Hockey has done a magnificent job of preserving its history and remembering the past. There are some incredible records that have been set and eventually broken, and some that might never be touched.
What follows is a look at 30 intriguing statistics from NHL postseason history—some good, some bad, all nuggets that could win you a bet at your local watering hole during the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.
In 1892, Lord Stanley purchased a decorative bowl to be given as a championship trophy from a London silversmith for 10 guineas, which translates into $51.10 in today's US dollars.
The Cup was originally presented in 1893.
From 1976 to 1979, the Montreal Canadiens, coached by Scotty Bowman, won four consecutive championships. But they came at the expense of only two head coaches.
Fred Shero was the coach of the Flyers in 1976 when they lost to the Habs. Don Cherry took the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Final in 1977 and 1978, losing both times. And when the Habs beat the Rangers in 1979, Shero had made the move from Philadelphia to New York and lost to Bowman in the Final again.
From 1931 to 1955, teams coached by the great Dick Irvin appeared in the Final 16 times. The Irvin-led Maple Leafs lost in the Final six times in nine years from 1931 to 1940, winning once (1932). But Irvin would capture the Cup again in 1944, 1946 and 1953.
In total, though, Irvin-coached teams would lose in the Final 12 times.
The NHL didn't take over control of the Stanley Cup competition until after the 1925-26 season and did so by being the only major professional hockey league to survive. The previous season, the NHL champions from Montreal played the WCHL champions from Victoria in a best-of-five series to determine possession of the Cup.
The NHL didn't reduce to six teams until 1942. What is now called "The Original Six" became the NHL, and the top four teams at the end of the regular season played two best-of-seven series to determine the champion.
In 1967, the NHL doubled in size from six to 12 teams. In each of the first three seasons after expansion, one of the new franchises, the St. Louis Blues, advanced to the Stanley Cup Final. Three years in a row the Blues, coached by Scotty Bowman, lost.
In 1970, the loss was punctuated by Bobby Orr's goal that was followed by his Superman-like dive, which has been immortalized in bronze.
Since 1950, only two organizations (and three coaches) have won four consecutive Stanley Cup championships:
- Montreal Canadiens (Toe Blake): 1956-1960
- Montreal Canadiens (Scotty Bowman): 1976-1979
- New York Islanders (Al Arbour): 1980-83
In this era of the salary cap and player movement, it's hard to imagine eight years in which only two cities hosted the Cup as champions, but from 1976 to 1983, only Montreal and New York won the title.
In the postseason history of the Boston Bruins, four players have reached 100 points: Raymond Bourque (161), Phil Esposito (102), Rick Middleton and John Bucyk (100 each).
Bourque's 161 points is the second-highest total for one organization by a defenseman, but what is more amazing is that Esposito posted his 102 points (46 goals, 56 assists) in only 71 postseason games.
Anyone in Boston or Montreal will tell you the teams don't like each other. But it isn't because of their regular-season battles.
The Habs and Bruins have faced each other in 33 playoff series, totaling 170 games. Montreal holds a 102-68 advantage and has outscored the Bruins 511-420 over the years.
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has an exclusive club for players that have won a World Championships gold medal, an Olympics gold medal and a Stanley Cup championship.
Only 25 players have ever won all three in their careers, but one player has been inducted into the Triple Gold Club with a Stanley Cup triumph each of the last two seasons: Jonathan Toews (Chicago 2010) and Patrice Bergeron (Boston 2011). They were teammates on Canada's gold medal-winning team in 2010 and were on the last two Cup champions.
If the Nashville Predators win the Cup this year, Shea Weber would join the club. He was on Canada's last gold medal-winning team at the World Championships (2007) and on the blue line for Canada's Olympic gold in 2010.
Only two players in NHL history have reached the 40-point plateau in a single postseason: Wayne Gretzky (three times) and Mario Lemieux. The last time the mark was achieved was by Gretzky in 1993.
From 1980 to 1990, Jari Kurri was one of the most lethal scorers in the game for the Edmonton Oilers; it didn't hurt that he was skating next to Wayne Gretzky for most of that time. Still, no player in NHL history has scored more postseason goals for one organization than the 92 that Kurri posted for the Oilers.
In the history of the Phoenix Coyotes (and previous Winnipeg Jets), they have only managed to win two of 20 postseason series—and both victories came against the Calgary Flames. In 99 postseason games, the franchise has been outscored 369-263.
Since the 2004-05 lockout, the Red Wings have played the Penguins in the Cup Final twice, but no other team has returned to the Stanley Cup Final the year after winning (or losing) in the Final.
Will the Bruins or Canucks break this streak this year? Or will we have another year with two new teams in the Final?
Despite being only 27, Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury ranks second among active goalies in postseason wins with 41. If he wins the 16 games required to lift the Cup this year, he'll pass five impressive names on the career list to move into 15th place on the all-time list. Here's who he could pass this year:
- Tony Esposito: 45
- Ron Hextall: 47
- Glenn Hall: 49
- Gerry Cheevers: 53
- Terry Sawchuk: 54
Hall of Famer Ed Belfour holds the distinction of losing the most postseason games in overtime in NHL history (20). New Jersey's Martin Brodeur ranks second (18), but no other active goalie has lost more than six games in extra time once the postseason starts.
This year, the Chicago Blackhawks became just the second team since the lockout to post at least 100 points without a shutout as a team.
If Brodeur can post a shutout in this year's postseason, he'll move out of a tie with Roy for the most playoff shutouts in a career (23). No other active goalie has more than seven postseason doughnuts (Evgeni Nabokov).
Only one goalie in NHL history has won more than 100 postseason games (Patrick Roy, 151 wins).
But New Jersey's Martin Brodeur comes into the 2012 postseason with 99 career playoff victories. Assuming the Devils aren't swept, Brodeur will add another historic benchmark to his résumé.
No player has ever scored 20 goals in a single postseason. The record, 19, has been hit twice: Jari Kurri (1985) and Reginald Leach (1976). Sidney Crosby scored 15 times and Evgeni Malkin scored 14 in 2009.
Many players in league history have been through a lot of playoff battles, but two of Detroit's greats can legitimately say they went through more postseason games together than anyone else.
When he retired last June, Detroit's Kris Draper had played in 222 playoff games during a career that lasted from 1989 to 2011. That total ranks second only to his teammate with the Red Wings, Nicklas Lidstrom, who will add to the most playoff games ever played for one organization this spring. To date, Lidstrom has played in 258 postseason games with the Red Wings.
Only 13 players in NHL history have posted at least 100 postseason assists for one franchise. Not surprisingly, four of the 12 were on the great Oilers teams in the 1980s (Glenn Anderson, Jari Kurri, Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky) and another three are Red Wings (Sergei Fedorov, Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom).
If he can pick up seven assists in this year's playoff run, Detroit's captain Lidstrom will pass Messier for the second-highest postseason assist total for one franchise.
The L.A. Kings and Vancouver Canucks have faced each other in the playoffs four times before this year. Each franchise has won the series twice, and the Canucks have outscored the Kings 85-84 in 23 total games.
The St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks have faced off in the postseason three times before this year. San Jose has won two of the previous three series but has been outscored 47-43 in 18 games.
The Coyotes franchise (previously Winnipeg) has never faced the Blackhawks in the playoffs. It will become the 19th different franchise to face Chicago in a postseason series.
Nashville and Detroit have faced each other twice in the playoffs, and Detroit has won both meetings. The Red Wings have outscored the Preds 29-21 in only 12 games.
Somehow, the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators have never faced off in the playoffs. As was the case with the Blackhawks, the Sens will be the 19th different team to face the Rangers in the playoffs.
Boston and Washington haven't faced off in the playoffs since 1998 and have only battled in the postseason twice. In 10 total games, the Bruins have outscored the Caps 28-21, but the two franchises have each won one of the two total series they've played against each other.
The Devils and Panthers have played once before in the playoffs, with New Jersey sweeping Florida out of the postseason in 2000. With the Panthers' playoff appearance this year, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team to not make the playoffs since the lockout.
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have played each other five times in the playoffs before this spring's battle. The Flyers have won three of the five previous meetings but have been outscored 91-89 in 29 total games.