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The odds of a #8 beating a #1 in NHL playoffs

Dikembe Mutombo

Houston Rockets’ Dikembe Mutombo of Congo, laughs as he talks about his retirement from basketball during a press conference, Thursday, April 23, 2009, in Houston. Mutombu ruptured the quadriceps tendon in his knee during Game 2 of the Rockets’ NBA first round playoff game against the Portland Trail Blazers Tuesday. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)


(Dikembe Mutombo knows upsets.)

One of my biggest criticisms of the NBA is that the league is too predictable. Sure, there’s the occasional Golden State Warriors shocking the Dallas Mavericks/Dikembe Mutombo joyously celebrating an upset of the Seattle Supersonics, but really the big dogs almost always win. That’s one of the great things about the NHL; the underdogs can win with the right amount of efforts, goaltending and bounces. Just look at last playoffs when the eighth seed Anaheim Ducks beat the top seed San Jose Sharks. Here is the history of No. 8 teams beating No. 1’s according to

Since the NHL switched the current playoff format in 1994 -- seeding teams 1-8 in a conference format -- the No. 8 seed has upset the No. 1 seed eight times out of 30 instances (26.7 percent).

Want to know every team that’s done it? has that for you too. They’re nice.

1994 -- San Jose (8) won best-of-seven series 4-3 over Detroit (1)
1995 -- N.Y. Rangers (8) won best-of-seven series 4-2 over Quebec (1)
1998 -- Ottawa (8) won best-of-seven series 4-2 over New Jersey (1)
1999 -- Pittsburgh (8) won best-of-seven series 4-3 over New Jersey (1)
2000 -- San Jose (8) won best-of-seven series 4-3 over St. Louis (1)
2002 -- Montreal (8) won best-of-seven series 4-2 over Boston (1)
2006 -- Edmonton (8) won best-of-seven series 4-2 over Detroit (1)
2009 -- Anaheim (8) won best-of-seven series 4-2 over San Jose (1)
All are conference quarterfinal series

One bit of bad news for hopeful Montreal Canadiens fans, though: only the 2006 Edmonton Oilers really did much after the first round. Still, right now it’s all about squeezing one more win out of a series that often has been a mismatch.