Can any of these teams actually rally for the first-round win?
By Greg Wyshynski Yahoo! Sports NHL Pages
April 23, 2009
The Boston Bruins ruined the Montreal Canadiens' birthday party with the amusing coarseness of an alcoholic clown.
The Detroit Red Wings welcomed the Columbus Blue Jackets to the postseason by emasculating them for three games before giving and taking away a glimmer of hope in Game 4.
And seriously, what kind of idiot believed the Blues could upset the Canucks, right?
The list of the postseason departed is littered with swift kills, but we've also got ourselves some lingerers. The upper hand in the Chicago Blackhawks/Calgary Flames series won't be had until their Saturday night showdown; but other teams are on the brink.
The Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes and (incredibly) the San Jose Sharks are all facing elimination. Some have shown fight in the face of adversity; others seem snake-bitten; and others are the San Jose Sharks.
According to this morning's Washington Post, there have been 27 teams that faced 3-1 series deficits since the 2004 playoffs. (The Hurricanes were at 2-2 before Martin Brodeur's "best goalie alive" routine last night.) There hasn't been a team to rally from 3-1 since the Canadiens topped the Bruins in 2004. Of the 27, only four have been able to force a Game 7.
Is there a team that can come back and win its series in this near-fatal foursome? Who are the bums you think still have some fight in them?
Which team has the best chance for rallying to win their first-round playoff series?
A look at the desperate teams in desperate times, ranked in order of the probability of their rally for a series win ...
The Situation: Down 3-2 to the New Jersey Devils heading into Game 6 in Carolina on Sunday.
They've Got That Going For Them Which Is Nice: Home ice in the next contest is still a huge factor, as the Devils traditionally struggle in Raleigh and haven't played their best hockey there in this series. While secondary scoring is once again a concern after inconsistency in Game 5, the Hurricanes are still charging hard on the forecheck and getting chances ...
Harbingers of Doom: ... which won't matter if Brodeur decides to play another game like last night's. To put it bluntly: They need a softy from the softy in Game 6. Also, the Carolina power play is the worst in the playoffs now that the Blues are eliminated: 1-for-19. They need to draw more calls and then convert.
Probability of a Game 7: Very good in what's been a back-and-forth series.
Probability of a Series Victory: Good, if only because the Devils are a little banged up and Carolina's shown an ability to dominate games before in the series.
The Situation: Down 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins after last night's victory in Pittsburgh; Game 6 is Saturday.
They've Got That Going For Them Which Is Nice: In three of the last four periods these teams have played, the Flyers have looked like the better team: confident, with strong goaltending and a deep bench that's getting goals from unlikely sources. Last night's 3-0 win gave them new life headed back to their chamber of horrors, a.k.a. the Wachovia Center. They've given still-interim Penguins Coach Dan Bylsma the first crisis of conscience in his NHL playoff career. And they've been able to hang tough without much contribution from Jeff Carter, Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell and Simon Gagne
Harbingers of Doom: Once more, with feeling: "Without much contribution from Jeff Carter, Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell and Simon Gagne." If the Penguins continue to neutralize every Flyers offensive standout not named Mike, Philly's done. Unless you think Daniel Carcillo and Arron Asham are carrying this team through three straight wins. And you think that a Penguins team that hadn't scored less than three goals in any game of the series will remain as frustrated by Marty Biron as they were last night.
Probability of a Game 7: Good. Game 6 is going to be absolute warfare; Marc-Andre Fleury could slam the door again, but the Flyers seem to have new zip and sense of purpose in this series.
Probability of a Series Victory: Average to poor. How long can you keep Evgeni Malkin in check? Or the Penguins' power play? Pittsburgh's still the class in this series, and they still (at least for the moment) have the psychological advantage, too. As Sergei Goncharsaid after Game 5: "We didn't play as well as we could ... That's actually a good thing. We have room for improvement."
The Situation: Down 3-1 to the New York Rangers, with Game 5 tonight.
They've Got That Going For Them Which Is Nice: Urgency, which Game 3 proved can be an effective motivation for this Capitals team. They still have offensive weaponry up front that can take over a game. They need both traffic and rebounds against Henrik Lundqvist; and while the Capitals have talked about "luck" in regard to bounces and pucks off of goalposts, it really comes down to burying the chances the Rangers' stingy defense gives them.
Harbingers of Doom: Winning three in a row against that defense and Lundqvist, who's playing better as the series goes deeper, seems implausible. They finally got an Alexander Ovechkin goal in Game 4 and still lost. In the times when their offense and the Rangers defense have both played at their best in the series, it's been the Blueshirts that have won the battle.
Probability of a Game 7: Fair, if only because the margin of victory in this series has been razor-thin for the Rangers. And because they rallied from 3-1 last year for a Game 7 ...
Probability of a Series Victory: ... which they lost, so "Poor." Even when they break through against Lundqvist, it's clear the King has set up a base camp in their cerebral cortex. Quote Ovechkin: "I think we play good enough in the games, but one guy beats our team."
San Jose Sharks
The Situation: Down 3-1 to the Anaheim Ducks, with Game 5 on Saturday night.
They've Got That Going For Them Which Is Nice: Er ... uh ... teal is a lovely color heading into the heart of spring fashion season. But seriously, the only hope is that the Sharks have yet to put together a complete game offensively, defensively or in goal. Like Coach Todd McLellan's assessment of the Game 4 loss:
"Disappointing, because we're better than we showed," McLellan said. "I think our character was questioned tonight. We'll have to see how we respond. I thought their team was extremely hungry. They won a lot of board battles, a lot of puck battles. Their back pressure was second to none. They were very committed. I'm not surprised they were hungry. I'm disappointed that we weren't."
Harbingers of Doom: That Bobby Ryan won't be recruited by the KHL before Game 5; that Jonas Hiller isn't giving them an inch; and that things have gotten so bad for Joe Thornton that he's now a playoff disappointment offensively and defensively.
Probability of a Game 7: Poor, because the Anaheim Ducks now believe, to a man, that they're actually the President's Trophy winners.
Probability of a Series Victory: While we'd never go as far as to say anything is impossible ... they're going to have to beat the Scott Niedermayer/Chris Pronger/ Francois Beauchemin/Ryan Whitney defense, and then find a way to beat Hiller. In three games straight. While attempting to slow down arguably the hottest line in the playoffs.
Welcome to Ron Wilson's former personal hell, Mr. McLellan. Nope, sorry ... no one around here knows the Heimlich ...
Last edited by davetherave on Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:21 pm; edited 1 time in total