and shoulders above the rest in the six-team league – and unfortunately for Toronto, the rival Canadiens were just a bit better in the regular season. Both teams won their semifinal series in five games to set up a dream final in which legendary netminder Turk Broda overcame a shaky Game 1 to backstop the Leafs to a six-game series win.
71. 2010-11 Boston Bruins
The Bruins enjoyed a successful season, but found themselves in dire straits after falling behind 2-0 to Montreal in the opening round of the playoffs. An 8-1 stretch over the next nine games vaulted Boston into a tough conference final meeting with Tampa Bay, where the Bruins dispatched the Lightning in seven games. They then gutted out a seven-game victory over Vancouver in the final.
70. 1936-37 Detroit Red Wings
Here’s how you get your name on a trophy, as Jack Adams (shown above) did: lead a team with minimal star power to the best record in the NHL (along with the most goals scored and the fewest allowed) and rally from a 2-1 deficit for a five-game triumph in the final. Of course, it took a triple-OT winner in Game 5 of the semis against Montreal for Detroit to even reach the final.
69. 2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes
The first season after the lost 2004-05 campaign saw the unlikeliest of Stanley Cup finals, as the upstart Hurricanes tangled with the eighth-seeded Oilers. A stunning Fernando Pisani shorthanded overtime goal in Game 5 extended the series, and the Oilers went on to win Game 6 before ultimately falling 3-1 on the road in Game 7, giving Carolina its first Cup title.
68. 1964-65 Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens didn’t look dominant in the regular season, finishing in the middle of the pack in goals for and goals against. But solid goaltending from Gump Worsley and Charlie Hodge led Montreal to a six-game triumph over rival Toronto in the semis, and a five-goal, five-assist effort from legend Jean Beliveau helped the Habs outlast Chicago in the seven-game final.
67. 2014-15 Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago found itself in the middle of a talented group of Western Conference teams heading into the playoffs, but had an edge over the competition thanks to the league's best goal prevention unit. That focus on defense continued in series wins over Nashville, Minnesota, and Anaheim, and the Blackhawks capped their Stanley Cup run by beating Tampa Bay in six games.
66. 1990-91 Pittsburgh Penguins
There is precious little separating the Penguins' back-to-back Stanley Cup winners of the early-90s. The first title in franchise history came despite the Penguins having Mario Lemieux in the lineup for just 26 regular-season games. But Super Mario more than made up for it in the playoffs, racking up 44 points in 23 games to claim the Conn Smythe Trophy.
65. 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins
The panel almost unanimously paired the two Penguins’ early-90s titles in their rankings – and put the second title winner ahead of the first. The key difference? While the ’90-’91 Penguins settled for six-game victories in each of the final two rounds, the ’91-’92 edition went on an incredible tear, winning its final 11 postseason games to complete the Cup repeat.
64. 1929-30 Montreal Canadiens
This Canadiens roster was good, but with the Bruins winning 38 of its 44 regular-season games, nobody expected the Habs to have a fighting chance. They were all wrong. George Hainsworth stonewalled Boston in a 3-0 Game 1 victory, and Howie Morenz (pictured above) scored the winner in Game 2 as Montreal executed a Stanley Cup upset for the ages.
63. 2002-03 New Jersey Devils
The Devils rode sensational goaltending from Martin Brodeur to the No. 2 seed in the postseason, and appeared to be on cruise control after routing the Bruins and Lightning in five games apiece to reach the conference final. But a grueling seven-game series win over Ottawa took its toll, and the Devils needed a Brodeur shutout in Game 7 against Anaheim to secure the title.
62. 1924-25 Victoria Cougars
The ’24-’25 Cougars are the only non-National Hockey League team to win the Stanley Cup in the NHL era. After finishing third in the Western Canada Hockey League’s regular season, the Cougars won a pair of two-game, total-goals series against Saskatoon and Calgary, respectively, before cruising to a stunning four-game victory over the NHL-champion Canadiens.
61. 1979-80 New York Islanders
The youthful Islanders appeared ready to challenge Philadelphia for Campbell Conference supremacy, but finished a whopping 25 points behind the Flyers in a one-sided Patrick Division race. The two teams rolled through three playoff opponents apiece to set up a heated final that saw the Islanders dispatch Philly in six games for their first of four straight Stanley Cups.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)
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