Top 10 Stanley Cup Runs in NHL History

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Top 10 Best Stanley Cup Runs in NHL History

Stanley Cup
Jayne Kamin-Oncea - USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to the Stanley Cup, the road to reaching the NHL championship is just as sweet as that final game itself. In the past 50 years, the NHL has seen performances from masterful teams that have worked their way to the top through a combination of scoring, defense, and just pure motivation.

There have been the heroes of the more recent years, such as the Los Angeles Kings, who took home their first Stanley Cup last year after coming close several times. They are currently duking it out in the playoffs to reclaim their title for a second year in a row. Then there are the Anaheim Ducks, who battled on the ice to be the first team from California to take the cup home.

Some Stanley Cup runs stretch back a little farther, like the Calgary Flames’ historic win that gave a veteran player the chance to claim victory and beat a domineering team on their home turf. Since the 1970s, these teams have skated, sweated and suffered on the ice for the chance to say that the Stanley Cup is theirs, and theirs alone. Each team has a unique story to tell and battle scars to prove it.

The top 10 Stanley Cup runs in NHL history all have something in common: the team’s sheer desire to win big and stop at nothing to get that cup. These are the 10 best Stanley Cup runs, numbered purely by chronological order; maybe this year’s winner will oust one of these teams off this list.

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10. Boston Bruins, 1970

Bruins
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The 1979 Boston Bruins led the NHL with 277 goals in a 72-game regular season and managed to only lose two games in the postseason. After this first round sweep, the Bruins went on to sweep the St. Louis Blues in the Finals due to their sheer offensive prowess and unstoppable dominance.

Led by Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, the Bruins were a huge threat for any team that dared to come in contact with their lineup. Orr had 87 assists and 33 goals during the regular season, and Esposito racked up 43 goals.

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9. Philadelphia Flyers, 1975

Flyers
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The Philadelphia Flyers won back-to-back championships in 1974 and 1975 due to a combination of size, strength and intimidation. But the “Broad Street Bullies” earned their 1975 Stanley Cup title through sheer talent as well. Their 1975 season record clocks in at 51-18-11 for 113 points.

Led by accomplished all-around player Bobby Clarke as well as Bill Barber, Gary Dornhoefer, Moose Dupont and Bernie Parent in the goal, the Flyers were able to defeat the consistently high-scoring Buffalo Sabres in six games to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

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8. New York Islanders, 1982

Islanders
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In the 1981-1982 season, the New York Islanders were unstoppable. Having won the Stanley Cup the previous two years, they were gunning for a third and playing at hyper speed. With a 54-16-10 record for 118 points, there was no question that the Islanders would go on to the championship.

Led by Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy and goalie Billy Smith, they executed a four-game sweep over the Vancouver Canucks to claim their third straight Stanley Cup.

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7. Calgary Flames, 1989

Flames
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The Calgary Flames have only won a single Stanley Cup in their club history, but they made the victory count. The Flames had been recognized as a strong team, but were often bullied by the Edmonton Oilers. This season, the Flames finished 34 points ahead of their rivals and advanced toward the finals.

Led by two 51-goal scorers, Joey Mullen and Joe Nieuwendyk, with Mike Vernon in the net, the Flames marched on to Montreal and beat the Canadiens on their home ice. This defeat is the first and only time the Montreal Canadiens have lost a Stanley Cup Final in the Montreal Forum, making the Flames’ victory that much sweeter.

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6. New York Rangers, 1994

Rangers
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When the New York Rangers hit the road for their championship run, they were greeted with chants and taunts of “1940! 1940!” – the last year the team had taken home the Stanley Cup. That record would change in the 1993-1994 season, when the Rangers ended their regular season with a 52-24-8 record for 112 points.

Led by Mark Messier and Brian Leetch with Mike Richter in the net, the Rangers glided through the early part of the postseason before hitting roadblocks when facing off against the New Jersey Devils. Center Stephane Matteau scored a series-winning goal in Game 7 that let the team advance to the Finals against the Vancouver Canucks.

Center Craig MacTavish won a face-off against the Canucks that will go down in the record books as a move that helped the Rangers win their first Stanley cup in 57 years.

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5. Detroit Red Wings, 1998

Red Wings
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Like the Flyers, the Detroit Red Wings won two Stanley Cup championships in a row, much to the rest of the NHL’s chagrin. The Red Wings were pushed around in the six-game series prior to the finals, and struggled to find their footing as a team, but pulled it together to sweep the Washington Capitals in four games.

Led by Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom and Brendan Shanahan, with Chris Osgood in the net, the win was no contest for the Red Wings.

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4. Colorado Avalanche, 2001

Avalanche
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The Colorado Avalanche’s road to the postseason was not an easy one, but it didn’t stop them from securing their place at the top. Finishing the regular season with a beautiful 52-16-10-4 record for 118 points, the Avalanche marched forth with Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg on offense to guide them.

The team triumphed over the New Jersey Devils after seven, war-torn games. Though they were very much in danger of losing after several games, they closed out the series with a near-perfect game with a 3-1 victory. To top it off, the Avalanche were able to finally give veteran player Ray Bourque his Stanley Cup triumph before he ended his career.

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3. New Jersey Devils, 2003

Devils
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The 2003 New Jersey Devils were perhaps one of the NHL’s most balanced teams at the time, finishing the season with 108 points and led in defense by the domineering Brian Rafalski, Scott Niedermayer and Scott Stevens. Goalie Martin Brodeur clocked in a 2.02 goals against average with a .914 save percentage.

The Devils easily knocked down the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning in the first rounds, moving on to defeat the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim to win the whole thing in another seven-game series.

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2. Anaheim Ducks, 2007

Ducks
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With a lineup that included Chris Pronger, Rob Niedermayer, Samuel Pahlsson and Travis Moen, the 2006-2007 Anaheim Ducks were an early favorite to take home the Stanley Cup. The team started off strong in the finals, winning their first two games against the Ottawa Senators. They faced a roadblock when Pronger was suspended for one game for elbowing an opponent, but managed to play on and bounce back without one of their key players.

The Ducks defeated the Senators in Game 5, becoming the first team from California to ever take home the Stanley Cup.

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1. Los Angeles Kings, 2012

Kings
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Talk about a Cinderella story. The Los Angeles Kings won their first Stanley Cup in 2012 after getting close to the prize several times. The Kings were able to sweep the St. Louis Blues and advance to represent the Western Conference for only the second time in team history.

After defeating the Devils in a mere six games during the Finals, the Kings were able to claim their first Stanley Cup victory in franchise history. Goaltender Jonathan Quick received the Conn Smythe trophy for Most Valuable Player.

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