The Tampa Bay Lightning's playoff journey through the Original Six

The Tampa Bay Lightning are beating all of the Original Six teams. (USATSI)
The Tampa Bay Lightning are beating all of the Original Six teams. (USATSI)

Here is a potentially fun factoid if you like hockey history and are still interested in the mystique around the NHL's Original Six franchises.

With their Stanley Cup Final matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks set, the Tampa Bay Lightning are the first team in NHL history that will play four consecutive Original Six teams in the playoffs.

Keeping in mind, of course, that the NHL didn't have four rounds in the playoffs until 1980.

They have already done something that only a small handful of other teams have done.

To reach the Final, the Lightning already went through the Detroit Red Wings (in seven games), Montreal Canadiens (six games) and New York Rangers (seven games), which makes them just the fourth team since the league expanded beyond six teams in 1967 to beat three consecutive Original Six teams.

Basically, the Tampa Bay Lightning are every hockey purists worst nightmare. A team from Florida competing for the Stanley Cup and knocking off the NHL's storied Original Six franchises one by one along the way. I kind of like that about them.

You have to go back to the 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins to find the last time it happened when they defeated the Rangers, Boston Bruins and Blackhawks, with the latter win coming in the Stanley Cup Final. Before them, you have to go all the way back to the 1979 Canadiens (when they beat beat the Rangers, Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs) and the 1978 Canadiens (when they beat the Red Wings, Maple Leafs and Bruins).

The 2009-10 Philadelphia Flyers played three consecutive Original Six teams, beating the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins in the second and third rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs before losing to Chicago in the Final. The 2001-02 Carolina Hurricanes followed a similar path when they beat Montreal and Toronto before losing to Detroit in the Stanley Cup Final.

Between 1942 and 1967 the league was made up of just six teams (Detroit, Chicago, New York Rangers, Boston, Montreal and Toronto) and even though the league existed before then (and with more teams) that period has come to be known as the Original Six era. Starting with the 1967-68 season the league doubled in size going from six teams to 12 and has continued to grow in the decades that followed.

CBS Sports Writer

Adam Gretz has been writing about the NHL and taking an analytical approach to the game since the start of the 2008 season. A member of the PHWA since 2015, he has spent more than three years covering... Full Bio

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