My memory for hockey trivia isn’t the best, so I thought maybe that was why I was having trouble thinking of another time when the league’s two best teams got massacred so badly that they could only manage a single playoff win between them. It was starting to bug me a little that I couldn’t come up with anything, but apparently I don’t have to worry about my forgetfulness, at least not right now. The reason I don’t remember this happening before is that there’s nothing to remember.
Since 1967-68, when six teams were added to make the NHL a 12-team league, there have been a number of playoff formats: division-based, conference-based, and for two seasons (1979-80, 1980-81) the top 16 teams were seeded by regular-season points.
In none of those instances had the top two teams in each division or conference, or the teams with the two best records, been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
Tampa Bay (62-16-4) tied the NHL record for wins in a season, set by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings, and finished 21 points ahead of the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference.
Calgary (50-25-7) led the Western Conference by six points over the San Jose Sharks.
The Lightning lost four straight games to the Blue Jackets and were outscored 15-5 in the final three, including 7-3 in Game 4.
The Flames lost four straight games after winning Game 1. The Avalanche won Game 2 and Game 4 in overtime.
I wish I could tell you that Carin picked both Columbus and Colorado, but even she’s not that good. But of the two, picking against the Lightning is probably the weird pick that makes the most impact, so it’s still some pretty solid work.