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Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Coming back from 2-0: History and Hope

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 *
1945 SF DET 4 BOS 3
1959 SF TOR 4 BOS 3
1962 SF CHI 4 MTL 2
1963 SF DET 4 CHI 2
1965 SF CHI 4 DET 3
1966 F MTL 4 DET 2
1968 QF MIN 4 LA 3
1968 QF CHI 4 NYR 2
1971 F MTL 4 CHI 3
1972 QF STL 4 MIN 3
1975 QF NYI 4 PIT * 3 *
1976 QF NYI 4 BUF 2
1977 QF PHI 4 TOR 2
1978 QF TOR 4 NYI 3
1982 DF QUE 4 BOS 3
1984 CF NYI 4 MTL 2
1987 DSF QUE 4 HFD 2
1987 DF MTL 4 QUE 3
1987 DF DET 4 TOR 3
1991 CF PIT 4 BOS 2
1992 DSF DET 4 MIN 3
1992 DSF PIT 4 WSH 3
1993 DSF MTL 4 QUE 2
1993 DSF TOR 4 DET 3
1994 CSF NJ 4 BOS 2
1995 CSF CHI 4 TOR 3
1996 CQF NYR 4 MTL 2
1996 CQF PIT 4 WSH 2
1999 CSF COL 4 DET 2
2000 CSF PHI 4 PIT 2
2001 CQF LA 4 DET 2
2002 CQF DET 4 VAN 2
2003 CQF TB 4 WSH 2
2004 CQF MTL 4 BOS 3
2006 CQF CAR 4 MTL 2
2006 CSF EDM 4 SJ 2
2009 CQF WSH 4 NYR 3
2009 CSF PIT 4 WSH 3
2009 F PIT 4 DET 3
2010 CSF PHI 4 BOS * 3 *
2011 CQF BOS 4 MTL 3
2011 F BOS 4 VAN 3
2013 CQF NYR 4 WSH 3
2013 CQF LAK 4 STL 2
2014 CQF MIN 4 COL 3
2014 CQF CHI 4 STL 2
2014 CQF LAK 4 SJ * 3 *
2017 CSF ANA 4 EDM 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.

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.

  • FightingFourDozen

    Anything’s possible at 0-2, but the reason to doubt is not so much the statistical chances, but rather as Dennis Green said “they are who we thought they were”, the Bruins are who they were all year, amplified in the playoffs, and the Leafs are who they were all year, amplified by the playoffs, so the relative mismatch and failings of the Leafs therein in simply being amplified.

  • LAKID

    Shanananana Goodbye! The Leafs will not win with Babcock. The Leafs have so much talent not being utilized because they have no character or toughness and are being led by a pompous hot bag of air. Coaching has lost the series.

  • FightingFourDozen

    I have more beef with Hunter than I do Babcock; Korshkov ahead of Girard? Marner totally ineffectual in the playoffs two years in a row, who would you rather have right now, Hainsey or Hanafin?

  • FightingFourDozen

    Honestly, Korshkov ahead of Hayek, Kyrou, DeBrincat, and Girard? How is that not a firing offence? I could have avoided that for Shanny and he wouldn’t have had to pay me a dime for the service.