After Friday night's Stanley Cup Finals Game 5 between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks, home teams are 16-2 in the Finals since 2009. From the looks of things by the time this series is over, they'll be 18-2, after the Canucks squeaked out a tough 1-0 win to take the 3-2 series edge.
The Bruins came to play in the first period -- composed, dominating puck possession, forcing Vancouver to weather their storm instead of the alternative, which everyone surely expected heading into the game.
But it was the Bruins' power play, the bane of that team's playoff existence, that once again failed them when they needed it most.
Boston drew three minor penalties in the first period, but despite six minutes of man-advantage time without taking a single penalty of their own (save Milan Lucic's coincidental minor when Alex Burrows went diving with 30 seconds to play in the period), the Bruins weren't able to take the early lead that they so desperately wanted and needed.
Perhaps it was personnel -- Gregory Campbell on the power play over Tyler Seguin was a questionable decision by Claude Julien, after all; perhaps it was Roberto Luongo -- who wasn't spectacular, but didn't need to be; perhaps the Bruins were just flummoxed by Rogers Arena, where they've scored just two goals in 180:11 of this series.
Whatever it was, the killer instinct that Boston delivered in the form of hits, crisp passes and high-powered offense in Games 3 and 4 were gone, replaced by a more passive team, one that was outhit, nearly outshot and outplayed for most of the last 40 minutes of the game.
It was, to be sure, another strong road game by Boston, one in which they minimized chances, avoided spending too much time in the penalty box and didn't seem overwhelmed by the moment.
But strong road games are exactly why the home teams are now 16-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals; conservative hockey isn't winning hockey in this NHL. Seven of the past 10 NHL champions have finished in the top-ten in regular season scoring -- a place both Boston and Vancouver fit comfortably in this season.
Shawn Thornton told his team going into the game that this wasn't Game 5, it was their Game 7. It was a valid point; if Boston can't win once in three tries in Vancouver, whats to make them think they could win on the fourth try, if they're good enough in Game 6 to force it?
Logic, for one, may do. After all, Vancouver's scored six goals in the series, and Boston scored twice that in two games at home. And 19 of the past 20 champions have also had the best goal differential in the playoffs -- that bodes well for Boston, which is a plus-21, but not for Vancouver, which is a minus-4. Boston hasn't lost a potential closeout game at home this year (Game 7, Montreal; Game 4, Philadelphia; Game 7, Tampa). They also haven't lost a home game following Game 3 of any series.
Of course, logic also reminds us that the Bruins are yet to win a Game 6 in these playoffs, while Vancouver is 1-1. Further, if Boston does win, they'll have to overcome a 2-17 past in series which they trail 3-2.
It's tough to take much from the game, because Boston has been so bipolar in the series. The lone constant has been Tim Thomas, who's allowed 1, 3, 1, 0 and 1 goals in the series. The only other reliable fact is that the Bruins have been beaten -- and badly -- in the faceoff circle by Vancouver.
But perhaps the most troubling logical assertion going against Boston is that they're 0-3 in one-goal games in this series. Nobody's likely to hear talk of last year's collapse against Philadelphia any time soon because of how far the Bruins have made it in this postseason, but it's still tough to look at Boston's predicament and not be concerned about their ability to play in close games.
On the other hand, if 18 or 11 seconds go differently in Games 1 or 2, Boston could have a lead in this series and a chance to win at home. Instead, they have merely a chance to extend their season, to redeem themselves for a less-than-stellar showing in Game 5.
If they can do that, they'll have a chance to unseat history‘s home dominance over the past three Stanley Cup Finals.
But they won't focus on that just yet. Right now, all they want is a chance.
The Stanley Cup Finals are ongoing, as the Vancouver Canucks battle the Boston Bruins. Stick with this StoryStream for full coverage of Game 5. For coverage on the Finals, stick with our Stanley Cup Finals hub, our Canucks blog, Nucks Misconduct, and our Bruins blog, Stanley Cup of Chowder.