Glenn Cratty/Getty Images
Division Semi-Finals: Detroit Red Wings 4 Dallas Stars 1
Division Finals: Detroit Red Wings 4 San Jose Sharks 0
Conference Finals: Detroit Red Wings 4 Chicago Blackhawks 1
Stanley Cup Finals: New Jersey Devils 4 Detroit Red Wings 0
Many felt the strike-shortened 1994-95 season was destined to be Detroit's year. After more than a decade of rebuilding that started with the drafting of Steve Yzerman back in 1983, the Red Wings had assembled a team that seemed unrivalled for talent.
They dominated the regular season that year, losing only 11 of 48 games. They were led in scoring that year by veteran defenseman Paul Coffey.
They had a mix of veterans, youngsters and players in their prime with Coffey, Dino Ciccarelli, Viacheslav Fetisov , Doug Brown (30 or more), Vyacheslav Kozlov, Keith Primeau, Kris Draper, Martin Lapointe, Darren McCarty (23 or less) and with Sergei Fedorov, Steve Yzerman, Nick Lidstrom and Ray Sheppard caught somewhere in between.
They seemed to have solved their goaltending problems too, with veteran Mike Vernon (31) and the up-and-coming Chris Osgood (22).
This time they had Scotty Bowman as their coach.
They handled the Dallas Stars and Dave Gagner, Kevin Hatcher, and Mike Modano in a low-pressure five-game series.
They swept a very young San Jose Shark team featuring Ray Whitney, Ulf Dahlen, Pat Falloon and Sandis Ozolinish that just couldn't seem to get any goaltending out of Wade Flaherty or Arturs Irbe. Detroit outscored San Jose 24-6 in the four game series, including a 6-0 kicking in game one.
The conference finals saw them butt heads against a tough, veteran Chicago Blackhawk team. This time it was Tony Amonte adding the youthful enthusiasm and skill to a Chris Chelios, Denis Savard, Bernie Nicholls , Gary Suter led line-up.
Again, it was Ed Belfour who seemed to keep Chicago in it. Detroit won three overtime games to take the series in five.
The Stanley Cup finals were expected to be a foregone conclusion. The New Jersey Devils were the fifth seed in the East and had finished tied in points and wins with the Washington Capitals.
They finished 18 points behind the Detroit Red Wings in a 48-game season. Detroit had given up four fewer goals and scored 44 (almost one a game) more than New Jersey had managed in the regular season.
While Detroit had cruised through the first rounds of the playoffs, New Jersey had beaten the Bruins and Penguins in five games each and then struggled a bit against the division champion Philadelphia Flyers, overcoming them in six games after the departure of an injured Eric Lindros.
This Devils team was lead in scoring by Stephane Richer. They got timely scoring from the eventual Conn Smythe trophy winner Claude Lemieux, who potted 13 goals in 20 games. The defense featured top-quality puck mover Scott Niedermayer.
The story in New Jersey though was 22-year-old goalie Martin Brodeur, who put up a 16-4 record and a .927 save percentage and 1.67 GAA with three shut-outs in 20 playoff games.
Coach Jacques Lemaire was in his second season behind the bench in New Jersey. His defensive system allowed his team to shut down the talented Detroit Red Wings and helped Brodeur put up those great numbers.
Lemaire and the trap, great goaltending and some timely scoring helped the Devils sweep the Red Wings. Detroit became the second 12-2 team not only to lose the Stanley Cup but also to be swept in the final.