Getting a lead in the NHL changes everything: Momentum, pressure, aggression, the crowd’s enthusiasm and, eventually, a coach’s approach to game management, for better or worse.
It’s no surprise that most of the NHL’s elite teams this season score first and cruise to victory when they do (stats through Friday’s games).
The Boston Bruins are 6-3-2 when they trail first. The Hurricanes are 7-9-0 when the opponent scores first.
It’s also no surprise that teams in playoff position tend to also be the ones that close opponents out when they’re leading into the final 20 minutes.
(Moral of the story: Don’t trail the Blackhawks after 40 minutes.)
You might notice an interesting name in that mix: The Philadelphia Flyers, who haven’t lost once in regulation when leading after two periods. That’s pretty great … until you realize what happens when they’re the ones trailing after two periods.
Coming up, the teams that are basically done-zo if they’re down entering the third period this season.
The bad news for the Winnipeg Jets? They haven’t gained a point when trailing after two periods. The good news? It’s only happened six times.
That’s a whole lotta non-playoff teams in that mix.
The Nashville Predators are a surprise, however. Their 1-10-1 record when trailing after two is a reversal from a larger trend trend. Last season, they rallied to win seven times in 27 games (.259) and 2010-11, when they led the league with a .273 winning percentage when trailing after two (6 wins in 22 games).
The NHL’s worst team when trailing after two periods last season? The Montreal Canadiens at 1-26-5, with the Los Angeles Kings right ahead of them (1-22-3).
This season, so far, they’re fifth (.333) and eighth (.273) respectively.