For the Toronto Maple Leafs, losing the first two games of a series is far from an enviable position. To add salt to the wound, they’ve lost two key players for Game 3 in Nazem Kadri (suspension) and Leo Komarov (injury). Leafs fans need some semblance of hope in these trying times, so I opened up the history books to find out just how often this has been done before.
Turns out I wasn’t the first one to do this, as this is not exactly a new or unique problem. Sean “Down Goes Brown” McIndoe has covered this angle a couple times (one for Sportsnet, and one for Grantland), and Ray Glover did this story for Sporting News.
However, neither writer featured an exhaustive list. Here it for you (with some help from NHL.com); every team who has ever recovered from a 2-0 series deficit in the Stanley Cup playoffs and went on to win the series.
COMEBACKS FROM TRAILING 2-0 IN GAMES
|* – team led series 3-0|
|YEAR||SERIES||SERIES RESULT IN GAMES|
|1942||F||TOR||4||DET *||3 *|
|1975||QF||NYI||4||PIT *||3 *|
|2010||CSF||PHI||4||BOS *||3 *|
|2014||CQF||LAK||4||SJ *||3 *|
This is an extensive list! You’ll notice that 4 of these comebacks were by the Leafs of yesteryear. While ultimately meaningless, it is interesting to note nonetheless. All in all, things seem pretty good.
However, counting only up to 2010, teams with 0-2 series deficit have had a 14.1% success rate. That seems less good.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 18, 2015
To look at a more relevant era, let’s take the post-2005 lockout years. We can see above that there have been 14 successful comebacks in that time period. I count 82 fail attempts once the series has gone 2-0 for one team. That’s a recent success rate of 14.5%, not much different from the all-time rate.
There’s no doubt coming home will give the Leafs a chance to restore the series, but clearly they will have to be at their best. It will not be an impossible task, as we’ve seen above, but it is unlikely to be certain.
Tonight things have to start turning around for the Leafs, wins-wise. A post on “how many team have come back from 3-0” will be far more bleak, so let’s try to avoid that.