None of what I'm about to say has anything to do with these specific teams or what happened in Game 1 other than the result. The Chicago Blackhawks are trailing the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Final, 1-0, after a 4-1 loss on Sunday afternoon, and now will look to regroup Tuesday and try to tie up the series.
However, a look at history shows that it's not currently on the Blackhawks' side. This isn't meant to be a white flag or say it's time to panic, but the past says that teams in Chicago's current situation often don't come out alive. A Game 1 loss, which didn't seem particularly surprising, actually says a lot about how the rest of a series will go.
Let's just start with the ugliest number: 77 percent of NHL teams that won Game 1 of the conference finals at home have gone on to win the series, per WhoWins.com. Expand that to include all NHL playoff series and home teams winning Game 1 leads to a 76 percent success rate. Either way, getting that initial win at home swings the odds firmly in one direction.
Now, this makes sense: the team that hosts Game 1 is the higher seeded team, and usually the superior team on paper. When a higher seeded team wins the first game of a series, it makes sense that the majority would end up advancing to the next round.
This also extends to Game 2, where a home team leading 1-0 in the conference finals wins 62 percent of the time. Again, the same thing applies: the hosting team is probably better on paper, but still, it shows history isn't on Chicago's side.
One of the big reasons why the odds shift so strongly in Anaheim's direction is home-ice advantage. Because the Ducks will host a possible Game 7, it's on the Blackhawks to get a win on the road and win out at home in order to take the series. By dropping the opening game at Honda Center, Chicago now needs to win four of the next six games, including at least one in Anaheim. If that weren't the case, and the Hawks had home-ice advantage, history paints a much different picture. All teams leading 1-0 in the NHL conference finals have gone on to win just 53 percent of the time, because when a lower-seeded, road team wins Game 1, it doesn't lead to a series win nearly as often.
None of this is to say that the Blackhawks cannot rally and defy the odds. Of course they can. A win in Game 2 would radically change the situation and the tone of the series with things heading back to Chicago for Game 3. Hell, even a 2-0 hole wouldn't be insurmountable for a team loaded with talent and character. They lost Game 1 to the Blues on the road last year. Every fan remembers trailing 3-1 to the Red Wings in 2013, and this isn't nearly as dire as that situation. Still, the Game 1 loss in a closely matched series hurt, and leaves the team with a mountain to climb to reach the Stanley Cup Final, if history is any indication.