Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Can the Penguins come back from 2-0 deficit to Bruins? It's possible, but don't bet on it

Since the NHL changed its postseason format back in 1993, no team has ever come back to win a conference final after falling behind, 2-0.

The Pittsburgh Penguins currently find themselves in that predicament after losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals to the Boston Bruins --including a 6-1 thrashing on home ice, Monday evening. A lot of Pens fans are optimistic about a comeback (and why wouldn't they be, they're fans) and have suddenly started referencing the fact that Pittsburgh trailed the Bruins by the same two games to none margin during the 1991 Eastern Conference finals and came back to win in six games.

That's all fine and dandy, but the only difference between 1991 and today is that the Penguins have lost the first two games at the Consol Energy Center. In other words, they have completely given away their home-ice advantage.

In '91, after the Bruins handed Pittsburgh a tough overtime loss in Game 2, winger Kevin Stevens boldly predicted a comeback. But the first two games of the '91 conference finals were in Boston, and while no team likes to be down 2-0 in any best of seven series, if the road team loses the first two games, it might be depressing, but it's not totally unexpected. That's why the lower seed often refers to "stealing" a game in the other team's building--if a lower seed wins one road game and holds serve in its own building, it will take the series.

And that's what the Penguins were able to in '91. They took Games 3 and 4 at the old Civic Arena, stole game 5 in Boston and eliminated the Bruins in Game 6 back in Pittsburgh.

But now, the Penguins realize they must win two games in Boston to take the series against the Bruins. It can happen (the Penguins have loads of talent), but the circumstances are much more dire now then they were during Kevin Stevens' heyday.

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