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

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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 PuckScene.com 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.

The Buzzer: Kempe, Schwartz record hat tricks; Leafs honor Gord Downie

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Players of the night: Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues / Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles Kings

The Blues forward tallied his third career hat trick during a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Schwartz scored the game’s first two goals before completing his hat trick with a late empty-net goal to stave off a Chicago comeback.

Wednesday’s feat for Schwartz came three years to the day of his first career three-goal game.

Kempe, meanwhile, tallied his first NHL hat trick and finished with four points during LA’s 5-1 rout of the Montreal Canadiens. Two of his three goals were assisted by Mike Cammalleri, who also finished the night with four points.

Highlight of the night:

Eddie Olczyk returned to the NBC broadcast booth as he continues his battle against colon cancer. Olczyk, along with Doc Emrick, called the Blues-Blackhawks game from Scottrade Center Wednesday night.

MISC:

Auston Matthews recorded the 20th multi-point game of his career. He now has six goals and 10 points on the season.

Patrick Marleau became the 18th NHL player to reach the 1,500-game mark.

Jake Allen kept his shutout bid alive with this great stick save on Patrick Kane late:

-The Kings are off their best start in franchise history at 5-0-1. They’ve allowed only 10 goals against through six games.

Jeff Carter left the game in the first period and did not return after tangling with Jeff Petry. Afterward, Kings head coach John Stevens said the forward will miss some time.

-Finally, The Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie passed away from cancer at age 53 on Wednesday. The Maple Leafs paid tribute before their game against the Red Wings.

Factoid of the night:

Scores:

Maple Leafs 6, Red Wings 3

Blues 5, Blackhawks 2

Kings 5, Canadiens 1

Cammalleri, Kempe power Kings over Canadiens

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Adrian Kempe recorded his first career NHL hat trick and Mike Cammalleri added two goals as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1.

After Paul Byron opened the scoring for Montreal midway through the first period, the Kings responded with five unanswered goals to hand the Habs their sixth straight defeat.

Cammalleri, who inked a one-year deal over the summer to return to the Kings, had a hand in four of LA’s five goals. He started the scoring for the Kings in the first period by celebrating the Dodgers’ playoff run with his own special kind of baseball swing.

Kempe, who finished with four points as well, scored his three goals over a span of 10:50 in the third period to help the Kings to their best start in franchise history (5-0-1).

LA remains the only NHL team yet to lose in regulation this season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Jaden Schwartz’s hat trick leads Blues over Blackhawks

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Jaden Schwartz‘s third career hat trick helped power the St. Louis Blues over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in a Central Division clash Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.

Schwartz’s eventful evening began with a goal 4:46 into the first period. It was nearly ended minutes later after a scary crash into the end boards following a scoring chance.

After missing some time, Schwartz returned in the second period and doubled the Blues’ lead with his fourth of a season, thanks to a great outlet pass from Allen.

As the Blues built up a 4-0 lead, the Blackhawks spoiled Allen’s shutout bid with a pair of late power play goals 80 seconds apart. The furious rally was stopped, however, and Schwartz capped off his hat trick with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.

St. Louis dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Blackhawks 26-8 as they built up their 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ power play failed them early in the game, missing out on five chances to capitalize with the extra man through 40 minutes.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Canadiens at Kings

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The Montreal Canadiens play their second game of a three-game west coast trip Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

It hasn’t been the best start for the Habs, who sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference with a 1-4-1 record. They’re winless since an opening night win over the Buffalo Sabres. On the other side of things, the Kings are the only NHL team that has yet to lose in regulation. Their 4-0-1 start puts them a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, and their game in-hand gives them the opportunity to leap into first place in the Pacific Division with a victory.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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