While the Capitals edged the Rangers last night to go up 2-1, the league’s three remaining series each feature a team holding a 2-0 lead. Two games into the second round, the Flames have been dominated by the Ducks, the Wild just can’t crack the Blackhawks, and the Habs … well, the Habs are kind of losing their minds against the Lightning.
The good news is that while a comeback from a 2-0 deficit is unlikely — only about 14 percent of teams pull it off — it’s far from impossible. Over the last few decades, it has tended to happen roughly once a year. We didn’t see any 2-0 comebacks in the first round this year, which means we’re still due.
That said, it’s a tricky proposition, and you really need to have a few things going for you to have a chance at pulling it off. So let’s run through eight factors that should be in your favor as you battle back from being down 2-0, and more importantly, which of these three teams have each going for them.
The Factor: A Goalie Who Can Steal the Series for You
This one’s probably the most obvious. All sorts of factors can contribute to a 2-0 deficit — a superior opponent, an offense gone cold, poor special teams, or just plain bad luck — but a hot goaltender is the one trump card that can overcome everything else. It’s awfully tough to come back without your goalie pulling off at least one or two of those “we just weren’t beating him tonight” games, and you want to have a guy who’s shown that he’s more likely than others to get it done.
Applies to: Minnesota and Montreal. Devan Dubnyk and Carey Price are two of this year’s three Vezina finalists. The Wild and Habs both have plenty to worry about right now, but not their goaltending.
Doesn’t apply to: Calgary. The Flames have already swapped starters in this series, which typically isn’t a good sign when you’re only two games in. Jonas Hiller started Game 1 but barely made it out of the first period. Karri Ramo got the nod in Game 2, and actually played a strong game despite the loss, making several highlight-reel saves. The Flames will need him to keep that up for the rest of the series; his track record says that’s probably wishful thinking.
The Factor: Facing a Goalie Who Could Let You Back In
This is the obvious flip side to the first factor. You need a goaltending edge, and the best way to get that is for your own guy to stand on his head. But if that doesn’t happen, facing an opponent who’ll hand you a few stinkers to get you back into the mix will work too. Just ask the 2002 Red Wings.
Applies to: Minnesota and maybe Calgary. Yes, Corey Crawford has a Cup ring. He’s also already lost his starting job once this postseason, and his 4-1 win on Sunday night was his first solid game of the opening two rounds. As for the Ducks, starter Frederik Andersen was supposed to be a potential weak spot heading into the playoffs. He hasn’t been so far, because the Ducks haven’t had any weak spots at all yet, and if it stays that way the Flames are done. Maybe we’re grasping at straws, but we’re not willing to move Andersen into the “sure thing” pile quite yet.
Doesn’t apply to: Montreal. We gave the “Is Ben Bishop actually good?” coin another flip, and it came up heads, so Ben Bishop is good today. And he’s been pretty darn good for the past week, starting with his Game 7 shutout win against the Red Wings and continuing through this series. So the Lightning probably feel pretty good about him (although they’d feel even better if he didn’t occasionally do stuff like this).