Despite missing Darnell Nurse to suspension and having a limping Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers edged out the Kings in Los Angeles and forced a Game 7 back in Edmonton. Buckle up.
1. I know a good chunk of people would prefer a nice, simple, anxiety-free series in which their team wins in four or five games, but there’s no doubt that a playoff Game 7 is the most exciting thing in hockey. The fact that we’re going to have five different Game 7s over the course of two days is absolutely wild. The 2020 and 2021 playoffs only saw six Game 7s combined.
This year’s playoffs could wind up featuring the most Game 7s of all time. The most Game 7s played in one playoff, naturally, is seven, which happened in 1994, 2011, and 2014. The 1994 and 2011 playoffs also both featured a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final in which the Vancouver Canucks went home unhappy.
2. Just like this year, the last two Game 7s that the Oilers played in were the result of them being down 3-2 in Game 6 and winning to force a seventh game. Those two Game 6 wins were pretty similar, as the Oilers beat the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 4-0 in 2006 and blew out the Anaheim Ducks in 2017 by a score of 7-1.
The difference between now and those two series is that the Oilers forced Game 7 on at home in 2006 and 2017 and hit the road for Game 7. This year they’re coming back home for the deciding game after winning in Los Angeles.
3. Edmonton’s last Game 7 win came in the late-90s. They pulled off massive upsets in the first round against the Dallas Stars in 1997 and the Colorado Avalanche in 1998.
The last time the Oilers played a Game 7 at home was all the way back in 1990 in the first round against the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers were favoured in that series as the No. 2 seeded team in the Smythe Division going up against the No. 3 seed. Winnipeg gave them the most difficult time of anybody in that playoff run. The Oilers won Game 7 and then went on to sweep the L.A. Kings, beat the Chicago Blackhawks in six games, and then breeze through the Boston Bruins in five games to win their fifth Stanley Cup.
4. Speaking of the 1990 playoffs, the Calgary Flames were also upset in the first round by the Kings, the No. 4 team in the Smythe Division who finished the season with 24 fewer points than they did. This year, the Dallas Stars, a Wild Card team that finished 11 points behind the Flames in the standings, have them in a Game 7.
5. If the Oilers and Flames both win, we’ll see our first Battle of Alberta since 1991, another series that featured a deciding Game 7. Calgary was the favoured team that year as they finished 20 points above the Oilers in the standings. Edmonton went up 3-1 in the series but the Flames battled back and forced a seventh game thanks to Theo Fleury’s overtime heroics. Two days later in Calgary, Esa Tikkanen won the series for the Oilers in overtime.
6. I’m torn on what I want out of Calgary’s Game 7 on Sunday. On one hand, the path of least resistance would obviously be Dallas winning because they wouldn’t be as difficult of an opponent for the Oilers if they reach the second round. But on the other hand, I’ve never seen a playoff Battle of Alberta in my life and would love to experience that. The majority of Oilers fans are going to be cheering against Calgary, but I’d guess that most people wouldn’t be overly disappointed if we wound up with a Battle of Alberta in the second round.
7. Though the Kings are mostly a young team without any playoff experience, the handful of veterans they still have around from their Stanley Cup seasons in 2012 and 2014 have plenty of experience in Game 7. The Kings’ longest series in 2012 was six games but, in 2014, they went to Game 7 in all three of their series before reaching the Cup Final. The most memorable one was undoubtedly when they came back from down 3-0 in the first round against the San Jose Sharks to win in seven but they were also taken the distance by both the Ducks and Blackhawks after that.
The last time the Kings lost a Game 7 was all the way back in 2002 when they lost in the first round to the Avalanche.
8. The home team has a record of 107-77 all-time in playoff Game 7s and the Oilers are 3-1 all-time at home in Game 7. They beat the Flames in 1984, the Philadelphia Flyers in 1987, and the Jets in 1990, and lost to the Flames in 1986, the Steve Smith game. All three years in which the Oilers won Game 7 at home, they went on to win the Stanley Cup.
THE GAME 7 VIEWING PARTY