Been there, done that

Friday, 02.05.2008 / 5:23 PM / News
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Been there, done that
MONTREAL-- Overcoming a 3-1 series deficit in the NHL playoffs is no easy task. The Canadiens should know. They are, after all, the last team to have pulled it off. 

In the spring of 2004, the Habs mounted their biggest comeback in franchise history against who else but their favorite victims, the Bruins. Despite carrying a 0-12 series mark when down 3-1 in a best-of-seven series, the Canadiens were undaunted by having one skate in the grave entering Game 5 against the Bruins. The Habs fought back to turn the tables on the B’s, capping their epic rise from the dead with a Game 7 win in Boston.

Saku Koivu, Alex Kovalev, Steve Begin, Michael Ryder, Mike Komisarek, Andrei Markov, Francis Bouillon and Patrice Brisebois may have that recent experience to draw from, but they aren’t the only ones in the Habs’ dressing room with such a historic comeback on their resume. In 1998, while still with the Oilers, Roman Hamrlik helped Edmonton erase a Colorado 3-1 series lead to eliminate Patrick Roy and the Avalanche in a seventh and deciding game in Denver.

While certainly not the doctor-recommended way of advancing through the postseason, a 3-1 series hole isn’t necessarily a death sentence. Since the NHL introduced best-of-seven series during the 1939 playoffs, 20 teams trailing 3-1 have still managed to win the series.

The Canucks lead the way with three such turnarounds, followed by seven other teams who have done it twice. Although they lived dangerously against the Bruins in the first round of this year’s playoffs, the Canadiens have never coughed up a 3-1 series lead and lost. The Flyers, on the other hand, have crumbled on more than one occasion, squandering a 3-1 cushion to the Capitals in 1988 before doing the same versus the Devils in 2000.

Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com