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.
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.
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!!
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.
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…
- 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.
- 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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