“So You’re Telling Me There’s A Chance?!”

How Many MLB/NBA/NHL Teams Trailed 3-0,
Then Came Back To Win Seven-Game Series?

By David Glenn
North Carolina Sports Network

In the popular 1994 movie “Dumb and Dumber,” one of the main characters is told by his beautiful love interest that his chances of a romantic relationship with her are “not good.”

When he asks her if “one out of a hundred” is a good estimate, she replies: “more like one out of a million.” After a long pause, he finally responds with an unexpected and truly classic line:

“So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”

That single sentence — from actor Jim Carrey, playing inimitable goofball Lloyd Christmas — may be the most quoted and most memorable line from the movie 30 years later.

That same theme — “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” — now reflects the attitude of many Carolina Hurricanes fans, who have gone from mourning a 3-0 series deficit to the mighty New York Rangers in the ongoing seven-game (if necessary) Eastern Conference semifinals to wondering if the Hurricanes could possibly pull off the seemingly impossible.

Entering Game 6 at PNC Arena in Raleigh (7 pm, TNT) on Thursday, the Canes are halfway there. After losing by one-goal margins in each of the series’ first three games, Carolina edged New York 4-3 in Game 4 on home ice, then beat the Rangers 4-1 at Madison Square Garden in Game 5.

Game 7, if necessary, would be Saturday back in New York.

Rangers center Vincent Trocheck, who played for the Hurricanes from late in the 2019-20 season through the end of 2021-22 campaign, seemed to capture the mood of New York’s locker room after the series tightened to a 3-2 margin.

“It’s a seven-game series against a team that was three points behind us in a record-breaking season,” Trocheck said. “We knew it wasn’t gonna be easy.”

Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour also seemed to understand the big picture and perhaps even NHL history (more on that shortly), which certainly still favors the Rangers.

“Look, we’re in survival mode. We all understand that,” Brind’Amour said. “I’m just proud of the group (for the Game 5 victory). They gave us another day. They bought us another day, and really that’s how we’ve approached this, and how we have to (approach it).

“For our fans, it’s great. They deserve to see another game, and that’s what we gave them.”

Historically speaking, teams trailing 0-3 in a seven-game series almost never win. Almost.

In fact, if the Hurricanes somehow go on to win the next two games over the Rangers, they would deserve credit for one of the most monumental playoff series comebacks in American sports history.

If you think that description is an exaggeration, then it’s definitely time for some history lessons.

In Major League Baseball, a sport that has had one seven-game series format for more than a century and others for almost 40 years (e.g., World Series since 1905, National League Championship Series and American League Championship Series since 1985), there is only one example of a team trailing 0-3 coming back to win the series. The Boston Red Sox did it to the New York Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, then went on to win the franchise’s first World Series title since 1918.

In the National Basketball Association, where all four playoff rounds have used a seven-game format since 2003, there is not a single example of a team trailing 0-3 coming back to win a series 4-3. That’s despite the fact that the NBA Finals have always used a seven-game format, and the conference finals (since 1958) and the conference semifinals (since 1968) each have used the format for more than 50 years.

In the National Hockey League, yes, it has happened — four times, in fact.

Among the four NHL examples, three have come in the past 50 years. The 1975 New York Islanders did it to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup quarterfinals. The 2010 Philadelphia Flyers did it to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The 2014 Los Angeles Kings did it to the San Jose Sharks in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs.

The only other NHL example came with the ultimate prize at stake. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs trailed the Detroit Red Wings 0-3, then won four straight games to claim the Stanley Cup.

Will the 2024 Carolina Hurricanes add their names to this extraordinary list at the Rangers’ expense? For Caniac Nation, it’s a fun question to ask.

“We’re not satisfied,” Hurricanes forward Martin Necas said. “We’re coming back home to PNC, and our rink’s going to be buzzing, and we’re excited for that.

“We believe. We believe in this locker room, game by game. We don’t think about winning two in a row, three in a row, four in a row. It’s about the next one, and we’re happy to go back to PNC.”