On April 29th, 1997 Todd Marchant blew past a stumbling Grant Ledyard and into the hearts of Oiler fans forever, when he ripped a snapshot past Andy Moog in overtime of game seven v. the Dallas Stars. Curtis Joseph made a stunning save on Joe Nieuwendyk earlier in OT, but Marchant’s goal sent Oiler fans into a frenzy fourteen years ago, and anytime you mention his goal a true diehard Oiler fan can tell you exactly where they were when he scored.
There is nothing more exciting, nerve-wracking, gut-wrenching or better than GAME SEVEN; unless your team loses, then it sucks worse than walking in on your parents bumping uglys.
The Oilers are 6-3 in game sevens — they lost the 5th and deciding game to the Kings in 1982 when they were five-game series– and they are 1-1 in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals.
- 2nd round, 1984. The Oilers beat the Flames 7-4 with Ken Linseman getting the game-winner, but the Oilers dominated this game.
- 2nd round, 1986. The only time Calgary defeated Edmonton in a playoff series happened when Steve Smith scored on his own net. Perry Berezan got credit for the goal, and despite having 13 minutes remaining in the game the Oilers couldn`t notch the equalizer, and they lost 3-2. The Oilers are 4-1 v. the Flames in the playoffs.
- Stanley Cup final, 1987. Jari Kurri notched the game winner, but most people remember Glenn Anderson`s insurance goal that gave the Oilers a 3-1 lead over the Flyers. The score held and the Oil won their 3rd Cup in four years.
- First round, 1989. After taking a 3-1 series lead, the Oilers fell apart and the Kings won three straight including a 6-3 victory in game seven. The Kings pretty much controlled this game from start to finish, and many felt that was the beginning of the end of the Oiler dynasty. They were a bit premature with that prediction we would find out in 1990.
- First round, 1990. After blowing a 3-1 series lead the previous year, the Oilers returned the favour battling back from a 3-1 series deficit and winning game seven, 4-1, over the Jets. Many remember Jari Kurri`s game-winner in game six more than what happened in game seven, but Mark Lamb became a cult hero in 1990 scoring two-game winners, including the winner in game seven.
- First round, 1991. For the 3rd straight season, the Oilers went to game seven in the first round, and once again a team had a 3-1 series lead. The Oilers lost game five, then they lost game six at home in OT when Theo Fleury did his infamous knee-slide celebration, before Esa Tikkanen scored a hat-trick, including the OT winner in a come-from-behind 5-4 win.
- First round, 1997. After missing the playoffs for four straight years, the Oilers were back in a game seven in the first round. I watched the game from my Calgary hotel room, and I remember being stunned when Marchant actually scored on a breakaway, that prompted one of the best post-game celebrations involving head coach Ron Low and Curtis Joseph. Low`s reaction when he came on the ice to embrace Joseph was pure, unbridled raw emotion that makes the playoffs so exciting.
- First round, 1998. Another opening round seven-game series, and once again the Oilers came away victorious. For the 2nd time in franchise history they overcame a 3-1 series deficit and fought back to beat the Avalanche 4-0 in game seven. The Oilers outscored the Avs 9-1 in the final three games including back-to-back shutouts in game six and seven.
- Stanley Cup final, 2006. Five years later this game still haunts Oilersnation. After Fernando Pisani scored shorthanded in OT in game five, the Oilers spanked the Hurricanes 4-0 in game six, only to lose 3-1 in game seven. Pisani tied Jari Kurri for most game winners in one playoff year with five, and despite never coming close to matching his offensive heroics of the spring of 2006, Pisani is still beloved by many in Edmonton.
Quick trivia question. Do you know which two Oilers are tied for 2nd with four game-winners in one playoff season?
A FEELING YOU MISS
Losing game seven is devastating for the team, management and their families and it is just as hard for some fans. But as much as it hurt Oiler fans in 2006 and Flames fans in 2004 I guarantee all of you would rather be a Canuck fans this morning. You`d wake up stoked for the game. Sure in Vancouver most fans are probably convincing themselves they have a shot, after gassing three straight games, but the best part about being a fan is riding the emotional rollercoaster of a series.
Unless you are the ultimate pessimist you enter game seven believing, hoping or even praying your team can win. Your boss might as well give you the day off, because all of your focus is on where you`ll be watching the game and who you`ll be watching it with. You browse the web every five minutes, looking for a new tidbit of info or some obscure stat that will give you reason to believe there is no way your team can lose.
You can bet that fans of the Hawks, Canucks, Flyers and Sabres can`t wait until the puck drops tonight. Hell, if you are a fan of hockey you are looking forward to tonight. I can`t recall a seven-game series that has grabbed the attention of hockey fans across Canada as much as the Hawks and Canucks has. I don`t remember a series that has fans in Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto cheering so hard for a team to lose as much as they want to watch the Canucks complete their choke job.
Some say Canuck fans are arrogant, spoiled or whiny, but whatever it is many of you will be watching to see what unfolds. The Canucks played well enough to win game six, and while Mike Gillis looked like a whiny, insecure toddler yesterday when he complained about the officials, I`ll pick the Canucks 4-2. I’ll also take the Flyers to win.
- After watching so many small, skilled forwards score big goals in the playoffs are Oiler fans still concerned that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is too small?
- The Canucks were 21-2-1 in the regular season when Ryan Kesler scored, however, 33 of his 41 goals came against non-playoff teams. I know he plays a different role against top teams, but he needs to step up his offensive game if the Canucks are going to get out of the first round and go deep in the playoffs.
- Some have asked if Colin McDonald’s AHL-leading 42-goal season will give him a shot to make the Oilers next year. I’d say he has earned himself a two-way NHL deal, something he didn’t have last year, but I’m hesitant to think he will be an NHLer now. Lots of guys can produce in the AHL, but never get to the NHL. Since the lockout the only guys to finish in the top-ten in AHL scoring and become regular NHLers are Artem Anisimov, Troy Brouwer, Teddy Purcell, Cal O’Reilly and PA Parenteau. It was a breakout season for McDonald, but he’ll never get those opportunities in the NHL. He’d need to produce and contribute in 4th line minutes.
- With Martin Marincin signing yesterday it looks like the Oilers could have Marincin, Curtis Hamilton, Tyler Pitlick and even Ryan Martindale all in OKC next season. Toss in Cameron Abney and Olivier Roy, who both recently signed, and the Oilers could have eight picks from the past two seasons playing somewhere in their pro system. If Anton Lander elects to come over he’d be the 9th pick. If only three of those guys pan out, along with Hall and Paajarvi those two draft years would be deemed successful.
- If the Canucks get past Chicago, they will have an even tougher test against Nashville. If the Sedins thought it was hard to score playing against Keith and Seabrook, they will even more frustrated when they have to face Shea Weber and Ryan Suter every shift.
- To illustrate my point about how winning changes how an organization is perceived just look at this year’s playoffs. If the Canucks lose they will be deemed chokers AGAIN and will be deemed underachievers and failures. Meanwhile in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs went 61-21 in the regular season, but they trail the 8th seeded Memphis Grizzlies 3-1. Only eight NBA teams have come back from a 3-1 series deficit, and I don’t see the Spurs becoming the 9th. The Spurs have won four titles since 1999, and even if they lose, they won’t feel even 20% of the venom, doubt and anger that the Canucks will.
***Trivia answer. Paul Coffey had four game winners in 1985 and Ken Linseman had four in 1984.***