The Presidents Trophy winning Sharks being ousted by the underdog Ducks in the first round should come as no surprise, given the abundance of first round upsets in the past. It’s now time to take a trip down memory lane and re-visit some of the most memorable first round upsets since 2000, in chronological order.
Sharks defeat Blues, 2000
With the Blues coming off of their Presidents Trophy winning season based on the strong play of blueline studs Pronger and MacInnis, they were heavily favoured to manhandle the eighth seeded Sharks. After a goal by Owen Nolan that caught Blues goalie Roman Turek by surprise, the Sharks managed to beat the Blues in seven games.
Kings defeat Red Wings, 2001
The seventh seeded Kings had all the momentum in this series after the infamous Stunner at Staples in Game 4. The second seeded Red Wings took a commanding 3-0 lead in Game 4, only to see the Kings come roaring back with the help of goals from Brian Smolinski and Eric Belanger to win Game 4 in overtime, and ultimately win the series in six games after a Game 6 OT goal by Adam Deadmarsh.
Canadiens defeat Bruins, 2002
Although the Bruins were a far superior team in 2009 than the Habs, some hockey experts were predicting an upset, similar to what took place between these two teams in 2002. Off of the heals of Saku Koivu’s return from his battle with Cancer, he rallied the eighth seeded Habs to victory against the first seeded Bruins. The most memorable moment of this series was likely Kyle McLaren’s arm bar hit on the Habs’ Richard Zednick.
Mighty Ducks defeat Red Wings, 2003
En route to their march to the Stanley Cup Final, the seventh seeded (then Mighty) Ducks managed to surprisingly sweep the second seeded Red Wings. The Mighty Ducks never looked back after a triple overtime goal by Paul Kariya in Game 1. Steve Rucchin scored the Game 4 OT winner.
Flames defeat Canucks, 2004
Definitely the best of the first round, this series had it all including a Game 7 OT winner by Martin “The Eliminator” Gelinas. The story of the series had to be Miikaa Kiprusoff whose coming out party during this series helped propel the sixth seeded Flames to the Cup Final. The Canucks greatly missed Todd Bertuzzi’s physical presence, as he was suspended from the Steve Moore incident.
Oilers defeat Red Wings, 2006
Similar to the Flames in 2004, the Oilers started their route to the cup final with a major first round upset, winning the series four games to two. Against all odds, the eighth seeded Oilers dominated the number one seeded Red Wings at all ends of the ice during the first postseason dance after the lockout. Like Gelinas, this was Fernando Pisani’s coming out party, with two key goals in Game 5, and a total of five goals in the first round.