Through three games of their Western Conference quarterfinal series, the Calgary Flames trail three games to none to the Anaheim Ducks. Given that they’re eliminated from the playoffs with their next loss, it’s obviously a less than ideal situation for them to be in.
But just how dire are the circumstances? Let us delve into a history of teams being down 3-0 in a playoff series.
In their playoff history, the Flames have only been down 3-0 in a best of seven series four times prior to this year. They haven’t gone well.
- 1974: The Atlanta Flames were swept in four by Philadelphia in the Flames’ first-ever playoff series. They lost three one-sided games to get down 3-0, then lost in overtime for the sweep.
- 1983: The Flames managed to get to the second round, only to get steamrolled by the Oilers and lose in five games. They lost four very one-sided games, separated by a slim 6-5 win in Game 4.
- 1988: The Flames were swept by the Oilers in the second round once again.
- 1996: In Jarome Iginla’s first foray into pro hockey, the Flames were swept by Chicago.
The Flames have not been swept in 21 years. Granted, they missed the playoffs in 14 of those years, but it’s still something they’ve managed to avoid.
Overall NHL history
In the entire history of best of seven playoff series in the National Hockey League, only four times has a team that lost the first three games managed to come back to win it in seven.
- The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs (in the Stanley Cup Final).
- The 1975 New York Islanders.
- The 2010 Philadelphia Flyers.
- The 2014 Los Angeles Kings.
That’s four times in 182 series where a team went down 3-0.
Recent NHL history
It’s established that it’s extremely rare for teams that are down 3-0 to win their series. But what about survival? Over the last five years of Stanley Cup playoffs, 16 teams have been down 3-0. How did they fare?
- Six of those teams were swept. Four of those teams lost in five games. Five of those teams lost in six games. One of those teams (the 2014 Kings) won in seven games.
Over the past five years of playoffs, teams that were down 3-0 had a 10-6 record in Game 4. The 10 teams that survived Game 4 had a 6-4 record in Game 5.
Winning the series is not likely. Surviving for a while? Statistically, it’s not all that uncommon.