WINNIPEG – One of the messages written on the white board in the Winnipeg Jets’ locker-room read: “Why not us?”
Only four teams in NHL history came back from the same 3-0 series deficit the Jets face against the Anaheim Ducks.
Two of those times came in the past five years: The Los Angeles Kings coming back on the San Jose Sharks last playoffs and the Philadelphia Flyers beating the Boston Bruins in 2010. So Jets and
Ducks players and coaches are letting history be their guide.
“That’s a tough line whether you mention it to players or you don’t want them to dwell on it,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said of the Kings. “I would think it happened so close to home that
everybody in our team knew what happened last year.”
Jets coach Paul Maurice pointed to Los Angeles losing Games 1 and 2 by scores of 6-3 and 7-2 before falling into the 3-0 hole by losing 5-4 in overtime to the Sharks. Winnipeg was closer in the
first two games of this series and lost 5-4 in overtime in Game 3.
“What you use out of those previous games, it’s not important where you come from,” Maurice said.
It’s important to remember the Sharks lost Marc-Edouard Vlasic in Game 5 as part of their unravelling against the Kings. But Maurice said teams overcome 3-0 deficits in games or series enough recently to prove that it can be done.
“It used to be a locked-down series when you got that 3-1 and it as over,” he said. “It seems to me that the players have dealt with a lot more swings in games and in series that they used to,”
Jets winger Blake Wheeler and defenceman Mark Stuart were on that 2010 Bruins team that blew a 3-0 lead to the Flyers. Centre David Krejci’s injury played a role in that collapse, but Boston was close to making it a sweep.
“We lost in overtime. We were one goal away from moving on,” Wheeler said Tuesday. “No matter what, you’re human. You’re up three games to none, you want to close this thing out as fast as
possible. So the longer and tougher you make it on the team, the better your chances.”
Stuart remembers it was “kind of a blur.”
“You win three and you feel like you’re in control and then we lost the fourth one,” Stuart said. “But then you still feel like you’re in control of the series. … It kind of just snowballed from
there, and then once you get down to Games 6 and 7, anything can happen.”
Boudreau, swept as Washington Capitals coach in 2011 by the Tampa Bay Lightning, led 3-0 in a series with the Hershey Bears four times in the American Hockey League. His teams closed the deal three times and won in five the other series.
“It was a while ago,” Boudreau said. “But that was the American League. It’s a little different here.”