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Weird Hockey History

Stanley Cup: When First Isn’t Foremost

1963-64 Toronto Maple Leafs

For the first time since expansion doubled the NHL from six to 12 teams in 1967-68, creating East and West Divisions, the top team in the East and the West were both eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Eastern Conference champion and Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets, while the Western Conference champion Calgary Flames fell in five games to the Colorado Avalanche.

If you eliminated the conferences, the Lightning and Flames were also 1-2 in the NHL overall standings, and the last time both the one and two seeds were toppled in the first round of Stanley Cup was in 1963-64.

The third-place Toronto Maple Leafs knocked off the Prince of Wales Trophy-winning Montreal Canadiens, while the fourth-place Detroit Red Wings edged the second-place Chicago Blackhawks, also in seven games.

It took another seven-game set for the Leafs to defeat the Detroit Red Wings and win their third straight Stanley Cup title.

That 1963-64 playoff remains the only one in Stanley Cup history when the maximum number of games were required in each round to determine a champion.

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