HOCKEY PLAYOFFS – AS PREDICTABLE AS EVER

16Apr12

You work hard all season long just so you can gain the home team advantage in the playoffs.  It’s huge in football, with the home team winning more times than not.  In basketball, it’s rare that a seventh or eighth seed ends up with more than one or two victories before being knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.  It doesn’t fare much better for the road team in the baseball playoffs. 

Then there’s hockey!  This is the only professional sport that truly does start a new season when the playoffs begin.  Don’t think so?  Let’s take a look where we are after only five days of playoffs. 

Over the first 22 games played, only eight were won by the home team.  Fourteen times the road team came in and took the game.  That’s roughly a two to one edge for the visitors. 

Not convinced yet?  Okay, let’s see how the specific matchups are going. 

Let’s take a look at the obvious ones first.  That’s right, #8 vs. #1.  Everyone knows that the #8 seed never beats the #1 seed, right?  Riiiiiiiiight (a little Dr. Evil humor there!)  

The Rangers were going to sweep the Senators from Ottawa, at least according to this blog.  Everything looked good, until Ottawa decided to take game #2 at the Garden (Madison Square, that is).  Don’t worry folks.  The Rangers came back tonight to take the series lead 2-1, with a road victory of their own! 

Over in the west, things aren’t going any better.  In fact, after sweeping two games on the road, the #8 seed Kings went back home to LA to win game three.  The #1 seed Canucks need to get a win on the road in game four if they want to get back home to Vancouver to play again. 

Okay, so 1 vs. 8 didn’t work out so well.  Let’s look at 2 vs. 7. 

In the east, #7 seed Washington took game #2 at the Garden (Boston this time).  Then Boston got a road victory in Washington to grab a 2-1 series lead. 

Out west, #7 seed San Jose took game one from #2 St. Louis, only to see the Blues return the favor by taking game three at San Jose.  The Blues now lead that series 2-1. 

Both of the #3 vs. #6 matchups are sitting at a game apiece, with the home team in both series winning one and losing one. 

In the #4 vs. #5 matchups, we have a tale of two cities going on (Shakespeare anyone?).  Out west, things are shaping up exactly as expected, with the first two games in Nashville being split.  Of course, the Predators went to Detroit and took game three away from the home team to take a 2-1 series lead. 

Back in Pennsylvania, I don’t know what the heck is going on!  I had pegged this series as the best in the first round and, quite possibly, the best in the entire playoffs.  Then a weird thing happened.  Only one team showed up! 

Has anyone seen the Penguins….anywhere?  I know these teams don’t like each other, but come on, at least show up and play.  Have you ever seen a team look as intimidated by their opponent as Pittsburgh over the past three games?  First Philly comes in and takes both games on Penguin ice.  Then they go back home and turn on the red light eight times! 

The good news is, Pittsburgh is on the road for game four, so they should be favored to win.  This is hockey, after all!

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