Columbus Blue Jackets Pull Off Biggest NHL Series Upset Since 2010 With Sweep of Lightning

Apr 17, 2019 9:59 PM EDT
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Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

  • The Columbus Blue Jackets completed a sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.
  • The Lightning completed the best NHL regular season since the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings with 62 wins and 128 points.
  • The Lightning were -425 series favorites to defeat the Blue Jackets in the first round, the largest odds to win a playoff series since the 2010 Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Tampa Bay Lightning won 62 games during the regular season and finished with 128 points, 21 points clear of any other NHL team this season.

Their 62 wins tied the 1995-96 Red Wings for the most in a regular season in NHL history and their 128 points were a mere four points shy of the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens for the best season in NHL history (though six additional points from shootouts were something not available in an NHL era that included ties).

And just like that … they’re gone. Eliminated. And in a dominant, embarrassing fashion by a team they owned during the regular season.

The Lightning faced the Blue Jackets three times in 2018-19 and beat them by a combined margin of 17-3, including 9-1 in their final two meetings.

Not only did Tampa dominate Columbus in the regular season, but the Blue Jackets had never won a playoff series in franchise history prior to this year. The Blue Jackets had five postseason wins before 2019 … before pulling off one of the best series upsets of all time.

Here’s all the gambling history that Columbus made:

Wait … Tampa Was How Big of a Favorite?

Tampa Bay entered the series against Columbus a -425 favorite to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals ($425 wager would have won you $100).

The last time a team was favored to win an NHL playoff series at a price higher than -400 was all the way back in 2010, when the Pittsburgh Penguins were -430 series favorites against the Montreal Canadiens.

Photo Credit: Jason Bridge

The Canadiens upset the Penguins in seven games after falling behind three times in the series (down 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2).

The craziest part of Montreal’s upset? The Canadiens were coming off one of the biggest upsets in NHL playoff history after taking down the top-seed Capitals in the first round.

Washington was an astounding -645 series favorites against Montreal, when the Canadiens pushed the Caps to seven games, beating them 2-1 in Game 7 in Washington.

The History Of An Upset

Since the Red Wings’ 1995-96 record-breaking season, when they won 62 games and were bounced in the Conference Finals by the Avalanche, there have now been 41 different playoff series where the series price for the favorite was higher than -400.

Favorites are 30-11 in those series, but the underdog has won 20 of their last 30 games over the last five series with this high of a price.

Of the 10 previous teams to pull off an upset since the 1996 playoffs, those teams actually went 6-4 in their next series, including six of the last seven teams winning their next series.

The only exception? Those Canadiens in 2010, who were the last team to pull off this big of an upset. The Canadiens upset the Capitals (+420) and Penguins (+335) in consecutive rounds and then lost in the Conference Finals vs. Flyers in five games.

Of those 10 teams to pull off an upset of this magnitude, only one swept the series like the Blue Jackets did against the Lightning: the 2003 Anaheim Mighty Ducks, who swept the Detroit Red Wings as +525 underdogs and made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, before losing to the Devils.

(All playoff series odds are via Sports Odds History)

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