Being up 3-0 in the series, the Nashville Predators could complete a sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena tonight and, in doing so, could make a little NHL history.
The Preds qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the Western Conference’s eighth seed and, therefore, were pitted against the conference champion in the opening round. As it turns out, no eight-seed has ever completed a four-game sweep of the top-seeded team in the first round. With a win Thursday night, Nashville will etch its name into the history books as the sole team to accomplish that feat.
Now, in fairness, there’s some grey area.
First off, the best-of-seven format was adopted into the first round in 1987 so, instead of “first time in the 99-year history of the League!” it’s important to understand that, really, it’s only been possible for 30. Which, by the way, is still a long time so don’t completely discount the accomplishment..
Secondly, in a previous life of the NHL playoff format, the match ups were set by divisions. For example, last season, the Preds (qualified as the top Wild Card team) played the Anaheim Ducks (Pacific Division champion) in the first round. In a divisional format, however, Nashville would have played the top team in the Central, in this case the Dallas Stars, changing the entire trajectory of their fate.
Keeping that format in mind, back in 1993, the St. Louis Blues qualified for the post-season with 85 points, the least of the qualifying teams in the Clarence Campbell Conference. Being in the Norris Division, they took the number four seed and, as a result, were paired up with the Norris champion – and, as it turned out, the conference champion – Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues shocked the Hawks, sweeping them in four games.
But, because the League doesn’t recognize that series as an “eight-seed versus one-seed,” Nashville would, technically, become the first eight-seed in NHL history to sweep a one-seed in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a best-of-seven series.
Semantics, I know, but who’s going to let semantics get in the way of a little NHL history?
Well, you know, other than Blackhawks fans?