I found myself in the midst of a pretty heated debate recently with another hockey fan regarding the Olds Grizzlys sudden two game deficit in the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s South Division Finals. He had asked how the games went and I gave my take on the events as they unfolded in Brooks. It was at that point he said, "Well, they’re screwed”. "They’re screwed?!?” I riffled back. "How the (expletive) do you (expletive) figure that?” I asked. He, with all of his hockey and mathematical wizardry, pointed out that the Bandits were now half-way to the series win. To which I replied with "Its Hockey, anything can happen”. His eloquent retort was the always popular "Name One Time…”
Let’s start with the NHL:
There’s of course the Philadelphia Flyers who, in 2010, were trailing the Boston Bruins 3 GAMES TO NONE and trailing in Game 4 before coming All the Way Back to win the series and march to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Sticking with Pennsylvania, the
Pittsburgh Penguins did it NOT ONCE, BUT TWICE in 2009. Yes, Twice! In Round 2
they lost both games in Washington (The Caps had just completed a two games to
none deficit come back the series before over the Rangers) to start the series
before beating the Capitals 4 games to 3 AND THEN, in the Stanley Cup Final
lost both Games in Detroit before beating them 4 games to 3.
(NOTE: That year the Pens were on the verge of missing the Playoffs in mid-February before firing their Coach and hiring Rookie Bench Boss Dan Bylsma…Sound Familiar?)
Who could forget 2006? (This is one of my favorites because it involves a team that would eventually keep the Edmonton Oilers away from the Cup) That year the Carolina Hurricanes fell to the Montreal Canadiens in the first 2 games before crawling back to win the series 4 games to 2.
The Oilers also came back from 2 games down that year, losing games 1 and 2 in San Jose to the heavily favored Sharks before coming back to win the series 4 games to 2.
Anyway, I think you get the point. In all since 2000 – teams have lost the first two games of a series only to come back and win them 11 times or an average of once per year.
Now, my very stubborn friend then said, "Ya, but that’s the NHL…they don’t play in the NHL.”
In 2005-06, the Canmore Eagles dropped both games in Drumheller before battling back to win the next 3 games in the 1st Round, Best of Five Series, advancing to the next round.
In 2007-08, the Spruce Grove saints fell in the 1st 2 games of Round 2 in Grande Prairie only to bounce back and beat to Storm in that series 4 games to 3.
In 2010-11, the Lloyd Bobcats
drop the 1st 2 games of 1st Round, Best of Five Series, in
Grande Prairie by a combined score of 10-2 only to win the next 3 and the
Again, I think you get my point. The best part of those AJHL examples, of which only date back to 2005-06, is that they all start with a team losing the 1st two games on the road!
My friend finally shut-up. And before we parted ways I ended our conversation with this story about the Grizzlys season and how, even if I couldn’t name a single example of great 2-Game Comebacks, I’d still not be prepared to right-them off. . .
This Season the Olds Grizzlys lost an entire month’s worth of hockey games, saw their leading scorer AND long-time, local stalwart Defenseman ask for a trade and be shipped out of town(IN THE SAME WEEK), persevere and eventually thrive through a coaching change and at one point were so close to missing the playoffs golf courses were calling and asking if they needed reservations. They suffered a huge loss thanks to a bad bounce in Game 1 of Round 1 where they were the better team while in Round 2 with under a 1:30 remaining they gave-up a lead and lost in regulation of Game 3 while also getting spanked 7-1 in Game 5, a game they traveled to TWICE. And despite all of that, here they are in the AJHL’s South Division Finals.
My point being, the Olds Grizzlys have seen it all this season and through-out the playoffs. Is being down 2 games to none to the AJHL’s Regular Season Champions going to be a challenge? Yes. Of course. But, the ‘Black and Gold’ have feasted on adversity all season long and it looks like the Hockey Gods have restocked the buffet.