The Los Angeles Kings' upset of the Edmonton Oilers in the 1982 Smythe Division semifinals is ranked as the greatest upset in hockey history by many others who have done lists such as this. I have it as the second biggest upset in NHL playoff history, and I will explain why in a moment.
To put into perspective how massive an upset this was, first look at the teams' records. The Oilers finished with a mark of 48-17-15, for 111 points; the Kings finished well below .500 with a record of 24-41-15, for 63 points.
That is a 48-point difference in points for those keeping track at home.
Then take a look at the Oilers roster. If you thought the 2003 Avalanche had an imposing lineup, just look at some of the guys the Oilers put on the ice each night: Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey and, of course, Grant Fuhr in net.
The Kings did not have that kind of talent—not even close. They did have 50-goal scorer Marcel Dionne, but that was about it.
Meanwhile, Gretzky had scored 92 goals, had 112 assists and racked up 212 points. The Oilers, as a team, scored 417 goals, and there was just no way the Kings could match them.
Well, as we know by now, never say never.
The teams would split the first two games, setting the stage for what is known as The Miracle on Manchester.
In 1982, the Kings played their home games on Manchester Boulevard, and it would be the setting for one of, if not the, greatest comebacks in NHL playoff history.
The Oilers had a 5-0 lead late in the second period. But the Kings began chipping away at the lead, building momentum and gaining confidence. Trailing 5-3 with just about five minutes left, the Oilers were hit with a five-minute major penalty. The Kings would score to cut the Oilers' lead to one.
Then, with just five seconds left, the Kings would tie the game as pandemonium ensued on Manchester Boulevard.
Just a few minutes into overtime, Daryl Evans would notch the game winner, and the Kings seized control of the series.
Los Angeles would go on to eliminate the Oilers the next game—and therein lies the reason I have this upset, as massive as it is, at No. 2.
The divisional semifinals were a best-of-five affair back in the early eighties. There are many who feel that had this series been a best-of-seven, the Oilers would have found a way to come back and prevent this upset.
Nevertheless, the Kings pulled off one of the biggest upsets in NHL playoff history, and virtually everyone agrees with that.
The Kings would be eliminated in the divisional finals.
The Oilers would soon become the dynasty of the eighties.
The two teams would then become involved in the biggest trade in NHL history when Gretzky was traded to the Kings in 1988.
But in 1982, on Manchester Boulevard, a miracle occurred, the seminal moment in what would become the second biggest upset in NHL playoff history.