blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7 History

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7 History

When two teams split the first six games of a best-of-seven playoff series, a 'winner take all' Game 7 is staged. Heroes are born and victors crowned in this high-stakes affair. Not surprisingly, Game 7s have produced some of the most memorable moments in NHL postseason history.
Once reserved solely for the Semifinal and Final rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the best-of-seven format was expanded to include the Quarterfinals in 1968 and Preliminary round in 1987. Of the 606 best-of-seven NHL playoff series played, 149 (24%) have resulted in a Game 7 with the home team holding a healthy 94-55 (63%) edge.

Of the 149 Game 7s, 25 times a team trailing their series 3-1 won Game 7 and 3 times a team down 3-0 in their series won Game 7.  The most Game 7s in single playoff season is seven (1994, 2011). Only three times has a postseason gone without (1970, 1973, 1977).

Over the past 26 postseasons since the 1987 expansion of all series to best-of-seven, a Game 7 has been played in 105 of the 390 series. Put another way, 27% or approximately every 1 in 3.7 playoff series have gone to seven games. The chart below describes Game 7s by year, noting the number and round in which a seventh game(s) occurred.

Year: Game 7s (Round)                   Year: Game 7s (Round) 
1987: 5 (1P, 3Q, F) 2002: 5 (2P, 2Q, 1S)
1988: 3 (1P, 1Q, 1S) 2003: 6 (3P, 1Q, 1S, F)
1989: 3 (2P, 1Q) 2004: 5 (3P, 1S, F)
1990: 4 (3P, 1Q) 2006: 3 (1P, 1S, F)
1991: 4 (3P, 1Q) 2007: 1 (1P)
1992: 6 (6P) 2008: 3 (3P)
1993: 4 (1P, 2Q, 1S) 2009: 6 (2P, 3Q, F)
1994: 7 (4P, 1Q, 1S, F) 2010: 4 (2P, 2Q)
1995: 4 (4P) 2011: 7 (4P, 1Q, 1S, F)
1996: 2 (1Q, 1S) 2012: 4 (3P, 1Q)
1997: 3 (3P) 2013: 5 (3P, 2Q)
1998: 1 (1Q)
1999: 3 (2P, 1S)
2000: 3 (1P, 2S)
2001: 4 (3Q, F)

(P = Preliminary, Q = Quarterfinal, S = Semifinal, F = Final)

Breaking it down by round, the most Game 7s over the past 26 seasons on a percentage basis have occurred in the Stanley Cup Final (8/26 = 31%), with 6 of the past 12 Finals being decided by a seventh game. The Preliminary (59/208 = 28%), Semifinal (12/52 = 23%), and Quarterfinal (26/104 = 25%) rounds follow with a decreasing likelihood of a Game 7. In sum, the likelihood of a Game 7 in a NHL playoff series since 1987 is 1 in 3 for the Final and roughly 1 in 4 for all other rounds.

The charts below show the total number of Game 7s played by each NHL team along with their win/loss records, with all-time statistics on the lefthand side and data since 1987 on the righthand side.

NHL Game 7s All-Time                   NHL Game 7s Since 1987
Team: Series (Record)       Team: Series (Record)
Detroit: 24 (14-10) New Jersey: 15 (7-8)
Boston: 24 (13-11) Boston: 13 (8-5)
Montreal: 22 (13-9) Detroit: 13 (7-6)
Toronto: 22 (12-10) Pittsburgh: 12 (7-5)
Philadelphia: 15 (9-6) Washington: 12 (3-9)
New Jersey: 15 (7-8) Toronto: 11 (6-5)
St. Louis: 14 (6-8) Philadelphia: 10 (6-4)
Pittsburgh: 13 (7-6) Vancouver: 10 (6-4)
Calgary: 12 (5-7) Montreal: 9 (6-3)
Washington: 12 (3-9) Colorado: 9 (4-5)
Chicago: 11 (6-5) San Jose: 8 (5-3)
New York*: 11 (6-5) Calgary: 8 (2-6)
Vancouver: 10 (6-4) St. Louis: 8 (2-6)
Edmonton: 9 (6-3) New York*: 7 (6-1)
Colorado: 9 (4-5) Edmonton: 7 (5-2)
San Jose: 8 (5-3) Buffalo: 6 (1-5)
Los Angeles^: 8 (4-4) Chicago: 5 (4-1)
Minnesota:^: 7 (3-4) Los Angeles: 5 (3-2)
New York**: 7 (3-4) Anaheim: 5 (2-3)
Buffalo: 7 (1-6) Ottawa: 5 (0-5)
Anaheim: 5 (2-3) Carolina: 4 (4-0)
Ottawa: 5 (0-5) Tampa Bay: 4 (3-1)
Carolina: 4 (4-0) Dallas: 4 (2-2)
Tampa Bay: 4 (3-1) New York**: 4 (2-2)
Dallas: 4 (2-2) Phoenix: 3 (0-3)
Quebec: 3 (2-1) Minnesota^^: 2 (2-0)
Hartford: 3 (0-3) Florida: 2 (1-1)
Phoenix: 3 (0-3) Hartford: 2 (0-2)
Minnesota^^: 2 (2-0) Minnesota^: 2 (0-2)
Florida: 2 (1-1) Winnipeg~: 2 (0-2)
Winnipeg~: 2 (0-2) Quebec: 1 (0-1)
Oakland: 1 (0-1)

*   New York Rangers
** New York Islanders
^   Minnesota North Stars
^^ Minnesota Wild
~   Winnipeg Jets (1979-1996)

Detroit and Boston have skated in the most Game 7s (24) in NHL history with Detroit winning the most (14). Over the past 26 seasons, however, New Jersey has played more Game 7s (15) than anyone else with Boston winning the most (8). Carolina and the Minnesota Wild have never lost a Game 7; Ottawa, Hartford, Phoenix, Winnipeg (1979-1996) and Oakland have never won a Game 7; and Winnipeg (formerly Atlanta), Columbus and Nashville have never skated in a Game 7.

In terms of winning more than one Game 7 in a single postseason, 18 teams have done it twice with only one team winning three best-of-seven series in a Game 7 in a single playoff (Boston 2011). The chart below lists all NHL teams that have ever won two or more Game 7s in a single postseason, indicating year and rounds in which they turned the trick.

NHL Game 7s Won Same Year
Year: Team (Round)
1950: Detroit (S, F)
1964: Toronto (S, F)
1968: St. Louis (Q, S)
1990: Chicago (P, Q)
1993: Toronto (P, Q)
1994: New York* (S, F)
2001: Colorado (Q, F)
2002: Colorado (P, Q), Toronto (P, Q)
2003: New Jersey (S, F), Minnesota (P, Q)
2004: Tampa Bay (S, F)
2006: Carolina (S, F)
2009: Carolina (P, Q), PIT (Q, F)
2010: Montreal (P, Q)
2011: Boston (P, S, F)
2012: New York* (P, Q)


* New York Rangers

(P = Preliminary, Q = Quarterfinal, S = Semifinal, F = Final)

The Preliminary round of the 2014 postseason has three series (Colorado vs Minnesota; San Jose vs Los Angeles; New York Rangers vs Philadelphia) skating in a winner-take-all final and deciding Game 7.
Taking it to the limit ... or, if you prefer, to the end of the line.

* See also NHL Playoff Comebacks Trailing 3-0.
* See also NHL Playoff Comebacks Trailing 3-1.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff First Round Upsets.

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