The previous season saw the Montreal Canadiens set new records in wins and points. Both of those records were broken again by the Canadiens this season as, with the highest points percentage in post-expansion NHL history (.825), they had 60 wins and 132 points. Their home record was an impressive 33 wins, 1 loss, and 6 ties. Scoring a remarkable two hundred goals more than they allowed, the Canadiens were a full 20 points ahead of the second-place Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers, however, were swept in four straight games by the third-place Boston Bruins in the semi-finals. The Bruins were in turn swept by the Canadiens in four straight in the finals.
The New York Islanders won six consecutive games before the semi-final and were the only team from the preliminary round to make it to the semi-finals, where they lost to the first-ranked, defending champion and eventual champion Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens swept the St. Louis Blues, dispatched the Islanders in six to reach the final. The losses to the Islanders were the Canadiens' only losses of their playoff run. Second-ranked Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in the quarter-final, before being swept by the third-ranked Boston Bruins in the semi-final.
For the 1976-77 Stanley Cup playoff tournament, the top three teams in each division were awarded playoff berths. These twelve teams were then ranked 1 through 12 according to their regular season records, irrespective of divisional affiliation. The four division winners automatically qualified for the quarterfinals, while the remaining eight teams (2nd and 3rd place teams in each division) played a preliminary round. For the preliminary round, the top-ranked non-division winner played the twelfth-ranked team, the second top ranked non-division winner played the eleventh-ranked team, the third ranked non-division winner played the third-lowest ranked non-division winner. (This did not necessarily have to be the tenth-ranked team, as it was possible for a tenth-ranked team to win its division. In fact, St. Louis did win the Smythe Division as the tenth-ranked playoff team.) The remaining two non-division winners formed the fourth preliminary round pairing. The preliminary round consisted of a best-of-three series with the first game played on the home ice of the higher-ranked team, and the second game on the home ice of the lower-ranked team. If a third and deciding game was necessary, it was played on the home ice of the higher-ranked team.
For the quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds, each series was a best-of-seven, with home-ice advantage in games 1, 2, 5 and 7 going to the team with the better regular season record. The other team hosted games 3 and 4, and game 6 if it was necessary. The four preliminary round winners joined the four division winners for the quarterfinals. The matchups were determined according to regular season records without regard to divisional affiliations. Of the eight remaining teams, the top-ranked team played the lowest-ranked remaining team, the second-highest-ranked remaining team played the second-lowest-ranked remaining team, etc. The four quarterfinal winners advanced to the semifinals, with the match-ups again determined by regular season records. The highest-ranked remaining team played the lowest-ranked remaining team, and the other two teams formed the second match-up. The two semifinal winners played each other in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The defending champion Montreal Canadiens took on the "Original Six" rival, the third-ranked Boston Bruins in the Final. Both teams had swept a series and had lost only two games in the earlier rounds. The Canadiens swept the series in four games to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup.
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