Even as hockey is certainly not the most popular among the four major sports, there is no way to deny that its playoffs are the most exciting. With every possible playoff series capable of going to 7 games, it is quite usual to see even matchups, nail-biting games and a slew of overtimes that can only be decided by a winning goal.
However, the hockey gods' capriciousness has given us only a limited number of occasions in which the Stanley Cup Finals have been played to its fullest extent. After the NHL instituted the best-of-7 format for its final series since the 1938-39 season, only 16 times has the Stanley Cup been awarded after a seventh game.
Fortunately for fans, the past few years have seen a spike in winner-take-all games, with 6 of the last 13 Finals going the full extent.
Despite the close nature of most game sevens in Finals history, there have been a few where the victor won handily. Today we take a look at the largest margins of victory in such games.
In a series where the home team had won the first 6 games, the Devils had to feel good about returning to their arena for game 7. The Ducks had surprised the hockey world by reaching the Finals as a seventh seed, while New Jersey was playing for the Stanley Cup for the third time in four years. For game 7, Martin Brodeur was in top shape and recorded his third shutout of the series. In fact, despite the series going 7 games, New Jersey was far superior in its home games, outscoring the Ducks 15-3 in the 4 contests played in the Garden State.
In a rematch of the '63 Stanley Cup Finals, Toronto and Detroit renewed their rivalry and the Leafs again took home the trophy. While the '63 version was decided quickly in 5 games, the following year was a whole different story. Even as the visiting team had won 4 of the first 6 games, Toronto held court in game 7 en route to their third straight title. The 4-0 lopsided win was completely out of character for a series that had featured five 1-goal games, including a memorable game 6 in which the Leafs had survived in overtime.
In a series where the home team won every game (a feat that would not be repeated until 2003), Montreal made the Forum a fortress and claimed the Stanley Cup with ease. In game 7, eventual MVP Jean Beliveau scored after only 14 seconds of play and so the rout was on. While the games in Chicago showed a very competitive Blackhawks squad, the story was completely different in Montreal, as the Canadiens combined for a 15-2 goal difference throughout the 4 games, including three straight shutouts after the 3-2 opening game.
Vancouver was the first Canadian team with home field advantage in the Finals since 1993, and after the first 6 games of the series had been won by the home team, a huge party was prepared for the Canucks. However, the Bruins had other plans. After being held to only 2 goals in the first two matchups played in Vancouver, the Bruins exploded for a comfortable 4-0 victory in game 7 that was more in line with how Boston had played at home (they had outscored the Canucks 17-3, including an 8-1 thrashing in game 3). Boston's win represented their first title in 39 years, while the disappointment in Vancouver led to the infamous riots right after game 7.