This season saw the closest race in NHL history, as four teams battled for first place. The defending Stanley Cup champions, the Toronto Maple Leafs, finally took it with 82 points, just 1 ahead of the Chicago Black Hawks. The Montreal Canadiens were 3 points back, in third place, and the Detroit Red Wings were fourth, 5 points out of first place.
The Red Wings were rebuilding, but their move back into the playoffs was led by an old hand. Gordie Howe won the Ross Trophy as the league's leading scorer and the Hart Trophy as its MVP. He won both awards for the sixth and last time.
Toronto was led offensively by Frank Mahovlich and Dave Keon, defensively by Carl Brewer and goalie Johnny Bower. The Blackhawks had high-scoring Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, but their success was built largely on the league's best defense, led by Norris Trophy winner Pierre Pilote and Vezina winner Glenn Hall. Montreal still had Jacques Plante in goal and Henri Richard was the NHL leader in assists.
The semifinals pitted the two Canadian teams and the two American teams against one another. Toronto won the Canada side, with Bower contributing two shutouts and giving up only 6 goals in the five-game series. The Blackhawks won won the first two games of the other semifinal, but the Red Wings then took four in a row to get into the finals.
In the final series, Toronto won the first two at home. Detroit pulled out a win in the first game at home, but Toronto won the next two to take the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row.