Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Having A Final Eight Ball

If you think there are not many teams that give up eight goals or more in a Stanley Cup Final game and then go on to win the Cup, you'd be obviously right.

Strange thing, though, the first team to get an eight-spot scored against it since the NHL was involved in the Stanley Cup Final, actually rebounded from that huge loss and went on to win the whole kit and kaboodle...and there's a Vancouver connection.

In the inaugural 1917/18 season of the NHL the predecessor of today's Maple Leafs, the Toronto Arenas (I guess "Rinks" was already spoken for as a team nickname?) got thumped 8-1 by the Vancouver Millionaires (the Pacific Coast Hockey Association champs) in Game 4 of the then best-of-five Stanley Cup Final. The Arenas came back and won Game 5 2-1 to take the Cup.

In other weird bits of trivia, the two leagues that battled for the Stanley Cup back then played under different rules. The PCHA was a 6-on-6 skaters league and the NHL was like the current 5-on-5 skaters. The games alternated between being played under the two leagues' rules with the Cyclone Taylors winning the two games played under the PCHA "rover" rule and the Team That Would Become Leafs winning the three played under NHL rules. Due to biplanes not being a feasible form of commerical transportation yet, the entire series was played in Toronto that year after the Millionaires took the Pierre Berton Transcontinental Railway across to the Centre of the Then Much Smaller Universe.

Only problem is, if history does repeat itself and the losing team of this 8-1 defeat wins it all in 2011, hopefully next year's Final will not be a repeat of the Final which followed 1918's and resulted in no team winning the Cup, a flu epidemic and a player dying. And you thought this year's Final has had a lot of drama?

In modern times, only the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens have rebounded from getting ventilated for 8 goals against in a game.

In the Isles' first of their four Cups in a row, they lost Game 2 in 1980 to the Philadelphia Flyers 8-3. The Bob Nystroms bounced back to win three (all home games) of the last four to take the Cup in six games.
Hey, Sedins, technically I am "Swedish"

The Habs in one of the wackiest playoff games ever lost 8-7 at home in Game 5 to the Chicago Black Hawks (pre-"Blackhawks") in the 1973 Final. The goalies in that game--Hall of Famers Ken Dryden for Montreal and Tony Esposito for Chicago. This series does come with one Big M rejoinder. The Habs won Game 1 8-3 so technically giving up 8 in a one-goal game when you ventilated the opponent for 8 in another game that was a blowout sort of makes a moot Yvan Cournoyer of a point to all of this.

For those with your Stanley Cups half full of champagne, the Canucks could be headed for an '80s Islanders dynasty if they take the Cup in 2011. That could be helped along, if Coach V stops coaching like the Yogi Bear he looks like, and starts dressing seven defencemen. As canucks fans would like to see some insurance of the backline, you know in case an Aaron Rome gets tossed or a Dan Hamhuis gets injured during a game. Just a suggestion.

For those with your silver chalises half-empty, there have only been three teams (if we count the '73 Habs among them) out of nine who have given up 8 or more goals in a Cup Final game who've come back to win the Cup.

Even scarier is the fact no team since the '09 Pens (what?) has come back from 0-2 down in the Stanley Cup so.... we're long overdue ....Oh, forget it! The Canucks are toast. Doomed, I say.

Just to ring off on another low note here's something to overload your hockey trivia memory banks:
The famous 0-3 comeback Leafs destroyed the Detroit Red Wings 9-3 in Game 5 on the way to reeling off those four straight wins to take the '42 Stanley Cup.

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