The name alone is enough to make the ice sparkle a little brighter: Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. It’s what children conjure up on rinks and ponds as they imagine themselves to be Penguins or Oilers or Golden Knights.
The Stanley Cup finals went to a seven-game format in 1939, and Wednesday night’s contest between the Bruins and the St. Louis Blues in Boston will be the 17th Game 7 since then.
It hasn’t happened in eight years.
In 2011, the Bruins and the Canucks faced off in Vancouver in one game for the Cup. On the ice, it was less than exciting: Boston won, 4-0. Off the ice, things got stickier, as angry Canucks fans rampaged through the city, looting and setting cars on fire.
“It’s absolutely disgraceful and shameful and by no means represents the city of Vancouver,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said then. In the aftermath, the thrill of Game 7 was almost forgotten.
Despite the Bruins’ long, successful history, that win was the team’s first appearance in Game 7 of the finals. Wednesday night will be No. 2. As for the Blues, they were swept in their previous three finals appearances, so Game 7 for them is uncharted territory.
Don’t expect scoring.
Game 7s have been taut affairs; no team has ever scored more than four goals. Instead, scores like 3-1, 2-1 and 3-2 dot the record books.
The average number of goals scored in a Game 7 by both teams is only four. N.H.L. games had an average of six goals this season; that total has been reached only once in the 16 Game 7s.
Home teams have the clear edge; they are 12-4 in Game 7s. Edge to Boston.
Detroit was once Game 7 central.
Four Game 7s over an 11-year span in the ’40s and ’50s were played in the Detroit Olympia. The only other arena to host multiple Game 7s was Maple Leaf Gardens, with two.
Detroit has played in by far the most Game 7s, eight, with a record of 3-5. All three wins came in the Olympia.
Overtimes are rare.
What’s more electrifying than a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals? How about a Game 7 that goes into overtime? That quintessential pressure situation has occurred only twice, both times involving the Red Wings in the Olympia.
The 1954 game was exciting enough: Tony Leswick scored the Cup-winner for the Wings from 40 feet, beating Canadiens goalie Gerry McNeil after four and a half minutes.
But the 1950 game probably goes down as the ultimate nail-biter. The Red Wings overcame a two-goal deficit to force overtime, and one overtime wasn’t enough. It took eight and a half minutes of a second overtime before Pete Babando lifted the Red Wings past the Rangers.
The loss was especially heartbreaking for Rangers fans. The team could not play in Madison Square Garden in the series because the circus had moved in. That meant they played five games in Detroit and two at a special “home” venue: Toronto. The Rangers didn’t make it back to the Stanley Cup finals for 22 years and didn’t win one for 44.
Hat tricks are rarer.
Although quite a few players have scored two goals in a Game 7, no player has ever had a hat trick.
Maybe Wednesday night.
Source: Read Full Article