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Which series favorite down 2-1 will come back and advance?

The play-in round has not been kind to many of the favorites. Many have been knocked down. Which will get up again?

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NHL: Eastern Conference Qualifications-Toronto Maple Leafs at Columbus Blue Jackets John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the momentary benefits of your Philadelphia Flyers being a good team, one that wins games, is that we aren’t yet on the roller coaster of emotion that comes with an elimination game. Sure, we’ll probably be there at some point, but we’re living the good life right now.

You know who isn’t living the good life? A lot of teams! Teams that are losing hockey games! (Can you imagine what that must be like? Sounds terrible.) Yes, six teams will take the ice today knowing that a loss will end their 2019-20 season. (By the time you’re reading this, one of them already has.) And, more interestingly, four of those teams entered their series as favorites. Big ones, in some cases. Pittsburgh, Edmonton, Nashville, and Toronto are all higher seeds than the teams they’re currently trailing.

Some of those teams are, most likely, going to see their season end today, or this weekend, with a shocking series loss. But at the same time, the odds are that at least one of those four teams is going to mount a full comeback and rally to advance to the quarterfinal round.

Which one? We surveyed our writers to get their guesses, and if you’d like to tell us what you think, there’s a poll at the bottom of this post. Percent chances to win shown below are courtesy of Dom Luszczszyn’s prediction model — at the start of the playoffs as well as this morning — over at The Athletic.

Pittsburgh Penguins (East, No. 5 seed)

Opponent: Montreal Canadiens (No. 12 seed)
Chances to win at start of series: 64%
Chances to win now: 35%

Drew: This series is a double-edged sword. If the Canadiens win, the Flyers could get to play them in the first round, and I like that matchup a lot. However, the Penguins could have a chance at the first overall pick, which is an absolute disgrace. If the Penguins win the series, I don’t want the Flyers to face them in the playoffs and you just know Crosby and Malkin will go off and have a faultless postseason. It’s just fate. In the end, I do think Pittsburgh will come back and win the series. I don’t think their top end talent will allow it. They may exhaust a lot of their drive to do so, but Crosby and Malkin will flat out not let it happen, I think.

Toronto Maple Leafs (East, No. 8 seed)

Opponent: Columbus Blue Jackets (No. 9 seed)
Chances to win at start of series: 65%
Chances to win now: 32%

if you think they will come back, say so here and why

Maddie: I predicted it was going to take all five games for Toronto to advance, and I stand by that. Last night’s loss was pretty deflating, but I think the Leafs’ overall process is pretty sound, and I like their chances to come back. They can break through Columbus’s defense and they can play a smarter defensive game of their own. Missing Jake Muzzin hurts, but Toronto is the more talented team, and I do think that wins out in the end. (Please?)

Steph: Ok Columbus, this has been cute and fun and the whole nine, but it’s time to remember who you really are. Sure your coach seems to be good and yeah last year was unexpected, but you are just not a good team. The Maple Leafs are. Are the Leafs as good as their fans think they are? Nope. But they are better than the Blue Jackets from the top down.

Edmonton Oilers (West, No. 5 seed)

Opponent: Chicago Blackhawks (No. 12 seed)
Chances to win at start of series: 53%
Chances to win now: 27%

Kurt: I don’t like putting this out there, because I really don’t think Edmonton is actually that good and it’s not like they’ve played particularly well in this series itself (unlike some other teams here, who probably deserve a better fate than they’ve received). But ... I don’t know. I think McDavid has another eff-you-we’re-doing-this game in him (a game that should be relatively easy to find against Chicago’s bad defense), and chaos has reigned so much in this series that “Edmonton wins two games in a row” does not seem that far out of the realm of possibility.

Maddie: Yeah, I think that’s kind of where I’m at as well. I don’t feel super good about them coming back (the Oilers are thin up front already and now they’ve lost one of their Actually Good depth players in Tyler Ennis), but I’m still leaning towards that outcome. Chicago’s defense is bad too and I think McDavid is good for another revenge game. I think they could pull it off.

Steph: Chicago can’t win, they’re just not good. I will be extremely pissed off when they get the first overall pick, but they have no business in the playoffs this year. Go home, take a nap, try again next year, because this is the Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl show.

Nashville Predators (West, No. 6 seed)

Opponent: Arizona Coyotes (No. 11 seed)
Chances to win at start of series: 57%
Chances to win now: 29%

No one we asked thought the Preds would come back to beat the Coyotes, which surely means that this is the one that’s most likely to happen now.


Which series favorite that entered Friday down 2-1 will advance to the next round?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    (15 votes)
  • 15%
    (7 votes)
  • 18%
    (8 votes)
  • 11%
    (5 votes)
  • 20%
    They’ll all lose
    (9 votes)
44 votes total Vote Now