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Shark-infested waters

San Jose's first-round upset big, but far from NHL's biggest

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Posted: Wednesday April 26, 2000 05:14 AM

  San Jose knocked off a No. 1 seed for the second time in seven years. AP

By Ryan Hunt, CNNSI.com

By shocking the St. Louis Blues in seven games, the San Jose Sharks became only the second team to upset a Presidents' Trophy-winning team in the first round. San Jose is only the fifth No. 8 seed to knock off a No. 1 since 1994.

But even still, it is far from the NHL's biggest postseason upset ever.

If you rank upsets by regular-season point differential, that honor would fall to the 1982 Los Angeles Kings, who struggled into the playoffs only to stun Wayne Gretzky and the mighty Edmonton Oilers.

The Kings totaled only 63 points in the '82 regular season, compared to 111 by the Oilers. The 48-point differential is the largest in playoff history.

The difference between San Jose and St. Louis, however, was only 27 points.

Shock Treatment
Upsets with biggest point differential
Year  Winner  Loser  Diff.  Rd. 
1982  Kings  Oilers  48  1st 
1991  North Stars  Blackhawks  38  1st 
1991  North Stars  Blues  37  2nd 
1951  Canadiens  Red Wings  36  1st 
1981  Rangers  Blues  33  1st 
1986  Flames  Oilers  30  1st 
 
 

In fairness, the Sharks would have made the top-five under last year's scoring system. San Jose received seven extra points for regulation ties, while the Blues had one. That would have created a point differential of 33 points, which would have tied it for the fifth-biggest upset in NHL history.

The only other Presidents' Trophy-winning team, given to the team with the most points in the regular season, to lose in the first round was the 1991 Chicago Blackhawks.

Despite their 38-point difference in the final standings, Minnesota stunned Chicago in the first round, the second-biggest differential in NHL history. The North Stars then shocked the St. Louis Blues in the second round. At 37 points, it remains the third-biggest in NHL history.

In San Jose's other monumental first-round upset, over the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings in 1994, the difference was only 18 points.

 
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