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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Today In NHL History - Stevens Hits Kozlov

On June 20th in 1995, New Jersey Devils defenseman Scott Stevens dealt a devastating blow to Detroit Red Wings forward Vyacheslav Kozlov in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, turning the tide of the game and series.

The 2nd period collision sparked the Devils, turning a 1-1 tie into a 4-2 win and eventually sweeping the series 4-0 to clinch their first Cup.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Stevens Hits Lindros.
* See also Today In NHL History - Stevens Hits Kariya.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Today In NHL History - Brett Hull's No Goal

On June 19th in 1999, Brett Hull scored 5 minutes and 9 seconds into the third overtime period of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals giving the Dallas Stars a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres and their first (and only) Stanley Cup.

The goal remains the most controversial in NHL history due to a now defunct rule banning a player's skate from entering the crease before the puck as it appears Hull's did. NHL Director of Officiating Bryan Lewis, however, claimed no crease violation on the play noting "Hull had possession of the puck when his skate entered the crease."

ESPN counts the non-call as the 5th worst officiating moment in sports history. The NHL removed the rule the following month.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Fewest & Most Games Needed to Win Stanley Cup

With the St. Louis Blues completing a 26 game playoff culminating in being crowned 2019 Stanley Cup Champions, it's time to do some math and see how many games it typically takes winners to collect the requisite 16 wins en route to hoisting the Stanley Cup.  

The chart below shows the number of playoff games needed to win the Stanley Cup since 1987, by year, team and number of games.

Year: Team (Games)              Year: Team (Games) 
1987: Edmonton Oilers (21) 2002: Detroit Red Wings (23)
1988: Edmonton Oilers (18) 2003: New Jersey Devils (23)
1989: Calgary Flames (22) 2004: Tampa Bay Lightning (23)
1990: Edmonton Oilers (22) 2006: Carolina Hurricanes (25)
1991: Pittsburgh Penguins (24) 2007: Anaheim Ducks (21)
1992: Pittsburgh Penguins (21) 2008: Detroit Red Wings (22)
1993: Montreal Canadiens (20) 2009: Pittsburgh Penguins (24)
1994: New York Rangers (23) 2010: Chicago Blackhawks (22)
1995: New Jersey Devils (20) 2011: Boston Bruins (25)
1996: Colorado Avalanche (22) 2012: Los Angeles Kings (20)
1997: Detroit Red Wings (20) 2013: Chicago Blackhawks (23)
1998: Detroit Red Wings (22) 2014: Los Angeles Kings (26)
1999: Dallas Stars (23) 2015: Chicago Blackhawks (23)
2000: New Jersey Devils (23) 2016: Pittsburgh Penguins (24)
2001: Colorado Avalanche (23)         2017: Pittsburgh Penguins (25)
         2018: Washington Capitals (24)
         2019: St. Louis Blues (26)


Since the expansion of each playoff round to seven games in 1987, none have swept all four rounds to hoist the Cup in 16 games, nor have any skated in four Game 7s using all 28 possible games. The average number of games needed to win the Stanley Cup is 22, with the Edmonton Oilers (1988) playing the fewest games (18), and the Los Angeles Kings (2014) and St. Louis Blues (2019) skating in the most (26).

Three other times a team skated 26 playoff games in a single postseason (Philadelphia Flyers 1987, Calgary Flames 2004, Tampa Bay Lightning 2015).  In each instance, these teams lost to their favored foe in the Stanley Cup Final (Edmonton Oilers 1987, Tampa Bay Lighting 2004, Chicago Blackhawks 2015).
Fans prefer fewer games. Owners don't mind the additional revenue that accompanies a longer series. But whatever is needed will suffice.

* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Length By Days And Games.
* See also NHL League Size And Regular Season Length.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Qualification Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Series Win Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Final Appearance Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Championship Droughts.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Today In NHL History - Konstantinov Limo Crash

On June 13th in 1997, heartbreak hit Hockeytown when a limousine carrying two members of the Russian Five and the Detroit Red Wings masseuse struck a tree six days after their first Cup win in 42 years.

The crash left Vladimir Konstantinov and Sergei Mnatsakanov in a coma with severe head injuries. Both eventually awoke, Konstantinov suffering extensive brain and bodily damage and Mnatsakanov paralyzed from the waist down. The Vladinator would never play hockey again. Slava Fetisov walked away unscathed.

Bearing badges embroidered "Believe" the Wings repeated as Stanley Cup champions, engraving Konstantinov's name despite his on-ice absence. Though not officially retired, no player has worn his number 16 since the injury. His locker remains intact.
Driver Richard Gnida was sentenced to nine months for operating the vehicle with a suspended license and testing positive for marijuana.

That's today in NHL history.

NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Wins

Since the Stanley Cup was dedicated to NHL's top team in 1926, only seven franchises (Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins) have successfully defended their title and won the Stanley Cup in consecutive years.

The record for consecutive Stanley Cup wins by the same club is five (Montreal 1956-1957-1958-1969-1960) with two teams managing four straight wins (Montreal 1976-1977-1978-1979, New York Islanders 1980-1981-1982-1983), one team duplicating three year streaks (Toronto 1947-1948-1949 & 1962-1963-1964), and four squads posting one or more pairs (Detroit 1936-1937 & 1954-1955 & 1997-1998, Philadelphia 1974-1975, Edmonton 1984-1985 & 1987-1988, Pittsburgh 1991-1992 & 2016-2017).

The charts below describe these streaks by team, years, and vice versa.

Team                  Years
Montreal 1930-1931 (2), 1956-1957-1958-1959-1960 (5),

1965-1966 (2), 1968-1969 (2), 1976-1977-1978-1979 (4)
Detroit 1936-1937 (2), 1954-1955 (2), 1997-1998 (2)
Toronto 1947-1948-1949 (3), 1962-1963-1964 (3)
Philadelphia 1974-1975 (2)
New York** 1980-1981-1982-1983 (4)
Edmonton 1984-1985 (2), 1987-1988 (2)
Pittsburgh 1991-1992 (2), 2016-2017 (2)

Years                  Team
1930-1931 Montreal
1936-1937 Detroit
1947-1949 Toronto
1954-1955 Detroit
1956-1960 Montreal
1962-1964 Toronto
1965-1966 Montreal
1968-1969 Montreal
1974-1975 Philadelphia
1976-1979 Montreal 
1980-1983 New York**   
1984-1985 Edmonton     
1987-1988 Edmonton
1991-1992 Pittsburgh
1997-1998 Detroit
2016-2017 Pittsburgh

** New York Islanders

Prior to Pittsburgh turning the trick in 2017, Detroit was the last team to appear in consecutive Stanley Cup Finals (2008, 2009) when they rematched against Pittsburgh. Unfortunately for Detroit, they failed to defend their title. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, they spared themselves the shame of losing in consecutive Cup Finals.

The last team to win the Stanley Cup three times in a row was the New York Islanders, when they claimed it four times in the 1980s (1980-1983)
.

* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Losses.
* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Rematches.

Today In NHL History - Maggie The Monkey Retires

On June 13th in 2009, the Bowmanville Zoo's primate prophet Maggie the Monkey, technically a Crab-eating Macaque, made her last Stanley Cup Playoff pick at the ripe age of 18, leaving the stage to the paid pundits she's owned in the past.

Selecting the underdog Anaheim Ducks to swim away with it all in 2003 (they ultimately lost to New Jersey in the Stanley Cup Final), Maggie tamed TSN's braintrust and was invited back for five more seasons.

Year: Record
2003: 8-7 (beating James Duthie; tying Gord Miller and Gina Reda)
2004: 7-8 (beating Bob McKenzie; tying Gord Miller and Dave Hodge)
2006: 9-6 (beating Bob McKenzie, Pierre McGuire and Bill Berg)
2007: 8-7
2008: 8-7
2009: 5-10 Peaking in 2006 when she out-picked the entire TSN panel, Maggie slowed with age ending with an even 45-45 record after six seasons. Never nailing the Stanley Cup winner in her previous five playoff predictions, Maggie correctly picked the Pittsburgh Penguins in her Final finale putting McKenzie, Duthie and Darren Pang to shame one last time.
That's today in NHL history.