Every NHL Team's Best Stanley Cup Moment

Steve Macfarlane@@MacfarlaneHKYFeatured ColumnistJune 4, 2015

Every NHL Team's Best Stanley Cup Moment

0 of 24

    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    All kids who grow up loving hockey dream of the day they can lift the Stanley Cup over their heads in celebration. They imagine that moment while playing road hockey in the driveway or on the streets. They pretend it's happening to them by telling their friends they're Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux or Joe Sakic as they plop the ball or sponge puck into the rickety old net in front of them.

    Those who make it to the NHL are a step closer to that becoming a reality, but even of those, so few get to actually win a Cup.

    There are six teams that have never been to a Stanley Cup Final: the Columbus Blue Jackets, San Jose Sharks, Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets and Arizona Coyotes.

    At least Wild fans who used to root for the Minnesota North Stars got to see a couple of Finals. The others aren't so lucky.

    This slideshow doesn't apply to these teams.

    It only looks at those that have been to the Stanley Cup Final, whether they won it or not, and picks their best moments.

    Ideally, this means lifting the Cup over their heads. If only it were always that easy.

    Selections were made using a combination of the appearance's importance to the franchise and fans, its longevity and compelling nature as a story, the star power on the ice at the time and, of course, whether it resulted in a title.

    Read ahead to see your team's best Cup moment and be sure to select your own if another one stands out to you.

Anaheim Ducks

1 of 24

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The Moment: After scoring six goals on just 18 shots on the night, the Ducks hoisted their first Cup in 2007 with a win over the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 at the Honda Center.

    Franchise Significance: It was the Ducks' first Stanley Cup in their second appearance in the Final, after appearing in 2003 when they were still the Mighty Ducks.

    Star Power: Teemu Selanne, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Andy McDonald, Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer led the way for the Ducks, with Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley as the stars on the other side.

    Final Result: Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere wasn't great in the playoffs, especially in the Final series with an .891 save percentage. But the Ducks allowed just over 20 shots against per game. The duo of Niedermayer and Chris Pronger was crushing, and while Alfredsson managed four goals and five points in the series, Heatley was limited to a single goal and Spezza to just a pair of assists. Niedermayer was given the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Boston Bruins

2 of 24

    A.E. Maloof/Associated Press

    The Moment: There may be no more famous photo in hockey than "The Flight," featuring Boston Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr going airborne after scoring the Stanley Cup winner in overtime in 1970 against the St. Louis Blues.

    Franchise Significance: There have been a half-dozen Cups for the Bruins, but 1970's was the first since the Original Six days. They'd win it again two years later, with Orr netting the series-clincher once again. Bruins fans would have to wait until 2011 to see the team hoist the Cup again. Interestingly, that 2011 win over the Vancouver Canucks was the first time the Bruins had ever been to a Game 7 in the Cup Final.

    Star Power: Orr was joined by Phil Esposito and Johnny Bucyk, with Gerry Cheevers in goal.

    Final Result: Only Game 4 to finish the sweep was ever really in doubt in this series. The Blues were outmatched at all levels, with the Bruins scoring four or more goals in every single game.

Buffalo Sabres

3 of 24

    Gene Puskar/Associated Press

    The Moment: The Buffalo Sabres got oh-so close to dethroning the defending NHL champs in 1975, taking the Philadelphia Flyers to six games in the best-of-seven series. The Sabres' most memorable win in the series was Game 3, known as the legendary Fog Game.

    Franchise Significance: The Sabres have been to two Stanley Cup Finals. The one in '75 was the first Final to feature two non-Original Six teams since expansion. The 1999 Final was defined by goaltender Dominik Hasek and ended with the infamous Brett Hull overtime goal that led to the scrapping of the skate-in-the-crease rule. It didn't have the same star power or meaning as the first-ever franchise appearance.

    Star Power: The French Connection is one of the cooler line nicknames in NHL history, featuring three strong offensive forces in Hall of Famer Gilbert Perreault and wingers Rene Robert and Rick Martin. Bobby Clarke and goaltender Bernie Parent were the top dogs in Philly.

    Final Result: The Flyers won back-to-back Cups, taking the Sabres out in six games thanks to Parent's goaltending. He finished with a 1.89 goals-against average in the postseason and was the only goalie to withstand the French Connection's heroics that spring. Robert scored the overtime winner in the Fog Game, and the talented trio combined for 18 goals and 43 points in the playoffs.

Calgary Flames

4 of 24

    Denis Brodeur/Getty Images

    The Moment: The Montreal Canadiens hadn't lost in the Stanley Cup Final since 1967, winning in nine straight appearances. But in 1989, it was the Calgary Flames getting the best of the Habs in the rematch from the 1986 Final series.

    Franchise Significance: It was the Flames' first and stands as their only Cup since moving from Atlanta. They've been to the Cup Final on two other occasions but lost in boththe last, in 2004, coming in unexpected fashion and ultimately being decided in a Game 7 loss.

    Star Power: The Flames had a strong lineup, with Joe Nieuwendyk, Doug Gilmour, Lanny McDonald, Gary Roberts, Hakan Loob, Theo Fleury, Al MacInnis and Gary Suter in front of backstop Mike Vernon. The Canadiens countered with Chris Chelios and Larry Robinson anchoring the blue line and 30-goal scorers Mats Naslund and Bobby Smith up front alongside Stephane Richer and Guy Carbonneau.

    Final Result: The Flames took down the Canadiens in six games, becoming the only NHL team to get the best of goalie Patrick Roy in the Final. He won every other appearance with the Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche. Defenseman Al MacInnis led all players in scoring with nine points in the six games, including four goals. He earned Conn Smythe honors for his efforts.

Carolina Hurricanes

5 of 24

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The Moment: At the end of Game 7 in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final—the first post-lockout—it's hard to forget the image of excited and slightly impatient Carolina Hurricanes captain Rod Brind'Amour paying little attention as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman blabbed away, then pointing down to the Cup and saying, "I'm gonna pick this up," forcing Bettman to cut his speech short and drop the microphone just to get an official finger on the chalice to award it.

    Franchise Significance: The former Hartford Whalers had won just one championship previously, the inaugural WHA title in 1973. As the Hurricanes, the team got to the Final one time previously, in 2002, but had never won the Stanley Cup prior to the shocking 2006 run. Both the Canes and their opponents, the Edmonton Oilers, had missed the playoffs in the previous season and missed again the year after they met in the Final.

    Star Power: There weren't any Mario Lemieux or Wayne Gretzky types of stars playing for the Canes, but there were a lot of great players coming together to make the title happen. Brind'Amour was surrounded by the likes of young leaders-in-the-making Andrew Ladd and Eric Staal and talented vets Doug Weight, Mark Recchi and Ray Whitney. The forwards also included Justin Williams and Erik Cole.

    Final Result: Staal was a sophomore but led the Final in scoring with eight points in the seven games, including two goals. Cam Ward rose to stardom with his performance in relief of Martin Gerber in goal, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as a rookie. He had a .920 save percentage in the Final.

Chicago Blackhawks

6 of 24

    The Moment: I'm not sure what was better in the 2010 Cup FinalChicago Blackhawks sniper Patrick Kane celebrating by himself as others tried to figure out whether he'd just scored a Stanley Cup-clinching goal in overtime, or crusty Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger later stealing the puck.

    Franchise Significance: The Blackhawks have had their share of wins as an Original Six club but went through a long (looooooong) drought before Kane's epic overtime clincher in Game 6 against the Flyers. The Hawks were previously the owners of the longest active gap between titles, last winning in 1961. The win ushered the young Blackhawks into a new era of excellence. That 1961 series was solid, with the debuts of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, future Hall of Famers, but these new Blackhawks are a modern-day dynasty.

    Star Power: Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd...stop me when you've heard enough. Incredibly, many of these guys are still around.

    Final Result: Toews was given the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after finishing second in the playoffs with 29 points. But in the Final, he was held without a goal and had just three assists thanks to the presence of Pronger. The Hawks were so deep, however, that Kane, Keith, Sharp, Byfuglien and Dave Bolland all finished at a point per game. The Flyers got great production from top trio Daniel Briere, Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino but didn't get much from the lower lines, and that made all the difference.

Colorado Avalanche

7 of 24

    FRED JEWELL/Associated Press

    The Moment: "There's one player who's waited a long time to hoist this," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman declared in 2001 as he was set to give the Colorado Avalanche the Cup. Defenseman Ray Bourque's name wasn't even mentioned, and the Denver crowd went wild in anticipation of the longtime Boston Bruins blueliner getting to lift the trophy for the first time after joining the Avs for a chance at a championship. When Joe Sakic handed it off immediately, every human hockey fan had to feel a lump in his or her throat.

    Franchise Significance: You never forget your first, and the Avalanche had won the Cup once before in 1996, but that Cup Final didn't feature the same drama as the return. In '96, they swept the Florida Panthers to claim the Cup. In 2001, they had to beat the defending champion New Jersey Devils, and it took all seven games to get it done. The celebration seemed sweeter.

    Star Power: This was Patrick Roy against Martin Brodeur in net. It was Joe Sakic, super sophomore Alex Tanguay, Ray Bourque and Rob Blake against young star Patrik Elias, Alexander Mogilny, Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer. And Bourque got to retire as a champion.

    Final Result: Roy earned his third Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, putting up a .938 save percentage and allowing just 11 goals against over seven games in the series. Sakic was dominant, netting four goals and nine points to lead the way offensively. He had plenty of help from Tanguay, Blake and Chris Drury in that department as well.

    Making things even more special for Avs fans was the fact that the Devils had a 3-2 series lead, and the Avs won on the road and then at home to win the Cup in front of them at the Pepsi Center.

Dallas Stars

8 of 24

    The Moment: Who could forget the 1999 victory, when Brett Hull scored in triple overtime with his foot in the crease? The Dallas Stars winger's Cup-clinching goal remains controversial, but let's face it: There was no logical reason to disallow it. Besides, the celebration had already started.

    Franchise Significance: It stands as the only Stanley Cup in Dallas Stars franchise history and was the first of back-to-back appearances—the team's first since moving south from Minnesota. The North Stars had lost twice previously in the Cup Final, a decade apart in 1981 and '91.

    Star Power: Brett Hull, Mike Modano, Joe Nieuwendyk and Ed Belfour headlined the talented group.

    Final Result: It's hard to believe a guy who put up a .939 save percentage and allowed two goals against per game came out on the losing end of this series, but that's what happened to the Sabres' Dominik Hasek, who was overshadowed by Belfour's .941 save percentage and nine total goals against. Belfour was tremendous, and the Stars got a lot of production out of their top players offensively while stifling the Sabres.

Detroit Red Wings

9 of 24

    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    The Moment: In one of the most emotional made-for-TV moments in hockey history, the Detroit Red Wings brought injured defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov onto the ice in a wheelchair after winning the Stanley Cup for a second straight year in 1998 and placed the trophy in his lap before taking him for a victory lap. Konstantinov was part of the previous Cup victory but was in a limousine crash just days after winning it and suffered a serious brain injury.

    Franchise Significance: It was the ninth Stanley Cup win in Red Wings history, but it was special because it was their second since the Original Six days. It also currently stands as the last time a team has successfully defended the title. They've added two more, but neither had the same tug on the heartstrings in the motivation department.

    Star Power: Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Brendan Shanahan, Nicklas Lidstrom and Larry Murphy were the big names on the Wings' side, as they battled Washington Capitals heavies Peter Bondra, Adam Oates and Phil Housley. 

    Final Result: The sweep over the Capitals was closer than the number of games would indicate. Each of the first three games was decided by a single goal, including an overtime win in Game 2. The Red Wings' top scorer wasn't one of the big names; it was winger Doug Brown, who had three goals and five points. It was a total team effort, with Steve Yzerman—dedicated to two-way play—earning the Conn Smythe nod.

Edmonton Oilers

10 of 24

    Larry MacDougall/Associated Press

    The Moment: Out with an old dynasty and in with the new. The Edmonton Oilers dethroned the New York Islanders in 1984, avenging a sweep a year earlier by the Isles.

    Franchise Significance: It was the Oilers' first Stanley Cup in their second appearance in the Final. They'd go on to win five in seven years. The 1987 Cup Final was a great series, with Philadelphia goalie Ron Hextall winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in the losing cause, but the 1984 title was a symbolic shift in power from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference, from the Isles to the Oilers.

    Star Power: The Oilers became a dynasty for good reason. Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri and Grant Fuhr formed one of the most impressive core groups in hockey history.

    Final Result: The Oilers eked out a 1-0 win in Game 1 but struggled to score in the first couple of games. They exploded when the series shifted back to Edmonton for three games, as the NHL used the 2-3-2 format at the time, scoring 19 goals in the final three contests to put down the Isles.

Florida Panthers

11 of 24

    RICK BOWMER/Associated Press

    The Moment: Who could forget the image of goaltending legend Patrick Roy surrounded by a heap of plastic rats during the 1996 Stanley Cup Final?

    Franchise Significance: The Panthers shocked the hockey world by making the Cup Final against the Colorado Avalanche after beating the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins to get there. To date, it's the only Cup Final appearance for the franchise.

    Star Power: Honestly, the rats (including the fuzzy mascot version that appeared) were the biggest stars on a team led by captain Brian Skrudland and assistant Scott Mellanby, who was ultimately responsible for the whole rat phenomenon when he scored a pair of goals (or "rat trick," according to teammate John Vanbiesbrouk) after killing a rodent with his stick before the home opener. The Avs had plenty of star power between Roy, Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg.

    Final Result: Rats weren't the only things being swept off the ice in the series. The Avs finished off the Panthers in four straight games, allowing just four goals in total while scoring 15 of their own. The clincher was an Uwe Krupp marker in triple overtime to end it on Florida ice. The Cinderella run was remarkable in spite of the disappointing finish.

Los Angeles Kings

12 of 24

    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    The Moment: The first Stanley Cup win is sweet, but in today's NHL, earning a second in three years is something to behold. So when Alec Martinez drove to the net in double overtime in Game 5 and jammed a rebound past Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers, the Kings joined the discussion as a modern-day dynasty.

    Franchise Significance: Wayne Gretzky got the Kings close in 1993, before the Los Angeles franchise won it all in 2012. The 2014 victory was special because it featured the same core and proved the previous title wasn't a fluke.

    Star Power: Calling them loaded doesn't do the Kings justice, as they set the standard for depth. Among the most notable names were Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Marian Gaborik, Jonathan Quick, Mike Richards and Conn Smythe winner Justin Williams. They were more than Lundqvist, Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis could handle.

    Final Result: Williams was the only point-per-game player in the series, with two goals and seven points in five games. Quick rose to the occasion in goal, posting a .932 save percentage while making 136 stops against the Rangers.

Montreal Canadiens

13 of 24

    Getty Images/Getty Images

    The Moment: There have been plenty of big moments for the storied Original Six franchise, which has an NHL-best 34 appearances in the Cup Final, with 24 victories. The 1986 Cup victory stands out as the start of a new era, with rookie goaltender Patrick Roy stealing the spotlight.

    Franchise Significance: As mentioned above, the Montreal Canadiens have been to plenty of Cup Finals. They've won more than any other franchise as well. The last was in 1993, which gets some consideration because of the Roy factor and the fact that they were facing the Los Angeles Kings in that franchise's first Final appearance thanks to Wayne Gretzky's leadership. The Habs' win in 1979 was the team's fourth straight Cup and featured some greats in goalie Ken Dryden, Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson and Bob Gainey.

    Star Power: The 1986 Habs had rookie phenom Roy in goal and older players such as Guy Carbonneau, Bob Gainey and Larry Robinson. Chris Chelios, Claude Lemieux and Mats Naslund were some of the other impact players. The Calgary Flames were hitting their peak as a franchise with Lanny McDonald, Al MacInnis, Gary Suter and Hakan Loob leading the way.

    Final Result: Montreal beat Calgary twice on the road to take a five-game win in the series. Patrick Roy won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP, keeping the potent Flames to 13 goals through five games—which, by the standards of the era, was pretty decent.

New Jersey Devils

14 of 24

    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    The Moment: A double-overtime Stanley Cup-winning goal by Jason Arnott in Game 6 against the Dallas Stars gave the New Jersey Devils their second championship in five years in 2000.

    Franchise Significance: It was their second of three titles in a decade during which the Devils were a tough team to beat. Because of the labor stoppage in 1994-95, which shortened the season for their first title, some place an asterisk on that first Cup victory. There was no mistaking the second, and it came against the defending Cup champion Dallas Stars. The Devils were ousted the following year after getting back to the Final, before reclaiming the title in 2003.

    Star Power: Scott Stevens. Scott Niedermayer. Brian Rafalski. Not a bad top three on defense. And with Martin Brodeur in goal, it's no wonder the trap was next-to-impossible to beat.

    Final Result: Arnott scoring the series-clincher was appropriate, considering he led the Devils with four goals and seven points over the Final, more than any member of the Stars had as well. Ed Belfour was good in the Stars' net, but Brodeur was even better with a .939 save percentage and just nine goals against in the six games. The Stars were smotheredheld to just a single goal on four occasions.

New York Islanders

15 of 24

    The Moment: Bob Nystrom developed a habit of scoring overtime winners in the playoffs. The first came in 1980, giving the New York Islanders their first Stanley Cup in six games.

    Franchise Significance: The Islanders became the second expansion team to win the Stanley Cup after the Philadelphia Flyers did it twice. The 1980 Cup was the first of four in a row for the Islanders, which established them as a dynasty in the '80s before the Edmonton Oilers stole that title.

    Star Power: Nystrom was only a secondary scorer for a team that boasted Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy and Clark Gillies up front and Denis Potvin on the back end.

    Final Result: The series went back and forth from period to period and game to game, with at least five goals being scored by the winner in five of the six games.

New York Rangers

16 of 24

    Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    The Moment: You'd think Mark Messier had never won a Stanley Cup before he did it with the New York Rangers in 1994. He'd earned five with the Edmonton Oilers previously but became the first to captain two different teams to titles when the Rangers beat the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7. It showed as he celebrated, first when the buzzer sounded—hopping with glee over and over—and then parading with the Cup.

    Franchise Significance: The introduction from Gary Bettman said it all. "Well, New York, after 54 years, your long wait is over," the NHL commissioner said before inviting Messier to pick up the Cup. The drought was long for the Rangers, but Messier helped end it, giving the city its fourth Rangers title.

    Star Power: Messier was one of seven players from the 1990 Cup-winning Oilers team who suited up for the Rangers that spring, and 11 players had Cup experience on the veteran-laden team that also featured Brian Leetch and Alexei Kovalev.

    Final Result: Leetch channeled Bobby Orr in this series, finishing with five goals and 11 points in the seven games to secure his Conn Smythe Trophy honors as playoff MVP. Messier was clutch, scoring the series-winner and playing a big defensive role as time ran down.

Ottawa Senators

17 of 24

    Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    The Moment: The city of Ottawa was alive with excitement when the Senators reached their first Stanley Cup Final in 2007, setting up giant screens at city hall. Their best moment in the Final was a Game 3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

    Franchise Significance: The Senators have yet to make it back to the Cup Final, and that was the first time the Sens got that far in the modern NHL. Their franchise namesake did claim the Cup in the pre-Original Six days, back in 1927.

    Star Power: The Sens were led by a scary scoring trio of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson. Unfortunately, their opponents were stacked with Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne up front and Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer anchoring a strong defense.

    Final Result: The Ducks won this one in five games, with the lone loss coming in Game 3—which was the first playoff game in Ottawa in 80 years. The Sens didn't lead in the game until Dean McAmmond scored in the final couple of minutes of the second period, and the hosts held on for what was an elusive Cup Final celebration for the modern Sens.

    The top Sens trio had 23 goals coming into the series but was smothered by Niedermayer and Pronger. Heatley, Alfredsson and Spezza teamed up for just five goals (four by Alfredsson and none from Spezza) in the five contests.

Philadelphia Flyers

18 of 24

    Anonymous/Associated Press

    The Moment: The Philadelphia Flyers' 1974 Cup win over the Boston Bruins was monumental. It was the first time an expansion team beat an Original Six franchise. It was also the coming-out party for goaltender Bernie Parent, who would win back-to-back Conn Smythe Trophies as playoff MVP.

    Franchise Significance: It was the first of back-to-back titles for the Flyers, which earned respect as a team that could play as well as intimidate. The Broad Street Bullies got back to a third straight Cup Final in 1976 but couldn't win a third championship.

    Star Power: Parent established himself as an elite netminder of the era, while Bobby Clarke and Rick MacLeish proved the Flyers could do more than fight.

    Final Result: The teams split the first two games in Boston, but the Flyers left Philly with two more wins in their pockets. They bounced back from a rocky 5-1 loss in Game 5 to clinch in a tightly contested 1-0 shutout victory in Game 6.

Pittsburgh Penguins

19 of 24

    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    The Moment: Despite a wonky back, Mario Lemieux owned the series in 1991 to bring the Pittsburgh Penguins their first Stanley Cup. His signature moment came in Game 2, when he lugged the puck all the way up ice from inside his own blue line, split the North Stars defense with a big move and deked to the backhand to beat goalie Jon Casey.

    Franchise Significance: The Penguins had never even been to the Cup Final before, despite having arguably the most incredible player ever to suit up in the NHL on the roster since drafting Lemieux first overall in 1984. He'd go on to lead them to a second straight Cup victory in 1992, but the first was unforgettable.

    Star Power: Sometimes, Lemieux is all you need. However, the Penguins were also graced with the talents of Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis, Mark Recchi, Larry Murphy, Kevin Stevens and Paul Coffey, to name a few.

    Final Result: These were high-scoring affairs, with 44 goals scored over the six games. A goaltender's duel it was not, but Tom Barrasso allowed just 13 of those and posted a .930 save percentage to give the Penguins more stability. He finished the series with an 8-0 shutout win—which says a lot about the kind of offensive support he received from the likes of Lemieux.

St. Louis Blues

20 of 24

    Fred Waters/Associated Press

    The Moment: You know you've played well when you win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in a losing cause. That's what happened to St. Louis Blues goalie Glenn Hall in 1968 after a memorable series against the Montreal Canadiens. The Blues have yet to win the big trophy, but Hall's hardware was meaningful to the franchise.

    Franchise Significance: The image of Boston Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr flying through the air after scoring the Cup-winning goal in 1970 is haunting to the runner-up Blues. So the feel-good finish in '68—the first of three straight Final appearances for the Blues—is the one many cling to.

    Star Power: Hall, known as Mr. Goalie, was the big draw for the Blues, which relied on Red Berenson and a balanced group for scoring. The Canadiens were talented up front, with Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, Yvan Cournoyer, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay and Jacques Lemaire.

    Final Result: The Canadiens won the series in four straight games, but each was decided by a single goal. Two went into overtime. The efforts of Hall can't be overstated in this one.

Tampa Bay Lightning

21 of 24

    PETER COSGROVE/Associated Press

    The Moment: The Lightning's current run is pretty special, but their 2004 Stanley Cup victory is on record as the franchise's greatest achievement. The third-period performance by goalie Nikolai Khabibulin—who stopped 16 shots to preserve a 2-1 victory in Game 7 over the Calgary Flames—was stellar.

    Franchise Significance: The franchise is back in the Cup Final for the second time this spring. The 2004 championship may be challenged for years to come as the team's best moment, thanks to an exciting and young roster.

    Star Power: Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, Dan Boyle and Khabibulin provided the most excitement among the core members for the Lightning. On the other side, only Jarome Iginla was a household name before the playoffs. Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff was by the end.

    Final Result: It took an epic seven games to get things solved, although Calgary fans will tell you the Flames really won the series in six but were robbed by video review of what would have been Martin Gelinas' fourth series-clinching goal. That famous "no goal" aside, things were back and forth all series, with a pair of overtime games won by the visitors in Games 5 and 6. The Flames scored 14 goals; the Bolts had 13.

Toronto Maple Leafs

22 of 24

    The Moment: If you love heroic efforts, look no further than Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Bobby Baun back in 1964. They didn't start giving out Conn Smythe Trophies until the following year, but that concept should have been inspired by Baun, who took a Gordie Howe slap shot off the leg in a must-win Game 6 but came back to score the game-winning goal in overtime to force Game 7. After drinking from the Cup, he finally had X-rays that revealed a broken leg.

    Franchise Significance: It was the Leafs' third straight Stanley Cup and the 12th of the 13 they own today. There were some memorable moments in previous years, including a great debut from Dave Keon in 1962, but none ranked with the Baun series in terms of great stories. As we approach 50 years of Cup drought in Toronto, the team's next win will surely be its biggest.

    Star Power: Nostalgia is instant when you look at some of the names that lifted that Cup for Toronto—Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Red Kelly, Tim Horton, Eddie Shack and Johnny Bower, to name a few. The Red Wings had some greats as well, with Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Norm Ullman and Terry Sawchuk suiting up.

    Final Result: You already know the Leafs came through in Game 7 after the Baun heroics kept the series alive in Game 6. He was one of the game's three stars in the finale as well, getting shot up with freezing fluid every 10 minutes through the trainer's tape that was keeping his leg together.

Vancouver Canucks

23 of 24

    RON FREHM/Associated Press

    The Moment: The Vancouver Canucks have yet to win a Stanley Cup, but they sure came close in 1994 in one of the most exciting Cup Finals of the era—taking the New York Rangers to seven games before falling in a 3-2 decision at Madison Square Garden.

    Franchise Significance: What made the second of three Final appearances stand out is the fact that they weren't expected to make it that far. The Canucks were the seventh seed in the Western Conference and upset the Calgary Flames after a 3-1 deficit, then the Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs, to set up the meeting with the Rangers. New York had 112 points, compared to the Canucks' 85 in the regular season. Total David and Goliath stuff.

    Star Power: Pavel Bure was lightning on skates and a blast to watch for the Canucks. Trevor Linden also made a name for himself in the series. The other side, though, had Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Alexei Kovalev, Sergei Zubov, Steve Larmer and a cast of savvy veterans with plenty of Cup experience.

    Final Result: Thanks to the goaltending of Kirk McLean, who outplayed a much less busy Mike Richter, the Canucks kept two of the four losses to within a goal—excluding empty-netters. Game 7 came down to the final seconds, with Trevor Linden twice cutting into the Rangers' lead to make it 3-2 early in the third period. The Canucks came within a post of tying the game, and the excitement Messier displayed when it was all over was a testament to how tough the win was.

Washington Capitals

24 of 24

    SUSAN A. WALSH/Associated Press

    The Moment: Just making it to the 1998 Stanley Cup Final would have to be enough for the Washington Capitals, which were overmatched by a Detroit Red Wings squad looking to lock up a second straight Cup win.

    Franchise Significance: The 1998 playoffs mark the first and only time the Capitals have made it to the Stanley Cup Final, reaching the championship series in their 24th season. It was also the first time an NHL coach guided the bench in both the NHL and Olympics, with Ron Wilson coaching the Caps and Team USA in Nagano, Japan.

    Star Power: The Capitals depended heavily on Slovakian sniper Peter Bondra, who was coming off his second 50-goal NHL regular season. It helped that he had one of the best setup men in Adam Oates feeding him the puck. Veteran defenseman Phil Housley and former Edmonton Oilers pest Esa Tikkanen provided some aging name power, with captain Dale Hunter being one of the most feared enforcers at the time.

    They were up against the likes of Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Nicklas Lidstrom and Larry Murphy.

    Final Result: The Red Wings dominated practically from start to finish. The closest the Caps got to winning a game to avoid the sweep was a 4-2 lead in the third period of Game 2. But when Tikkanen missed an open net to make it 5-3, the Red Wings pounced to tie it up at 4-4 and then won on a goal from Kris Draper in overtime.

    Caps goalie Olaf Kolzig was the team's best player, stopping all but 13 of the whopping 163 shots against him in the four games, with 60 of them coming in Game 2 alone.

    All stats via NHL.com or Hockey-Reference.com.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.


X