DENVER – The St. Louis Blues are on the brink of elimination Wednesday ahead of Game 5. The Blues trail the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 in the series as the second round shifts back to Denver.
Trailing 3-1 in a playoff series may not look encouraging. History shows that it might not be impossible to overcome, but it doesn’t happen often.
According to Hockey Reference, there have been more than 300 series scenarios involving 3-1 leads since the NHL formed in 1917. Only 30 teams, roughly around 10 percent, have overcome such deficits to advance to another playoff round.
The St. Louis Blues have been on the good side of history twice, both from series in the 1990s. The Blues overcame a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Detroit Red Wings in the 1991 Norris Division Semifinals and the Phoenix Coyotes in the 1999 Western Conference Quarterfinals. In both instances, the Blues did not advance past the next playoff round.
Meanwhile the Colorado Avalanche have had a mixed history when it comes to holding 3-1 series leads in playoffs. The Avalanche are 2-2 in clinching the series with such a lead, but haven’t dealt with such a scenario in nearly two decades. Colorado blew 3-1 leads in the 1998 and 2003 Western Conference Quarterfinals. Between those seasons, in 2001 and 2002 respectively, they lost grip of a 3-1 playoff series lead before winning a Game 7 against the Los Angeles Kings.
In the latter scenario mentioned with the Avalanche, those were two of 32 times in which an NHL team managed to force a Game 7 while facing a 3–1 series deficit, only to subsequently lose the final game of the series. With more than 300 series leads of 3-1 in NHL history, the chances of that happening based on history are also roughly around 10 percent.
While the odds are certainly challenging for the Blues to overcome, the NHL is notorious for more 3-1 comebacks than the NBA and MLB. That has only been done 13 and 14 times respectively in those leagues.
Recent hockey history may look more encouraging for the Blues fortunes as well. At least one team has advanced after trailing 3-1 in a series over three of the last four playoff campaigns, including the New York Rangers in the first round of this year’s playoffs.
The St. Louis Blues will need to win three consecutive games to overcome a 3-1 series lead. The task may look daunting, but don’t rule it out just yet. The second-round series with the Colorado Avalanche continues Wednesday with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m. on TNT.