May 28, 2014

3-1 NHL Playoff Series Leads No Longer Safe

The Montreal Canadiens staved off elimination in a wild 7-4 win in game 5 of their Eastern Conference final series against the New York Rangers.

Tonight the Chicago Blackhawks will try to do the same in the Western Conference final as they, too, find themselves down 3 games to 1 against the Los Angeles Kings.

There was a time when a 3-1 series lead was all but a sure thing for the team in command but not so much anymore. Here's some numbers courtesy of James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail:

The reality, too, is that 3-1 comebacks aren’t the rare bird that they were back in the 1980s, when goal-fests like Tuesday’s game were the norm.

While they happened only 16 times in league history prior to 2003, there have been 11 in the 11 postseasons since, including the Rangers themselves pulling off the feat last round against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A decade ago, only 8 per cent of NHL teams had battled back from 3-1.

Parity plays a big role for the increase in successful comebacks in recent years. It is a good thing for hockey. For fans playoff hockey is about hope. And hope is always in abundant supply even when the odds are stacked against you.

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