It's the best time of year!
(Ed. Note: Over the next two weeks, we will be taking a look back at the last 15 postseasons; including reaction from bloggers/writers of the Cup champions and various videos to remember what happened that spring. We hope you enjoy this feature!)
The Champion: Colorado Avalanche
Road to the Cup:
Round 1 – 4-0 over 8) Vancouver
Round 2 – 4-3 over 7) Los Angeles
Round 3 – 4-1 over 4) St. Louis
Round 4 – 4-3 over 1) New Jersey
In their own words: Ryan Boulding, The Avalanche Guild
“In 2000-01 the Colorado Avalanche won the the Stanley Cup for the second time since the team moved from Quebec to Denver. It was easily one of the best seasons that the Avalanche ever had. They won the Northwest Division, the President's Trophy and finished with 118 points on the season before barreling through the first round of the playoffs against their division rivals, the Vancouver Canucks.
The second round was a hard fought battle against the Los Angeles Kings that saw the Avalanche nearly blow a 3-1 lead before winning game seven. The Avs also lost one of their key components in Peter Forsberg, who had to have his spleen removed in emergency surgery after an injury. He finished the post season with 14 points in 11 games.
Colorado would go on to defeat the St. Louis Blues in five games before taking the defending champion New Jersey Devils to game seven, winning it all at the Pepsi Center.
It was a postseason that saw everyone contributing on a team full of hard working, talented players. From Patrick Roy posting a 1.70 goals against average through 23 games to captain Joe Sakic stealing up 26 points in only 21 games, each player earned the cup.
It was also the heyday of the hard hitting defense in Colorado, with players forced to watch for the devastating Rob Blake hip-check and the patented Adam Foote grit near the crease and the corners.
Everyone will always remember Sakic allowing the great Ray Bourque to hoist the cup for the first and only time in Bouque's storied career. Many locals will also remember Shjon Podein spending roughly 24 hours straight in his game gear, wandering the street in skates and all and shaking the hands of the town that loved him.”
Conn Smythe winner: Patrick Roy
Believe it or not, Roy had the best and perhaps most dominant postseason of his career in 2001. The Conn Smythe winner had a 1.70 GAA, .934 save percentage and four shutouts – all playoff highs for Roy. In two Game 7’s, Roy gave up a total of two goals, including a great performance against the Devils in Colorado’s Cup-clinching victory.
Roy became the first ever player to win three Conn Smythe Trophies (and still is).
The Runner-Up: New Jersey Devils
The 2001 Devils came within one win of repeating as champions, but the Avalanche stood in their way. Still, it was a memorable run to the finals for the top-seeded Devils. They made it look easy in six first round games against Carolina, but had trouble with 7th-seeded Toronto; in fact, they had to claw back from a 3-2 series deficit to prevail. New Jersey then deposited a pesky Penguins club in five games to advance to the Cup final.
The Upset: ECQF – 7) Toronto over 2) Ottawa
The 2nd-seeded Senators, one of the league’s best teams in 2000-01, were expected to roll over rival Toronto. But it was the other way around as the 7th seed pulled off a shocking sweep. Maple Leafs goalie Curtis Joseph recorded a shutout in Games 1 and 2, while overtime winners from Mats Sundin and Cory Cross helped complete the sweep.
Other notable upsets: WCQF: 7) Los Angeles over 2) Detroit
Best series: SCF – 1) Colorado over 1) New Jersey
This was actually the last time each conference’s top seed met in the finals. It was one of the best Cup finals series in recent memory as it went the distance and featured Ray Bourque lifting Lord Stanley in the end.
Colorado and New Jersey had a lot of momentum swings throughout the series. On the road, the Devils took a 3-2 series lead after a Game 5 win. At that point, Joe Sakic and company were behind the eight ball; but they answered the bell and responded with dominant wins in Games 6 (4-0) and 7 (3-1). Alex Tanguay scored twice in Game 7 to propel Colorado to the title.
It was a great series because it featured the top two teams battling for all the marbles, along with the memorable subplot of Bourque winning his first Cup.
ECSF: New Jersey 5, Toronto 1
ECSF: Pittsburgh 3, Buffalo 2 (OT)
WCSF: Colorado 5, Los Angeles 1
SCF: Colorado 3, New Jersey 1
Photo credit: Getty Images
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