Yesterday, the Montreal Canadians defeated last year’s Stanley Cup champions – the Pittsburgh Penguins – IN PITTSBURGH – winning 3 to 1 in game 2, evening the series at 1 game each.

To me, this felt like a little vindication.  The Montreal Canadians aren’t anywhere nearly as bad as people want you to believe they are, just because they were an 8 seed in the East for this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.  I keep hearing how devastated we’re all supposed to be about the Washington Capitals, the top team in the NHL and the #1 seed in the East, losing to the 8 seeded Montreal Canadians in the opening round of the NHL playoffs.  While I’m frustrated that the Capitals are no longer vying for the 2010 Stanley Cup, it’s not as big of a loss as some casual observers and hyperbole-laden talk radio might think.

First of all, this sort of thing happens in hockey.  It’s not like a 16 seed beating a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

* In the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs, the #1 seed San Jose Sharks, that year’s President’s Cup trophy winners, lost in 6 games to the 8 seed Anaheim Ducks.

* In 2008, both 1 seeds advanced to the second round, and the top seed in the East?  Montreal.

* In 2007, both 1 seeds advanced to the second round.

* In 2006, the Almighty Detroit Red Wings – winner of the President’s Trophy and obtaining more than 120 points (a huge accomplishment) were dispatched by the Edmonton Oilers (the 8 seed) in the first round.  In fact, Edmonton went all the way to the Stanley Cup finals that year.

* In the yeaaaar 2000… (sorry, had to do it) the St. Louis Blues, winners of the President’s Trophy, lost in the first round to the up-and-coming San Jose Sharks

Sometimes the lower seeds are just built in such a way that they can do really well in the playoffs.  Sometimes they just match up great against the top seeds.  Montreal has some really good scorers on their team, a great goaltender, a really good backup goaltender, and they can shut teams down with their defense to protect a lead.