We chop up and analyze each final statistic. We argue. We make daring predictions. Then the post-season begins, and nothing performs out precisely as predicted. We might have picked the Boston Bruins to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs – however nobody aside from Eugene Melnyk forecasted complete humiliation. Some pundits, together with yours really, determined to imagine in Vegas, however who anticipated a Three-Zero collection lead?
Six groups in the 16-team playoff area haven’t gained their first video games but. Which are least prone to rally? And which nonetheless have hope? Here’s a rating, 1 to six, with 1 representing the team with the worst odds of coming again.
To be clear, although: each considered one of these groups is on the ropes. It wouldn’t be good cash to wager on any of them to rally. Teams up 2-Zero go on to win the collection 86.four % of the time. Ranking final on the doomsday record is not a prediction of a collection comeback. It’s merely a sign a comeback is feasible.
1. Colorado Avalanche (path Zero-2 to Nashville Predators)
The Avs are the best choose right here as a result of they’re doing precisely what everybody predicted they’d do. Yes, they’ve given the Predators much more pushback than anticipated, particularly in Game 2, however that is nonetheless the backside Western Conference seed down 2-Zero to the Presidents’ Trophy winner. Nothing out of the atypical is occurring right here. Nashville has been the higher possession team and has outshot Colorado in each video games. That doesn’t imply Colorado can’t win a sport on this collection, however its protection was depleted with out Erik Johnson and can look much more barren if Samuel Girard (upper-body harm) isn’t prepared for Game Three.
The finest team in hockey hasn’t misplaced but, so there’s no motive for us to count on Nashville to not be a part of the 86.four %. It’s no insult to Colorado, which has been spectacular so far – however the Preds of all groups aren’t going to lose 4 of the subsequent 5 video games.
2. Los Angeles Kings (path Zero-Three to Vegas Golden Knights)
The Kings have been lots aggressive with the Golden Knights so far, shedding by three targets mixed in three video games. A Three-Zero deficit feels unfair and, in some methods, synthetic, as L.A. performed Game 2 with out the suspended Drew Doughty. Considering Vegas wanted extra time to win that one, it’s honest to imagine the Kings would’ve gained that sport with Doughty. Marc-Andre Fleury has additionally made the scoreboard look good, stopping 96 of 99 pictures for a .970 save proportion, whereas Jonathan Quick has turned away 104 of 110 pictures for a .945 SP.
Only 4 groups in NHL historical past have rallied from an Zero-Three deficit to win a playoff collection. So why don’t I put the Kings at the very high of the doomsday rankings with the worst odds of a rebound? Well, for one, they’ve been very a lot in each sport. Secondly, considered one of the 4 groups to beat an Zero-Three deficit was, in fact, the Los Angeles Kings in 2014. Their Game Three lineup towards Vegas Sunday boasted 11 members of the 2014 comeback team. This group thus is aware of how you can take it one sport at a time and gained’t panic. No method. That stated, the odds of one other miracle stay miniscule, particularly since profitable the collection now means taking two video games in Vegas. On a game-by-game foundation, the Kings nonetheless have a very good likelihood at profitable any given contest, however zoom out and the large image tells us it’s a really tall order.
Three. Anaheim Ducks (path Zero-2 to San Jose Sharks)
The Ducks are in big hassle, having misplaced each house video games to start out their collection and enjoying with out high defenseman Cam Fowler. But they’re additionally no strangers to doing this factor backward. Last season in Round 2, they dropped their first two video games at house to the Edmonton Oilers, then roared again to win the subsequent two video games in Edmonton and took the collection in seven video games. The yr earlier than that, Anaheim fell behind 2-Zero to the Nashville Predators with two house defeats earlier than combating again to pressure a seven-game collection, although it ended with a loss.
So the Ducks have the expertise to combat again. But have they got the defensive depth with no Fowler? It doesn’t appear like it. While studs Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Montour have above-average possession numbers relative to their teammates on this collection, the backside half of the Ducks ‘D,’ consisting of Francois Beauchemin, Kevin Bieksa (one sport), Marcus Pettersson and Andy Welinski (one sport), has been badly overmatched. This group misses Fowler, Sami Vatanen and Shea Theodore.
Anaheim’s try and win with old-school muscle, the method it did below coach Randy Carlyle throughout 2007’s Stanley Cup run, has fallen flat up to now. The Ducks have outhit San Jose 61-46 with little to indicate for it moreover handing San Jose 9 energy performs, and Sharks goaltender Martin Jones has been the finest participant on both team in the collection, stopping 53 of 55 pictures.
We’ve seen little so far to recommend Anaheim is the higher team, and now it heads on the highway for 2 video games with little motive for optimism.
four. New Jersey Devils (path Zero-2 to Tampa Bay Lightning)
The Devils haven’t performed or misplaced a house sport but, so it’s too early to declare them lifeless. Despite permitting five-spots in each video games up to now in the collection, they’ve truly been the higher team territorially. They blitzed Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy with 44 pictures in Game 2. Really, if Tampa had gotten even common goaltending from Keith Kinkaid on this collection, it might be 1-1. Kinkaid has imploded, permitting 9 targets on 46 pictures for an .804 SP. Cory Schneider stopped 10 of 10 pictures in aid in Game 2. He will get the crease again after relinquishing it to the red-hot Kinkaid throughout the common season stretch run. With all due respect to Kinkaid, who was as accountable as anybody for serving to the Devils make the playoffs, he couldn’t have performed worse in Games 1 and a couple of, so Schneider represents an computerized improve. The Devils additionally ought to get a home-crowd raise internet hosting their first post-season sport since 2012. Game Three will inform us so much on this collection. The Devils aren’t achieved but in the event that they get higher goaltending and develop into a bully at house.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs (path Zero-2 to Boston Bruins)
Relative to expectations, no team has been embarrassed worse up to now in the 2018 playoffs. The Leafs set a franchise document with 105 factors in the common season and had gained seven of eight conferences with Boston in the Auston Matthews period earlier than this collection began. What adopted has been utter domination from Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, a.ok.a the finest line in hockey, and the Leafs have emotionally crumbled. Goaltender Frederik Andersen appeared spastic, virtually like he was urgent with the team in entrance of him so shaky, and he wound up pulled in the first interval of Game 2. The Leafs have proven little composure, taking infantile penalties, with Nazem Kadri incomes a three-game suspension for a cheapshot on Tommy Wingels in Game 1 and Ron Hainsey taking a penalty that instantly led to a back-breaking energy play objective in Game 2. On each events, the Leaf gamers have been “sticking up for a teammate” and as an alternative simply hurting their team by taking egocentric penalties.
So why do we’ve any motive to hope the Leafs can rally? For one, few groups have been higher on house ice this season. Toronto set a franchise document with a 13-game profitable streak at the Air Canada Centre, and its 29-10-2 house mark was the NHL’s third finest. For all the discuss of the Vegas Flu, the Leafs had the very same house document. It’s unusual to issue intangibles right into a collection a lot, however no first-round matchup has been extra influenced by emotion so far. The unhealthy penalties, the puck-chasing on protection – all of them appear attribute of Toronto being overwhelmed by the Boston ambiance. Theoretically, the Leafs ought to come out gangbusters in Game Three, enjoying with their finest trait – livid, ceaseless velocity on offense. If they try this and win two video games at house, they assure themselves a 3rd house date, and it’s anybody’s collection after that. If Matthews doesn’t discover a technique to present his star energy quickly, although, the Leafs are achieved.
6. Washington Capitals (path Zero-2 to Columbus Blue Jackets)
Two house losses for the perennial playoff-choking Caps. Woof. But each got here in extra time, and Washington held a Three-1 lead midway by means of Game 2. This collection is evenly matched regardless of Columbus’ two highway victories. Washington additionally yanked Philipp Grubauer in Game 2 for Braden Holtby, the team’s long-time starter, who additionally occurs to boast the second-highest profession playoff save proportion in NHL historical past. Holtby’s struggled uncharacteristically this yr however ought to have a psychological raise now as the man taking the job again as an alternative of the scuffling starter trying over his shoulder – assuming coach Barry Trotz goes again to him for Game Three, which we’ve to imagine can be the case.
And whereas Blue Jackets beginning goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was strong throughout Games 1 and a couple of, posting a .920 SP, his profession post-season SP is .892. He’s been a risky spring goaltender sport to sport in his profession. So there’s a gap for Washington to use if Holtby will get scorching. Washington outshot Columbus 58-30 in Game 2. If not for subpar goaltending from Grubauer and a few poorly timed penalties, this collection might simply be 2-Zero in Washington’s favor. It’s not over.