Sunday, April 22, 2007

Seventh Heaven

No Game 7's on this coast - with the elimination of the Lightning earlier today, round 2 is all set in the East...and no nailbiting, triple-overtime, guaranteed elimination games necessary. And out in the west, two of the series have ended long before that pivotal seventh game; depending on how the Flames fare after their little Broad Street Bullies impersonation last night, we may find ourselves looking at only one series going the full seven rounds.

Darn it.

It doesn't matter what sport you follow, playoffs are always more exciting when they're pushed to the final match. Any elimination game is exciting, but when both teams are facing the end of their season in just one game it ups the ante that much more. Some of the classic moments from NHL playoff history and from sports playoff history in general come from Game 7.

In 1942 the Toronto Maple Leafs rebounded from a 3-0 series deficit to defeat the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals. With the win they became the first team to win the Cup in seven games, as well as the first professional sports team to come back from being down 3-0 in a series. The feat has been repeated only twice more since, by the 1975 New York Islanders and most recently by the 2004 Boston Red Sox.

The Montreal Canadiens have appeared in Game 7 104 times in their storied history, the most by any professional sports team. They also have the most wins of any sports team, with victories in 71 of their 104 appearances. The Boston Bruins, meanwhile, hold the dubious distinction of the most losses in Game 7 across the board with 42.

For their part, the Washington Capitals have appeared in 24 Game 7's, going 8-16. And it seems that they always make these already intense moments even more so. Take the triumphant victory over the Philadelphia Flyers back in 1987-88 when they came back from a 3-1 series deficit to win it all off of Dale Hunter's OT winner. Then there was the so-called "Easter Epic", the marathon 1987 Game 7 against the New York Islanders - it was the first game since 1951 to go four overtimes and ended with defeat for the Caps, 6 hours and 18 minutes after the opening faceoff.

So far we have just one Game 7 on the horizon - a thrilling matchup to come between the Vancouver Canucks and the equally stimulating Dallas Stars, who have staved off elimination not once but twice over the past few days. The Calgary Flames have a chance to force the second 7-game series later tonight. After that, it's anyone's guess - however, it should be noted that the last two Stanley Cups have been decided in Game 7.

And if that's not playoff poetry at it's finest, I don't know what is.

1 comment:

Victor said...

We joke my gf'd father was responsible for the Easter Epic. At the time, he was just a lowly press box guy, doing....something. Not sure.

Anyway, when the Caps gave the press the lineups he noticed they put in a sick player (Alan Haworth, I think) who couldn't play. He caught the mistake, the Caps corrected the lineups, and the guy they inserted into the lineup scored the tying goal.