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The Roundtable

The Roundtable Playoff Edition

by Michael Finewax
Updated On: April 17, 2019, 12:35 am ET

This week’s question is:

What are the chances of Tampa Bay and/or Pittsburgh coming back from 3-0 deficits?

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Ryan: Extremely slim.  Only four teams have ever overcome a 3-0 deficits.  The Lightning and Penguins are very good teams, so I wouldn't entirely count them out, but there are also reasons why they're down 3-0 in the first place.  With the exception of the Lightning's hot start to Game 1, they just haven't looked that good.  Maybe the problem is that they didn't face much in the way of adversity during the NHL season and haven't been able to handle their first real taste of it.  Perhaps the weight of expectations got to them.  Whatever the reason, the Lightning have buried themselves.  I could see them making Columbus sweat by winning Game 4 and 5, but eventually Tampa Bay will have the slightest fumble and that will be all it takes to end them at this point.

As for the Penguins, they're a team on the decline.  They were horribly inconsistent this year, so while they entered their season against the Islanders with a fair shot, it's also not shocking to see them in this state.  Pittsburgh needs to work on its depth over the summer, but that's been an ongoing struggle for the Penguins for a long time given their cap situation, with various levels of success in that regard along the way.

Corey: The last team to rally from being down 3-0 in the playoffs was the Los Angeles Kings in 2014 and they went on to win the Stanley Cup.  I'm not saying that Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh will follow down that same path, but I wouldn't completely count either team out either.  
Both teams need much better efforts from their star players.  Nikita Kucherov let his frustration boil over in Game 2 and will be back from his suspension on Tuesday night.  He needs to get going for the Lightning and so does Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point.  They have combined for zero points this postseason.  A healthy Victor Hedman would help too, but it's unclear if they will get that going into Game 4.  The Penguins have not received any offensive support from Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Patric Hornqvist.  

Columbus and the New York Islanders deserve a great deal of credit for shutting those players down to this point and it will be interesting to see if that continues now that Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh will be fighting for their playoff lives.  

I don't like either team's chances because comebacks of this variety are very rare, but I don't think Round 1 will be over for the Lightning or Penguins on Tuesday night. 

Joey: I just don't see it happening in either case. Tampa Bay looks like a totally different team than the one we saw during the regular season and they've been badly outplayed since the start of the second period in Game 2. Their stars have gone missing in action. Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point have been invisible in this series and Victor Hedman clearly shouldn't have played in the first two games of the series. 

As for the Penguins, they're depth has been an issue. Yes, Sidney Crosby hasn't picked up a point yet and he needs to be better, but he's been noticeable out there, which is more than I can say for the Tampa superstars. Is it enough? No. But the Pens just don't seem to have the depth to compete with the Islanders right now. 

If I had to pick a team that's more likely to come back at this point, I'd have to say it's the Lightning. If they can put it all together starting in Game 4, they'll have a slim chance of coming back. I'm not sure the Penguins can do that at all. 

Michael: It’s obviously highly unlikely that either team will be able to do so as it has happened only four times in NHL history in 190 chances. That is still better than in the other North American sports where only the Boston Red Sox in 2004 managed to come back from a 3-0 deficit, and it has never happened in the NBA.

That being said, Tampa Bay is capable of doing so, as many pundits had them knocking off Columbus in four straight, which is exactly what they have to do now. The return of Nikita Kucherov from suspension in Game 4 will help but the loss of Victor Hedman will hurt. The Blue Jackets have been full value in all three wins and Sergei Bobrovsky has given Columbus the playoff goaltending they never have had, this season, so their confidence level is high. The tough thing for Columbus is winning tonight as if they lose, the series returns to Tampa Bay and should the Lightning win, there will be so much pressure on Columbus in Game 6. Tampa Bay has looked lost in the playoffs but if they can regain their regular season form, they are capable of a comeback. One other thing; I said in my Round 1 predictions that I had the toughest time picking the winner of this series as Columbus frightened me. While I predicted the Lightning in seven, I thought Columbus had a great chance to upset.

The Penguins are another matter. While so many predicted a Penguins series win, the Islanders were the better team in the regular season and were defensive gems in the 82-game schedule where they won the Jennings Trophy for giving up the least amount of goals at 196. The Islanders had been playing playoff hockey all season and have completely shut down Sidney Crosby in the three games thus far. Crosby really needs to get going if Pittsburgh is to have any chance of even winning a game. The Islanders are getting great performances from everyone and it is hard to see from this corner for Pittsburgh to be able to come back and win.

Michael Finewax

Michael Finewax is entering his 14th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.