NHL Playoffs 2011: The 25 Greatest Performances in Stanley Cup History
Winning the Stanley Cup requires an impressive team effort. It requires all individual parts of the team working together to win the coveted prize.
However, throughout hockey history, individuals have outshined their team, either on their way to winning the Cup or before getting derailed.
Individuals like Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux's individual accomplishments have often been credited with their team's championship wins.
Here are the 25 greatest individual performances in Stanley Cup history.
25. Tim Kerr: 1989 Stanley Cup Playoffs
In 19 games during the 1989 playoffs, Tim Kerr scored 14 goals and 11 assists.
What’s more memorable is that Kerr scored 10 of those goals against Pittsburgh. This puts Kerr third for most goals in a single playoff series behind Newsy Lalonde and Jari Kurri.
He is also tied with Mario Lemieux for most goals in a single playoff period, scoring four in the second against the New York Rangers.
24. Pavel Bure: 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs
“The Russian Rocket” had his best playoffs in 1994 when the Vancouver Canucks lost in the Stanley Cup finals to the New York Rangers.
It was the last year that the Canucks went farther than the Western Conference semifinals before this present season.
That season Bure scored 16 goals and 15 assists for 31 total points, coming one goal shy of tying for the third most goals in a playoff season.
23. Bryan Trottier: 1980 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Bryan Trottier won the Conn Smythe when the New York Islanders won the Stanley Cup in 1980.
Trottier scored 12 goals and 17 assists for 29 total points.
Trottier also started a seven-game point-scoring streak (three goals and five assists) that would extend over all 18 games of the 1981 playoffs and two games in the 1982 postseason.
22. Maurice “Rocket” Richard: 1944 Stanley Cup Playoffs
In 1944, the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup.
Maurice “Rocket” Richard scored 12 goals and five assists in nine games.
The most impressive feat, though, was that he scored five goals in one game, tying him for the most goals in one game in the playoffs. He was the first player to accomplish this since Newsy Lalonde in 1919.
21. Ken Dryden: 1976 Stanley Cup Playoffs
In 1976, the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup behind a spectacular performance by their goaltender Ken Dryden.
Dryden went an incredible 12-1 with a 1.92 goals against average.
20. Kevin Stevens: 1991 Stanley Cup Playoffs
When the Pittsburgh Penguins won their first Stanley Cup championship in 1991, Mario Lemieux wasn’t the only one making waves.
Kevin Stevens scored 17 goals and 16 assists for 33 total points.
His 17 goals tie him for third most goals in a single playoff season with such company as the original, Newsy Lalonde, Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky.
19. Steve Payne: 1981 Stanley Cup Playoffs
In 1981, Steve Payne’s Minnesota North Stars lost in the Stanley Cup finals to Mike Bossy’s New York Islanders.
Like Bossy, Payne scored 17 goals in the postseason that year, tying him for third most in a playoff season.
Payne added 12 assists for 29 total points that postseason. It was Payne’s best postseason by far, scoring ten more goals and five more assists than his second best playoff season.
18. Darryl Sittler: 1976 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Darryl Sittler scored five goals and seven assists in two rounds during the 1976 playoffs.
It doesn’t sound that spectacular, but Sittler scored all five of his goals in a single game.
He shares the record for most goals in a single playoff game with five against the Philadelphia Flyers. Sittler shares exceptional company on that record with Maurice Richard, Reggie Leach and Mario Lemieux.
17. Ron Hextall: 1987 Stanley Cup Playoffs
The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1987 Stanley Cup finals.
Despite the loss, Flyers’ goaltender Ron Hextall was awarded the Conn Smythe. Hextall went 15-11 with a .908 save percentage and 2.77 GAA in the playoffs.
Hextall’s play in the finals helped the Flyers force a Game 7 against the Edmonton Oilers, a team that included superstars such as Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri.
Following the series, Gretzky said that Hextall was the best goaltender he’d played against.
16. Dino Ciccarelli: 1981 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Dino Ciccarelli made his playoff debut for the Minnesota North Stars in the 1980-81 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The North Stars lost in the Stanley Cup finals to the New York Islanders, but Ciccarelli posted memorable numbers.
Ciccarelli scored 14 goals and 21 total points. He holds the record for most goals and most points by a rookie.
15. Nikolai Khabibulin: 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs
The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2003-04 with a lot of help from their goaltender, Nikolai Khabibulin.
Khabibulin was 16-7 in the playoffs that year, with a save percentage of .933. His GAA was an outstanding 1.71.
14. Newsy Lalonde: 1919 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Newsy Lalonde of the Montreal Canadiens was the first record-holder of most goals in a playoff series with 17 in 1919. He also did it in the least amount of games—only 10 games.
No one came close to tying or beating this record until 1976 when Reggie Leach beat Lalonde’s record and became the current record-holder.
Lalonde also scored five goals in one game against the Ottawa Senators, the first to accomplish this. This wouldn’t be broken until Maurice “Rocket” Richard in 1944.
Finally, he is ranked second for most goals in a playoff series when he scored 11 against Ottawa Senators. That record wouldn’t be broken until Jari Kurri in 1985.
13. Mike Bossy: 1981 Stanley Cup Playoffs
During the New York Islanders’ second consecutive Stanley Cup championship in the 1981 playoffs, Mike Bossy scored 17 goals, the first of three consecutive postseasons where he would score 17 goals each.
In ’81, Bossy added 18 assists for 35 total points, Bossy’s career-best point total in the playoffs.
12. Dominik Hasek: 2002 Stanley Cup Playoffs
In his first season as a member of the Detroit Red Wings, Dominik Hasek helped the team win the Stanley Cup.
Hasek went 16-7 with a .920 save percentage and 1.85 GAA.
He became the first goaltender to be awarded an assist on an overtime winning goal in the playoffs when he passed the puck to Steve Yzerman, who then passed it to Fredrik Olausson who scored the GWG.
Hasek also set an NHL record for most playoff shutouts with six (later broken by Martin Brodeur in the 2002-03 playoffs).
11. Martin Brodeur: 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs
The best playoff season of Martin Brodeur’s career was the 2002-03 Playoffs.
Brodeur helped the Devils capture the Stanley Cup Championship by going 16-8 with a save percentage of .934 and a GAA of 1.65.
He posted seven shutouts, breaking Dominik Hasek’s record of six.
Despite these accomplishments, Brodeur did not win the Conn Smythe. Instead, it went to opposing goaltender Jean-Sebastian Giguere.
10. Jean-Sebastian Giguere: 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs
During the 2002-03 season, the Mighty Ducks were not expected to go very far in the playoffs, as they were a seventh seeded team. However, the team ended up going to the Stanley Cup finals and coming one game shy of a Cup win.
Despite not winning, their goaltender, Jean-Sebastian Giguere, was the recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy, the fifth player from the losing team to win the award in NHL history and the first since Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1987.
Giguere went 15-6 with a save percentage of .945 and and GAA of 1.62. One of Giguere’s most impressive performances that postseason was in the opening round against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Detroit Red Wings.
The game went into triple overtime and Giguere set the NHL record for most saves by a goaltender in his playoff debut with 63 saves. (This record would be broken by Roberto Luongo in 2007.)
He also set the record for the longest overtime shutout streak, after going 7-0 in playoff overtimes that year.
9. Paul Coffey: 1985 Stanley Cup Playoffs
It seems like every member of the 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers holds records of some kind. Defenseman Paul Coffey is no different.
That postseason Coffey scored 12 goals and 25 assists for 37 points, good for records for most goals, assists and points by a defenseman in one playoff season.
8. Mario Lemieux: 1989 Stanley Cup Playoffs
The Pittsburgh Penguins may have lost to their state and division rivals, Philadelphia Flyers, in the 1989 Conference Finals, but Mario Lemieux’s performance that postseason will live on.
In a 10-7 win over the Flyers, Lemieux tallied eight points, five goals and three assists. Lemieux scored four of those goals in the first period of the game.
He shares playoff records for most points in a single game, most points in a single period, most goals in a single game and most goals in a single period from that game.
7. Wayne Gretzky: 1989 Stanley Cup Playoffs
The playoffs in 1988 were record-setting for Wayne Gretzky.
Gretzky set the record for most assists in a playoff season with 31 over the course of 19 playoff games.
He set the record for most assists in a final series with 10 in the four games plus one suspended game versus Boston.
He also holds the record for most points in a final series with 13—three goals and 10 assists.
6. Jari Kurri: 1985 Stanley Cup Playoffs
The Edmonton Oilers won their second consecutive Stanley Cup Championship in 1985. Jari Kurri played a significant role in the team’s win.
That season, Kurri tied Reggie Leach’s record for most goals in a single playoff season, scoring 19 goals for a total of 31 points.
He scored four hat tricks that year, three in the Conference finals against the Chicago Blackhawks. Kurri holds the record for most hat tricks in a single playoff season and most hat tricks in a single series.
He also broke Newsy Lalonde’s previously held record of most goals in a single series when he scored 12 against the Chicago Blackhawks.
5. Reggie Leach: 1976 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Reggie Leach helped his team, the Philadelphia Flyers, to a great 1975-76 campaign, culminating in a berth in the Stanley Cup finals.
That season was a personal best for Leach and he continued that success into the postseason.
During the playoffs, Leach scored 19 goals and 24 total points. Those 19 goals tie Leach with Jari Kurri for most goals in a playoff season.
Despite the Flyers losing in the finals to the Montreal Canadiens, Leach was the recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy, the first and only non-goaltender to win the award as a member of the losing team.
4. Joe Sakic: 1996 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Joe Sakic helped lead the Colorado Avalanche to their first Stanley Cup Championship in their first season in Colorado.
During Sakic’s impressive performance in the 1995-96 postseason, he set career highs in goals and points.
Sakic tallied 18 goals and 34 total points that season. Of those 18 goals, six were game-winning goals, which set a new NHL record.
Sakic was also one goal shy of tying the record of most goals in a playoff season.
3. Mario Lemieux: 1991 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Mario Lemieux spent much of the 1990-91 season on injured reserve after a herniated disk injury and infection.
Playing through the serious back pain in the playoffs, Lemieux led the Pittsburgh Penguins to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup victory in 1991.
Lemieux posted 16 goals, 28 assists and 44 points that postseason.
He is behind only Wayne Gretzky in most points during a single playoff season. Lemieux was awarded the well-deserved Conn Smythe after that playoff performance.
2. Wayne Gretzky: 1986 Stanley Cup Playoffs
The 1985 Stanley Cup Playoffs were great for Wayne Gretzky. He set multiple records that year.
He set the record for most assists in one series (other than a final) in the Conference finals, six games versus Chicago, when he tallied 14 assists.
He also set the record for the most points in one playoff season with 47 points that year—17 goals and 30 assists.
1. Patrick Roy: 1986 Stanley Cup Playoffs
In February 1985, Patrick Roy was called up from the minor leagues to play backup goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens. He ended up coming in for the third period and didn’t allow a single goal.
He didn’t immediately become a starter, but the following season, he played regularly and was named the starter for the 1985-86 playoffs.
In his first playoffs as a starter, Roy was incredible. He went 15-5 and posted a 1.93 goals against average.
With his remarkable performance, he helped the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup. Roy was only 20 years old.
He was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy, the youngest Conn Smythe winner in NHL history.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!