There is one thing the New York Rangers MUST do when they play in their best-of-five series against the Carolina Hurricanes. Win game one.
If the New York Rangers want to win their series against the Carolina Hurricanes and qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs it is absolutely crucial for them to win the first game. Losing the first game of a best-of-five series is almost a guarantee that they will lose the series.
If you don’t believe that, just look a the numbers. Since expansion, the NHL has played 56 best-of-five playoff series. The team that won the first game went on to win the series 49times. That’s 88% of the time. It’s one reason why the NHL abandoned the best-of-five format.
The NHL Stanley Cup Finals were actually a best-of-five series in the first season that the Cup was awarded to the best team in the NHL. Before that, the Cup was a competition between the NHL’s best team and the best team from either the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) or the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL).
In fact, the NHL didn’t go to a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final until 1939. Believe it or not, in several seasons, the Final was a best-of-three series.
The NHL adopted a best-of-five Preliminary Round for seven years from 1980 to 1986. Examining the results of the series in those seven years, three facts stand out.
- Winning game one almost guarantees a series victory. In the 56 series played, the first game winner won 49 series and in 1981 and 1986, all eight of the series in those seasons were won by teams that won the first game.
- Most series don’t go the maximum five games. Only 12 series out of 56 went five games.
- Don’t lose the first two games. Only one team in modern NHL history lost the first two games of a best-of-five series and went on to win. That was the 1985 New York Islanders who fell behind the Washington Capitols on two overtime losses, but then won the next three to take the series
With those key things in mind, how do the Rangers compare?