The Stanley Cup Finals are the final chapter of the NHL Playoffs, where the last two teams standing in the postseason compete for the coveted Stanley Cup.
Stanley Cup History
In the late 1800s, the Stanley Cup existed as an amateur sports trophy, known as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, given to the top amateur ice hockey team in Canada. In 1906, professional teams finally became eligible to compete for the trophy. The trophy was originally donated by Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor General of Canada at the time, and thus the Cup was named after him.
Formats for the Stanley Cup Finals have varied from best-of-three to best-of-five game series, eventually reaching the best-of-seven game series that fans are familiar with today. Who competed for the Cup depended on the structure of the league at the time. In the Original Six era of the NHL, the top four teams competed in the playoffs to determine the two finalists. Eventually, the league moved to a format that pitted the Eastern and Western Conference champions against one another.
The venue for the Stanley Cup Finals varies from year to year, as it depends entirely on which two teams qualify for the championship series. The two teams competing in the Stanley Cup Finals each host games throughout the series, with the series following a 2-2-1-1-1 format. Under this format, the higher-seeded team hosts the first two games of the series, with the other team hosting the next two games. From there, teams alternate hosting games five through seven, with the higher-seeded team hosting games five and seven.
Best Stanley Cup Finals Moments
Memorable Stanley Cup Finals tend to include series that come down to one of the last few games, as those series tend to be the most competitive and filled with the most drama. In 2011, one of the most dramatic Stanley Cup Finals of all-time played out, when the Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games. Vancouver was looking to become the first Canadian team to win the Cup since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens, and had the weight of a country on their backs.
Vancouver went up by two games to none at home to start the series and, despite losing the next two games in Boston, found themselves up three games to two with two games left in the series. But the Bruins found a way to avoid elimination despite their backs being against the wall, securing wins in games six and seven behind a combined nine goals in those two games. A 4-0 game seven win sealed the comeback, and brought the title back to Boston.