With the 2010s coming to an end, now's a great time for a retrospective examination of the decade that was. There has been plenty to take in across the hockey world over the past 10 years -- including a dynasty, another lockout and some generational talents achieving greatness. And, of course, there was plenty of immortality etched on the Stanley Cup.
Before we turn the page on the 2010s, we thought it'd be a fun exercise to take a look back at the 10 teams that won the Stanley Cup this decade and rank them. Those rankings take into account the team's regulation season success as well as their playoff run, while also considering in a certain memorability factor. Who are the championship teams and what are the championship moments you'll most remember from the last 10 years? It's fun to think about.
It's important to remember that every team on this list was great -- one needs to be hoist the most difficult trophy to win in sports -- but not all greatness is created equal. It's also important to remember that lists like these are subjective and the only thing that truly matters is whether you're on the list to begin with.
10. 2012 Los Angeles Kings
Record: 40-27-15 (95 points, 3rd in Pacific)
Goal Differential: +15
Playoff record: 16-4
It's not every day you see a team rank 29th out of 30 teams in goal scoring and they still qualify for playoffs. Not only did the 2011-2012 Kings accomplish that feat, they also went on to win the whole damn thing. Relying on their great defense and the strong goaltending of 26-year-old Jonathan Quick, the Kings entered the playoffs as an eight-seed and lost just two games through the first three rounds of the playoffs before meeting the Devils in the Cup Final. Six games later they sealed the deal and the Cup belonged to the Kings for the first time in franchise history.
The Kings weren't a fluke champion, as they proved a few years later, but they weren't exactly a sexy champion, either. They were simply great at suffocating teams into submission, allowing just 1.50 goals per game over the course of their whole playoff run. That's the only way you win a Cup with an offense that average.
9. 2019 St. Louis Blues
Record: 45-28-9 (99 points, 3rd in Central)
Goal Differential: +24
Playoff record: 16-10
The Blues may not be the most outright impressive championship team of the decade but they are undoubtedly the most improbable. St. Louis got off to a dreadful start to the season and fired their coach in November. Things didn't turn around immediately and the team was dead-last in the standings come early January.
But then the switch clicked and they found an insane second-half run aided largely by the emergence of rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington. They got into the playoffs as a three-seed in the Metro before outlasting some quality opposition in the Jets and Stars. The Dallas series needed double-OT in Game 7 to declare a victor. The hometown kid Pat Maroon came through.
The Blues were considered significant underdogs against the Sharks and Bruins in the conference and Cup finals, respectively. They weren't the most skilled or star-studded team but they were tough -- both mentally and physically -- and they played smashmouth hockey to wear down teams that were perceived as superior. For their final test, they went into Boston for a winner-take-all Game 7 of the Cup Final and shut down the Bruins to secure the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Nails.
8. 2014 Los Angeles Kings
Record: 46-28-8 (100 points, 3rd in Pacific)
Goal Differential: +32
Playoff record: 16-10
Much like the 2012 Kings, the 2014 team made its name off defense and goaltending. The offense was slightly better this time around, with the Kings ranked 26th in goal scoring during the regular season. And while they still didn't play the most exciting brand of hockey, this Cup run had more fireworks and fortitude than the previous one.
Los Angeles fell into a 3-0 hole against one of their biggest rivals, the San Jose Sharks. Miraculously, the Kings rallied to win four straight -- including Game 7 on the road -- to deliver pure, stunning heartbreak to the Sharks. After winning two more seven-game series against the Ducks and Blackhawks, the Kings made quick work of the Rangers in the Cup Final. Los Angeles clinched the Cup with a dramatic Game 5 double OT-winner from Alec Martinez.
7. 2015 Chicago Blackhawks
Record: 48-28-6 (106 points, 3rd in Central)
Goal Differential: +40
Playoff record: 16-7
The final championship from the 2010s Blackhawks dynasty came in 2015 and was the least impressive of the three, though it was still a damn good team. They may have lost a step offensively (finished 17th in the league in goal scoring during the regular season) but the 'Hawks still had a tremendous back end that carried them when needed.
After getting through the Predators, Wild and Ducks, the Blackhawks' defense (ranked second in the league during the regular season) faced their toughest test in the Stanley Cup Final when they were tasked with slowing down a Tampa Bay Lightning team that finished with the top-ranked offense that season. Chicago responded by holding Tampa to three total goals over Chicago's four wins in the six-game series. That'll work.
6. 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins
Record: 50-21-11 (111 points, 2nd in Metro)
Goal Differential: +48
Playoff record: 16-9
It was more of the same for the Penguins the following year, though they were a tighter ship with a little more stability during the regular season this time around. Pittsburgh finished with the league's top-ranked offense. The biggest difference came in the playoffs, when it was Marc-Andre Fleury's turn to admirably man the net -- at least for the first two-and-a-half rounds. Fleury helped the Penguins get past the Blue Jackets and Presidents' Trophy-winning Capitals but eventually lost the job to Murray in the third round. However, the Penguins carrying two quality goaltenders had major significance in both of their title runs.
The Penguins just managed to squeak by the Ottawa Senators with a double-OT victory in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals before going on to beat the Nashville Predators in six games to clinch back-to-back Cups.
5. 2016 Pittsburgh Penguins
Record: 48-26-8 (104 points, 2nd in Metro)
Goal Differential: +42
Playoff record: 16-8
It was very clear that the Penguins were intent on making a deep playoff run in 2016 when they went out and traded for Phil Kessel before the season, then fired head coach Mike Johnston after a lackluster but not downright awful 15-10-3 start. Mike Sullivan took over behind the bench and the Pens took off. Their offense was explosive and dangerous with Kessel added to the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and they stormed into the playoffs with a purpose.
The emergence of the HBK Line -- the Penguins' lethal third line featuring Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Kessel -- helped put Pittsburgh over the top. That line presented major headaches for opposing teams as they continuously outmatched their bottom-six counterparts.
That playoff run was aided greatly by the goaltending of not-even-offiically-yet-a-rookie Matt Murray, who was forced to step in as the starter for an injured Marc-Andre Fleury at the start of the postseason. The 21-year-old Murray seized the opportunity and held onto the job, helping lead the Penguins past the Rangers (who had eliminated the Pens in each of the prior to seasons), the Capitals and the Lightning en route to the Cup Final.
In a battle of two elite offenses, the Pens took on the Sharks in a series that had star power and a little bit of nasty. Ultimately, the Pens prevailed in six games and the addition of Kessel proved to make a world of difference for Pittsburgh. He finished as the team's leading scorer in the playoffs, tallying 10 goals and 12 assists in 24 games.
4. 2018 Washington Capitals
Record: 49-26-7 (105 points, 1st in Metro)
Goal Differential: +20
Playoff record: 16-8
When the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs got underway, the Capitals were considered perennial postseason choke artists. They were coming off back-to-back seasons in which they were eliminated by the Penguins in the second round of the playoffs despite winning the Presidents' Trophy as regular season champs. They had never made it past the second round in the Alex Ovechkin era.
As a result, Washington's expectations were lowered a bit in 2018. The Caps lost a couple of key names in free agency and took a minor step back during the regular season, finally relinquishing the Presidents' Trophy. They opened their postseason run with two straight losses to the Columbus Blue Jackets on home ice and it looked like another massive disappointment might be in store.
But then the Capitals gave the starting goaltending job back to Braden Holtby, showed resolve and didn't look back. Faced with another second-round matchup against the Penguins, Washington finally expelled their demons and got past Pittsburgh in six games. After surviving a seven-game Eastern Conference Final against the Lightning, the Caps stared down a Vegas Golden Knights team that somehow rode black magic all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season. Not even that black magic could stop Ovechkin and the Capitals as they cruised to a five-game SCF win -- the first in franchise history.
Washington's win resulted in one of the most cathartic and satisfying Cup raises in the history of the league as an emotional Ovechkin, the Conn Smythe winner, shed years of criticism and anguish off his shoulders with the hoist.
3. 2011 Boston Bruins
Record: 46-25-11 (103 points, 1st in Northeast)
Goal Differential: +51
Playoff record: 16-9
The Bruins had a top-five offense in 2010-2011 but their identity was largely shaped by their tough, physical and effective defensive style of play that was aided by incredible goaltending from Tim Thomas. Not only did the 36-year-old Thomas win the Vezina that season with a .938 save percentage over 57 games, but he went on to have an incredibly dominant postseason run that earned him the Conn Smythe as playoffs MVP. The Bruins don't win the Cup if it weren't for Thomas' insane play.
Boston had no shortage of dramatic moments during that run, either. It's easy to forget that they were a goal away from being ousted in the first round but found a Game 7 overtime winner off the stick of Nathan Horton to beat the Canadiens. They survived two more Game 7s as well, including a nearly perfect 1-0 win over the Lightning in the ECF. The Bruins then pounded the Canucks in Game 7 of the Cup Final in Vancouver.
2. 2010 Chicago Blackhawks
Record: 52-22-8 (112 points, 1st in Central)
Goal Differential: +62
Playoff record: 16-6
This Blackhawks team was our first introduction to the Chicago dynasty that won three Stanley Cups during the decade. Led by a pair of 21-year-olds named Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, the Blackhawks finished the regular season ranked third in offense and fifth in defense. They finished second in the Western Conference standings, just one point behind the San Jose Sharks.
They left no doubt that they were the league's best team when they cruised through their competition in the playoffs, never taking a series beyond six games. They swept the Sharks in the West Final before moving on to face the Flyers in the Cup Final, where they won in six games and had one of the most bizarre clinching goals you'll ever see.
1. 2013 Chicago Blackhawks
Record: 36-7-5 (77 points, 1st in Central)
Goal Differential: +53
Playoff record: 16-7
In a lockout-shortened season, the Blackhawks were a thoroughly dominant team. They had a great mix of skill and toughness in their lineup and finished the regular season ranked second in scoring and first in defense. They won the Presidents' Trophy and were the only team to give up less than 100 goals (97) over the course of the 48-game regular season.
Just three years removed from a championship season with a largely similar roster, nobody was taking the Blackhawks lightly during the playoffs and the 'Hawks proved once again that they were a force to be reckoned with. They lost just five games through the first three rounds and clinched another Stanley Cup Final appearance, meeting a Bruins team that also possessed championship pedigree and had lost just four games through the first three rounds.
The Cup Final lived up to the hype, with three of the first four games going to overtime. With Chicago holding a 3-2 series lead but trailing with just over a minute left of Game 6 in Boston, the Blackhawks scored two goals in 17 seconds to stun the Bruins and clinch the Cup on enemy ice.