By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist

You might have wondered this week where the upset by Columbus over Tampa Bay this week ranks on the list of upsets in the NHL playoffs.

Here’s the sad news for those of you who like history with your hockey: It’s not in the top 10, at least in terms of winning percentage.

Tampa Bay earned .780 of a possible 164 points during the regular season, while Columbus had a winning percentage of .597. That is impressive, but not quite good enough.

Here is the top 10:

Year – Winner (Pct.) – Loser (Pct.) – Diff.
1982 – Los Angeles (.394) over Edmonton (.694) – .300
1930 – Montreal (.580) over Boston (.875) – .295
1945 – Toronto (.520) over Montreal (.800) – .280
1951 – Montreal (.464) over Detroit (.721) – .257
1991 – Minnesota (.425) over Chicago (.663) – .238
1991 – Minnesota (.425) over St. Louis (.656) – .231
1938 – Chicago (.385) over Toronto (.594) – .209
1981 – N.Y. Rangers (.463) over St. Louis (.669) – .206
2010 – Montreal (.537) over Washington (.738) – .201
1986 – N.Y. Rangers (.488) over Philadelphia (.688) – .200

The current NHL playoff system is now set up to avoid the possibility of huge upsets. In other words, bad teams (sub-.500) realistically can’t reach the postseason any more. It could happen when four out of six teams qualified, and when 16 or 21 made it. But in a 31-team league, No. 16 is still going to be at least average. And with the extra points out there because of ties and shootouts, point totals are inflated.

Therefore, you’ll need an absolutely dominating team – even more than Tampa Bay this season – to stumble in the first round to a team that’s not much better than average. In other words, you need a 33-point difference in teams in order to crack this top 10, and the difference this time was a mere 30 (TB’s 128 to Columbus’ 98).

You could make up a list of upsets for the difference in number of points, which would wipe out many of those from the Original Six days. But that’s a project for another time.

(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB).

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has been involved in almost every aspect of the local sports scene for the last 40 years. He worked for WEBR Radio, the Buffalo Sabres' public relations department and The Buffalo News during that time. In that time he covered virtually every aspect of the area's sports world, from high schools to the Bills and Sabres and everything in between. Along the way, Budd served as a play-by-play announcer for the Bisons, an analyst for the Stallions, and a talk-show host. He won the National Lacrosse League's Tom Borrelli Award as the media personality of the year in 2011, and was a finalist for that same award in 2017. Budd's seventh and eighth books, one on the Transcontinental Railroad and the other about Ichiro Suzuki, are scheduled to be released in the fall.

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