The Five Most Shocking Stanley Cup Playoffs Finishes In NHL History
The Columbus Blue Jackets are on the verge of an upset of historic proportions. They are up three games to nothing on the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Lightning just won 62 games in the regular season, which tied the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings for most wins in a single season. If the Blue Jackets can close out the series, it would definitely go down as one of the greatest underdog achievements in the history of the NHL.
With that being said, Nitrogen Sports Blog presents five of the most stunning endings ever in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
1986 Smythe Division Final:
Calgary Flames vs Edmonton Oilers
For most of the 80s, the hockey world belonged to Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers. With the support of fellow legends Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, and Grant Fuhr, Gretzky dominated. The Oilers took home the Cup in ‘84, ‘85, ‘87, and ‘88.
The Flames, on the other hand, had never won a playoff series in franchise history. Game 7 of the series featured an “own goal” from Oilers defenseman Steve Smith and ended with wild celebrations on the streets of Calgary.
2010 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals:
Montreal Canadiens vs Washington Capitals
In 2010, Alex Ovechkin and the Caps won the Presidents’ Trophy, finishing with 121 points. They had just finished up a monster offensive season, and won the most games in the league. Just like the Lightning in 2019, the Caps were expected to steamroll their opponent in the first round.
Unlike the Lightning, the Caps gave themselves a 3-1 lead before falling apart. Montreal put forth a gritty effort and stitched together three-straight wins. The Habs became the first ever No. 8 seed to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the first round.
1982 Smyth Division Semifinals:
Los Angeles Kings vs Edmonton Oilers
In 1982, the Great One had a video game season. Gretzky tallied 92 goals and added 120 assists for a total of 212 points. The Oilers were on their way to becoming a dynasty.
Meanwhile, the Kings finished well below the .500 mark with a 24-41-15 record. Game 3 of this series became famously known as the “Miracle on Manchester” after the Kings overcame a 5-0 deficit. Daryl Evans capped off the come back in overtime, and the Kings went on to win the series.
As we all know, the Oilers rebounded to win a handful of Cups in the following years.
1975 Campbell Conference Quarterfinals:
New York Islanders vs Pittsburgh Penguins
The year 1975 was only the Islanders’ third season — and the first time they ever made the playoffs. Little did the NHL know, they were about to become a dynasty.
The Isles had just finished off an upset of crosstown rivals New York Rangers when they ran into some trouble. The Penguins jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the series.
But the upstart Islanders stormed back to create what became the gold standard of comebacks in sports for a long time.
2003 Western Conference Quarterfinals:
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim vs Detroit Red Wings
The Mighty Ducks May have actually provided the perfect blueprint for the Blue Jackets. In 2003 the Ducks were the only 7th seed in the Western Conference. But they went on a run to the finals and it started with a sweep of a highly-regarded Red Wings team.
While the Wings’ season wasn’t as dominant as the Lightning this year, they were considered the Cup favorites by many. But the Ducks soared on Jean-Sébastien Giguère’s legendary hot streak in front of the net. They took four straight from the Red Wings and rode the momentum all the way to the Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs have built the reputation of being one of the most exciting postseasons in all of sports, thanks to its high level of unpredictability. No wonder it has churned out numerous upsets and crazy series conclusions over the years, among them we have listed in this piece.
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