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Photo Credit: Andy Devlin/NHLI via USA TODAY Sports

Around the NHL: Game Seven Baby

Five days ago it looked like the second round of the NHL playoffs was over. Tampa Bay, Las Vegas, New York and Dallas each led their series three games to one, and seemed destined for a date in the Conference Finals.

This morning only Tampa Bay has won its series, because Vancouver, Philadelphia and Colorado won two straight games to force game seven. What a wild week in the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, and it ends with a double-dose of game seven today in Edmonton.

Colorado and Dallas play at 2 p.m. MT, while Vancouver and Vegas will play at 7 p.m. MT. It will be the fourth game in six days for the Canucks and Golden Knights and the second time in six days they play on consecutive nights. Why the NHLPA allows that, I have no idea, especially when Philly/New York plays game seven tomorrow. I understand the league wants to speed up the process in the bubble, but four games in six days is unnecessary and asking for injuries.

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Regardless, we will now get to see three game sevens in a span of 28 hours. Crazy.

DAL V. COL

The Avs have won two straight with their third string goalie, Michael Hutchinson, allowing four goals in two games, while the Avs skaters have scored 10 goals in two games.

Neither team has had great success in game seven.

Dallas is 2-4 all-time (I didn’t include Minnesota North Stars). They’ve lost their last three game sevens, and haven’t won one since May 27th, 2000, when they defeated Colorado 3-2 in the Conference Finals. Dallas is 2-0 against the Avalanche in game seven.

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Colorado is 4-7 all-time (didn’t include Quebec Nordiques stats), and they haven’t won a game seven since May 15th, 2002, when they defeated San Jose 1-0. They are currently on a four-game losing streak in game sevens.

One of these teams will end their 18 or 20-year drought today.

VAN. vs. LV

The Canucks forced game seven by relying heavily on Thatcher Demko. Demko replaced the injured Jacob Markstrom and has promptly stopped 90 of 91 shots in the past two games. Vegas has outshot Vancouver 91-40 the past two games, but have been outscored 6-1. Will Demko be fatigued tonight? Will Vegas head coach Pete Deboer continue his trend of splitting back-to-back duties with his goalies and go with Marc-Andre Fleury, who magically has recovered from being stabbed in the back earlier this post-season?

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Vancouver is 6-5 all time in game sevens. They haven’t played a game seven since 2011. They defeated Chicago in the first round, but then lost to Boston in game seven of the Stanley Cup Final.

Vegas is 0-1 in its brief history, but the loss to San Jose last year was one of the most talked-about game sevens ever. Vegas led 3-0 midway through the third period, before Cody Eakin was assessed a five-minute cross checking major after Joe Pavelski crashed to the ice off a faceoff. San Jose scored four goals on the ensuing major, then Vegas tied it before Barclay Goodrow scored the winner 18 minutes into overtime.

That loss stung Vegas, but if they don’t win tonight, this series loss will hurt even more, I’d guess.

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NYI v. PHI…

This is another odd series. The Flyers looked done after four games after being outscored 14-6. Their offensive stars were shooting blanks and before game five Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said it was time Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk “put on their big-boy pants.” They responded as both scored in game five, and JVR scored again in game six, while Giroux added two assists in the two games. The Flyers won game five in OT and game six in double OT, and now they will play for the opportunity to travel to Edmonton and get crushed by the surging Tampa Bay Lightning.

Sorry to be a fun sponge, but it’s true. However, that doesn’t make game seven any less intriguing.

The Flyers are 9-7 all-time in game sevens and are 2-0 against the Islanders defeating them in 1975 and 1987. The Islanders are 3-5, and haven’t won a game seven since May 14th, 1993, when they upset the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Islanders outshot the Flyers 53-31 in game six, but lost in OT. Can Carter Hart steal another game for the Flyers? He’s more than capable of doing it.

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The Way I See It...

If the Flyers win they will become the sixth team in NHL history with 10+ game seven victories joining St. Louis (10-8), Toronto (12-12), Detroit (14-11), Montreal (14-9) and Boston (15-13).

PASSING THOUGHT…

There is no way that seeding games should be considered in the NHL playoff record book. A player should not set an NHL record that includes results from the three seeding games this season. It is unnecessary.

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Let me make it clear: this is not a shot at Cale Makar. He’s unreal, and his three GWG all came during the playoffs. He has 14 points in actual playoff games thus far, and he could set the record tonight if he picks up a point. But, it is ridiculous to include seeding games as legit playoff games. Teams played a different opponent in all three games, they didn’t have playoff OT rules, and the loser didn’t go home.

I understand it is an odd situation, but no Stanley Cup Playoff record should be broken by including those games. And every player who played in those games would agree.

I understand if they use the qualifying round games. That was a playoff series. And many years ago, the top teams would get a first round bye, so you can treat the seeding round like a bye, and not include those stats in conjunction with any playoff record. Other years teams have played more rounds, so if a player who played in those games sets a record I understand why it is included.

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