(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 NHL.com.
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? NHL.com 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.
This summer looks like it could be one of changes for the Detroit Red Wings, even beyond the most obvious storyline of Pavel Datsyuk‘s future.
One area where the Red Wings would like to make some tweaks is in net, namely in trading Jimmy Howard. The Detroit Free-Press points out that GM Ken Holland admitted that moving the former franchise netminder “might be good for the organization.”
It’s reasonable to wonder what kind of market there will be for Howard, whose deal ($5.29 million cap hit through 2018-19) looks pretty tough to stomach on paper.
Maybe it’s best to consider the Red Wings’ options if Howard starts the 2016-17 season off on a strong note, or something of that nature. Perhaps an expansion draft could “solve” that problem if Detroit cannot find any takers?
The Red Wings remain forward-thinking and patient, which likely explains why the Free-Press focuses on their confidence with prospect Jared Coreau.
“In the big scheme of things, he’ll play in Grand Rapids for another year, but now we know he can play a lot of minutes if needed,” Goalie coach Jeff Salajko said. “Jimmy Howard played four years in the minors. We’re not rushing Jared, but he is going to be an NHL goalie, there is no doubt in my mind about that.”
In other words, a pairing of Petr Mrazek and Coreau wouldn’t just be a cost-effective duo … it might just be the Red Wings’ ideal scenario in the not-too-distant future.
From the NHL:
Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.
Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.
PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.
Now he knows.
“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”
The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.
More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.
It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”
Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.
“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”
Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot
Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.
RTV Slovenia has the story here.
The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.
The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.
Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.
Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.
Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win