Were the 1961 Blackhawks the best team in NHL History?

Stan Mikita #21, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images)
Stan Mikita #21, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images) /
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Ronald Maki, Chicago Blackhawks
Ronald Maki #16, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images) /

Chicago faced off in the first round against Montreal, in what was slated to be a lopsided matchup. It looked that way after a 6-2 loss for the Hawks in Game 1. A 4-3 victory in the next game allowed them to go back to Chicago with an even series.

Game 3 was a pivotal turning point in the series as the Blackhawks won a triple-overtime thriller at home. The game was sealed by a Murray Balfour goal in the twelve-minute of that third OT. Balfour also had the other goal for Chicago in that game.

Chicago crushed the Canadiens in Games 3 and 5 and even with a loss in game four they had a lead of 3-2 on home ice.

Game 6 started slowly with zero goals from either side in the first period. The Hawks erupted for three goals in the second with goals from Bill Hay, Bobby Hull, and Eric Nesterenko. They were able to hold off any attempt to come back with a scoreless final period and a 3-0 shutout victory.

Glenn Hall was astonishing in the crease with a .963 save percentage and two shutouts when his team needed him the most. Mikita supplied a team-leading three goals and Pilote a team-high 6 assists in the series.

The team which they had fallen short against so often was finally vanquished and awaiting them were… The Detroit Red Wings?