With the NHL down to six clubs (the "Original Six"), only the top four finishers go to the playoffs. The semifinals were best-of-seven, with Team #1 facing Team #3 and Team #2 facing Team #4. The Stanley Cup Final is a best-of-seven series between the champions of each semi-final series. The first two games are played at the site of the higher-seeded team's choice, the next two at the site of the lower-seeded team's choice, and then back again. If the finals end in a tie, they continue until there is a winner. The champion will be awarded the Stanley Cup.
The Original Six were established in 1926 when the Montreal Canadiens joined the NHL after leaving the American Hockey Association. They were followed by the Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bruins would join the league a year later but wouldn't become part of the Original Six group until 1972.
There were originally eight teams in the NHL, but the Seattle Scouts ceased operations in 1924–25. A new franchise was not granted until the Calgary Stampeders began play in the 1930–31 season. The Stampeders were owned by Frank Calderia who also had rights to the name "Senators" which was used by another now-defunct NHL team. The Ottawa Senators name and history remain with the current incarnation of the team.
Ten groups The 1928–29 NHL season was the National Hockey League's 12th season. Each of the ten teams played 44 games. This was the first Stanley Cup final in which two teams from the United States competed for the trophy. In the best-of-three series, the Boston Bruins defeated the New York Rangers two games to one. The final game was played at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The NHL began as a league of regional rivalries between clubs in Canada and the United States. It became more national in nature after the formation of the American Division in 1926, which included teams from both countries. Prior to this change, most Canadian teams had little interest in competing against each other; they just wanted to win the cup. But now that an American team was in the running, these new rivals were going all out for the championship.
There were still only 10 teams in the league when the playoffs started. But on January 24, 1929, the Chicago Black Hawks joined the party by defeating the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 in a tiebreaker game to claim the last spot in the final. Chicago had been relegated to the second division the previous year but had been readmitted to the main circuit this season after paying $100,000 (about $1.5 million in today's money).
In addition to the Black Hawks, the other teams in the final were the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
The first Game 7 in Cup Final history (the best-of-7 format was introduced in 1939) capped off the biggest comeback in NHL history, with Toronto winning four straight games after dropping the first three. No other team has ever won the Cup after dropping the first three games of the championship series. The Maple Leafs' Wendel Clark was named MVP.
The first NHL game seven was played on May 24, 1992, between the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers. By coincidence, this was also the first playoff game for both teams. The Blackhawks defeated the Rangers 4-3 in overtime to advance to the League's first ever Stanley Cup final. They would go on to win their only Cup in a hard-fought five-game series against the Montreal Canadiens.
The second game seven took place on April 26, 1996, between the Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils. By a score of 3-0, the Avs advanced to the Cup final for the first time in franchise history. An upset victory over the defending champion 96-95 in double overtime gave hope to fans that maybe they had found their next great dynasty. But the Avs were no match for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the final, losing 4-1.
The third game seven occurred on April 21, 2001, between the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators.
The Montreal Canadiens had played the most games (6,731) as of the completion of the 2019–20 NHL season, one more than the next closest team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canadiens also have the most victories (3,449), ties (837), and points in the NHL (7,899). The Maple Leafs have the most losses of any NHL team (2,815).
The six clubs that composed the NHL from 1942 to 1967 were the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, and New York Rangers.
From 1942 through 1967, the Original Six clubs were the Blackhawks, Bruins, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Rangers, and Red Wings. The NHL's 1967 expansion, the largest one-time expansion in any major sport, doubled the league's size. As a result, the East and West Divisions were formed. These divisions would last until 1976, when they were replaced by the current North America and Eastern Europe conferences.
The North America Division included the Blackhawks, Blues, Flyers, Islanders, Penguins, and Stars. The East Division consisted of the Capitals, Canes, Devils, Eagles, Hurricanes, and Senators.
Through the 1972-73 season, each team played their division opponents twice and all other teams once. From the 1973-74 season onward, this changed to every team playing every other team twice (excluding the playoffs), so that each club has an equal chance of winning the Stanley Cup.
Currently, the Western Conference consists of the Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Detroit Lions, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns, San Jose Sharks, Seattle Sea Dogs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks.
By failing to make the NHL playoffs following the regular season, the team's postseason futility continues. Because the first round of the playoffs consists of eight series (16 teams) and the NHL has 31 clubs, there will always be 15 teams on this list that did not make the most recent playoffs. The last team to miss the post-season was the Carolina Hurricanes, who missed the 2014-15 season due to financial reasons.
The only team to appear on this list every year since the NHL began holding tournaments to determine which team would play for the Stanley Cup in 1942 is the Toronto Maple Leafs. The other 14 teams have all missed the playoffs at least once.
In total, there have been 30 seasons where a team has gone without making the playoffs.
St. Louis won the Stanley Cup in each of its first three seasons. In the 1967-68 season, the NHL added a conference of six expansion clubs to the Original Six, guaranteeing one of those new teams a berth in the Stanley Cup Final in their first year. The St. Louis Blues became the first expansion team to win the Cup when they defeated the Boston Bruins 4 games to 1. The next year, the final was also decided in four games, this time by the Montreal Canadiens who defeated the Chicago Black Hawks 4-3 in overtime.
Los Angeles and Vancouver have since joined the league, but neither has yet to win the Cup.
If any team was going to win the Cup as an expansion team, it would be the Blues. They were the most successful of the three original teams, winning two titles in three years. And while the Kings and Canucks have never made it past the second round, they've both done much better than anyone expected when they started play. The Canucks, who didn't even have a franchise player until well into their run at the Cup, won the Presidents' Trophy with a record of 52-19-5. The Kings, who came off two consecutive last-place finishes in the NHL, had future Hall of Famers like Gretzky, Lemieux, and Messier at their disposal.