The Stanley Cup is the biggest prize in the NHL, it’s the Super Bowl of ice hockey and is the most sought-after trophy. While dominant teams often make it all the way to the playoffs sometimes the ‘best’ don’t win. There are upsets in all sports, and these are the biggest shocks in Stanley Cup history.
Los Angeles Kings vs. Edmonton Oilers – 1982
Perhaps the biggest Stanley Cup upset of all-time, the Los Angeles Kings took an unlikely victory over the Edmonton Oilers in the 1982 semifinals. The Kings were huge underdogs and went into the series against the Oilers with seemingly no hope of victory. The Oilers had hockey greats such as Wayne Gretzky, Jarru Kuri, and Paul Coffey, but the Kings turned up to play.
In the best of five series, the teams were split after the first two rounds. Heading into the third period in the third game the Oilers were up 5-0 and cruising to a victory. The Kings kept chipping away at the Oilers and with five minutes remaining the score was 5-3. Edmonton were handed a five-minute penalty, giving the Kings a power play.
The Kings took advantage and forced the game to extra time before scoring the winner in overtime. Momentum shifted, and the Kings defeated the Oilers again to take the series and one of the most unlikely victories in hockey history.
New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins – 1975
Expansion teams rarely have a chance of success, and they often take several years to establish themselves. The New York Islanders were seen as just another expansion team, but in 1975 they were a force to be reckoned with. The Islanders battled their way to the quarterfinals but had run out of steam after falling to a 3-0 deficit in the series against the Penguins.
After a switch of goaltender, the Islanders found their fighting spirit and only conceded four goals in the remaining four games, winning them all. The Islanders were staring at defeat at 3-0 down but somehow turned the tables and knocked the Penguins out of the Stanley Cup reckoning.
Montreal Canadiens vs. Washington Capitals – 2010
The Canadiens were the eighth seed heading into their quarterfinal series against the Capitals. They were 3-1 down in the series against the winners of the Presidents’ Trophy. No eighth seed had ever overcome a 3-1 deficit to a number one seed before, but the Canadiens were not going to give up.
The Canadiens’ goaltender, Jaroslav Halak performed miracles in goal in the next game, stopping 37 of 38 shots as the Montreal team held on for victory. In the following game he was even better, stopping 53 of 54 shots as the Canadiens won again. Halek then stopped 41 shots in a 2-1 victory as Montreal won the series and progress to the next round.
The best thing about sport is how the underdogs always have a fighting chance, and when they pull off a miracle it restores our faith in the world. These upsets have gone down in Stanley Cup history as the greatest of all-time.