Monday Musings: Game seven

GameSeven

Canadian hockey fans haven’t been watching much of the 2016 NHL playoffs, which is understandable with none of the seven Canadian teams in the postseason, but tonight’s game seven between the Blackhawks and Blues should grab your attention.

There is nothing better than a game seven in the NHL.

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The first game seven I recall watching occurred in 1984 when the Oilers downed the Flames 7-4 in the Smyth division final enroute to their first Stanley Cup. My dad let me stay up and watch the entire game. It was great.

In 1986 I watched my Hartford Whalers lose 2-1 in OT to the hated Montreal Canadiens when Claude Lemieux scored. I was crushed going to school the next day, where many of my friends were Habs fans, and it got worse later that night when the Oilers lost 3-2 to the Calgary Flames on the infamous Steve Smith own-goal. It was a tough 24 hours for a thirteen year old kid.

I remember staying up and watching Pat Lafontaine score in quadruple OT as the Islanders defeated the Washington Capitals in 1987. Later that spring Glenn Anderson scored the insurance goal, crossing the blueline and firing a slapshot through Ron Hextall, as the Oilers won the Stanley Cup on home ice in game seven.

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It is hard to forget the first time Wayne Gretzky played against the Oilers in the playoffs. The Oilers and Kings went to game seven in 1989, and the Kings crushed them 6-3. I also remember watching Joel Otto and Jim Peplinski combine on an ugly OT game winner versus the Canucks in round one that led to the Flames’ only Stanley Championship.

Bill Ranford’s effort in games five, six and seven stand out more than the game seven versus the Winnipeg Jets in 1990 does, but Ranford was incredible as the Oilers stormed back from a 3-1 deficit to win the final three games. I remember Mark Lamb was the unsung hero that year. He scored the winner in game seven.

The last time the Oilers and Flames met in the playoffs was 1991, and Esa Tikkanen scored the OT winner in Calgary to cap off a fantastic comeback in game seven. The Oilers trailed 3-0 late in the first period, before storming back to win 5-4 in OT. Tikkanen had a hat-trick.

The Habs broke my heart again in 1992, when Russ Courtnall scored in double OT to eliminate my Whalers. Bobby Holik had the puck twice on a two-on-one in OT and both times he didn’t make a pass or get a shot off. I never forgave him. Make a &%*&ing play, Holik!!

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It is hard to forget Pavel Bure in 1994 scoring on a breakaway in double OT in Calgary sending the Canucks to the second round. He was so explosive, and made a great move.

How about Stephan Matteau in double OT versus the Devils in the Eastern conference final in 1994? I can still picture him jumping up and down in jubilation. The Rangers needed seven games to defeat the Canucks that year as well. The atmosphere at MSG was incredible as they ended their 50-year Stanley Cup drought.

Todd Marchant wheeling by Grant Ledyard in overtime in 1997 and then actually scoring on a breakaway versus Andy Moog. I watched the game from my hotel room in High River while working in the oilfield. I remember a few guys running up and down the hallways screaming and yelling.

In 2002, I was stunned as the Red Wings absolutely crushed the Colorado Avalanche 7-0 in game seven. After so many hard-fought games/series, to see a blowout like that in game seven was shocking.

Ruslan Fedetenko breaking the hearts of Flames fans in 2004. He scored both goals in a 2-1 win as the Lightning won their first Stanley Cup. 

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Two years later the Carolina Hurricanes did the same to Oilers fans, defeating the Blue and Orange 3-1. When Fernando Pisani scored early in the third period, I was at the Elephant & Castle on Whyte Ave getting set to do the post-game show. I vividly recall the tension in the final frame. When Justin Williams scored into an empty net with a minute to go, many fans were gutted. Looking back, that loss hardened fans enough to allow them to still be fans a decade later after enduring ten consecutive years without another playoff game.

I remember Max Talbot scoring both goals for the Penguins in their 2-1 victory over the Red Wings to win the Stanly Cup in 2009. I was in a pick ’em pool for that game and had Talbot. He won me $500.

How about the 2011 Bruins? They won three game sevens on their way to hoisting the Cup. I thought their OT win over the Habs was the most exciting. The riots in Vancouver after the 4-0 loss to the Bruins in game seven were more memorable than the game.

Do you have a favourite game seven memory?

Who will be the hero tonight? I’m taking Jaden Schwartz to score the winning goal.

HERE AND THERE…

Random

  • Home teams are 94-67 (58.3 winning%) all-time in NHL game sevens.
  • The Blues have the second longest Stanley Cup Finals appearance drought in the NHL. They were last in the Finals in 1970. The Leafs haven’t made a Finals appearance since 1967. The Coyotes/Jets have never won three rounds since entering the league in 1979. The Islanders have the fourth longest drought. They haven’t been back since losing in 1984.
  • John Tavares tied the game with 53 seconds remaining and scored the game winner in double OT to give the Islanders their first playoff series win since 1993. The Panthers now own the longest series drought. They haven’t won a round since 1996.
  • The Rangers traded Anthony Duclair, John Moore, a 2015 second rounder and a first rounder this year for Keith Yandle, Chris Summers and a fourth rounder last year. This year’s pick will be either 18th or 19th. If the Predators lose the Coyotes own the 19th pick, if the Predators come back and defeat the Ducks then it is the 18th pick. What a great trade by the Coyotes.
  • Carolina owns the Kings’ first rounder this year. The Bruins have the Sharks’ pick, while the Leafs own the Penguins’ selection and the Jets have the Blackhawks’ first rounder. If the Hawks lose the Jets will own the 22nd pick and whatever pick (first-third or sixth-ninth) they land in the lottery. They might be ready to wheel and deal at the draft.
  • The Oilers still owe the Bruins a second rounder for hiring Peter Chiarelli. I’m still flabbergasted at how badly the NHL screwed up the compensation for fired coaches and GMs. I’d be surprised if they surrendered the 32nd pick this year, so most likely they will give up next year’s second rounder.
  • The reason Paul Stastny and Troy Brouwer have more PP TOI/game (2:22/2:20) than Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko (1:54/1:52) in the playoffs is because Tarasenko and Schwartz have connected for three PP goals. Their unit has scored, thus ending PPs, while the other unit hasn’t scored. I’m more curious why Tarasenko is taking such short shifts at EV. I expect him to play more than 17 minutes tonight.
  • Eric Staal made $9.5 million this year with a cap hit of $8.2 million. He had 13 goals and 39 points in 83 regular season games, and no points in five playoff games. He turns 32 in October. How much does he have left? At $4 or $4.5 million he could be an excellent value signing this summer. I’d roll the dice on a three-year deal. He scored 61 points two years ago and 54 last year. I could see him scoring 50 again.KING OR QUEEN FINAL
  • Can you Karaoke? Want to win $1000. Send a short demo of your abilities (No ballads, we prefer up beat songs) to [email protected] before May 15th. The top 12 finalists will battle it out and we will have a few special “celebrity” singers as well. If you can’t sing, but want to come get your tickets here. They cost $35, but you get $45 in gift certificates when you show up. 100% of ticket sales go towards the MS Bike Tour.

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    • Poor St Louis. Always playing the Hawks in the post season.

      It would be nice to see the Blues win for no other reason than in the last five years only the Hawks and Kings have won the stanley cup. Someone new would be interesting.

      Tonight will be good just to see who wins, but my viewing money will be on the Pens Washington series.

      I think both teams will not be happy with anything less than the cup, and that is going to make for one hell of a second series.

      Anaheim / San Jose should also be pretty exciting as I think both teams are sick of the Kings dominating California. If the Hawks lose tonight, then whoever comes out of the Anaheim San Jose series is my pick to go to the cup finals out of the west against whoever comes out of the Pens Washington series.

      Also, can we just talk for a second about how the Rangers always seem to make the playoffs, but in all the time since Messier, have never done anything in them? Sure they went to the cup final against the Kings a few years back, but you would think a team that had Slats as GM for so long, and is a place players want to go to, they would have done more in the subsequent 2 and a half decades.

      • Keepyourstickontheice

        NY’s woes haven’t been for lack of trying, we’re talking about a team that picks up tantalizing rental players every year and hasn’t drafted in the first round in years.

        It’d be interesting to hear what Sather thinks in retrospect, if he could go back and undo those trades, would he prefer the playoff success they’ve had or would he rather have the young pieces and prospects back to attain critical mass and go deep in a future run?

        • Definitely not for lack of trying, in fact I would put them at the tippy top of the list of teams that in the last 20 years spend every trade deadline day trying to buy their cup.

          Especially in the pre cap era. I’m pretty sure they were consistently one of the largest, if not thee largest, spend teams in the league.

          So by and large they’ve had a great team with the money and destination to attract any player in the league, they had one of the most storied GM’s in NHL history, in recent years they only missed the playoffs in 2009 / 2010, and yet since their cup win in 1940, they have only ever won the cup once, and been to the final twice.

          Don’t get me wrong, Edmonton has been a bad team for the last 10 years, but I think before that and in the last 10, Edmonton has had some reason for that. What the hell is the Ranger’s excuse?

          • Keepyourstickontheice

            Every year there are maybe 5 teams that deserve to be in the final, but only two get to go. Look at the St. Louis/Chicago matchup, my money is on whoever wins going all the way to the final. And for the team that suffers a first round exit, its rough but sometimes you run into another juggernaut in the first round.

            I’m selfishly hoping that teams like NYR and STL lose their nerve and start shopping good players to try and retool.

    • Randaman

      The Florida / NYI series should have gone to game seven too.

      Some people seem to like that the rules completely change in the play-offs but I for one don’t. How does the NHL propose to increase scoring??

      Two trips not called, many slashes not called, phantom calls. The officiating in the play-offs has been absolutely brutal and I have no vested interest as my team/our team doesn’t know how to spell play-offs.

      I for one find it very slow and frustrating as all the skill gets taken away, well except for Kane. Great hockey player but I hate the little puke. Toews gets away with murder but I would kind of like to see the Blues lose so they will be more open to trading Pietrangelo for Hall.

    • Jay (not J)

      Pretty cool series to go to a game 7. Both teams are good enough to compete with anyone in the conference so if 1’s got to get the boot in the first round, it’s fitting that they at least take all 7 games to do it. Pulling for St Louis just because the West would look pretty wide open without LA or Chicago. Really though, I’m starting to get excited about the Was/ Pitt series. A game 7 there would get all of the TVs turned back on in a hurry.

    • Natejax97

      Well, if nothing else, Chicago is not going away…it takes everything, and just a bit more to fully beat them in a seven game series.

      That should actually be the definition of 110%…lol…

      Can’t wait to watch the game tonight, game 6 was epic.

    • RJ

      No Canadian Teams means no hockey for me. Watching these games just annoys me.

      Like, every team in the second round can manage a controlled breakout/entry, yet it seems insurmountable to Edmonton.

      • Seanaconda

        Really? I only cheer for other canadian teams to lose in the playoffs. You can prob find an American team with just as or more canadian players than all the Canadian teams anyways

      • Jay (not J)

        The fact that no other Canadian team is going to win the Cup is my cold comfort for the fact that the Oilers won’t win the Cup. I would much rather see SJ/Was in the final (for example) than the bloody Habs or ‘nucks.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      stupid St.Louis !! had the Hawks done for at home in game 5 and within one goal of elimination but let them off the hook. now they will likely lose game 7. way to go !!

    • DieHartOiler

      to be honest i was rooting for the panthers to win the next two games and go on to the second round. That way, Snow would be pissed as hell and would trade hamonic for eberle straight up. Now that he’s in the second round and the islanders d-men have been playing quite well, I am afraid his asking price for hamonic will go up with each minute. This selfish reason is why I want the blues to get pounded heavily by the hawks tonight, so armstrong will be willing to trade pietrangelo or parayko, although I hardly see him trading the latter. I don’t think Shattenkirk is the answer, he made a number of bone headed plays last game that directly resulted in goals against. His regular season numbers are not impressive at all in a stacked St. Louis team. If he comes to edmonton, his defensive play will be exposed even to a greater extent.

      • I agree but right now he’s paired with the very young Parayko. Much like when Sekera was paired with Nurse, there can be some bad decision making as the elder is trying to cover up for the younger rather than having a D partner they can rely on.

        If Shattenkirk comes to Edmonton, I don’t see his role as the top line minute muncher facing the tough competition. Instead I would see him as the PP quaterback, and the guy being given an offensive zone push much like Schultz. But unlike Schultz his defensive miscues can at least be forgiven due to the amount of offense he puts up.

        Pair him with a guy like Klefbom and give that pair an O zone push and I bet good things happen. Especially if you can give Sekera someone better than Fayne to handle the tough competition. Or, that role could also fall to Davidson Gryba who did a very good job with tough D zone minutes against tough competition. Those two have the size, positioning, and just enough puck moving to break up tough cycles and get the puck out of the zone with a smart pass. Sure they aren’t springing anyone, but their low event hockey was a nice change of pace.

      • Ed in Edmonton 1

        Since I have no emotional stake in any series outcome I find myself watching games keeping an eye on specific players. I agree with your assessment of Shattenkirk, Oil should stay away from this guy. On the other hand every time I see Hamonic I get more impressed.

    • McPucker

      First playoff series and game 7 was 1967 Leafs over Habs. Been a hockey fan ever since.

      Used to watch some hockey off and on, mainly because there was nothing else on tv Saturday night, but that series got my blood pumping.

      That was also the last year of the original six. Anyone from that era still has an original six team dear to their heart.

    • Stack Pad Save

      I am enjoying the playoffs lately. I thought the reffing was terrible for the Oilers this year, but I now realize the NHL has the poorest officiating possible. I can understand there is more leaniancy in playoffs, but the amount of game changing non calls made is terrible. Also, why don’t they show descretion on over the glass or high sticks? What makes 1 trip or hook a call sometimes but not others?