The 10 best Sports Illustrated Stanley Cup Playoff covers

The National Hockey League has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated — either the main mag or on a commemorative issue — 114 times, according to the SI Vault archive. Sometimes, it was a quick mention on a cover story dedicated to Tiger Woods another sports story. Other times, hockey was given the spotlight.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs have been featured around 35 times, including Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers on a striking cover from April 2012. While some weren't exactly iconic, they all had their charms.

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Here are the 10 best Sports Illustrated Stanley Cup Playoff covers.

Check out our year-by-year coverage of how SI treated different Cup champs. And here … we … go.

10. Montreal Canadiens vs. Los Angeles Kings (6/14/93)

"In the Stanley Cup" indicates the editor thinks it's like the World Cup, but that's OK. This cover is notable for having the most Canadian of Canadian teams — the Montreal Canadiens — given the spotlight over Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan; and also for featuring Tomas Sandstrom with that face, in which he looks like someone hit his how-do-you-do with a Taser. (Buy Reprint Here)

9. Henrik Lundqvist (4/15/12)

An image from all the way back in the NHL Premiere series game in Stockholm, but one hell of an image. Hank giving an intense look to the puck as it approaches him, as if he's worried the rubber disc may attempt to use his conditioner. Loses some points for depicting a shot that actually reaches Lundqvist, which has yet to happen in the 2012 Playoffs. (Buy Reprint)

8. Chicago Blackhawks, Cup Champions (6/20/10)

This was the regional cover for the Blackhawks' drought-ending Cup victory, as Stephen Strasburg was given the national cover. Any cover featuring Jonathan Toews' playoff foliage is a good one, but "AT LAST! BLACKHAWKS" is about as memorable as the befuddled goal calls when Patrick Kane ended the series. (Buy Reprint)

7. Montreal Canadiens vs. Philadelphia Flyers (5/24/76)

The best sports photos tell a story, and Larry Robinson bruising his way through a Flyers' face is all you need to know about the Sweep of '76. (Buy Reprint)

6. Boston Bruins, Cup Champs (6/17/11)

A commemorative edition for the good people of Boston, with the Conn Smythe winner featured at the center (instead of the far right). Very solid celebration shot that earned a few extra points for the incredible Bro-hug happening around Patrice Bergeron, right before what we imagine was a slow dance to a Lionel Richie song playing in their heads. (Buy Reprint)

5. Bobby Clarke (5/6/74)

Mayhem on the ice! How can you not love that? This SI cover perfectly captures the Broad Street Bullies aesthetic, as Bobby Clarke puts his stick on Pete Stemkowski's taint and offers a Jack O'Lantern smile in the process. (Buy Reprint)

4. Ray Bourque (6/18/2001)

One of the NHL's most compelling Stanley Cup Final storylines gets its due, as Raymond Bourque face shows elation and relief in finally capturing the Cup. A great image, although the Mission 16W book from the Sporting News might have it beat. (Buy Reprint)

3. Sidney Crosby (6/21/09)

Love him or hate him, just an iconic cover for Sidney Crosby after winning the Cup in 2009. The Kid looks smaller than the Cup thanks to the perspective in the photo, underscoring the enormity of the achievement. Plus, Michael Farber gets top billing, and this is never a bad thing. (Buy Reprint)

2. NHL Hot, NBA Not (6/20/1994)

One of the most significant moments for NHL fans in the early 1990s was this endorsement from SI after the New York Rangers' Cup win. My god, it was like the hottest cheerleader in the school asking you to prom. That was the impact. If you read the stories, it wasn't exactly "the NHL is surpassing the NBA in popularity!" as the cover might have teased. But it remains our Roswell Crash of 1990s sportswriting — we want to believe. (Buy Reprint)

1. Detroit Red Wings (6/14/08)

Just awesome. All the smiling faces, the enthusiasm, Kris Draper's playoff beard … just that perfect moment in time when a team comes together to celebrate an accomplishment. Sadly lacking a Mike Babcock death stare to balance it all out, or a Red Wing popping Chipper Jones' bubble with his finger. (Buy Reprint)