There’s been a lot of talk, recently, about history. A lot of hay was made about how the Canucks had never won Game 2 against the Blackhawks. The question came up a lot in interviews with players. They didn’t seem too interested in the question. Neither did Vigneault, who didn’t say much when asked about Game 2:

If you learn from the past, the past won’t necessarily dictate the future. We’ve learned from our past experiences.

In other words, past is past. Vigneault’s attitude seemed along the lines of, “Why are you wasting my time with this question?”

Ironically, Scott Oake read this quote at the beginning of Game 2, as if it were something profound. Some folks just can’t seem to help themselves. There’s a problem, though. In the NHL playoffs, history is irrelevant when it comes to predicting the future.

I noted in an earlier blog that without the history between these two teams, the series would be pretty dull to talk about, so I understand why we all like to talk about how the teams don’t like each other, and how they’ve run into each other before. But let’s get real here.

In 2008, the 1st-seeded Canadiens beat the 8th-seeded Bruins in 7 games after blowing a 3-1 series lead. They started the series 2-0, then split the games in Boston, and Boston battled back to even the series before being hammered 5-0 in Game 7.

In 2009, the 1st-seeded Bruins met the 8th-seeded Canadiens in the first round. You know who talked about how the last series between the two teams had gone, as some kind of prediction? No one. That would be ridiculous. No one expected the Canadiens to jump out to a 2-0 lead, just by virtue of its having happened before. No one picked the Habs to win because of the history there. No one (outside of Montreal) was surprised when the Bruins routed the Habs, sweeping the series, and scoring no less than four goals each game, while the Canadiens scored no more than two.

No one was silly enough to think history would overcome where the teams actually were. The Habs were much weaker as a team, the Bruins much stronger, and anyone who said “Well the Habs won last season so this season you can expect an upset” would have looked silly.

Likewise, the people talking about history, and suggesting it’ll be a factor in the Canucks-Blackhawks series, look pretty silly.

In the 2009 playoffs, the Blackhawks, while seeded lower than the Canucks, had four more points in the regular season. In the 2010 playoffs, the ‘Hawks had nine more points. The team records were fairly close both times, they were only one seed apart, and both times were in the second round. The Canucks lost to the team with the better regular season record both times.

This time around, the Canucks are a whopping twenty points ahead of the Blackhawks. That’s ten wins. That’s enough to put the Islanders in the playoffs. This time around, they’re meeting in the first round of the playoffs, because this time around, rather than being seeded as close as possible, they’re seeded as far away as possible.

Expecting results comparable to those of previous series based solely on history is ridiculous. This isn’t profound or insightful, it’s obvious. You can use the history between these two teams to increase the hype and excitement, sure, but when three of seven NHL.com analysts pick the Hawks to upset the Canucks, one has to wonder if people have confused looking back and looking ahead.

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5 comments

  1. TheFalconer
    April 17, 2011

    The best point of perspective in this was the line about how ten games would have put the Isles into the playoffs. Somehow I don’t think that was a nod to how close they were… Great post.

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  2. peanutflower
    April 17, 2011

    I’m still not sure about the new site. where are the links I methodically made my way through every day? I still use the old site to get those.

    Anyway, good post.

    I’m sure the entire team is under penalty of death to never ever talk about history. Especially Mr. Superstition I just can’t get you out of my head Luongo. What I’d like to know is who the hell are those NHL analysts? I’ve never heard of them, therefore they can’t be any good. I don’t read NHL.com because there isn’t anything on there except for Pittburgh and Washington news. Okay, well, maybe a snippet here and there, but in the main it’s an east coast-biased site. Or seems to be.

    Went to the first game — my first Canucks live game ever. What a blast. If this team could win the Stanley Cup by riding the will of the fans it would be a done deal. I think it still is a done deal.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      April 17, 2011

      The links are coming, peanutflower. Bear with us. :-)

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  3. S
    April 17, 2011

    THANK YOU!
    I’m sick of all this talk about history. This has never happened, that has never happened.
    First of all, something can’t have happened before the first time it happens. Second of all this is the NHL we’re not predicting climate change or weather patterns. History has NO impact on the outcome. I’m frightened that most of the media can’t seem to grab this.

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  4. mongo
    April 17, 2011

    peanutflower. your brilliant. i never thought of using the old site to use those links. thank u

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