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Stanley Cup Series – Stanley Cup Playoffs Final

This Pro Stock Hockey Stanley Cup series focuses on the Final, the culmination of what is arguably the toughest test any athlete can take — the Stanley Cup Playoffs. To go all the way and win the Cup, an NHL team must win four best-of-7 series against the league’s toughest opponents. It is a marathon. Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in mid-April and generally conclude with the hoisting of the Cup in early June.

Unlike the regular season, when players keep something in reserve for tomorrow, playoffs hockey is all-out all the time because there is no tomorrow. The skating is faster and the hits are harder. Any player, coach or executive with his or her name etched on the Stanley Cup has truly accomplished something worth remembering.

In this Stanley Cup series, we are looking at some of the more memorable Stanley Cup Playoffs Finals, even though every one of them since the Cup was first awarded in 1893 is worth a writeup. Nevertheless, we’ve picked some Final matchups from more recent years that really stand out in one way or another.

Some of these Finals are memorable because they involve a Cinderella team against a seemingly unbeatable opponent.

Some are memorable because they involve two seemingly unbeatable opponents going against each other.

Most in this series are Stanley Cup Playoffs Finals that went the distance, seven games — seesaw battles sometimes decided by a twist of fate that comes out of nowhere in a matter of seconds.

One thing is for sure: All of the teams involved in all of these legendary Finals were great teams, winners and losers alike.

Background on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

The NHL was founded in 1917, but the Stanley Cup, as mentioned earlier, predates it. The Montreal Hockey Club took the first Cup in 1893, by virtue of being champions of the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada (AHAC). Starting in 1924, the Cup was awarded to the winner of a series between the top teams in the National Hockey Association (NHA) and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA). By 1926, the NHL was the only league left with teams competing for the Stanley Cup — and only NHL teams have played for it since.  

The Stanley Cup Playoffs have gotten more arduous over the years. In 1914, all rounds were best-of-5, and in some stretches until 1939 were reduced to best-of-3. In 1939, the tournament took its current shape, with best-of-7 series.

Stanley Cup Playoffs Final Accomplishments

  • The Montreal Canadiens lead the pack with 34 Stanley Cup Final appearances. Second come the Detroit Red Wings with 24, and then the Toronto Maple Leafs (21), Boston Bruins (19) and Chicago Blackhawks (13).
  • The team with the most Stanley Cup wins is Montreal, with a whopping 24. Then come the Leafs (13), Red Wings (11), and Bruins and Blackhawks (6 each). 
  • The Canadiens once appeared in 10 straight Stanley Cup Finals, between 1951 and 1960. They won six of them.
  • The New York Rangers are the team that has gone the longest between Final victories: 53 years, between 1949 and 1994. You can read more about 1994 in this Stanley Cup series. 

Stanley Cup Final — Articles

Learn more about some fantastic Stanley Cup Final matchups here — or, if you are a fan, relive a few great (or not so great) memories from years gone by.

  • 1971 — Montreal Canadiens versus Chicago Blackhawks
  • 1987 — Edmonton Oilers versus Philadelphia Flyers
  • 1994 — New York Rangers versus Vancouver Canucks
  • 2001 — Colorado Avalanche versus New Jersey Devils
  • 2003 — New Jersey Devils versus Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
  • 2004 — Tampa Bay Lightning versus Calgary Flames
  • 2009 — Pittsburgh Penguins versus Detroit Red Wings
  • 2011 — Boston Bruins versus Vancouver Canucks
  • 2013 — Chicago Blackhawks versus Boston Bruins