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Article:Let's Get Ready for Game 3, Shall We?

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While this particular passage comes from the official website of the National Hockey League, nhl.com, I’ve heard the same stat mentioned by several other sources, including ESPN and the CBC broadcast of Detroit’s 3-1 win over the Penguins in Game 2 and it is this:

·        33 — Times that a team has won the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, including Detroit against Pittsburgh in each of the last two springs. Of the previous 32, only the 1971 Chicago Blackhawks failed to win the Stanley Cup.

So they are saying the number of times a team has taken a 2-0 lead in the Final is 33. I’ll bet the broadcasters on Hockey Night in Canada said it four times Sunday night.

However, here’s something that anyone can find on-line.  This is on page 70 of the NHL’s official post-season Media Guide, 2009 Total Stanley Cup.  It says this regarding the Final:

·        Teams winning both Games One and Two have won the Cup 41 of 44 times (93.2%).

So I keep hearing that 33 teams have taken a 2-0 lead in the Final and I keep hearing it said in a, “You can look it up,” tone of voice except that when I do look it up, I get a different number!  I am told that 44 teams, not 33, have taken a two-games-to-none lead in the Stanley Cup Final.  Who to believe: My own lying ears or my own lying eyes?

Not to mention that I can think—without having to look it up—of  two other instances in which the team leading the Final 2-0 lost the series besides Chicago in ’71.

Canadiens (I left out the definite article “the” on purpose because I’m speaking English, in French it would have been singular, “Canadien”) beat Detroit in ’66 after the Wings won Games 1 & 2 (at the Forum, no less), and in 1942 Detroit led Toronto 3-0—also, oddly enough, winning the first two games in the other club’s building—before dropping four straight the Mapelos to lose the Final in seven.  Now, it seems to me that if Detroit led that series three games to none, at some point they had to lead it two games to none, but perhaps I haven’t thought it through.  But, I don’t think so.

So can anybody explain this 32 out of 33 thing to me?

We mentioned yesterday that Chris Osgood is 10-2 lifetime in the Final and I was pointing out how, along with his career goals-against of 1.47 in the Final, this meant he was playing some pretty good hockey at the exact time playing pretty good hockey means the most and that he was doing it while playing the position that means the most in hockey because why don’t you just go ahead and try to win a Stanley Cup with mediocre goaltending.  I’ll bet you can’t do it.

It turns out that if you do the math using the calculator you just installed as an “add-on” on your “toolbar” (two terms that I don’t even know what they mean) Osgood’s winning percentage in the Final is .833 and that, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is the highest winning percentage of any goalie, let’s repeat that, the highest winning percentage of any goalie, in NHL history with a minimum 10 decisions in Cup Final play.  For the record, again according to Elias, there are 34 goalies who meet that standard: 10 or more decisions in the Stanley Cup Final.  Of the 34, a list which you can be sure includes plenty of guys in the Hockey Hall of Fame and some of the greatest tenders ever to play in the NHL, none have won more consistently with the Stanley Cup on the line than Osgood.

And now, on to Game 3…


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