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03-16-2004, 02:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Habfansincebirth
I remember a "sleeper" winning the cup in 1993, 1986 and 1971.
Well, those teams weren't really sleepers in my mind. The top 6 or 7 teams in the league are the contenders in my mind, and Montreal qualified as that each time.

1993: Montreal had the 6th best overall record in the league. *102* points. They were one of the *contenders* before the playoffs began. Were evenly matched in the first round against Quebec (104 points). And once the other contenders bit the dust early, Montreal was *the favourite* from the second round on, having home ice advantage and playing total long shots in Buffalo (86 pts), Islanders (87 pts), and the Kings (88 pts).

It looked like Montreal might potentially be a longshot, because of the chances of playing powerhouses like Boston or Pittsburgh etc, but that never happened.

1971: Montreal 4th best record in the league. 97 points, equivalent to 101 today. Certainly a contender by any stretch of the word. Were definitely the underdog in the first round against Boston. Interestingly, massively aided by probably the most bogus playoff system in history. Montreal with 97 points points plays Minnesota with 72! points in the second round, while the Rangers with 109 points are forced to play Chicago with 107 points. And the Rangers didn't even get home ice.

1986: Montreal 7th best record in the league. 87 points. Basically, Montreal was the lowest of the contenders, pretty much right on the verge of contender/sleeper, this is the team that *appeared* to be the biggest longshot ever winning.

But closer examination reveals:
Round 1: Mini series against Boston (86 points). So, Montreal was the favourite, and had home ice.
Round 2: Played Hartford (83 points). Montreal once again the favourite, with home ice.
Round 3: Played the Rangers (78 points). Montreal once again the favourite, with home ice.
Round 4: Played Calgary (89 points), the 6th best overall team. Essentially evenly matched, with 2 points difference.

At a minimum, Montreal should have been in the Cup final with the way the matchups fell into their lap that year. First three rounds, playing a *worse* team each succeeding round? Practically unheard of.

Also, remember that all of these occurred under massively different playoff structures. The current system from 1994 onward guarantees that a low seed will continually keep playing the best team remaining. For this to happen now, you need to have two teams taking out the best teams, much like Anaheim and Minnesota last year. Personally taking out 3 or 4 of the best teams in the league is too much for anyone to do.

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