1996 Stanley Cup Playoffs
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1996 Stanley Cup Playoffs
1996 Stanley Cup playoffs
Tournament details
DatesApril 16-June 10, 1996
Defending championsNew Jersey Devils
(did not qualify)
Final positions
ChampionsColorado Avalanche
Runner-upFlorida Panthers
Tournament statistics
Scoring leader(s)Joe Sakic (Avalanche)
(34 points)
MVPJoe Sakic (Avalanche)

The 1996 Stanley Cup playoffs, the playoff tournament of the National Hockey League (NHL), began on April 16, 1996. The 16 teams that qualified (8 from each conference) played best-of-seven series for conference quarterfinals, semifinals and championships, and then the conference champions played a best-of-seven series for the Stanley Cup. These playoffs are noted as being the first playoffs in which all Canadian teams were eliminated during the first round. The New Jersey Devils, who had won the Stanley Cup the year before, failed to qualify for these playoffs. This was the first time that both Florida teams--the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning--made it to the playoffs.

The playoffs ended on June 10 with the Colorado Avalanche sweeping the Florida Panthers in both teams' first-ever Finals appearance. It was Colorado's first-ever Stanley Cup championship in their inaugural season after relocating from Quebec City prior to the start of the regular season; in the previous years, they were known as the Quebec Nordiques. Joe Sakic was named playoff MVP and awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.

For the second time in three years and the last time until 2013, all of the Original Six teams reached the playoffs. This was also the last time all three California-based teams missed the playoffs in the same year until 2020.

The Stanley Cup, awarded to the champion of the NHL

Playoff seeds

The following teams qualified for the playoffs:

Eastern Conference

  1. Philadelphia Flyers, Atlantic Division champions, Eastern Conference regular season champions - 103 points
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins, Northeast Division champions - 102 points
  3. New York Rangers - 96 points
  4. Florida Panthers - 92 points
  5. Boston Bruins - 91 points
  6. Montreal Canadiens - 90 points
  7. Washington Capitals - 89 points
  8. Tampa Bay Lightning - 88 points

Western Conference

  1. Detroit Red Wings, Central Division champions, Western Conference regular season champions, Presidents' Trophy winners - 131 points
  2. Colorado Avalanche, Pacific Division champions - 104 points
  3. Chicago Blackhawks - 94 points
  4. Toronto Maple Leafs - 80 points (34 wins)
  5. St. Louis Blues - 80 points (32 wins)
  6. Calgary Flames - 79 points (34 wins)
  7. Vancouver Canucks - 79 points (32 wins)
  8. Winnipeg Jets - 78 points

Playoff bracket

  Conference Quarterfinals Conference Semifinals Conference Finals Stanley Cup Finals
1 Philadelphia 4     1 Philadelphia 2  
8 Tampa Bay 2     4 Florida 4  

2 Pittsburgh 4 Eastern Conference
7 Washington 2  
    4 Florida 4  
  2 Pittsburgh 3  
3 NY Rangers 4  
6 Montreal 2  
4 Florida 4   2 Pittsburgh 4
5 Boston 1     3 NY Rangers 1  

  E4 Florida 0
(Pairings are re-seeded after the first round.)
  W2 Colorado 4
1 Detroit 4     1 Detroit 4
8 Winnipeg 2     5 St. Louis 3  
2 Colorado 4
7 Vancouver 2  
  1 Detroit 2
  2 Colorado 4  
3 Chicago 4  
6 Calgary 0   Western Conference
4 Toronto 2   2 Colorado 4
5 St. Louis 4     3 Chicago 2  
  • During the first three rounds home ice is determined by seeding number, not position on the bracket. In the Finals the team with the better regular season record has home ice.

Conference Quarterfinals

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

(1) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (8) Tampa Bay Lightning

This was the first playoff series between these two teams. This was the first time that the Tampa Bay area was represented in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Philadelphia won series 4-2

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (7) Washington Capitals

Game four of this series is the fifth longest game in NHL history. Game six was the last playoff game at USAir Arena.

Pittsburgh won series 4-2

(3) New York Rangers vs. (6) Montreal Canadiens

New York won series 4-2

(4) Florida Panthers vs. (5) Boston Bruins

This was the first and to date only playoff series between these two teams. This was the first time that Miami was represented in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Florida won series 4-1

Western Conference Quarterfinals

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (8) Winnipeg Jets

This was the first playoff series between these two teams. This was the final playoff series for the original Winnipeg Jets as they relocated to Phoenix, Arizona after the season. Game six was the final NHL game played at the Winnipeg Arena.

Detroit won series 4-2

(2) Colorado Avalanche vs. (7) Vancouver Canucks

This was the first playoff series between these two teams. This series marked the first appearance of a team representing Colorado in the Stanley Cup playoffs in 18 years. The most recent team to represent Colorado prior to this was the Colorado Rockies who lost in the Preliminary round in 1978.

Colorado won series 4-2

(3) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (6) Calgary Flames

Chicago won series 4-0

(4) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (5) St. Louis Blues

Game five was the last playoff game at Maple Leaf Gardens, and game six was the Maple Leafs' last playoff game as a Western Conference team.

St. Louis won series 4-2

Conference Semifinals

Eastern Conference Semifinals

(1) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (4) Florida Panthers

Game five was the last game played at the CoreStates Spectrum.

Florida won series 4-2

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (3) New York Rangers

Pittsburgh won series 4-1

Western Conference Semifinals

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (5) St. Louis Blues

Detroit won series 4-3

(2) Colorado Avalanche vs. (3) Chicago Blackhawks

Colorado won series 4-2

Conference Finals

Eastern Conference Final

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (4) Florida Panthers

This was the first and to date only playoff series between these two teams. This was the third conference final appearance for Pittsburgh and first since defeating Boston in four games in 1992. Florida made their first appearance in a conference final since entering the league as an expansion team in 1993.

Despite being outshot 33-25 in Game 1, the Panthers came out on top with an impressive 5-1 win. Florida goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck made 32 saves and Florida forward Tom Fitzgerald scored twice. The Penguins wanting to avoid going down two games to none against the Panthers came out with a better effort in game two and won the game 3-2 and evened the series at one game each. In Game 3, the Panthers fired an incredible 61 shots on Penguins goaltender Tom Barrasso and it paid off as the Panthers won 5-2 to take a 2-1 series lead, with Florida forward Stu Barnes scoring twice. Going into the third period of Game 4, the Penguins trailed 1-0. Pittsburgh tied the score on Brad Lauer's goal with 11:03 remaining in regulation, then Bryan Smolinski scored the go ahead goal with 3:31 to go to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead. Pittsburgh hung on to win the game 2-1 and tie the series at two games apiece. In Game 5, the Penguins shut-out the Panthers 3-0, with Tom Barrasso stopping all 28 Florida shots he faced.

Leading the series three games to two, Pittsburgh looked to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals in Game 6. The Penguins led 2-1 in the second period, but the Panthers scored three of the next four goals and edged the Penguins 4-3 to tie the series at 3-3. In Game 7, Florida took a 1-0 lead on Mike Hough's goal at 13:13 of the first period. After a scoreless second period, Pittsburgh tied the game on Petr Nedved's power-play goal at 1:23 of the third period. The Panthers regained the lead on Tom Fitzgerald's bizarre 58-foot slapshot at 6:18 and got an insurance goal from Johan Garpenlov at 17:23. Florida hung on to win the game 3-1 and the series four games to three, John Vanbiesbrouck making 39 saves in the victory. To date, this remains the last playoff series victory for the Panthers.

Florida won series 4-3

Western Conference Final

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (2) Colorado Avalanche

This was the first playoff series between these two teams. This was the fourth conference final appearance for Detroit and second in consecutive years as the Red Wings defeated Chicago in five games the year before. Colorado made their third conference final appearance in franchise history and first since losing to Philadelphia in six games in 1985 when the team was known as the Quebec Nordiques.

Game 1 was a hard-fought battle. The score was tied at two in the first overtime period when Mike Keane scored at 17:31 to give Colorado a 3-2 win. The Avalanche won Game 2, 3-0, with Colorado goaltender Patrick Roy stopping all 35 shots faced. Down two games to none, the Red Wings played solidly in Game 3. Detroit defencemen Nicklas Lidstrom and Vladimir Konstantinov combined to score three goals (including a shorthanded goal by Konstantinov) and Detroit won 6-4. In game four the Red Wings outshot the Avalanche 31-17 but lost the game 4-2 thanks to 29 saves made by Patrick Roy.

Detroit played with desperation and determination in game five. Inspired by Vladimir Konstantinov's big body check on Avalanche forward Claude Lemieux, the Red Wings went on to win 5-2. The Red Wings victory forced a Game 6 back in Colorado. Game 6 became famous in the history of the Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry. At 14:07 of the first period, Detroit forward Kris Draper was down along the half-boards at centre ice when Colorado forward Claude Lemieux checked Draper's head from behind into the edge of the bench. The hit sent Draper to the hospital with a broken jaw and a shattered cheek and orbital bone, which required surgery and stitches. Draper did not return to play until the middle of the 1996-97 season. While Lemieux was assessed a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct match penalty for the hit,[1] the Avalanche went on to win the game 4-1 and completed the upset. The controversial hit on Draper by Lemieux was a catalyst (along with a rough hit by Kozlov on Foote in Game 3) for the Detroit-Colorado rivalry that endured for a decade.

Colorado won series 4-2

Stanley Cup Finals

Since the formation of the NHL in 1917 this was the only time to date that both teams competing in the Stanley Cup Finals made their first appearance.

This was the first and to date only playoff series between these two teams. Colorado made their first Finals appearance in their first season in Denver, this was the franchise's seventeenth season in the league, while Florida made their first Finals appearance in just their third season of existence. Colorado became the third NHL team to win the Stanley Cup following a relocation, and the first to do so in their inaugural season after relocation.

Colorado won series 4-0

Playoff statistics


These are the top ten skaters based on points.[2]

Player Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM
Joe Sakic Colorado Avalanche 22 18 16 34 +10 14
Mario Lemieux Pittsburgh Penguins 18 11 16 27 +3 33
Jaromir Jagr Pittsburgh Penguins 18 11 12 23 +7 18
Valeri Kamensky Colorado Avalanche 22 10 12 22 +11 28
Peter Forsberg Colorado Avalanche 22 10 11 21 +10 18
Petr Nedved Pittsburgh Penguins 18 10 10 20 +3 16
Steve Yzerman Detroit Red Wings 18 8 12 20 -1 4
Sergei Fedorov Detroit Red Wings 19 2 18 20 +8 10
Sandis Ozolinsh Colorado Avalanche 22 5 14 19 +5 16
Dave Lowry Florida Panthers 22 10 7 17 +8 39


This is a combined table of the top five goaltenders based on goals against average and the top five goaltenders based on save percentage, with at least 420 minutes played. The table is sorted by GAA, and the criteria for inclusion are bolded.[3]

Ed Belfour Chicago Blackhawks 9 6 3 323 23 2.07 .929 1 665:54
Patrick Roy Colorado Avalanche 22 16 6 649 51 2.10 .921 3 1453:53
Chris Osgood Detroit Red Wings 15 8 7 322 33 2.12 .898 2 935:48
Ron Hextall Philadelphia Flyers 12 6 6 319 27 2.13 .915 0 759:41
John Vanbiesbrouck Florida Panthers 22 12 10 735 50 2.25 .932 1 1331:31

See also


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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