As soon as the Montreal Canadiens finished off the Winnipeg Jets, the talk in the hockey world shifted to whether they would even win a game in the semifinals against either the Vegas Golden Knights or Colorado Avalanche.
Will the Canadiens be such a big underdog that being swept by one of those teams will be the most likely outcome? No. In fact, it’s crazy talk. Sweeps happen. We’ve seen three in these playoffs alone. However, for one team to win four games in a row, a lot has to go right for them, and a lot has to go wrong for their opponent. Sure, it might seem like we can see a sweep coming from a mile away sometimes (think the Avalanche sweeping the St. Louis Blues in the first round) but things rarely work out like that and when they do, our recollection of the series is usually clouded by hindsight bias and other mental blocks.
Since 2006, 237 series have been played and only 30 (12.7%) have ended in a sweep. In the semifinals, it’s happened only four times out of 30 (13.3%) and no team has been swept in the final round since 1998. In other words, every season there are teams that defy the odds, making it to the final four or beyond, and rarely do they get swept.