How important is game 4 in deciding a series? The answer is, it depends on your point of reference. Since the 2004-05 lockout season, the team that has won game four of a seven game series in the NHL, has gone on to win 55 of the 74 series, just over 71 percent of the time.
If you discount series that finished in four or five games, then the balance shifts to 33 of 41 or 80 percent of the games. And if you further shift the focus just to games that have gone to six or seven games, just in the quarter finals, then you end up with 19 of 25 games or 76 percent.
Of course that doesn’t take into account any bias for home ice advantage.
If we shift out focus to series in which teams are tied 2-2 in their series after four games, then the win percentage for the lower seed is a solid 48 percent – 10 of 21 series decided. Even when you match up the series where the road team lost the first two games, it’s still 3 of 7 or 43 percent.
Interestingly enough a scenario the Rangers found themselves in back in 2007 when they lost in the semi finals to the higher seeded Buffalo Sabres. Pittsburgh did manage to pull it off twice in 2009 including in their Cup Final win against the Red Wings.
if the Rangers were to lose tonight, they’d be trailing 1-3 and would face much more difficult odds. Only 3 of the 29 series that have seen the trailing team come back to win the series. The Capitals for their part have been involved in two of those series, coming back to beat the Rangers in 2009, and then giving up the advantage last year to the Montreal Canadiens.