I'm not a big fan of hockey, but since it's playoff season I'm watching a few games.
Given the recent loss of the first-place Canucks I checked some stats and noticed just how weakly regular season play is related to Stanley Cup victories.
Consider past President's Trophy winners (for the best regular league points record): Of the 26 winners, only seven won the Stanley Cup (27%). Were the Cup doled out randomly among playoff teams they'd win about 6% of the time. Then I did some quick number crunching. It turns out a conference-winning team survives the playoff's first round 76% of the time (since 1982, when the modern four-round system was implemented). Not the worst odds ever, but perhaps revealing how lower ranking teams win so often; one in four times a conference leader is upset by an eighth-place team. The odds of both first-placers making it through are about 57% (but the odds of neither making it through are 6%, which might happen this year for the first-ever time). I'd like to compare this trend to other sports' playoffs... later.