Russian Roulette

Somehow, the Flyers won a playoff series despite being outcoached, despite a mere 22 minutes of Chris Pronger, and despite a bad-even-for-them round of goalie roulette:

Boucher 4-1, .934%, 2.10, 285:30 TOI
Bobrovsky 0-1, .875%, 3.38, 71:03 TOI
Leighton 0-1, .862%, 3.43, 69:43 TOI

Or as it broke down:

BUFFALO 1 at FLYERS 0 Bobrovsky
BUFFALO 4 at FLYERS 5 Bobrovsky/Boucher
FLYERS 4 at BUFFALO 2 Boucher
FLYERS 0 at BUFFALO 1 Boucher
BUFFALO 4 at FLYERS 3, OT Boucher/Leighton
FLYERS 5 at BUFFALO 4, OT Leighton/Boucher
BUFFALO 2 at FLYERS 5 Boucher

Boucher only bombed in Game Five, but Bobrovsky and (more mercifully) Leighton were only offered the opportunity to bomb once as well.

How rare an occurrence is a playoff goalie troika where each goalie starts at least one game in a series?

Remarkably, the Flyers had never done it before. Unremarkably, the last team that did, the 2004 Vancouver Canucks, was forced to because of injuries, not incompetence (or at least, when Dan Cloutier was arguably incompetent but unarguably injured). Cloutier pre-injury, Hedberg pre-injury, and rookie Alex Auld were outdueled by the Flames’ Miikka Kiprusoff in Round One, but it took seven games:

CALGARY 3 at VANCOUVER 5 Cloutier
CALGARY 2 at VANCOUVER 1 Cloutier
VANCOUVER 2 at CALGARY 1 Cloutier/Hedberg
VANCOUVER 0 at CALGARY 4 Hedberg
CALGARY 2 at VANCOUVER 1 Auld
VANCOUVER 5 at CALGARY 4, 3 OT Auld
CALGARY 3 at VANCOUVER 2, OT Auld

Other notorious three-ways: the 1990 Blackhawks, who lost 4-2 to the Oilers in the conference finals:

CHICAGO 2 at EDMONTON 5 Belfour
CHICAGO 4 at EDMONTON 3 Millen
EDMONTON 1 at CHICAGO 5 Millen
EDMONTON 4 at CHICAGO 2 Millen/Cloutier (that would be Jacques Cloutier, not Dan)
CHICAGO 3 at EDMONTON 4 Cloutier
EDMONTON 8 at CHICAGO 4 Millen/Cloutier

Or the 1989 New York Rangers, who were swept by the Penguins in Mario Lemieux’s playoff debut:

NYR 1 at PITTSBURGH 3 Froese (I had no idea Bob Froese was still a Ranger in 1989)
NYR 4 at PITTSBURGH 7 Froese/Vanbiesbrouck
PITTSBURGH 5 at NYR 3 Vanbiesbrouck
PITTSBURGH 4 at NYR 3 Richter (in his NHL debut, after a 23-26, 4.30 season with the Denver Rangers)

Or even more notoriously, the 1986 Winnipeg Jets, who went 26-47-7 and not only made the playoffs but FINISHED THIRD IN THE SMYTHE DIVISION (the Canucks were tied at 59 points but with fewer wins, at 23-44-13; the Kings missed the playoffs at 23-49-8 and were still 14 points ahead of the last overall Detroit Red Wings– oh, the memories).

WINNIPEG 1 at CALGARY 5
WINNIPEG 4 at CALGARY 6
CALGARY 4 at WINNIPEG 3, OT

The Jets were swept by the Flames but not before dressing– and playing– four goalies in three games (who seriously weren’t that bad; they would total 1,266 NHL games in their careers– with only Behrend at fewer than 50):

Berthiaume 0-1, .907%, 3.53, 68 TOI
Hayward 0-1, .806%, 5.29, 68 TOI
Bouchard 0-1, .773%, 7.50, 40 TOI *
Behrend 0-0, 1.000%, 0.00, 12 TOI

* When you need to doublecheck which is the save percentage and which is the goals against average: not good.

Of course, the Toronto Maple Leafs are always notorious. The 28-37-15 1981 Leafs were swept by the eventual Stanley Cup winner:

TORONTO 2 at NYI 9
TORONTO 1 at NYI 5
NYI 6 at TORONTO 1

Larocque 0-1, 6.40, 75 TOI
Crha 0-2, 10.15, 65 TOI (over 3 total games!)
Harrison 0-0, 1.50, 40 TOI

How bad were the Leafs? Defenseman Barry Melrose played all three playoff games and led the team in PM with 15.

Oddest of all, the 1938 Black Hawks actually won a Cup, beating, in order, Montreal, the New York Americans, and the Leafs with this troika:

Mike Karakas 6-2, 1.71, 525 TOI
Paul Goodman 0-1, 5.00, 60 TOI (not him)
Alfie Moore 1-0, 1.00, 60 TOI

What’s odd is, Karakas played every regular season game for the Hawks and went 14-25-9, 2.80 with a shutout– meaning Chicago went 14-25-9 and STILL won the Cup, with a winning percentage almost as bad as the 1986 Jets (.385 vs. .369).

So there’s that. And who would you rather root for, when it’s all over: the Bouchovskeighton three-headed goalie monster or one Roman Cechmanek?

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