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Lightning Lead, Habs “Squared” vs Vegas Notes

June 18, 2021

Last night, the Lightning “returned the favor,” doing what the Isles did in the series opener, namely winning on the road by a (2-1) score, and in doing so took a (2-1) “semis” lead.

The Islanders have been in 10 previous “semis” with a venue home/road situation. They went (5-5) in those semis, winning 5 straight en route to 4 titles and one final round loss from (’80-’84), and losing in the semis to eventual champion Montreal Canadiens’ teams in ’76,’77 and ’93 and a Flyers’ “such” team, their last to date, in ’75. They lost to the Rangers in ’79 and it was Montreal in 5 vs the Rangers in the subsequent NHL final.

Additionally at a neutral site/”bubble,” the Lightning 6’d the Isles in last year’s semi and then did the same to the Dallas Stars to win a second title, the other in ’04.

In the 5 semis series wins, the Islanders were a sensational (12-1) at home, the lone loss, up (3-0) vs the Buffalo Sabres (remember them, I ask, as they have 10 straight ‘offs “misses”) in game 4 of the ’80 semis. In the 5 semis series losses, they were (6-7). Additionally, the winner of the first Isles’ home “semis” tilt, (T.B. last night did that) won 9 of the 10 series. Only in ’77 when the Isles battled an incredible 60 wins, 12 losses, 8 ties (remember them?!) Montreal team to game 6 (on VSiN, “game 6’s was said as I typed), did a team (the Isles in game 3) win the first Isles home “semis” tilt and not win the series.

The Lightning (2-3) in home/road venue semis, (3-3) overall in semis, were involved in five, 7 game semis in all previous home/road venue semis. In the first 2, the Lightning win vs Philly in ’04 and the Bruins’ win en route to their ’11 title (the only one for the Bruins in 48 completed seasons ’73-2021 with no NHL season in ’05), the home team went (5-2) in each series (10-4) combined.

However, in the last three, the Lightning win in ’15 before losing to a third “Chi” (Blackhawks) title team in 6 seasons in the subsequent final, and in ’16 and ’18 when Pittsburgh (Penguins) and Washington (Capitals and under current Isles coach, Barry Trotz) won en route to titles, the road team reversed ’04 and ’11 and somewhat shockingly went (5-2) in all 3 of those series.

Meanwhile Montreal squared their semi vs the Las Vegas Golden Knights with a game 2 road win, marking just the 10th time in 40 Montreal “semis,” that the series “stood” (1-1) after two tilts.

I believe and maybe I will check (I think there has been enough of the esoteric), only in ’87, before 2 nights back, did Montreal win a road/game 2 semi to even the series.

Las Vegas is in a third semi in their first 4 seasons, a bit incredible. Also incredible: The Canadiens made the “semis” in 33 of the 37 seasons from (1943-1979), failing only in 1948 and 1970 when they failed to qualify for the ‘offs and in ’72 and ’74 when they were “quartered out” by the New York Rangers.

Recalling the incredible last day of the1970 NHL “reg,” when the Rangers benefitted from a goals tiebreaker and denied the Canadiens an ‘offs spot for just the second time in at least 28 seasons, I checked and saw that it was the Rangers, who finished fourth and beat the Habs out for the final playoffs spot in 1948.

Thus all four times the Canadiens were denied a “semis” berth in those aforementioned 37 seasons from (’43-’79), it was the Rangers, who directly or somewhat indirectly denied a Montreal “semis” berth.

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