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Underdog, shmunderdog

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL - This probably sounds like a broken record, but the playoffs are another season and the tags glued to favorites don't always stick.

Like every other NHL postseason, the 2009 Playoffs should be full of surprises. That being said, upper seeds should take nothing for granted, especially in the opening round. Case in point: since the NHL switched to a conference seeding playoff format in 1993-94, every season has seen at least one upset occur in the first round.

The spring of 1996 was the least tumultuous one since then with only one favored team being upended. That unlucky club was the fourth-seeded Toronto Maple Leafs who were bounced in six games by the No. 5 St. Louis Blues in their Western Conference quarterfinals.

Aside from that calm playoff season, as many from two to four upper seeds have been abruptly eliminated each year, including last spring when no less than four favored teams were toppled in the first round.

Over the years, the Canadiens have emerged as one of the principal playoff troublemakers, pulling the rug from under no less than three favorites since 1994. The Habs turned the tables on Jaromir Jagr and the Penguins in 1998 (3 vs. 6), in 2002 versus the Bruins (1 vs. 8) and in 2004 against those same Bruins (2 vs. 7).

The Sharks remain the most common upset culprit with five such improbable wins on their resumes, with the Rangers right behind them with four to lead all Eastern Conference teams.

The Rangers may have a little company atop that list if the Habs have anything to say about it this spring.

Manny Almela is a writer for

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