“This is just a marathon.”
“The team that wants it more is going to be rewarded.”
“At this point, it’s probably going to be a mistake that costs someone the game.”
“Everyone knows that you have to be careful about the ‘long change’ in the 3rd overtime.”
We all know the feeling. You’ve been watching a game for five hours, you’ve just wrapped up yet another intermission, and you start wondering if you should go to bed. But you just know that the second you turn the TV off, someone is going to score and you will have completely wasted your night.
After five hours, you’re emotionally invested. You don’t even care who wins anymore—you just want it to end and you want to be able to say that you saw the whole thing.
Hockey fans understand that overtime games in the playoffs are a badge of honor. “Do you remember that four OT game in 2008 when the Stars eliminated the Sharks? I watched the entire game.” As the years pass, the fact that you can say you watched the entire game is more important than any minor detail of the game. You know, minor details like: who won the game. After a few years, who cares? All that matters is that you lasted until the very end. Who won? You won!
But here’s a question that people might want to start asking: What happened after that crazy, marathon of a game? You know the team that won the epic tilt? Did they win the series? You know that team that had their heart ripped out when they lost a five hour game? How in the hell did they come back and play the next game?
Thinking back to those games (and series), most of us probably assume the same thing. There’s no way that a team can come back from that kind of gut-shot–the loser of the game probably lost the series. Forget the entire series, there’s no way they’d be able to come back, shake off the massive disappointment, and even win the next game. Sure, a few teams would be able to shake off the defeat and win the next game, but those teams are in the minority, right? Likewise, there are a few teams that can shake off the bitter disappointment of a multiple OT loss to storm back to win the series, right?With the Rangers and Capitals heading to Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, this is the perfect time to climb down the rabbit hole. Instead of wondering what happened in a series with an emotional multiple overtime game, it’s time to look back to find out what really happens. Here’s what we found…
WARNING: STATS AHEAD!
There have been 43 playoff games since 2002 that went to at least a second overtime session. Did you know that only about 60% (26 out of 43) of teams that win the multiple OT game win the series? Sure, it’s better to win the marathon game than lose it—but that goes for every other game in the playoffs as well. It means that just because a team loses the game, they still have a 40% chance of winning the series.
The doomsdayers should take note. Just because a team loses a classic heartbreaker, plenty of teams have proven that it’s not the death sentence they’d have you believe.
The statistic isn’t a huge surprise though. The team that wins the OT game has a better chance of winning the series. They don’t have a huge advantage, but they still have an advantage. Even more surprising is the results of the game immediately following a massive overtime game. You know the game—the game when experts constantly shout, “it’s going to be tough for Team A to recover from last night’s heartbreaker.”
The fact of the matter is teams that lose multiple overtime games usually win the next game. You read that right—the team that was just punched in the stomach usually regroups and finds a way to win the next game.
Remember that 60% figure? Well, 60% of the time (22 out of 37), the team that loses the marathon game actually wins the very next game. Sounds like fans have a harder time bouncing back than their favorite teams!
Now when the games go a little deeper, the accepted storyline rings a truer. Those games that go even deeper—we’re talking about three overtimes or more—the team that win has a better chance of winning the series. In the last decade, there have been 14 games that have gone to (at least) the third overtime. Ten times the winner of the marathon game went on to win the series. That’s 71% for the math majors playing along at home.
Oh, but it’s not that simple. Even though the team goes onto win the series—they still can’t win the next game. Check this out: more than half of the time, the team that loses a three OT game will go onto win the next game.
How can that be? Is that because the team that loses has more motivation to win the next game? Is it because the team that won subconsciously lets down for the next game? That’s for the so-called experts to explain. Let’s just hope they have their facts straight before they start giving us the reasons for why things happen.