Top 10 Greatest Stanley Cup Playoff Upsets

Top 10 Greatest NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Upsets Since 1980
The 2011 playoffs have been boring with no upsets. Time to spice it up. Here are the Top 10 Greatest NHL Playoff Upsets since 1980 courtesy of:

10. No. 8 Edmonton over No. 1 Detroit (2006): Barely a playoff team with 95 points, almost 30 fewer than the Presidents' Trophy-winning Red Wings, the Oilers appeared to be first-round fodder. But they proved they would be formidable foes in a heartbreaking double-overtime loss in Game 1, and proceeded to avenge the defeat in the next two games behind the play of goalie Dwayne Roloson, a key component of the Oilers' three one-goal victories. In Game 4, Jarret Stoll's double-overtime game-winner gave them the 2-1 series lead. In Game 6, Fernando Pisani's two goals enabled them to overcome a two-goal deficit, setting the stage for Ales Hemsky's controversial game-tying power play goal and game-winner with a minute remaining in the final period. The Oilers would go on to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost to the Hurricanes in seven games.

9. No. 7 Anaheim over No. 2 Detroit (2003): Three eventful years for the Red Wings were capped off by yet another upset. As 110-point division champs, hockey fans didn't expected them to lose in the opening round, let alone get swept in the opening round. The most gripping contest was their triple-overtime Game 1 win in Joe Louis Arena, in which Paul Kariya scored the game winner after a Luc Robitaille would-be game-winner that was overturned for the Red Wings. The gutsy play of the Ducks enabled them to win each game by a single goal, including Game 4, which ended on a Steve Rucchin overtime score. Conn Smythe winner Jean-Sebastien Giguere was the star of the series, stopping 165 of the Red Wings' 171 shots. It was just the second time a defending champ had been swept — the first time occurred in 1952 when the Red Wings defeated the Maple Leafs.

8. No. 7 Los Angeles over No. 2 Detroit (2001): Outscored 9-3 in the first two games in Detroit, the Kings proceeded to sweep the next four games, winning each one they played in Staples Center. The most significant moments of the series came in Game 4, when the Kings rallied from a three-goal deficit in the final six minutes of regulation to force overtime. Rookie Eric Belanger's goal tied the series, and Adam Deadmarsh's overtime goal in Game 6 sent the Red Wings home for good. Chris Osgood's poor goaltending cost him his job and resulted in the Red Wings' acquisition of Dominik Hasek during the offseason. The Red Wings proceeded to win the Cup in 2002.

7. No. 8 San Jose over No. 1 St. Louis (2000): Although it wasn't the biggest upset in the history of the playoffs, as just 27 points separated the teams, the early elimination of the Blues was an impressive feat by the Sharks. A force to be reckoned with during the regular season, the Blues entered the quarterfinals after tallying 113 points and snagging the Presidents' Trophy. Their Game 1 victory was business as usual, but it was followed by three consecutive losses, the first time they had suffered such a streak all year long. They rallied to force Game 7, but lady luck ultimately sided with the Sharks, evidenced by Owen Nolan's red line goal at the end of the second period.

6. No. 7 Edmonton over No. 2 Dallas (1997): Six years after their second-ever Stanley Cup Finals appearance, without the "North" in their name and newly relocated to Dallas, the Stars were on the other end of the equation, a No. 1-seeded goliath favored to make a deep run. The Oilers, however, were playing well, earning a playoff spot with a winning March. The series contained three overtime affairs: an Oilers comeback victory from a three-goal deficit in Game 3, a hard-fought 1-0 Oilers' double-overtime victory in Game 5, and most memorably, a 4-3 Oilers' victory in Game 7, in which Todd Marchant clinched the series and stunned the home crowd in Dallas with a successful breakaway wrist shot.

5. No. 8 San Jose over No. 1 Detroit (1994): The frequent inclusion of the Red Wings on this list is a testament to just how good they were during the last two decades and the massive targets they had on their backs as a result. In 1994, the emerging dynasty suffered the despair of its first upset, losing in seven games to the sub-.500 Sharks, who benefited from a solid performance by goaltender Arturs Irbe. Joe Louis Arena was silenced for good in Game 7 when Jamie Baker scored the decisive goal. Remarkably, the Sharks were just in the third year of their existence.

4. No. 3 NY Islanders over No. 1 Pittsburgh (1993): Heavily favored to three-peat, the Presidents' Trophy-winning Penguins entered the division finals with a head of steam after dismantling the Devils in the division semis. Anchored by the hot goaltending of Glenn Healy, the Islanders weren't intimidated by Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis and the season's top scorer and MVP Mario Lemieux. The underdogs pushed the series to seven games, enabling David Volek to deliver the knockout goal on a 2-on-1 break in overtime. The momentum didn't carry over into the Conference finals, though, as they lost 4-1 to the eventual champion Canadiens.

3. No. 8 Minnesota over No. 1 Chicago (1991): An ultra-talented squad consisting of Ed Belfour, Chris Chelios, Steve Larmer and Jeremy Roenick, the Presidents' Trophy-winning Blackhawks were poised to win their first Stanley Cup in three decades. With a 38-point lead over the North Stars in the standings, an upset seemed unlikely, but unfolded nonetheless. The North Stars, led by Dave Gagner, Mike Modano and Brian Bellows, took Game 1 in overtime, eventually winning in six games. They became the first No. 8 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed in 20 years. Potent on the power play, they executed two more upsets, valiantly reaching the Stanley Cup Finals where they fell to the Penguins 4-2.

2. No. 4 Los Angeles over No. 1 Edmonton (1982): The 1982 playoffs featured a new format in which four teams from each division qualified and played each other in a 5-game series followed by a 7-game series. The result: the early elimination of three first-place teams, including the Oilers, who scored 417 goals and won 48 games during the regular season. Game 3 was easily the most memorable, as the Kings pulled off one of the most improbable comebacks in sports history, rallying from 5-0 after two periods. Steve Bozek hit the game-tying goal with just five seconds remaining in regulation, completing a five-goal third period, and Daryl Evans secured the game winner in overtime. The Oilers rebounded from The Miracle on Manchester in Game 4, but the Kings finished them off in Game 5 in Edmonton.

1. No. 14 Edmonton over No. 3 Montreal (1981): Before they became the team of the '80s, the Gretzky, Kurri and Messier-led Oilers were underdogs from the defunct WHA, attempting to prove they belonged in the same buildings as hockey's best. Their first playoff series victory fittingly came against the Canadiens, the NHL's flagship franchise and team of the '70s. Despite the presence of future Hall of Famers Guy Lafleur and Larry Robinson, they weren't immune from the onslaught of the young and talented Oilers. Gretzky recorded five assists in a 6-3 Game 1 victory, setting the tone for the next two matchups, which the Oilers also won. The eventual champion Islanders would end their season in the next round.

Previous Page Next Page Home