Above the Glass
by Samantha on 05/08/11 at 03:33 PM ET
Portland Winterhawks fans and readers know that I have already declared four to be the team’s magic number. But it appears to be working pretty well in the NHL playoffs too. Pick your team, pick your player, pick your game: Tampa’s sweep of Washington, Boston doing the same to the Flyers or San Jose and Vancouver within sight of clinching their series with a fourth game. Don’t know why, but there’s just something about it that seems to be good luck for some teams.
If you want to know about how well four works for the Portland Winterhawks: You can read about it here.
But it’s working pretty good for the NHL too: Well, maybe not so much for San Jose or Vancouver at the moment, but there’s still hope. Here’s how I know:
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Playoffs: It’s been four years since they made the playoffs, and they promptly proceeded to dispatch Pittsburgh from the first round 4 - 3, bookending the series with shutouts. The score in Game 6, which forced a Game 7, was Tampa Bay 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 2. But to do that, they had to come back from a 3 - 1 game deficit: the game that gave Pittsburgh that lead was a Game 4 OT winner from James Neal. Tampa then proceeded to sweep the Washington Capitals 4 - 0. The Game 1 score was 4 - 2. the Game 3 score was 4 - 3.
Stanley Cup: The last time they took home a shiny object was 2004.
It works pretty good for the honkin’ tall French Captain on a comeback too: Vinny Lecavalier has worn number four since he joined the team. His plus/minus rating for the 2010 - 2011 playsoff now stands at + 4. Player to watch Sean Bergenheim is also sitting pretty at +4. Coincidence? I think not.
Seven works pretty good too: Thanks to their performance in these series, the Tampa Bay Lightning are now on a seven game winning streak.
Playoffs: Reversing last year’s curse in which they blew a three game lead in the semi-finals and lost to Philadelphia, they swept the Flyers in four games. Three of those games had four-goal differentials:
Game 1: 7 - 3
Game 3: 5 - 1
Game 4: 5 - 1
Shocking, but true: Scott Hartnell and Zdeno Chara each racked up only four penalty minutes during Game 4.
San Jose Sharks: The team took a commanding three-game lead over Detroit, before the Red Wings decided that was enough of that and won Game 4. But of course. It’s Detroit. They’re not going to go quietly. But what’s really cool about this series is that neither are the San Jose Sharks.
The quirk: The score in the first two games was San Jose 2, Detroit 1. The score in the next two games was San Jose 4, Detroit 3 and Detroit 4, San Jose 3. What can we conclude from this? Well, the number four appears for the moment to be lucky for the Detroit Red Wings. But anything is possible and something tells me the Sharks are about to prove it.
Vancouver Canucks - Nashville Predators: The Canucks currently lead the series 3 - 2 and have a chance to clinch the series on the road in Nashville Monday night. If Nashville ties it, Vancouver still has a chance to take the series 4 - 3 in Game 7. So for now, the number four is still luck waiting to happen.
Not sure if this matters, but just in case: The scores in the last two games were Vancouver 4, Nashville 2 (Game 4) and Nashville 4, Vancouver 3 (Game 5).
Parting shots: This is just a snapshot that I noticed in between watching multiple playoff games, pretending to work at my day job whilst checking my hockey RSS feeds every five minutes, attending Winterhawks games and blogging. I’m sure there are other magic fours I may have missed, so feel free to drop a line here if there’s any you’d like to point out. In the meantime, here’s the deal: four or no four, the magic of the playoffs is that anything is possible. Boston reversed the curse. Tampa, the team nobody saw coming, came back in Pittsburgh and kept going in Washington, DC. Here in Portland, on Saturday night a sellout crowd watched what head coach Mike Johnston described as “several different games going on throughout the night.” In the second period, the Hawks were called for 18 penalty minutes in a row, something Mike said he’d never seen in his career. They were on a perpetual penalty kill while the Kootenay Ice capitalized on four power plays to score five goals on top of the one they had scored in the first period. Enter Switzerland: Sven Bartschi scored shorthanded in the final minute of the second period. The score at that point? Kootenay 6, Portland 2. Yep, it was a four-goal differential. But then the Portland Winterhawks did something just as impossible as that second period. They came back and in the course of one period they brought the score up to 6 - 5. The final scoreboard read 7 - 5 thanks to an empty netter by Kootenay, but that third period was the most delirious, bravest and beautiful thing I have ever seen. In any sport. Ever. Nothing can take that away from the team. It’s a great sports moment that will live long past the short time it lasted. As for the NHL, I have already bet dinner with my friend Mike that the Tampa Bay Lightning will take the Eastern Conference title in four games. Not necessarily a sweep, mind. But I vote with my heart and I always stick to my story. And from now on, I’m definitely sticking with the number four.
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About Above the Glass
Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.
I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.
Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass