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The Sweep is Dangerous

Posted by Sean Rowland on April 26, 2011

Maybe the Wings should have let Phoenix win a game or two? (photo by Norm Hall and from Redwings.nhl.com)

I know this is not stadium-related, but I wanted to share a sports theory. We’ll call this the Rowland-Fabrizio theory as my friend Tony and I thought about this several years back. Out of the four major sports, the NHL playoffs are the most exciting in my eyes. Two months of intensity poured into the second season, the games are exciting, the atmosphere is awesome and the sheer grit and determination to win the Cup makes April-June a wonderful time (I write this a few hours before the Sabres play Game 7, so I’m a little tense right now).

Anyway, a few years back, we noticed a disturbing trend of teams that swept their season and sat out for an extended period of time…they lost in the next round. I think that constant grind every other day gets players and teams into an “intensity” grove and my thought is that after six or seven plus days off, it’s impossible to recover that feel and chemistry. The only stipulation to this theory is that the team they play in the next round has to go six or seven games in their prior series. The whole sweep-then-lose opportunity never happened in the 2010 playoffs (Chicago over San Jose in the Western Final was the only sweep, then they played Philly who won their last series in five).

So looking back from 2003 – 2009, teams that swept were only 2-4 in the next round when facing a team that played six or seven games. Take that a step further and when you add in teams that swept or won in five games, they were 7-12 in the next round against teams that had the longer series. Yes, I know it’s a small sample size and the numbers aren’t dramatic….but maybe a team on fire and extended rest is not all that its made out to be. Fear the sweep.

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