There’s nothing like the NHL playoffs. Long regarded as the most excruciating postseason in professional sports, NHL playoffs tickets are snapped up across North America every spring as the melting snow outdoors translates into heavy hits indoors.
Beards are grown. Battle lines are drawn. But once the puck drops, all bets are off.
No team has been more successful throughout history than the Montreal Canadiens, winners of 24 Stanley Cups in 34 appearances, with their fellow countrymen from the Toronto Maple Leafs next in line with 13 wins in 21 appearances. The Detroit Red Wings are America’s most successful hockey club with 11 Stanley Cup wins, followed by the six-time champion Boston Bruins.
While teams have been battling for the Stanley Cup since 1893, the early years were marked by competition between several different hockey leagues, with the NHL eventually emerging as the sole and dominant league. The first NHL playoff tickets went on sale in 1927, with the Ottawa Senators defeating the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals.
NHL playoffs tickets in the Original Six era were marked by intense competition between Montreal and Toronto, with the Maple Leafs at first emerging as the dominant team by winning six titles from 1942-1951, including three straight from 1947-1949.
However, their dominance would be short-lived as the Canadiens would go on to win six Stanley Cups from 1953-1960, including an unprecedented five straight championships from 1956-1960. The Maple Leafs would find their way back on top with three straight Stanley Cup wins from 1962-1965, but Montreal would then take back four of the next five in 1965-1966 and 1968-1969.
In the 1960s, NHL playoffs tickets meant a chance to see either Montreal or Toronto battle for the Cup, with either the Canadiens or Maple Leafs winning every Stanley Cup final except one from 1956-1969.
The 1970s saw NHL playoffs tickets being put to good use in U.S. cities like Boston and Philadelphia, with the Bruins and Flyers winners of two Cups apiece. However, the dominance of Montreal could not be ignored, with the Canadiens winning another six Cups that decade, including four straight from 1976-1979.
In the 1980s, NHL playoffs tickets were largely a battle between two new preeminent teams in hockey: The New York Islanders, who started out the decade with four straight Stanley Cup wins from 1980-1984, and the Wayne Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers, who collected five championship victories including two back-to-back wins in 1984-1985 and 1987-1988.
Yet following the last Oilers victory in 1990, NHL playoffs tickets have become a more egalitarian affair, with no one team dominating the modern era as teams had in the past. Several teams, such as the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburg Penguins, have hoisted the Cup more than twice since 1990, with the Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, and New Jersey Devils each collecting a pair of Stanley Cup victories in that time period. Meanwhile, in a reversal from the early years, no Canadian team has won the Cup since Montreal in 1993.
In 2014, NHL playoffs tickets have been released for a series of high-profile battles, with the President’s Cup-winning #1 ranked Boston Bruins taking on the scrappy #8 seeded Detroit Red Wings, who made a late-season push to make the playoffs in their first year in the Eastern Conference following the recent NHL realignment. Over in the Western Conference, the top-seeded Anaheim Ducks take on the eighth-seeded Dallas Stars.
Other marquee matchups for which NHL playoffs tickets are in high demand include the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks taking on the St. Louis Blues, who limped into the playoffs losing six straight games and surrendering the number one seed to fall to a four seed. That made way for the young upstart Colorado Avalanche to take the Western Conference Central Division in their first year under head coach Patrick Roy, where they earned a number two seed and the right to take on the seventh-seeded Minnesota Wild in the first round.
Over the East, few NHL playoffs tickets are in higher demand than those pitting the New York Rangers versus the hated Philadelphia Flyers. Elsewhere, #2 seeded Pittsburg takes on #7 seeded Columbus, #3 seeded Tampa Bay takes on #6 seeded Montreal and, in the West, #3 seeded San Jose battles #6 seeded Los Angeles in a heated interstate rivalry.
The only thing better to hoist over your head than NHL playoffs tickets? Lord Stanley’s Cup itself.