Calgary Flames v Montreal Canadiens

What’s the most dangerous lead in hockey? One blogger figured it out


You heard it once, you heard it a million times. A team would get out to a two or three goal lead and someone, somewhere be it at the bar or on the Internet would say, “that’s the most dangerous lead in hockey.” Since it was almost always a flippant remark and never taken seriously unless the team in front blew the game, you wouldn’t have another thought about it until later.

If you wondered if some teams were better or worse than others at giving up a seemingly big lead, there’s one blogger who went back through all of last season’s games to figure out just what, exactly, the most dangerous lead in hockey was. The guys at went through all of last season’s regular season results and figured out just what kind of cushion was the most perilous for a team to have. Their results aren’t exactly shocking in some ways and rather eye-opening in others.

For the purposes of their study, they looked at things this way:

For the purpose of this analysis, a lead is considered the maximum goal margin before the game reverts to a tie. For instance, if a team starts a game with a 3-0 lead but wins the game 4-2, the lead is considered a three-goal lead because that was the maximum lead margin. A lead is considered surrendered whenever a game reverts to a tie. For instance, if one team jumps out to a 3-0 lead but becomes a 5-5 tie, that lead has been surrendered. All leads include regulation only, as it is impossible to surrender an overtime lead.

Simple enough for us. Also keep in mind that surrendering the lead doesn’t necessarily mean losing the game either.

As you might expect, the absolute most dangerous lead in hockey is the one-goal lead as 85.35% of those were surrendered. That means either a game was tied up or the opponent took the lead back from them. For instance, the Islanders were the worst team in the NHL with a one-goal lead as they gave it back every time last season. The Islanders had to get ahead by more than two goals according to Puck Scene’s numbers as they gave up a two goal lead 42% of the time they had one of those. They were flawless when up three or more.

As for the rest of the NHL, a two goal lead was given up 39.52% according to their results. While a one-goal lead is always perilous, seeing a two-goal lead given up nearly four out of every ten times is incredible. Think of the “dead puck” era when a two-goal lead essentially meant the game was over. Now? Not so much. Of the 463 times a team held a two-goal advantage, 183 times that team gave it up.

While Florida was the worst team in the NHL with a two-goal lead, surrendering them at a 77.78% rate, Pittsburgh was in the top (bottom?) five giving up a two-goal lead 57.14% of the time. Two playoff teams were in the top five with Anaheim giving up the two-goal lead 71.43% of the time and joining Pittsburgh in that ignominy.

Even a three-goal lead had its perils last season as Puck Scene’s analysis shows that a three-goal lead was given up 10.34% (30 out of 290 times). Leads of four goals or more were lost a mere 0.91% of the time (2 out of 219). Of those two times, Montreal recovered after blowing a 4-0 lead against Calgary in January to beat the Flames 5-4 in overtime. The Penguins survived blowing a 4-0 lead to Detroit back in March to beat the Red Wings 5-4 in a shootout.

Colorado had the hardest time holding leads, period, and made their fans cringe any time they had the lead as they gave up a one-goal lead 94.87% of the time, a two-goal lead 42.86% of the time and a three-goal lead at a 40% rate. Even if that’s two times out of five, that’s two times too many. The NHL’s worst team, Edmonton, was equally terrifying with a lead losing a one-goal lead at a 88.89% rate and a two-goal lead 50% of the time.

Winnipeg fans might have to invest in Pepto Bismol next year if the Jets don’t improve on their final Thrashers days as they gave away a one-goal lead 90% of the time and fared no better with a two-goal lead (61.54%) nor a three-goal advantage (20%).

Obviously these numbers have no bearing on how things will play out next year, but the next time you hear a fan joking around about how the two goal lead is the scariest in the NHL… They’re not too far off in how right they are, just remind them that it could be worse. It could be a one-goal lead.

Unbeaten no more: Canucks fall to Kings in shootout for first loss

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 22:  Tanner Pearson #70 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his goal with Nic Dowd #26 and Dustin Brown #23 in front of Alexander Edler #23 of the Vancouver Canucks to take a 2-0 lead during the first period at Staples Center on October 22, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

One of the biggest early surprises of the 2016-17 NHL season was the fact the Vancouver Canucks were the NHL’s only unbeaten team entering play on Saturday. Not Washington. Not Pittsburgh. Not Tampa Bay. Not Chicago. Not Dallas.


Their stunning four-game winning streak to open the season came to an end on Saturday night when they opened up a brief two-game road trip in Los Angeles with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Kings, handing them first loss of the season and making it so all 30 NHL teams now have at least one loss this season.

The Canucks have made a habit so far this season out of falling behind early and rallying for overtime or shootout wins, and they nearly did it again on Saturday. After spotting the Kings a 3-0 lead early in the second period Vancouver came back with three consecutive goals, including a game-tying goal from defenseman Alex Edler in the final minute to send the game to overtime. But the Canucks know that is not a sustainable long-term strategy and that eventually their luck in those games is going to run out.

On Saturday, it kind of did.

Tanner Pearson scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Kings the win.

As tough as this two-game road trip through Los Angeles and Anaheim looks, playing both teams within 24 hours, the Canucks seemed to catch a little bit of a break when the Kings had to turn to Peter Budaj, their third string goalie, after Jeff Zatkoff was injured in the morning skate on Saturday. With regular starting goalie Jonathan Quick already sidelined it seemed to be a good opportunity for the Canucks to extend their winning streak against a goalie that has only played 38 games in the NHL since the start of the 2012-13 season (with below average numbers during that stretch).

But Budaj was able to do just enough to get the win, stopping 22 out of 25 shots through regulation and overtime and not giving up any goals in the shootout.

Even with the loss, the Canucks still managed to pick up a point and have earned nine out of a possible 10 points to start the season. No matter how they did it, collecting points like that is never a bad thing. They have now played four overtime games this season and the one game that did not go overtime was still decided by a single goal. If nothing else you have to give them a ton of credit for keeping things interesting.

The Canucks are back in action on Sunday against the Ducks before returning home for a three-game homestand.

Juuse Saros helps Predators shut down, dominate the champs

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 28:  In his first career NHL game goalie Juuse Saros #1 of the Nashville Predators plays against the Buffalo Sabres at Bridgestone Arena on November 28, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
1 Comment

Weird times in Nashville right now as a significant portion of the Predators’ roster is sidelined by food poisoning. They went into Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh without Mike Fisher, Craig Smith, Colton Sissons and starting goaltender Pekka Rinne all out of the lineup. That meant a bunch of call-ups and a rookie goaltender getting the start against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

While the Penguins were also playing without Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang, it is still a very formidable lineup (one that just rallied to beat San Jose the other night). That is part of what made Nashville’s 5-1 win so convincing and impressive.

The Predators used a four-goal second period, including a pair of goals from Kevin Fiala, to pick up their second win of the season and what is easily their most impressive of the two.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was the play of 21-year-old goalie Juuse Saros, playing in only his second NHL game.

Saros stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced to pick up his very first NHL win. Things got off to a rough start for him when Nashville’s defense got caught up the ice and created an odd-man rush for the Penguins that resulted in a Scott Wilson goal less than a minute into the game. After that one blemish on the scoresheet Saros was flawless the rest of the night.

It was a really special night for Saros not only because of the win and the way he played, but because Marc-Andre Fleury started at the other end of the ice for Pittsburgh. Saros said after the game that Fleury has been an idol of his.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Predators after a season-opening win against Chicago. Even though it’s been a slow start, this should still be a team that is going to compete for the Western Conference crown once they get their full roster on the ice.

The Maple Leafs fell apart late (again)

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 15:  James Reimer #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks to stop a shot by Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on February 15, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Maple leafs 7-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

No matter how much young talent the Toronto Maple Leafs have on their roster (and they have a lot) this was still always going to be another long season. The organization is on the right track, but it’s not where it needs to be just quite yet.

There will be flashes of brilliance and potential, but there are still going to be some pretty significant growing pains and a lot of frustration along the way.

Just five games into the season, they have already experienced plenty of the latter.

First there was rookie sensation Auston Matthews scoring four goals in his NHL debut and the team still finding a way to lose the game.

Then there was the game in Winnipeg where they jumped out to a 4-0 lead and then ended up losing in overtime. Earlier this week they let another third period lead slip away against Minnesota.

On Saturday, they added another one to the list in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

For 57 minutes it looked as if the young Maple Leafs were going to add to the Blackhawks’ early season woes as they held a 4-2 lead and seemed to be in control of the game. The young players were scoring goals, they were the latest team to beat the Blackhawks’ shoddy penalty killing unit, and they seemed on their way to a big early season win on the road against a top team.

Then everything fell apart. Again.

Chicago’s Artem Anisimov scored with less than three minutes to play to cut the deficit to one.

Then just one minute later Richard Panik (former Toronto Maple Leaf Richard Panik) continued his early season goal scoring surge by netting his league leading sixth goal of the year to tie the game and send it to overtime.

After the two teams failed to score in the 3-on-3, it went to a shootout where Jonathan Toews and Artemi Panarin scored goals to help the Blackhawks get back into the win column and sent the Maple Leafs home with another tough loss.

If you’re an optimist in Toronto you have to look at the fact that this young, talented Maple Leafs team has at least earned a point in all but one of its first five games.

They are competing, they are showing signs of being an entertaining team with a strong foundation in place.

They have actually had the lead going into the third period of every game they have played.

Yet here they are, five games into the season, still sitting with only one win.

The Jimmy Vesey show leads Rangers over Capitals

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 06: Jimmy Vesey #26 of the New York Rangers waits for the faceoff against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden on October 6, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin had the big highlight early in the game on Saturday night, but it was New York Rangers rookie Jimmy Vesey that ended up stealing the show.

Vesey scored a pair of goals for the Rangers — the first multi-goal game of his career —  to help lead his team to a 4-2 win in Washington.

Even though he had never played a game in the NHL before this season, Vesey was still one of the most sought after free agents this summer after he completed his college career at Harvard. He eventually signed an entry level deal with the Rangers, and given how much attention his free agency saga generated it seemed hard to believe that he could ever match the hype. Especially given the track record of players signed as free agents coming out of college (it’s not a great one).

It’s obviously still very early in his career, but so far Vesey has not disappointed in New York.

Saturday was by far his best performance of the season, scoring both of his goals just three minutes apart in the second period. The first goal tied the game at two to help erase a two-goal deficit, and then his second goal proved to be the game winner.

It was also a heck of a play.

Rick Nash would add an empty net goal late in the third period to put the game away for the Rangers while Henrik Lundqvist stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced.

For Washington, the loss is its first regulation loss of the season and snaps what had been a three-game winning streak.