In NHL history, there have been 23 teams that have won the Stanley Cup (18 currently active, five defunct) since the 1914-15 season. During that time, there have been 95 series, with all but 13 contesting in a best-of format. The best-of-seven format did not begin until the 1939 Stanley Cup series, when the Boston Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4 games to 1.
The 2013 Stanley Cup Finals will begin on Wednesday when the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Boston Bruins at the United Center in Chicago for in a matchup that includes two of the NHL's Original Six teams.
This article will examine what are arguably the top five best Stanley Cup Finals series in history. The only rule this list abides by is that each series had to use the best-of-seven format in order to qualify, which eliminates any series before 1939.
Without further ado, here are the five best Stanley Cup Finals series in history:
5. Philadelphia Flyers def. Boston Bruins 4-2: 1974. In the HBO documentary “Broad Street Bullies,” the Flyers admitted that they should not have even been in the finals that year against the Bruins and their future Hall of Famers Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. While the Bruins showed finesse and skill, the Flyers were more physical and grinding. In this series, the physical Flyers triumphed, winning their first Stanley Cup in the franchise's history.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins def. Detroit Red Wings 4-3: 2009. This was a significant Stanley Cup win because it was Sidney Crosby’s first Stanley Cup victory. When he entered the NHL in 2005, Crosby was considered one of the best hockey players in the world and destined for a championship. That day came in 2009, but not without some controversy. After suffering a knee injury in the 2nd period of Game 7, Crosby did not play for the remainder of the game. When the final whistle blew, Crosby began celebrating his team's championship win with his teammates. Many believed that the knee injury was not legitimate and that Crosby took himself out of the game.
3. Dallas Stars def. Buffalo Sabres 4-2: 1999. This series made the list due to the controversy surrounding the series-clinching goal. That's because the goal, scored by Brett Hull, should have not counted as his skate was in the crease when he scored. It was a tragic loss for the Sabres and Buffalo, but it led to euphoria for the Stars and their fans Dallas, a place where hockey is still not very popular.
2. Colorado Avalanche def. New jersey Devils 4-3: 2001. A matchup of two of the greatest goalies in NHL history, this series was really about Ray Bourque. After a 21-year career and 1,828 games, Bourque lifted his first Stanley Cup. Avalanche captain Joe Sakic took the Stanley Cup from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and handed it directly to Bourque in a show of respect.
1. New York Rangers def. Vancouver Canucks 4-3: 1994. This is somewhat biased due to my standing as a Rangers fan, but the team went 54 years between Cups. Need I say more?