Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.
With their 2-1 win last night, the New Jersey Devils became only the third team in NHL history to go from being down three games to none in a seven-game finals to win the next two games and force a Game 6. The Kings will try to end the series at home on Monday night.
Depending on which team wins the series, history will be made:
* The Kings are looking for their first Stanley Cup in the team’s 45-year history.
* The Devils, should they win the next two games, would become the first team in 70 years to win a Stanley Cup after being down 3-0 in the series.
The Kings are also looking to become the first team since 1997 to win the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals on the road and then win the title (The Detroit Red Wings in ’97 won the first two games of the finals on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers and then went on to sweep the Flyers in four games).
Since the 2000 playoffs, there have been 135 series played (not counting the 2012 Stanley Cup finals). In 29 of those series, the road team won the first two games of the playoff series. In 23 of those 29 series, that road team went on to win the series and advance to the next round.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what playoff round had the most series where the road team won the first two games of the series (since 2000):
Conference Quarterfinals: 15 (those road teams won the series 10 of the 15 times)
Conference Semifinals: 9 (those road teams won eight of the nine series)
Conference Finals: 5 (those road teams won the series each time)
The Kings are also the first road team to win the first two games of the series in each of four rounds of a playoff. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim won the first two games of the first three rounds of the 2003 playoffs as the road team. In the finals, however, they lost Games 1 & 2 to the New Jersey Devils.
In 1949, the Toronto Maple Leafs won Games 1 and 2 as the road team in the semifinals and the Stanley Cup Finals. Whereas the Maple Leafs accomplished this feat in two rounds of the playoffs, the Kings accomplished it this year in four rounds of the playoffs.
The Kings are the 12th team to win Games 1 & 2 of the finals as the road team in a seven-game series. Of the previous 11 teams to accomplish this, nine went on to win the title. Will the Kings follow suit?
Here’s a look at the road teams that won Game 1 & 2 of a seven-game Stanley Cup finals:
Year, Road team wins games 1 & 2 (series outcome)
2012 L.A. Kings (?)
1997 Detroit (won Cup over Philadelphia)
1995 N.J. Devils (won Cup over Detroit)
1990 Edmonton (won Cup over Boston)
1983 N.Y. Islanders (won Cup over Edmonton)
1970 Boston (won Cup over St. Louis)
1968 Montreal (won Cup over St. Louis)
1966 Detroit (lost Cup to Montreal)
1952 Detroit (won Cup over Montreal)
1949 Toronto (won Cup over Detroit)
1945 Toronto (won Cup over Detroit)
1942 Detroit (lost Cup to Toronto)
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.
The National Hockey League playoffs are underway. Two series, Los Angeles-Vancouver and Pittsburgh-Philadelphia, still have the potential of a four-game sweep as the #8 seed Kings hold a 3-0 series over top-seeded Vancouver, and the Flyers are up three games to none over Pittsburgh. In the other six series, there is still the potential of the teams taking the series to a deciding seventh game.
Following is a stats snapshot of NHL playoff series going back to 1987 (the year all playoff series went to seven games) with a focus on four-game sweeps and series that go to a deciding seventh game.
1. Four-game series sweeps: There have been 25 four-game sweeps in the first round of the NHL playoffs since 1987. Teams that win the first round in a four-game sweep won 11 series and lost 14 series in the next round.
2. Seven-game series: There have been 52 seven-game series in the first round of the NHL playoffs since 1987. Teams that win a first-round series in seven games won the next series 23 times and lost the next series 29 times.
3. Four-game sweeps: There have been 18 four-game sweeps in the semifinals since ’87. Teams that won a second-round series by sweeping the opposition went on to win the conference finals 11 times and lost in the conference finals seven times. (The extra rest before the conference finals helped?)
4. Seven-game series: There have been 23 seven-game series in the semifinals since ’87. Teams that won a second-round series in seven games won in the conference finals only six times and lost in the conference finals 17 times. (The fatigue factor of a seven-game series in the semifinals hurt teams in the conference finals?)
5. Four-game sweeps: There have been six four-game sweeps in the conference finals from 1987-2011. Those six teams went on to win the Stanley Cup three times and lost the Cup three times.
6. Seven-game series: There have been 12 seven-game series in the conference finals from 1987-2011. Eight of the 12 teams went on to win the Stanley Cup; four lost the next series.
Did you know? In the 24 Stanley Cup finals since 1987, eight of the series went the full seven games. In six seasons, the Stanley Cup champion won in a four-game sweep.
Note: In all NHL playoff series from 1987-2011, 55 ended after a four-game sweep; 97 went the full seven games.
Note #2: Last year, the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins became the first team in NHL playoff history to win three playoff series by winning a decisive seventh game. Ironically, they won their fourth series (a semifinal series win over the Flyers) with a four-game sweep.