A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

An historical look at the Stanley Cup finals

Because there's an off day and I have nothing better to do, I did some research about the history of Stanley Cup finals. There's some interesting stuff about power outages, forced evacuations, neutral site games, entire series played in one arena, and even ties in the Stanley Cup finals.

Using this as a starting point, I did some investigating into how many times the team with "home ice advantage" has won and how many times the Cup was presented on "home ice".

In the "modern" NHL-only era, which began in 1927, the Cup has been presented 80 times. The best-of-seven format began in 1939, but it hasn't always used the 2-2-1-1-1 format. In 1944, for example, the series only needed four games, but it appears that the format would have been 1-2-2-1-1. In 1984 and 1985, they used the ridiculous 2-3-2 format which the NBA still uses. It gives the "road" team the advantage. Edmonton was the "road" team both of those seasons. Each time, they split the first two games, then swept their three straight home games for the "road" team. Thank goodness the NHL did away with that.

In 1988, there was an oddity in that game four at Boston was canceled when the power went out at 16:37 of the second period with the score tied 3-3. The series moved back to Edmonton where they played what was technically game five. They had three home games out of four official games, and completed the sweep.

In 1940, the Rangers only got two of six games at home despite being the "home" team. The circus ran them out of town, as they often did in the 1930's.

Between 1931 and 1938, a best-of-five series was used. Theoretically, the format was 2-2-1, but it didn't go that way very often. In 1932, 1933 and 1937 the Rangers were only availed Madison Square Gardens for one game while the circus held court. 1932 was especially odd in that game two between the Rangers and Maple Leafs was played in BostonIn 1928, the entire best-of-five series between the Rangers and the English-speaking Montréal Maroons was played at the Maroons' barn due to the circus.

In 1929 and 1930, the NHL experimented with a best-of-three format. Both years saw the winning team sweep the series 2-0.

In the first year of the "modern" era, Ottawa and Boston played a best of three series that required four games, and was won 2-0. Yeah. That's not a typo. In those days, if a game was still tied after one overtime period, it just ended as a tie. Even in the Stanley Cup finals. Games one and three ended in ties, but Ottawa took games two and four to win the best of three series 2-0 in four games.

Out of 80 cups, 55 have gone to the team who had home ice advantage. Nine in a row have gone to the "home team".

The Cup has been awarded on the winning team's home ice less frequently: just 48 times. Nine of the 32 "road ice" presentations occurred after a four-game sweep. The same occurred once after a two-game sweep of a best-of-three series.

Anyway, the point is that if the Penguins can rally, they will accomplish something that only the 1945 Maple Leafs and the 1971 Canadiens did. They'll be trying to win a SCF game seven on the road.

Of course, they still have to win game six at home for that last stat to be relevant. If not, the Red Wings will be the 33rd team to hoist the Cup on enemy territory, and the first since the 2000 Devils.

Click on the little image on the left for a full-size view of the spreadsheet I created after gathering the data.

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