The real killer of being down 0-2: losing a game at home


You've probably seen that teams that win Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals are 31 for 32 at winning the Cup.  Only the 1971 Montreal Canadiens have dropped the first two games on the road and then gone on to win the Cup.  While it makes sense that the odds are long--the team in a 0-2 has to win four out of five games-- and usually a team is just better if they jump up 2 games to 0, there's also a reason why the team in the hole doesn't win.  For instance, let's look over the past 20 years for the situation where the home team opens with two wins:

 

2008 - Detroit jumps up 2-0 on Pittsburgh at home, then wins Game 4 in Pittsburgh to take a 3 games to 1 edge.

Result: Red Wings in 6

 

2007 - Anaheim takes a 2-0 lead on Ottawa at home, then wins Game 4 in Ottawa to take a 3 games to 1 advantage.

Result: Ducks in 5

 

2006 - Carolina wins the first two games at home against Edmonton, then wins Game 4 in Edmonton to take a 3 games to 1 lead in the series.

Result: Hurricanes in 7

 

2003 - New Jersey won the first two games at home, then Anaheim battled back to win Games 3 and 4 in California to tie the series 2 games a piece.

Result: Devils in 7 (the home team won every game in this series)

 

1998 - Detroit won Games 1 and 2 in Detroit then won Game 3 in Washington.

Result: Red Wings in 4

 

1997 - Detroit won Games 1 and 2 in Detroit then won Game 3 in Philadelphia.

Result: Red Wings in 4

 

1996 - Colorado won Games 1 and 2 in Denver then won Game 3 in Florida.

Result: Avalanche in 4

 

1992 - Pittsburgh won Games 1 and 2 at the Igloo then won Game 3 in Chicago.

Result: Pens in 4

 

1988 - Edmonton won the first two games at home then won Game 3 in Boston

Result: Oilers in 5

 

As you can see, when a team wins the first two games at home, eight out of nine times they've at least gotten a win on the road in either Game 3 or 4.  There could be a lot of reasons for this; like carrying over momentum of the early wins, or that they're simply a better team all-around.  The point of this exercise is to show that being down 0-2 isn't the worst thing in the world, but once the team loses on their home ice, it's curtains on the series.  Going down 0-3 or 1-3 is infinitely worse than 0-2.

 

The Penguins season has been marked with adversity all season long, be it through injuries, the coaching change, trades, trade rumors and digging an early hole.  Pittsburgh has already overcame a 0-2 deficit in the series against Washington earlier this spring.

 

And you guessed it: against the Capitals the Penguins protected home ice by winning Games 3 and 4 to climb right back into the series.  That’s the challenge they will again face.  It’s easier said than done, especially when going against the caliber of opponent that the Detroit Red Wings are, but it’s been done before.

 

 

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