Fifteen years ago this week, the Devils beat the Flyers in one conference final before the Stars beat the Avalanche in another the following day. It marked the only year in NHL history in which both conference finals lasted seven games before the final four teams were pushed to seven games this weekend.
Nothing beats a Game Seven in sports because there’s so much built-in drama that comes with one game to decide a series. But if forced to pick one sport over the others, I’m going with hockey. The speed, intensity and aggression that come with the sport make it the most entertaining in win-or-go-home situations.
This year, we get a rare double dip with the Rangers playing the Lightning on Friday and the Blackhawks playing the Ducks on Saturday. The Blackhawks also played seven games in the conference finals last year before falling to the Kings, who beat the Rangers for the Stanley Cup.
If Chicago loses, it would become only the second team in history to lose the seventh game of the conference finals in consecutive seasons. Colorado lost in 1999 and 2000 before beating New Jersey in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup final in 2001.
Last season, seven series needed seven games to decide the winner, joining 2011 and 1994 for most in one year. There have been at least two Game Sevens in the NHL every year since 1985. The last time the playoffs didn’t include at least one series reaching seven games was 1977.
The Senators and Jets-Coyotes are the only current NHL teams that haven’t won seventh game in their history, with each going 0-5. The Minnesota Wild is the only franchise that never lost one (3-0), but the North Stars had a 5-6 record in seventh games before leaving for Dallas.
You would think Original Six teams would hold the top six spots in Game Seven appearances, but the Blackhawks (12) are tied with Calgary for 12th all-time. The Red Wings and Canadiens have the most wins (14) while the Bruins have the most Game Seven defeats (12).
Tampa Bay has the best record among teams that have played at least five Game Sevens (4-1). Which has the worst record in Game Sevens among teams that have played more than five Game Sevens? Buffalo. The Sabres are 1-6 in that situation.
Certainly, you remember the win over Ottawa in 1997, when Derek Plante beat Ron Tugnutt with a shot into a top corner. Quick, who was the winning goaltender?