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After losing pivotal Game 5, can the Bruins overcome overwhelming odds?

Jun 11, 2011, 11:04 PM EDT

Shawn Thornton AP

In every series of every sport, people will tell you that each and every game is pivotal. Some will tell you the first game of the series is most important, some will tell you Game 3 is the most important, and everyone will tell you Game 7 is the most important. Aside from the obvious Game 7, Game 5 has proven to be one of the most pivotal games in the Stanley Cup Final over the years. If past trends continue to hold over the next few nights, officials in Vancouver might want to start preparing Robson St. for the biggest party this side of the 2010 Olympics.

The Stanley Cup Final has been tied 2-2 on 21 separate occasions. Of those 21 series, the team that lost Game 5 has only come back to win the series six times. Having a 71% chance might not be a great percentage for a quiz in school; but every fan in the league would jump at a 71% chance to win the Stanley Cup. After Roberto Luongo’s 1-0 shutout in Game 5, those are exactly the odds Canucks fans are looking at today.

Obviously, if the series was already over the Canucks wouldn’t have been forced to jump on the 2,500 mile charter plane this morning. The old adage in hockey is the final game is always the toughest to win. After blowing a 3-0 lead in the first round, no one should have to remind anyone that in Vancouver’s locker room.

Only 6 out of 21 teams coming back may sound daunting, but that’s actually the good news for the Bruins. Some more good news is that even though it has only happened six times in NHL history, it has happened three times in the last decade. The 2001 Colorado Avalanche, 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning, and 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins were all about to survive a pivotal Game 5 loss to come back and win the series in seven. Boston Bruins can take solace in the fact that it has happened before—and it has been happening fairly frequently in recent years.

Now for the bad news. Of the six teams who were able to come back after losing Game 5, only the 1971 Montreal Canadiens and the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins were able to come back and win Game 7 on the road. Since the Montreal Canadiens were the first team to accomplish the feat in 1950, only five other teams have done it in 61 years.

Stats never tell the entire story—but often times they tell a part of the story we wouldn’t otherwise know. There’s no reason the Bruins can’t come back to win Game 6 and 7 to win the Cup. They’ve been extremely competitive in their three losses and took the Canucks behind the woodshed in both games at TD Garden. Stranger things have happened. But with history as it is, I’d much rather have Vancouver’s odds.

  1. finerdetailz - Jun 12, 2011 at 9:31 AM

    If I’m not mistaken weren’t the Lightning down 3-2 and won games 6 and 7 (on the road) against the Pens this year. I’m not a Boston fan at all but if your going to list stats you might want to do more research.

    • trigdaddy - Jun 12, 2011 at 11:56 AM

      He is talking about the finals. Not the first round. He did his research.

  2. 8man - Jun 12, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    We knew before the Finals started that for Boston to hoist the Cup they’d have to win at least one game in Vancouver. And we suspected they’d have to win all the ones in Boston. If they lose tomorrow they will lament the closeness of games 1, 2 and 5. But they haven’t lost and the puck has no memory. Nor does it care for historical stats.

    It’s pretty simple right now. Win on home ice and worry about game 7 if, and when it happens. Because if they do win tomorrow, they will then have the same odds as Vancouver of winning it all. They will still be decided underdogs, but they will have nothing to lose. And yes the Canucks haven’t lost a game in Vancouver yet, but none of the bounces, caroms and skips went Bruins way. How long does that last?

  3. nickr214 - Jun 12, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    As far as talent goes Vancouver will win, as far as history goes Vancouver will win, but most important as far as effort goes, which will decide the series, we will all have to wait and find out. Nobody can predict who will have more effort

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