2020 and 2021 proved to be unusual seasons for the NHL. Not only did the league need to adapt to COVID-19 and its accompanying restrictions. There have also been many surprises in the playoffs. The young, skilled, tough Avalanche have faced earlier-than-expected playoff exits in 2020 and 2021. The Bruins went nowhere, qucikly, too.
Meanwhile, 2021 has seen the Montreal Canadiens unexpectedly make it to the third round. Anything can happen in the NHL playoffs. There’s nothing else like it in the world of sports. That’s been true for decades.
The Stanley Cup playoffs have an intensity that’s hard to match. Over the years, they’ve become known for moments of incredible skill and grit. Great comebacks in games and whole series are also characteristic of the road to the Stanley Cup. Take the 2014 Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings. They came back from an 0-3 start in the first round to defeat the San Jose Sharks in four straight games.
In 1994, the New York Rangers won their first Stanley Cup since 1940. This legendary playoff run saw many former Oilers come together again under the leadership of captain and Hall Of Famer Mark Messier. To make it to the Final, they had to defeat New Jersey in seven games. Three of those went to OT, including Game 7, which went into double overtime. Stephane Matteau’s winning goal is one of the most iconic moments in NHL history, for both the Rangers and the Devils.
The Boston Bruins won three Game 7s on their historic Cup run in 2011. They were the first team to do so. They got off to a shaky start, finding themselves down to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round by 2 games. In spite of an injury to Nathan Horton, the Bruins stayed focused. They won a hard-fought Final against a highly skilled Canucks team in 7 games.
The Stanley Cup playoffs are still ongoing. With Tampa Bay, the Islanders, Canadiens and the Vegas Golden Knights all in contention. There have already been some big upsets during the first two rounds. COVID is still making its presence felt, with coaches testing positive. The 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs are like no other post-season before them.