The Two-Goal Lead and Championship Teams

In his article for the January/February issue of IMPACT, Mackinac Center President Joseph Lehman wrote that the two-goal lead is the most dangerous lead in hockey. 

His analogy of sports and politics made me wonder: Do championship teams play differently, and what does the answer imply for political change?

An article from gives the answer I was expecting. Championship teams surrendered far fewer two-goal leads than the rest of the league. The Boston Bruins, Eastern Conference champs, and Vancouver Canucks, Western Conference champs, surrendered only 19.8 percent of two-goal leads. The league average, meanwhile, was 39.5 percent. Perennial contenders, the Detroit Red Wings were also below the mean at 30.0 percent. Interestingly, these three teams all were very near the league average when playing with a one-goal lead. Seven teams, those not champion caliber, surrendered their two-goal lead at least 50 percent of the time.  

Competing at a high level is exhausting. In professional sports, where talent is equitably distributed, it is often a team’s ability to maintain focus and intensity that allows it to win. Champions know how to keep the intensity high when others would coast. Once momentum shifts, it is often too late.

And when it comes to calling for good public policy, let’s not be caught off guard.  Opponents of freedom are promising to take the fight to the states. Progressive fundraiser Roger Craver claims that, just as the Reagan era ushered in a progressive spring, Trump’s election will usher in a new progressive spring because “it’s always more difficult to motivate ideological donors following a victory.”

What Craver doesn’t understand is that we learn from history. Moreover, Mackinac donors know that from another perspective, we’re still playing from behind. Enemies of freedom and opportunity still control educational institutions, the news and entertainment media and — surprise — professional sports.

What do you think of the two-goal analogy? Do you see us playing with a two-goal lead or, alternately, mounting a comeback because of the left’s control over other areas? Email your thoughts to me at  Either way, let’s play like champions — and win.