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The Greatest Comebacks in Stanley Cup History

By April 16, 2012

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Fleury in Philly

When hockey's chattering classes got down to making playoff predictions last week, a Penguins-Canucks Stanley Cup Final was a very popular pick.

But having bumbled through the first week with three losses each, Pittsburgh and Vancouver look like round-one cannon fodder.

History indicates that the chances of a comeback by either team are slim. No surprise there.

But if fans are looking for a sliver of hope, they might note that the big comeback is a little more common that it used to be.

Last year, the San Jose Sharks pulled off one of the biggest single-game comebacks in Stanley Cup history.

Falling behind 4-0 early in the second period, the Sharks storming back for a 6-5 overtime win in Los Angeles, and went on to win their first-round series.

It was just the fourth time a team had won a playoff game after trailing by four or more goals. Before that it hadn't happened since 1985.

Also last season, the Chicago Blackhawks came very close to a spectacular recovery.

After losing the first three games of their opening-round series to Vancouver, Chicago won three in a row and took game seven to overtime before finally succumbing.

All this came less than a year after Philadelphia's historic comeback against Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinal.

The Flyers made it all the way back after falling into an 0-3 hole. That's happened just three times in the long history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Is it a coincidence that such unlikely events came in back-to-back years? Probably.

But if we see a similar comeback by the Penguins or Canucks, we might start wondering whether the NHL's current era of salary-cap parity has something to do with it.

The Greatest Comebacks in Stanley Cup History: The list includes both single-game and best-of-seven comebacks.

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images).

Comments

April 20, 2011 at 3:22 pm
(1) mjs says:

“But if we see a similar comeback anytime soon, we might start wondering whether the NHL’s current era of salary-cap parity has something to do with it.”

–Well, here’s the thing: There’s no way to ever confirm such a thing. Correlating a payment schedule to the ability to win several games in a row? Ummmm, nope. You might as well correlate crime to an increase in the sale of ice cream. Far too many qualitative variables there. And that’s saying nothing about the extremely small sample size. Far too small to come to any significant conclusion.

April 20, 2011 at 3:28 pm
(2) Eric says:

Definitely, my team disappointed me last night. If you can’t hold on to a four goal lead, why would you be in the playoffs?

Otoh, the Sharks have only beaten the Kings in OT in these playoffs (twice). The Kings have thrashed the Sharks once, 4-0. What’s the conclusion?

Both teams are undisciplined. The Kings are controlled more by emotion than experience (look at their wins-in-a-row and losses-in-a-row), while the Sharks do what they have to do to eke by (look at their playoff history). If the Kings could get themselves under emotional control, they could beat the Sharks, but this has been a problem with them all season long, and I doubt it will be resolved during these playoffs.

April 20, 2011 at 11:17 pm
(3) Jamie says:

I agree, mjs. Flawed notions of cause and effect, often based on scant evidence, are a common fallacy in sports.

That’s why I suggested “we might start wondering” rather than making any claim of a correlation. It would be a good bar room discussion, nothing more.

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