With a 3-0 series deficit, the New York Islanders aren’t in a good position. The odds are against them, but they aren’t dead yet.
After a 5-2 road loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the New York Islanders are down 3-0 and facing elimination in game four on Friday. With only four teams ever coming back from a 3-0 series deficit, it doesn’t look good for the Islanders.
As of 2018, there are 64 instances of a team being up 3-0 in the second round of the NHL playoffs. Only twice have those teams lost the series. The two teams to win their series after being down 3-0 are the Islanders in 1975 and the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010.
Teams in the Islanders situation win the series a whopping 3.125 percent of the time. Those aren’t great odds. But still, it’s a seven-game series, not five. The Islanders can still turn this around.
What Do They Have Going For Them?
Am I being hopelessly optimistic? Perhaps. Again, a 3.125 percent chance of turning this around isn’t anything to be confident about.
But think about the entire series for a second. The Islanders had arguably one bad game, game three. In games one and two they were the better team on the ice. Just not on the score sheet, the one place that actually matters.
Across the three games in the series, the shots are tied at 88 for both teams. The Hurricanes expected goals for percentage is marginally better than the Islanders by +0.58. And the Isles have created 37 high-danger chances to the Hurricanes 32. (Stats from NaturalStatTrick)
The underlying analytics paint a closer series then is actually playing out in the wins/loss columns. Of course, hockey isn’t played on paper, which is why even though the Islanders expected goals for in the series is at 8.04 they’ve only scored three. (The Hurricanes expected goals for is 8.62 and have scored eight.)
Why the optimism?
I refuse to believe that the New York Islanders game is failing suddenly. Everything we know about playoff hockey is that strong goaltending and defense wins. The New York Islanders have both of those.
They had the best defensive record going into the playoffs and through round one. They also have one of the better goalies in the NHL in Robin Lehner.
Through three games, they’ve allowed eight goals against or 2.66 goals against. Robin Lehner is has averaged a 0.925SV% with a flat 2.00GAA. Those are still good numbers. What brought the Islanders success this season is still there even in this second round against the Hurricanes.
What they need is the goal scoring to go along with that.
For much of the series, they’ve been the better team but haven’t been able to convert on their chances. That changed once Justin Faulk put in that breakaway goal in game three. The Hurricanes were the better team after that.
The Islanders can still get that offense. Again, they’ve been creating chances. They’re shooting the puck and getting those much desired high-danger chances.
Game three didn’t end well for the New York Islanders. Not only did they lose 5-2, but it put them in a terrible situation for the series. But looking at their underlying numbers, this series should be much closer.
They should be able to pull back into this series. Can they win it and become the only franchise to come back from a 3-0 deficit twice? Maybe.