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:
- 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
60. 2015-16 Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh was no slouch in '15-'16 - ranking third in the NHL in goals scored and sixth in goals against - but with Washington rolling to 56 wins and 120 points, many believed it was the Capitals' year. The Penguins put that thought to rest in round two, eliminating the Capitals in six games before outlasting Tampa Bay and defeating San Jose in six games to claim the title.
59. 1942-43 Detroit Red Wings
Still stinging from blowing a 3-0 lead to Toronto in the Stanley Cup final a season earlier, the Red Wings left no doubt this time around. Detroit finished atop the regular-season standings, then exacted its revenge with a six-game elimination of Toronto before sweeping the Bruins in the final. Carl Liscombe had 14 playoff points while Sid Abel (No. 12, shown above) added 13.
58. 1939-40 New York Rangers
Most modern NHL fans don't know who Dave Kerr is - but they should. The Rangers netminder had a season to remember in '39-'40, posting a 1.54 goals-against average while playing all 48 regular-season games for New York. He was just as sensational in the playoffs, going 8-4 with a 1.56 GAA and three shutouts as the Rangers rolled to their third Stanley Cup title.
57. 1945-46 Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens looked merely above average for most of the season - sitting 18-13-3 as late as Feb. 3 - before catching fire. Montreal finished the regular season on a 10-4-2 run and continued that red-hot play into the postseason, outscoring Chicago 26-7 in a four-game rout of the Blackhawks before subduing the rival Bruins in five games in a one-sided final.
56. 2003-04 Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning combined a high-powered offense with surprisingly strong defense and goaltending to post the best record in the Eastern Conference. They needed just nine games to upend the Islanders and Canadiens in the first two rounds, but went the distance with Philadelphia before doing the same in a thrilling Cup triumph over Calgary.
55. 2016-17 Pittsburgh Penguins
Repeating as champion in the salary cap era has proven to be difficult - and while the Penguins showed it can be done, it wasn't easy. After storming past Columbus in five games in Round 1, Pittsburgh needed seven games in both the second and third rounds to upend Washington and Ottawa, respectively. A six-game triumph over Nashville in the final gave the Pens their fifth title.
54. 1992-93 Montreal Canadiens
The '92-'93 Canadiens won't be remembered as one of the greatest teams in NHL history, but their run to the Stanley Cup will likely stand as the most improbable of all-time. After losing the first two games to Quebec in Round 1, Montreal was victorious in its next 11 and established a record with 10 straight OT wins while capturing its 23rd Stanley Cup (read more about it here.)
53. 1956-57 Montreal Canadiens
With Detroit (88) and Boston (80) joining Montreal in reaching the 80-point plateau, the Stanley Cup title was considered a three-team race. Montreal drew the easier first-round matchup - eliminating the fourth-place Rangers in five games - and used that momentum to send Boston packing in a five-game final.
52. 1962-63 Toronto Maple Leafs
The regular-season standings were tight in '62-'63 - four playoff teams finished within five points of each other - but that didn't carry over to the postseason. Toronto barely broke a sweat in a 4-1 semifinal series win against Montreal, limiting the Canadiens to six goals in five games. The Leafs then claimed their 11th Stanley Cup with a five-game win over Detroit.
51. 1930-31 Montreal Canadiens
The defending champions picked up right where they left off, scoring the second-most goals in the regular season to finish first in the Canadian Division. A narrow 3-2 semifinal win over Boston set up a final showdown with Chicago, which Montreal rallied to win in five games. Howie Morenz finished with 51 regular-season points while Aurele Joliat (shown above) added 35.
50. 1961-62 Toronto Maple Leafs
If nothing else, this write-up lets us show Frank Mahovlich hoisting the Stanley Cup in button-down underwear. Mahovlich and the Maple Leafs finished second in the league during the regular season but were given a huge break in the playoffs, as Chicago knocked off the heavily-favored Canadiens. Toronto downed the Rangers, then beat the Blackhawks in the six-game title series.
49. 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks
One generous vote skewed where this team ended up in the overall rankings; that said, this was still an impressive Anaheim roster. The Ducks finished top-7 in the league in both goals scored and fewest goals allowed in the regular season, and were not given a serious challenge in the playoffs - going on an incredible 16-5 run capped by a five-game rout of Ottawa in the final.
48. 1953-54 Detroit Red Wings
With eight future Hall of Famers on the roster, it's no surprise the Red Wings finished atop the regular-season table while ranking second in goals scored and goals against. Gordie Howe's three goals guided Detroit past Toronto in a five-game semifinal, while unheralded winger Tony Leswick scored the overtime winner in Game 7 of the final to lift the Red Wings past Montreal.
47. 1996-97 Detroit Red Wings
The win-loss record might not amaze, but the Red Wings were one of the most well-rounded teams in the league, scoring the sixth-most goals while surrendering the second-fewest. Detroit followed that up by putting together one of the most dominant Stanley Cup runs in history, posting a 16-4 record highlighted by a Stanley Cup sweep of the shell-shocked Flyers.
46. 1999-2000 New Jersey Devils
This might surprise some, but New Jersey actually finished second in the NHL in goals during the '99-'00 season. Don't let the offensive outburst fool you, however, as come playoff time it was all about Martin Brodeur - who went 16-7 with a 1.61 goals-against average to lead the Devils to their second championship.
45. 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings rosters of the late-1990s were well-oiled machines guided by one of the greatest coaches in history in Scotty Bowman. And just as it had done a year earlier, Detroit was methodical in building one of the top regular-season records in the Western Conference, then ousting Phoenix, St. Louis, and Dallas before capping its Stanley Cup repeat with a sweep of Washington.
44. 2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago was a Western Conference power from start to finish, ranking in the top five in goals scored and fewest goals allowed en route to a franchise record in victories. And with the bitter sting of a loss in the conference finals a year earlier still fresh, the Blackhawks left nothing to chance, rolling to a 16-6 postseason record for their first Stanley Cup title since 1961.
43. 1928-29 Boston Bruins
The Bruins had it all in '29-'30 - a potent offense led by a trio of double-digit goal scorers, an airtight defense led by Hall of Fame blue-liner Eddie Shore, and a goaltender in Tiny Thompson (shown above) who stopped nearly everything in his path. Thompson saved his best for the playoffs, recording three shutouts in five games as Boston romped its way to the title.
42. 1947-48 Toronto Maple Leafs
When you have a quartet of future Hall of Famers leading your offense, you're in good shape - just ask the Maple Leafs, who rode the scoring exploits of Syl Apps (shown above, 26 goals), Ted Kennedy (25), Max Bentley (23) and Harry Watson (21) to top spot in the standings. Toronto steamrolled through Boston and Detroit in the playoffs, winning eight of nine games to claim the Cup.
41. 1949-50 Detroit Red Wings
Detroit was far and away the highest scoring team in the league, potting 229 goals - 26 more than runner-up Chicago. But it was the goaltending that led the Red Wings past Toronto in the semis, as Harry Lumley posted shutouts in Games 6 and 7 to help Detroit rally. Pete Babando played the hero in the final, scoring the winner in double overtime of Game 7 against the Rangers.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)