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Stanley Cup Playoffs: 10 Most Dominant Playoff Dynasties in NHL History

Kevin W. RyanContributor IIIMay 21, 2012

Stanley Cup Playoffs: 10 Most Dominant Playoff Dynasties in NHL History

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    The National Hockey League exhibits the epitome of professional sports—class, tradition, respect and talent. 

    The great thing about the NHL when compared to the NFL, NBA or MLB is that the majority of the elite hockey players view their careers as privileged opportunities rather than just time in the spotlight.

    They showcase unique talent while demonstrating respect for century-long traditions—all in a repetitively everlasting battle for the chance to have their names etched on to the most coveted trophy in sports. 

    Here are the 10 most dominant postseason franchises in NHL History. Why? Because it's the Cup

10. New Jersey Devils

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    Stanley Cup Victories: 1995, 2000, 2003 

    Conn Smyth Winners: Claude Lemieux (1995), Scott Stevens (2000)

    The New Jersey Devils have won three Stanley Cups in four trips with outstanding goaltender Martin Brodeur leading the way. 

    In Brodeur's historic 19-year career, he's won 108 playoff games which puts him second all-time, behind Patrick Roy (151). His 24 playoff shutouts are tops in NHL history. 

    However, before 2012, the Devils have had minimal playoff success since the lockout.

    The Devils are currently in the Eastern Conference Finals and currently hold a 9-6 postseason record. 

    Franchise Three Stars

    1. Martin Brodeur
    2. Scott Stevens
    3. Scott Niedermayer  

9. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Stanley Cup Victories: 1991, 1992, 2009 

    Conn Smyth Winners: Mario Lemieux (1991, 1992), Evgeni Malkin (2009)

    The Penguins have hoisted three Stanley Cups through the help of several Hall of Fame franchise players including the prolific Super Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Marc-Andre Fleury, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

    Lemieux, Fleury and Crosby were all first overall picks in the NHL Entry Draft while Evgeni Malkin was selected second overall—behind rival Alex Ovechkin.  

    The Penguins were one of the franchises created in 1967 when the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams. 

    Since that time, the Pens are 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Finals and they seem to have a very promising future..  

    Franchise Three Stars

    1. Mario Lemieux
    2. Jaromir Jagr 
    3. Sidney Crosby 

8. New York Islanders

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    Stanley Cup Victories: 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983  

    Conn Smyth Winners: Bryan Trottier (1980); Butch Goring (1981); Mike Bossy (1982); Billy Smith (1983)

    The New York Islanders had one of the most impressive Stanley Cup Finals runs in the history of the league after winning the coveted trophy four consecutive times between 1979 and 1983. 

    Led by Hall of Famers Mike Bossy, Billy Smith, Bryan Trottier, Clark Gillies, Denis Potvin and Pat LaFontaine, the Islanders were one of the most iconic clubs in hockey for the better part of a decade.  

    However, their Cup victories now seem like ancient history.  

    Since their last trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1985 (a loss to Gretzky & Co.), the Isles are a meager 29-53 in the playoffs and are without a series win since 1993.  

    Now, the majority of the pressure lies on Captain and All-Star forward John Tavares and problematic goaltender Evgeni Nabakov to help bring the once-prolific Isles back to playoff form. 

    Franchise Three Stars

    1. Denis Potvin
    2. Bryan Trottier
    3. Mike Bossy 

7. Chicago Blackhawks

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    Stanley Cup Victories: 1934, 1938, 1961, 2010

    Conn Smyth Winners: Jonathan Toews (2010) 

    The Blackhawks had minimal long-term success before the 1950's. That was turned completely around with the signing of prospects Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Pierre Pilote.

    These players brought the Cup back to Chicago in 1961 in the midst of an era of dominance by other teams. It was the only Cup in a 25 year period that was not won by either Montreal, Detroit or Toronto.  

    Mikita's 1,467 career points and Hull's 604 goals as Blackhawks separate them from any other Blackhawks in history. Their records are widely considered the most unbreakable franchise records in the NHL.

    However, following the era dominated by The Golden Jet and Stan the Man Mikita, the Hawks failed to win a Stanley Cup until polar-opposite prolific forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane rode Finnish goaltender Antti Niemi to win the city's first Stanley Cup in 49 years. 

    During this ridiculous 49-year drought, the Chicago Blackhawks lost in the Stanley Cup Finals five times (1962, 1965, 1971, 1973, 1992).

    Sitting U.S. President and native Chicagoan Barack Obama was more than happy when the drought ended as he was finally able to invite his Chicago Blackhawks to the White House.  

    Franchise Three Stars

    1. Bobby Hull
    2. Tony Esposito
    3. Stan Mikita

6. New York Rangers

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    Stanley Cup Victories: 1928, 1933, 1940, 1994 

    Conn Smyth Winners: Brian Leetch (1994) 

    The Original Six Broadway Blueshirts are 4-6 in the Stanley Cup Finals since their first trip in 1928.

    Their most memorable Cup moment came in 1994 when the iconic captain, Mark Messier, guaranteed a game seven victory before posting a third period hat trick after coming back from a 2-0 deficit to win the Rangers their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.  

    Aside from the 1994 team, however, The Rangers have yet to put together a playoff run quite like this year's squad's.

    Venzia Trophy favorite Henrik Lundqvist and blue-collar captain Ryan Callahan have led the Rangers to a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals in the hopes of bringing the Cup back to Manhattan.  


    Franchise Three Stars

    1. Brian Leetch
    2. Mark Messier
    3. Rod Gilbert 

5. Edmonton Oilers

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    Stanley Cup Victories: 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990

    Conn Smyth Winners: Mark Messier (1984); Wayne Gretzky (1985, 1988); Bill Ranford (1990)

    The playoff excellence for the Edmonton Oilers is primarily attributed to Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. The team has had more than its share of  Hall of Famers, though, in Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Glenn Anderson and Grant Fuhr. 

    While Gretzky holds basically every NHL record, come playoff time, the entire Oiler roster pitched in with over 700 playoff points from Kurri, Coffey, Messier and Anderson.  

    Following the dumbest trade in the history of sports when "The Great One" was shipped off to a city that lacked any knowledge or interest in the sport of hockey (Los Angeles), Gretzky stated in the ESPN Film, King's Ransom, that had he stayed with Edmonton, he would have won four more Stanley Cups.   

    Franchise Three Stars

    1. Wayne Gretzky
    2. Mark Messier
    3. Paul Coffey 

4. Boston Bruins

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    Stanley Cup Victories: 1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972, 2011

    Conn Smyth Winners: Bobby Orr (1970, 1972); Tim Thomas (2011) 

    Last season, the Boston faithful witnessed the stoic Bobby Orr standing up for the injured Nathan Horton in an effort to spark the Bruins past the favored Vancouver Canucks.

    Throughout the seven incredible games, the underdog Bruins outfought the favored Cancucks including a game seven road shutout for goalie Tim Thomas—his third game seven victory of the historic 2011 Stanley Cup run. 

    Before Thomas' utter brilliance, the Bruins failed to drink from the Cup for nearly 30 years.

    The Bruins have always been a "defense first" franchise from the game changing style of Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque to the 7'0'' Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas between the pipes.

    Incredibly, since 1927 the Bruins are 6-12 in the Stanley Cup Finals (losses in 1927, 1930, 1943, 1946, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1988, 1990). 


    Franchise Three Stars

    1. Bobby Orr
    2. Ray Bourque
    3. Tim Thomas 

3. Detroit Red Wings

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    Stanley Cup Victories: 1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008

    Conn Smyth Winners: Roger Crozier (1966*); Mike Vernon (1997); Stevie Y (1998); Henrik Zetterberg

    Since 1934, the Detroit Red Wings are 11-13 in the Stanley Cup Finals.

    Through those 78 seasons, the Wings built their wins on leadership and tradition—lead by just two team Captains since 1986 in Stevie Yzerman and Nick Lidstrom. Yzerman's retired banner even features the iconic "C" to commemorate his record-setting tenure as team Captain.  

    Inside "The Joe," one of the rowdiest arenas in the league, the Red Wings are always the team to beat come playoff time.   

    Recently, the Wings have continued their dominance over the Western Conference, having made the playoffs for a record 21 consecutive seasons. 


    Franchise Three Stars

    1. Steve Yzerman
    2. Nicklas Lidstrom
    3. Gordie Howe  

2. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Stanley Cup Victories: 1918, 1922, 1932, 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1967

    Conn Smyth Winners: Dave Keon (1967) 

    Along with the St. Louis Blues and the Los Angeles Kings, the once superfluous Toronto Maple Leafs have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967. Unlike the Kings and Blues, however, at least the Maple Leafs won one

    Though the playoff success came early and has since been gone, the Leafs have certainly had their fare share of talent march through—talents like Mats Sundin or Darryl Sittler and his 10-point game

    Nevertheless, the Leafs current front office has no trouble raking in revenue. The Leafs are among the top earning franchises in the league, and Toronto is considered one of the top Hockeytowns in the league.  

    Franchise Three Stars

    1. Dave Keon
    2. Charlie "The Big Bomber" Conacher 
    3. Darryl Sittler

1. Montreal Canadiens

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    Stanley Cup Victories: 1924, 1930, 1931, 1944, 1946, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1986, 1993

    Conn Smyth Winners: Jean Beliveau (1965); Serge Savard (1969); Ken Dryden (1971); Yvan Cournoyer (1973); Guy Lafleur (1977); Larry Robinson (1978); Bob Gainey (1979); Patrick Roy (1986, 1993) 

    No other NHL franchise has won half the number of Stanley Cups as the incredible Montreal Canadiens have. In a total of 30 Stanley Cup Finals appearances, the Habs are a ridiculous 23-7.

    From the legendary Jean Believau to Maruice "The Rocket" Richard, who scored so often that he has the scoring title trophy named after him, the Habs are the most dominant franchise in hockey history.  

    Featuring pure dominance in every aspect of the game, including two of the greatest goalies of all time in Ken Dryden and Partick Roy, the Montreal Canadiens were true Stanley Cup contenders for nearly thirty consecutive years (1950-1980)—winning 16 Stanley Cups throughout that stretch. 

    However, since 1997, the Montreal Canadiens are just 33-48 in the playoffs in only eight appearances.   

    Though the Habs are fresh off one of their worst seasons in franchise history, the Bell Center is filled with banners marking the Canadiens as the most dominant franchise in the history of the NHL. 

    Franchise Three Stars

    1. Ken Dryden
    2. Patrick Roy
    3. Jean Believau 

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