The history of NHL playoff series will tell you that being down 1-0 is not as catastrophic as most people on the losing end of the first game feel it is.
In fact, when the home team loses the first game of series, their chances of winning the series only drop about 4%.
But by the time the second game is concluded, if you haven't earned a tie in the series, your chances of securing a series victory take an epic dive.
Historically speaking, the numbers look like this*:
Home team series winning percentage after losing game 1
Home team series winning percentage after losing the first two games
That's a little less than 1 in 4 chance of winning the series when you are the home team and you lose the first two games.
Those are not good odds unless you are playing the lottery.
While most people will say the second game of a series is not a must win, because you really only MUST win when you face elimination -- it seems to me that this Penguins squad would do well to consider the historical statistics noted above -- and play game 2 as if their playoff lives depended on securing a victory.
The Penguins haven't found a way to consistently compete -- when it matters most -- with the Flyers so far this year and that is evident in the 2-5 record in games played to date, which includes their game 1 loss on Wednesday night.
2-5 is .286...not much better than 1 in 4.
If the Penguins have any real aspirations of advancing...any real desire to hoist the Stanley Cup in 2012...the need to show it on Friday night.
One statistic that's in the Penguins favor...
Home teams that are trailing a series 1-0, are more likely to win game 2 than lose it:
FRIDAY's KEYS TO VICTORY
1) Forget it's Philly
2) Stay out of the BOX
3) Play 6o Minutes
It goes without saying that the Flyers have the advantage over the Penguins in the series. What also seems to be true is that the Flyers have a mental advantage over the Penguins as well. It would be almost impossible for this not to be true, given the three comebacks the Flyers have performed against the Penguins this year, all by 2 goals or more and the latest coming Wednesday night. While it's an extremely tough task to forget who your opponent is, the Penguins would be better off if they could try to wash the recent history between these two clubs from their collective psyche. They'd be better off if they could make the Flyers the nameless, faceless obstacle that needs to be moved.
Along those lines, and is the case in any playoff series, staying out of the penalty box helps your cause immensely. The Penguins only took one penalty in game 1...but the penalty came at a terrible time in the game and seemed more personal in nature. It had frustration/anger written all over it. While you need a good deal of that to compete at the level required to win, if it results in costly penalties, you have to find a way to re-focus the emotion into something that will help your team. A clean hit on Danny Briere would be a good start.
Finally...my theme since the game ended Wednesday night (and actually well before that)...the Penguins need a strong 60 minute effort. Back a few years ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers had t-shirts that read '60 Minute Men'. Right now if the Penguins were to make such a shirt it would read '20 Minute Men'. 60 minutes (plus sometimes) is what's required. I don't make the rules and I don't decide how tough the other team is going to be. I can only tell you this; if this team thinks it can do anything LESS than play 60 minutes of their best hockey, they will NOT hoist the cup this year because they won't even make it out of round 1. A strong 60 minute effort should be the REQUIREMENT. PERIOD.
I think we'll see a better and more sustained effort from the Penguins tonight.
I like our team.
I like our captain.
I like our chances.
Let's hope we all like the outcome of game 2 a lot more than the outcome of game 1.
Thanks for reading!
* statistics obtained from WhoWins