Road Teams Shine in NHL First Round

The Montreal Canadiens shocked the NHL world with a 2-1 win over the #1 overall seed Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center to complete an improbable series win. After being down 3 games to 1 the Habs reeled off three straight victories, including twice in DC, to become the first #8 seed to ever rally from 3-1 down to beat a #1 seed in the NHL playoffs. During their winning streak they held one of the league’s elite offenses to just a single goal in each game thanks to some solid defending and remarkable goaltending from Jaroslav Halak.

The Canadiens also became the 7th team in the opening round of the playoffs to clinch their series away from home. Only the Boston Bruins got that 4th win on home ice, beating the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 in game 6 to win the series 4-2.

Home-ice advantage went out the door this year. The road team went 27-22 in round 1, a significant improvement from their 20-24 record last year and 20-28 mark in 2008. Road teams held a +14 goal differential (153-139) and every series saw a split in the opening two games.

Definitely an impressive feat in an unusual postseason. For something really freaky, look at the remaining teams and their seeds:

#1 San Jose Sharks (West)
#2 Chicago Blackhawks (West)
#3 Vancouver Canucks (West)
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins (East)
#5 Detroit Red Wings (West)
#6 Boston Bruins (East)
#7 Philadelphia Flyers (East)
#8 Montreal Canadiens (East)

That’s right. Only one of each seed remains in the competition. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before. The favorites from the West emerged unscathed (sans Phoenix), while the Penguins were the only higher seeded team to advance to the 2nd round from the Eastern Conference.

If only this year’s NBA playoffs could provide more than just blowouts…..


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