Much has been made of the fact that the home team has won all five games to start the Stanley Cup Final. Fans and pundits argue it’s important to win games at home with built-in advantages like intimidating crowds and the ability to match lines. But there’s another trend at work in the 2011 playoffs that has been even stronger than home ice advantage: scoring the first goal of the game.
Just like the home team has won all five games in the series, the team that has scored first has also won all five games thus far. By scoring the first (and only) goal in Game 5, the Canucks improved to 11-2 (.846 winning percentage) in the postseason when scoring the first goal of the game. That’s an impressive statistic until it’s compared to the Bruins’ 10-1 record (.909 winning percentage) in the playoffs when scoring the first goal. The teams have combined for any amazing 21-3 record when capturing the early lead this postseason.
The only game the Bruins scored first and blew the lead was the memorable 3-goal meltdown in Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Aside from that historic collapse, Boston has been perfect. Boston scored the first goal of the game three times against the Habs in their first round series. They were 3-0. Again in the second round against the Flyers, the Bruins scored the first goal of the game three times; again they won all three games. Compare these stellar figures to the pedestrian 4-8 record when the opponent scores first. It’s clear the Bruins would like to get off to a quick start in Game 6.
On the other hand, the Canucks have been just as impressive. The Canucks scored first in Game 6 of their first round match-up against Chicago when Daniel Sedin scored two minutes into the game. Unfortunately for Vancouver, the Blackhawks were able to come back and force a Game 7. The only other time Vancouver scored the first goal and lost was in Game 2 against the Nashville Predators. Despite leading 1-0 for most of two periods, Ryan Suter scored with about a minute left and the Preds were able to cap the comeback in the second overtime.
The Canucks have scored the first goal of the game 11 other times this postseason. They’ve won all 11.
Both teams have proven they are incredibly difficult to beat once they jump out to an early lead. Part of the reason is because they both have goaltenders who are capable of shutting the opponent down on any given night. Another reason is both teams have the ability to play team defense with both their forwards and defenseman to shutdown their opponents. In fact, low scoring games have been nothing new for the Canucks. On three separate occasions the Canucks have scored the only goal of the game—winning 1-0 three separate times.
The Bruins will attempt to defend home-ice in Game 6. Much has been made of the fact that Boston outscored Vancouver 12-1 in Games 3 and 4. But just as important as protecting home ice will be watching to see who scores first. If history tells us anything, we’ll all be making plans to watch Game 7 on Wednesday if the Bruins can grab the early lead.
Then again, what if the Canucks score first? Well, then the Bruins better hope the home-ice advantage is all that it’s cracked up to be.
Even with all the young players that have been healthy scratches this season, don’t expect the NHL to change its waiver rules.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told PHT in an email that it’s not something that’s “ever been considered.”
“For better or worse that’s what waiver rules are there for,” Daly wrote. “They force Clubs to make tough decisions.”
Today, Montreal defenseman Jarred Tinordi became the latest waiver-eligible youngster to be sent to the AHL on a two-week conditioning loan.
Tinordi, 23, has yet to play a single game for the Habs this season. If he were still exempt from waivers, he’d have undoubtedly been sent to the AHL long before he had to watch so many NHL games from the press box.
In light of situations like Tinordi’s, some have suggested the NHL change the rules. Currently, the only risk-free way for waiver-eligible players to get playing time in the AHL is via conditioning stint, and, as mentioned, those are limited to 14 days in length.
So the Habs will, indeed, need to make a “tough decision” when Tinordi’s conditioning stint is up. Do they put him in the lineup? Do they keep him in the press box and wait for an injury or some other circumstance to create an opportunity for him to play? Do they risk losing him to waivers by attempting to send him to the AHL? Do they trade him?
Your call, Marc Bergevin.
Related: Stanislav Galiev is stuck in the NHL
Joni Ortio has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Stockton, the Calgary Flames announced today.
The 24-year-old goalie was always likely to clear, what with his dreadful numbers this season (0-2-1, .868),
But we suppose there was always the chance he’d get picked up, so it’s a relief for the Flames all the same. With a little more time to hone his game in the AHL, Ortio could still turn out to be a quality NHL netminder.
In a related move, veteran goalie Jonas Hiller has been activated from injured reserve. Hiller and Karri Ramo are the only goalies on the Flames’ active roster now.
Two injury updates in one post.
First, the situation with Montreal goalie Carey Price, who was hurt last night versus the Rangers.
According to Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, Price has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. That means he’ll be out at least a week, though no exact timeline was provided.
“We don’t know how long Carey will be out, but for us it’s business as usual,” said Therrien.
Mike Condon will get the start tomorrow in New Jersey.
As for Oilers forward Nail Yakupov, he’ll be out 2-4 weeks after spraining his ankle last night in Carolina while getting tangled up with a linesman.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf wasn’t impressed with at least two things last night in Arizona:
1. His team’s performance in a 4-2 loss to the Coyotes.
2. The atmosphere inside Gila River Arena, where the announced attendance was just 11,578.
“It’s hard. When you come into a building … it’s dead,” Getzlaf told the O.C. Register. “Nothing against the fans. It’s hard to fill a big building like this and have the amount of people in it to build your energy. So you have to do it yourself. You have to be ready when you step on the ice. I thought we came out flat.”
Anaheim’s record fell to 8-11-4 with the defeat.
The Coyotes’ average attendance also fell, to 13,144 in eight games.