The dog days of summer are upon us. Generally in the summer we enjoy sitting back popping a cold one and taking some time along with a break from thinking about hockey for a few weeks. However this year, and maybe it’s because of everything we’ve endured the last 18 months, I just can’t get the NHL off my brain. I decided to put together a list and while we know lists are the gift that keeps giving I figured a deep dive on a Stanley Cup themed topic would be intriguing. I’ve been kicking around what I consider the top 10 Stanley Cup Finals over the past 20 years and while this list was extremely hard to whittle down I managed to do it.
On top of that, I challenged my co-partner on the Two 4 Roughing podcast to put together his top 10 as well. I am curious to see where we may differ and possibly match up in the process. In one way that I know we both will differ is that we each look at the Stanley Cup Final in a different light. I personally when making this list considered only the Final itself and nothing else with it. On the other hand, my partner in some areas looked at outside factors including the season that led up to the Final. I do have a sneaky suspicion that our top spot may just be right on the money for each other.
Yesterday we kicked off with number 10 which you can read here. Today it is number 9 on the list:
9) 2006 Carolina Hurricanes vs. Edmonton Oilers:
About the series: The 2006 Stanley Cup Final was a return to the Cup for the first time since 1990 for the Edmonton Oilers. For the Carolina Hurricanes, it was their second appearance after being ousted by the Detroit Red Wings in 2002. This Final marked the first time in league history that two former World Hockey Association teams would play for the Stanley Cup and that featured two teams that missed the postseason the season prior. The Hurricanes entered the postseason as the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference while the Edmonton Oilers were the 8th seed in the Western. The Oilers would go on to become the first team in NHL history to make it to the final as the 8th seed.
Why it is in my top 10: This one lacks the sexiness of the others that are on this list but for some odd reason I really enjoyed this season. Maybe it has to do with the spring of Dwayne Roloson or the fact that Edmonton had a chance to clinch a Cup for the first time since the dynasty Oilers era ended. There were classic moments in this series for sure including game 1 that saw the Hurricanes erase a three-goal deficit and steal the win in the series opener. The Roloson surge would come to an end quickly in this series as he went down with a series ending knee injury that forced the Oilers to rotate a three goalie system. It was the first time since 1970 that three goalies were used by the same team in a Stanley Cup Final. The Hurricanes would find themselves up 3-1 in the series before losing back to back games to force a 7th game including a heartbreaking overtime loss in game 5.
The best part of the series was that this Cup victory for Carolina was a huge boom for the NHL. We all know Carolina is a non-traditional hockey market but being able to have a Cup champ in the heart of the south could show that not only could hockey survive but thrive in a non-traditional market.
Now for Chris’ number 9:
2003 Anaheim Ducks vs. New Jersey Devils
About the series: The 2003 Stanley Cup Final marked the third appearance in the Final for the New Jersey Devils in the past four years. For the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, it was their first trip after upsetting heavyweight and defending champion Detroit Red Wings as well as the Dallas Stars. Both teams featured a juggernaut goaltending matchup between Martin Brodeur and Jean-Sebastian Giguere. In the Western Conference Final, Giguere allowed only one goal the entire series against the Minnesota Wild. Both teams were loaded with Hockey Hall of Fame talent and for the Devils, the victory cemented their dynasty.
Why it is in my top 10: The talent on both sides alone was enough to make this series a classic. Add in the drama of the Devils shutting out the Ducks in both games 1 and 2 only for the Ducks to return serve with two overtime victories to tie the series made this a rollercoaster affair. Game 6 would be the icing on the cake as far as classic moments are concerned. One of the most remembered moments in Stanley Cup Final history occurred in the second period between Paul Kariya and Scott Stevens. Noted headhunter Stevens caught Kariya with an open ice collision that sent Kariya crashing to the ice. After laying motionless on the ice and being helped off the ice, Kariya would return to the bench moments and later on fire off a slap shot that has gone down as a moment to remember. The Ducks would force a game 7 only to be shutout for the 3rd time in the series. Another classic moment was the awarding of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs being awarded to the losing goaltender. It marked only the 5th time in NHL history that the losing team took home the award.
What would you say is your 10th best Stanley Cup since 2001? Feel free to leave a comment below and don’t forget to check out part 1!
Tomorrow we jump right back into it with number 8 on our lists!Embed from Getty Images
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