For 25 years there were only six hockey teams in the NHL, the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadians, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks. These franchises were nicknamed the “Original Six” because they were the only teams in the league between 1942-1967. For old-time hockey fans this group will forever be linked in history and however good, or bad, the teams play going forward, they will always be an elite franchise based on their longevity in the league.
With their game 2 win last night against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Tampa Bay Lighting moved one game closer to the Stanley Cup Finals, a feat that is special for any team to accomplish, but even more so when you see what teams they would have gone through if they get there. If the Lighting were able to get past the Rangers, they would have done what no team before them has been able to, which is beat three of the Original Six teams en route to the Stanley Cup.
Tampa Bay opened the playoffs by beating the Detroit Red Wings in 7 games and then went on to defeat the top ranked Montreal Canadians in 6. If you want to look back even further, they also ended the Boston Bruins season in the final game of the regular season, when they defeated them 3-2 in a shootout, ending Boston’s hopes of making the post season.
Should they be able to defeat the Rangers and go to the Stanley Cup Finals, there is a chance they could meet the Chicago Blackhawks, who are trialing in their Western Conference Finals match up with the Anaheim Ducks 1-0. A lot needs to happen for this scenario to play out, but it is fascinating to think that one team could end the season for five of the Original Six teams. Only Toronto is safe from the Lighting, as they did not make the playoffs.
Last season, the Los Angeles Kings defeated the New York Rangers in the Finals and the Chicago Blackhawks in the Conference Finals, but they went through two non-Original Six teams to get there. In 1992, the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated Chicago in the Finals, the Boston Bruins in the conference finals and the New York Rangers in the division finals, but they opened up the playoffs against the Washington Capitals, who of course were not part of the Original Six.
All of this has been made possible by the Detroit Red Wings moving to the Eastern Conference in the 2013-14 season. Before that, there were four teams in the East and two in the West. Now the chances are greater for a team to play 3 of these teams in the playoffs, with 5 residing in the East and only, Chicago, out West.
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