July 5 — Agreements, Awareness & Avoiding Sweeps

On Tap For Today — Tampa Bay at Montreal; 8 pm EDT; NBC, CBC, TVAS, SN

Friday’s Forecheck

ON THE BRINK: Tampa Bay’s 6-3 Game 3 win over Montreal on Friday put the Lightning one victory away from winning the Stanley Cup for a second straight season. Coach Jon Cooper is well aware that next season’s team may look very different, so for now he’s trying to keep the team focused on the task at hand.

MR. JULY: Tampa defenseman Victor Hedman’s first period goal on Friday gave him quite a distinction from any other player in the league’s history, as he became the first NHL player to record a goal in every calendar month.

Saturday’s Snipes

KIRILL KNOWS THE DRILL: Calder Trophy-winning forward Kirill Kaprizov and the Minnesota Wild are expected to discuss his contract next week, though where the two sides land is anyone’s guess. GM Bill Guerin previously said he’d like to ink the 24-year-old to a long-term contract, but the rookie reportedly prefers fewer years.

CAN HE CAREY THEM?: As if there were any doubt, coach Dominique Ducharme confirmed Canadiens netminder Carey Price will start in Game 4, one game after allowing five goals on 29 shots. Get back on that horse, Carey — Montreal needs you!

Sunday’s Cellys

BIGGER THAN HOCKEY: Members of Canada’s First Nations are planning a peaceful protest during the national anthem before Game 4 in Montreal, which is intended to raise awareness about how their communities have been mistreated by the country and its government.

A WING AND A PRAYER: The Lightning can become the first team to sweep the Stanley Cup Final since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings swept the Washington Capitals en route to — you guessed it — their second-straight championship.

Impossible? Well, It’s Been Done Before

Being down 0-3 and — with the Stanley Cup in the building each game the rest of the way — the Montreal Canadiens and their fans are looking for any signs of hope that their magical playoff run still has life. It goes without saying that while history doesn’t exactly favor those who start in that deep of a hole, signs of hope can be found if you look to the past.

Throughout the history of the NHL postseason, there are four instances of a team successfully rallying from being down 0-3. To put that in perspective, the NBA has never had it happen and Major League Baseball has had one such instance — the Boston Red Sox famous 2004 ALCS comeback against rival New York Yankees.

For as rare as the feat still is, these four series offer something of a blueprint on how a comeback might be done — however pie-in-the-sky it may seem. After all, this wouldn’t be the first time these Habs have been counted out and proved critics wrong!

Anyway, let’s have a look at some of these inspiring rallies:

Maple Leafs def. Red Wings (1942 Stanley Cup Final)

Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme admitted he was considering lineup changes ahead of Game 4, even if he scoffed at the idea of benching Carey Price. Using the blueprint of the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, maybe taking more extreme measures is the way to go.

The favored Leafs stumbled out to an 0-3 start when head coach Hap Day bumped Gordie Drillon and Bucko McDonald, Toronto’s best forward and defenseman, respectively, for a trio of no-name replacements — including a forward named Don Metz. After surviving a back-and-forth Game 4, Metz scored three goals and two assists in Game 5 while the rest of the team got the shot in the arm they needed to spark the comeback.

Islanders def. Penguins (1975 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals)

The 1974-75 season was the third season in the history of the New York Islanders franchise, and their first foray into postseason play. The Islanders’ playoff debut was already notable for a 2-1 first round upset of the favored New York Rangers, when they came up against the Pittsburgh Penguins in round two.

The Penguins didn’t fare much better in the regular season, but they did follow up a first round sweep of the St. Louis Blues by taking the first three games against the Isles. Led by the youthful trio of Denis Potvin, Bob Nystrom, and Clark Gillies, New York came all the way back to advance to the semis and spark what would be a dynastic era for the franchise. Incredibly, they almost pulled it off again, coming back from a 3-0 hole against the Philadelphia Flyers before falling in Game 7!

Denis Potvin #5 of the New York Islanders (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)

Flyers def. Bruins (2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals)

The Flyers had already dug themselves out of a 0-3 deficit against the Boston Bruins in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals when they found themselves facing yet another daunting 0-3 hill to climb in Game 7. Thanks to a trio of first period goals, the fired-up Bruins established an early stronghold.

Once again, however, the resilient Flyers showed some fight – coming all the way back before Game 4’s OT hero, Simon Gagne, put Philadelphia ahead for good in the third period. Philly carried that momentum into a five-game Eastern Conference Final victory against Montreal before falling in six games in the Stanley Cup Final to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Kings def. Sharks (2014 Western Conference First Round)

When the Los Angeles Kings fell behind 0-3 against the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, they probably didn’t have much faith that they’d match their Cup-winning feat from two years prior. Then, the winning started.

After losing the first three games by a combined nine goals, the Kings turned around and won the next four by 13 goals — further solidifying the favored Sharks as playoff choke artists. This, however, was just the start for LA, who used its comeback as a jumping off point for two more seven-game series victories against the Anaheim Ducks and Blackhawks. In the Final, the exhausted Kings still managed to put away the Rangers in five games for a most unlikely Cup championship.