blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: May 2017

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Today In NHL History - Malkin Fights Zetterberg

On May 31st in 2009, with his team trailing 3-1 in the closing seconds of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins attacked Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg.Refs assessed 17 and 5 sin bin minutes, respectively, of which each served only 19 seconds. Despite Malkin's instigator penalty, Colin Campbell refused to enforce Rule 47.22 mandating an automatic one game suspension for such an act in the final five minutes, electing instead to exercise his broad right to rescind.

Thus, rather than sitting for suckering the 2008 Conn Smythe winner, the 2009 Conn Smythe winner-to-be returned in Game 3 to set up three goals en route to a 4-2 win. Absent Malkin's helpers, Detroit may have won Game 3, taking a 3-0 series lead and clinching consecutive Cup wins. Instead, Pittsburgh cut Detroit's series lead in half and won in 7.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Carrying Over Penalties In NHL Playoffs.
* See also Today In NHL History - Malkin Boards Mitchell.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

NHL Stanley Cup Final Appearance Droughts

This week the Predators and Penguins qualified for the 2017 Stanley Cup Final erasing a Stanley Cup Final appearance drought of 17 years and 0 years (as the defending champions return to the Final), respectively, while the NHL's other 28 teams extended their absence by another season. The chart below describes, in descending order, the number of seasons each club has gone without a Cup Final appearance, showing the last year they qualified (if ever).

Team       Seasons           Last Cup Final
Toronto Maple Leafs 
49         
St. Louis Blues
46         
Phoenix Coyotes*
37         
Never
New York Islanders
32         
Montreal Canadiens
23         
Florida Panthers
20         
Washington Capitals
18         
Buffalo Sabres
17         
Winnipeg Jets**
17         
Never
Columbus Blue Jackets
16         
Never
Dallas Stars
16         
Minnesota Wild
16         
Never
Colorado Avalanche
15         
Calgary Flames
12         
Carolina Hurricanes
11         
Edmonton Oilers     
11         
Anaheim Ducks
10         
Ottawa Senators      
10         
Detroit Red Wings
8         
Philadelphia Flyers
7         
Vancouver Canucks
6         
New Jersey Devils
5         
Boston Bruins
4         
Los Angeles Kings
3         
New York Rangers
3         
Chicago Blackhawks
2         
Tampa Bay Lightning
2         
San Jose Sharks
1         
Pittsburgh Penguins
0         
Nashville Predators
0         

*   Includes record of Winnipeg Jets prior to relocation to Phoenix
** Includes record of Atlanta Thrashers prior to relocation to Winnipeg

The average drought rests at roughly 13.5 seasons with Toronto laying claim to the longest at 49 seasons, a streak that began prior to NHL expansion beyond its original six teams. Arguably worse is the fact that 4 of the 30 teams (13%) have never skated in a Final in their franchise history (Phoenix, Winnipeg, Minnesota, Columbus), a list that was reduced by one with the Predators earning their first ever Stanley Cup Final appearance this year.

In ten months the quest for the Cup continues for 16 of the 31 clubs (as the Vegas Golden Knights take the ice next  season) that qualify for the postseason. The goal is to hoist the hardware, but simply qualifying for the Stanley Cup Final would be a step in the right direction.
Indeed, one thing leads to another.

* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Qualification Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Series Win Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Championship Droughts.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Today In NHL History - Lemieux Boards Draper

On May 29th in 1996, Colorado Avalanche cheapshot Claude Lemieux checked Detroit Red Wings grinder Kris Draper face first into the boards in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals igniting a fierce rivalry between the teams that remains to this day.

The hit hospitalized Draper with a concussion, broken nose, fractured jaw, and shattered cheek and orbital bone requiring extensive facial reconstructive surgery, several stitches, and wiring shut his jaw.

Lemieux received a five minute major and match penalty to which the NHL added a two game suspension and $1000 fine. Colorado won the game 4-1 closing out the series that night 4-2 en route to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance sweeping the Florida Panthers. Draper didn't return to hockey until midway through the following season.
That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Bourdon's Motorcycle Crash

On May 29th in 2008, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Luc Bourdon, the 10th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, died in a motorcycle crash when he collided with a semitrailer near his hometown in New Brunswick.

The accident shocked the hockey community, especially Kris Letang who missed Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals to attend Luc's funeral.


The Canucks honored Luc at their home opener against Calgary, presenting Luc's family with his last game worn jersey and screening a video tribute accompanied by a live performance of "Big League" by Tom Cochrane.

Vancouver shutout Calgary 6-0 with Bourdon's best friend Alex Burrows scoring twice and earning the game's first star. Burrows carried the momentum of that match into a 28 goal breakout season, acknowledging his fallen friend with a bow and arrow tribute from time to time.


Luc Bourdon, forever a Canuck.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Rematches

Since the Stanley Cup was first awarded to the NHL's best in 1926, only 10 times have the same two teams met in the Cup Final in consecutive years. Of those 10 meetings, the same team won both series 7 times and teams split 3 times. Put another way, the Cup champion has successfully defended its title in 7 of the 10 rematches (70%).

The chart below describes every consecutive Cup rematch by year.

Year       Matchup
1932   Toronto over New York*  
1933 New York* over Toronto  
1948 Toronto over Detroit
1949 Toronto over Detroit
1954 Detroit over Montreal
1955 Detroit over Montreal
1957 Montreal over Boston
1958 Montreal over Boston
1959 Montreal over Toronto
1960 Montreal over Toronto
1963 Toronto over Detroit
1964 Toronto over Detroit
1968 Montreal over St. Louis
1969 Montreal over St. Louis
1977 Montreal over Boston 
1978 Montreal over Boston   
1983 New York** over Edmonton     
1984 Edmonton over New York**
2008 Detroit over Pittsburgh
2009 Pittsburgh over Detroit

*   New York Rangers
** New York Islanders

Of the 9 teams (Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins) to compete in Stanley Cup Final rematches, all but two (Boston, St. Louis) have won at least one championship during a rematch series. Never have the same two teams met in more than two consecutive Stanley Cup Finals.

Though teams have enjoyed consecutive Stanley Cup wins (24 times) and suffered consecutive Stanley Cup losses (13 times) over the years, the rematch is a far rarer occurrence (10 times). 

With Chicago losing in the preliminary round and Tampa Bay ousted in the conference final of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs, there will be no rematch of last year's finalists in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Losses.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Today In NHL History - Gretzky Highsticks Gilmour

On May 27th in 1993, Wayne Gretzky cut Doug Gilmour for eight stitches with a high stick during overtime in Game 6 of the Campbell Conference Final. The unpenalized play left the Great One on the ice to score the winner moments later.


Referee Kerry Fraser's historic non-call, which haunts him and leagues of Leafs fans to this day, invited conspiracy chatter to Don Cherry's Coaches Corner with Torontonians claiming the NHL influenced officiating to ensure Los Angeles would advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

NHL Director of Officiating Brian Lewis later spoke with HNIC host Ron MacLean to discuss the events surrounding the Game 6 non-call.

Gretzky collected a hat trick in Game 7 at Maple Leaf Gardens leading the Kings to a 5-4 win over the Maple Leafs and their franchise first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, which they lost 4-1 to the Montreal Canadiens.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Today In NHL History - Stevens Hits Lindros

On May 26th in 2000, New Jersey Devils defenseman Scott Stevens decimated the oft-injured Philadelphia Flyers forward Eric Lindros with an open ice hit midway through the first period of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.


The hit represents Lindros' final on-ice moment as a member of the Flyers as he was kept from skating for six months, missed the entire 2001 season, and was ultimately traded to the New York Rangers.

New Jersey beat Philadelphia 2-1 and went on to defeat the defending Cup champion Dallas Stars 4-2 in the Finals, hoisting their first Stanley Cup in 5 years. Stevens took the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

That's today in NHL history

* See also Today In NHL History - Stevens Hits Kozlov.
* See also Today In NHL History - Stevens Hits Kariya.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Today In NHL History - Boston Blackout

On May 24th in 1988, a transformer blowout blackened a fog-filled Boston Garden with 3:27 remaining in the middle frame of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the Edmonton Oilers.
Deemed an Act of God, NHL president John Ziegler canceled the 3-3 match rescheduling it two nights later at Northlands Coliseum.

The Oilers won Game 4-A by a score of 6-3sweeping the Bruins en route to their 5th Stanley Cup in 7 years and setting a modern record for the fewest games needed to hoist the hardware (18), in what would be Wayne Gretzky's final game as an Edmonton Oiler.
That's today in NHL history.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Today In NHL History - Bergeron Saves Goal

On May 22nd in 2010, Montreal Canadiens blueliner Marc-Andre Bergeron saved an empty net goal with 2 minutes remaining in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Flyers sophomore forward Claude Giroux found the Habs empty net 36 seconds later to secure a 3-0 win. Philadelphia won the series 4-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Today In NHL History - Buffalo Sabres Bat Attack

On May 20th in 1975, Buffalo Sabres center Jim Lorentz slayed a boisterous bat during a fog-filled Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals at The Aud. The incident marks the only known animal killing by a player during a NHL game.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Rick MacLeish kindly collected the deceased bat from the faceoff circle, sparing the linesman of the indiscretion, disposing it in the visitors penalty box then occupied by his teammate.

While birds have famously found their way onto the field of play for several sports (baseball, tennis, football, golf, hockey) over the years, often with unfortunate outcomes, dive-bombing bats are rare.

Buffalo won 5-4 in overtime but lost the series 4-2 to Philadelphia.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Today In NHL History - Preakness Trumps Playoffs

On May 19th in 2007, NBC abandoned overtime in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals in favor of two hours of pre-race Preakness Stakes coverage, blacking out the Ottawa Senators 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres, clinching their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1927.

The Heidi Game moment resulted in a ratings boost from 1.5 during the final half-hour of hockey to 3.8, 4.8 and 7.5 for the next three increments of pre-race coverage. An hour after Alfredsson's winner, Curlin won by a head at Pimlico running a 1:53.46.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Today In NHL History - Canucks Fan Flashes Eager

On May 18th in 2011, a proud Vancouver Canucks fan hoisted her Henrik Sedin jersey to flash her breasts for San Jose Sharks penalized enforcer Ben Eager in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final.


Though worthy of honorable mention, Tits McGee's pierced twins were ultimately upstaged by Daniel and Henrik who combined for 5 points in a 7-3 win, giving the Canucks a 2-0 series lead largely owing to Eager's cheapshots and chatter which earned him 20 minutes in penalties.

Eager was ejected from the match 24 seconds after this penalty expired and subsequently scratched from the remainder of the series, never again skating in a NHL playoff game.

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick Fights Blues

On May 17th in 1995, Gino Odjick of the Vancouver Canucks attacked all five St. Louis Blues skaters in the third period of Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in response to Glenn Anderson spearing Pavel Bure in the eye earlier in the previous game.

The Canucks lost the game that night 8-2 but won the series 4-3.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick.
* See also Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick Runs Hasek.
* See also Today In NHL History - Odjick's Penalty Shot.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Today In NHL History - Pronger Elbows Holmstrom

On May 15th in 2007, Anaheim Ducks notorious blueliner Chris Pronger delivered a vicious elbow to the head of Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom midway through Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.

Pronger escaped penalty on the play but was subsequently suspended one game for the infraction. Defensive partner Rob Niedermayer collected a five minute boarding major for his role in the Norris sandwich.

Holmstrom returned after receiving 13 stitches, finishing the game with three points in a 5-0 win over the Ducks. Anaheim eventually dispatched Detroit 4-2 and went on to claim their first Stanley Cup.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Today In NHL History - Montreal Pregame Brawl

On May 14th in 1987, heavyweight Ed Hospodar of the Philadelphia Flyers incited a pregame brawl at the Forum attacking Montreal Canadiens sophomore Claude Lemieux prior to Game 6 of the Wales Conference Final.

Tiring of Lemieux and Shayne Corson's superstitious ritual of firing a puck into the opponent's empty net at the end of the warmup skate, Hospodar and Chico Resch returned to the ice to send a message.

Resch recalls: "I threw my stick to try and knock the puck away from him [Lemieux]. I was still in the mood that this was just fooling around. Hospodar took a different approach and he charged at Lemieux and he jumped him. I skated over and yelled at him, 'Ed, what are you doing?' And Lemieux looked up and said, 'Yeah Ed, what are you doing?'"

Et l'affaire en fran├žais.

The 11 minutes of ref-less mayhem delayed the faceoff by 17 minutes and drew $24,500 in fines. No penalties were assessed though Hospodar was suspended for the remainder of the playoffs. The Flyers advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals that night winning the game 4-3 and series 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Sylvain Lefebvre's Own Goal

On May 14th in 1994, Toronto Maple Leafs blueliner Sylvain Lefebvre scored an own goal with 3 seconds remaining in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinal against the San Jose Sharks when his clearing attempt struck teammate Peter Zezel and deflected past Felix Potvin.

Luckily for Lefebvre, the Leafs led 4-1 prior to the miscue and held on to win Game 7 by a score of 4-2, advancing to the Western Conference Final where they were eliminated by the Vancouver Canucks 4-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, May 12, 2017

NHL Presidents' Trophy Winners & Playoff Success

The Presidents' Trophy is awarded annually to the team with the best NHL regular season record. Since its inaugural offering in 1986, it has been awarded 31 times to 15 different franchises. The recipient is guaranteed home ice advantage for all four rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

Unfortunately for recipients, regular season success and home-ice advantage does not always translate in postseason success. The chart below shows each Presidents' Trophy winner by year and playoff result.

Year         Presidents' Trophy            Playoff Result
2017 Washington Capitals Lost Quarterfinal (Pittsburgh)
2016 Washington Capitals Lost Quarterfinal (Pittsburgh)
2015 New York Rangers Lost Semifinal (Tampa Bay)
2014 Boston Bruins Lost Quarterfinal (Montreal)
2013 Chicago Blackhawks Won Stanley Cup
2012 Vancouver Canucks Lost Preliminary (Los Angeles)
2011 Vancouver Canucks Lost Final (Boston)
2010 Washington Capitals Lost Preliminary (Montreal)
2009 San Jose Sharks Lost Preliminary (Anaheim)
2008 Detroit Red Wings Won Stanley Cup
2007 Buffalo Sabres Lost Semifinal (Ottawa)
2006 Detroit Red Wings Lost Preliminary (Edmonton)
2004 Detroit Red Wings Lost Quarterfinal (Calgary)
2003 Ottawa Senators Lost Semifinal (New Jersey)
2002 Detroit Red Wings Won Stanley Cup
2001 Colorado Avalanche Won Stanley Cup
2000 St. Louis Blues Lost Preliminary (San Jose)
1999 Dallas Stars Won Stanley Cup
1998 Dallas Stars Lost Semifinal (Detroit)
1997 Colorado Avalanche Lost Semifinal (Detroit)
1996 Detroit Red Wings Lost Semifinal (Colorado)
1995 Detroit Red Wings Lost Final (New Jersey)
1994 New York Rangers Won Stanley Cup
1993 Pittsburgh Penguins Lost Quarterfinal (New York)*
1992 New York Rangers Lost Quarterfinal (Pittsburgh)
1991 Chicago Blackhawks Lost Preliminary (Minnesota)^
1990 Boston Bruins Lost Final (Edmonton)
1989 Calgary Flames Won Stanley Cup
1988 Calgary Flames Lost Quarterfinal (Edmonton)
1987 Edmonton Oilers Won Stanley Cup
1986 Edmonton Oilers Lost Quarterfinal (Calgary)

* New York Islanders
^ Minnesota North Stars

Of the 31 recipients through 2011, eleven (35%) qualified for the Final and eight (26%) won the Stanley Cup (1987, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2008, 2013). Of the 20 others, six (19%) were ousted in the Preliminary round (1991, 2000, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012), eight (26%) were eliminated in the Quarterfinal (1986, 1988, 1992, 1993, 2004, 2014, 2016, 2017), and six (19%) stalled in the Semifinal (1996, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2015).

Only once in the past nine seasons has a Presidents' Trophy winner won the Stanley Cup (Chicago 2013). In fact, three teams during this span saw their season end in the opening round (San Jose 2009, Washington 2010, Vancouver 2012). Interesting, only three times in the prior 23 seasons did winners suffer such a fate (Chicago 1991, St. Louis 2000, Detroit 2006).

Earlier this week the Presidents' Trophy winning Washington Capitals had their season ended by the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the Quarterfinals.  Once again, the regular season's best fails to achieve Stanley Cup success.

* See also NHL Playoff First Round Upsets.
* See also NHL Playoff Seeding And Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also Presidents' Winners & Defending Cup Champions.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Today In NHL History - Hextall Hammers Chelios

On May 11th in 1989, Philadelphia Flyers ferocious goalie Ron Hextall attacked Montreal Canadiens defenseman Chris Chelios after play was whistled offside trailing 4-2 with 1:37 left in Game 6 of the Wales Conference Finals.

The 1987 Vezina and Conn Smythe winner come single season goaltender penalty minute record holder (113 minutes in 1989) pounced in response to Chelios' unpenalized elbow on Brian Propp ten days earlier.

Hextall received a five-minute major and match penalty coupled with a 12 game suspension commencing the following season. The Canadiens eliminated the Flyers that night winning the game and series 4-2.

Asked 20 years later if the pair had made amends, Hextall explained:

"No, we’re not friends. I've talked to him a few times. You know what, honestly, when the game's over, when your career’s over, you look back at guys like that and you respect them more than anyone else because he is a competitor. He’s one of the top competitors in the league. I look at a guy like that, would I like to have played with him? Damn right I would have. Those guys that are competitive, there's a respect there even if you can’t stand the guy. There's a respect there that never goes away. When I was standing at the bench in Detroit two years ago when we were in town who comes over to talk to me? He does. It’s in the past."
That's today in NHL history.

Presidents' Winners & Defending Cup Champions

Since the inaugural offering of the Presidents' Trophy in 1986, awarded to the team with the best regular season record, its recipient has drawn the defending Stanley Cup champions eight times in the subsequent postseason. The chart below shows each meeting by year, matchup and outcome.

Year        
Matchup                                                                  
Outcome
1988 Edmonton Oilersover Calgary Flames
4-0 (Q)
1992 Pittsburgh Penguinsover New York Rangers
4-2 (Q)
1998 Detroit Red Wingsover Dallas Stars 
4-2 (S)
2001 Colorado Avalanche over New Jersey Devils*
4-3 (F)
2002 Detroit Red Wings over Colorado Avalanche*
4-3 (S)
2011 Vancouver Canucks over Chicago Blackhawks*
4-3 (P)
2013 Chicago Blackhawks over Los Angeles Kings*
4-1 (S)
2017 Pittsburgh Penguinsover Washington Capitals 
4-3 (Q)

*  Defending Stanley Cup Champion
(P = Preliminary, Q = Quarterfinal, S = Semifinal, F = Final)

In the first three postseason meetings between the regular season's best and defending league champs, the prior year's Stanley Cup champions won (1988, 1992, 1998) and went on to hoist consecutive Stanley Cups. The next four matchups saw the Presidents' Trophy winners oust the defending Cup champions (2001, 2002, 20112013) and win the Stanley Cup in every instance but one (Vancouver 2011).

The most recent clash occurred in the Quarterfinal of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when the 2016 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Presidents' Trophy winning Washington Capitals., snapping the previous streak of Presidents' Trophy winners advancing.

This meeting marks the 10th playoff series between the clubs, with Pittsburgh holding a 9-1 advantage and a 3-0 record during the Crosby-Ovechkin era. It's also the first time that the top two regular season finishers have met in the playoffs since 2001 when Colorado met New Jersey in the Stanley Cup Final.

* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also NHL Playoff Seeding And Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff First Round Upsets. * See also NHL Presidents' Trophy Winners & Playoff Success.

Today In NHL History - Sami Salo's Balls of Steel

On May 11th in 2010, Vancouver Canucks oft-injured blueliner Sami Salo skated in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals despite catching a slapshot squarely in the family jewels two evenings earlier courtesy of Chicago Blackhawks Norris winner Duncan Keith.
The Finn's miraculous return resulted in the well-deserved raucous chant "Balls of Steel", audible at the 1:00 mark of the video below.
Chicago beat Vancouver that night by a score of 5-1 taking the series 4-2 en route to their first Stanley Cup win in 49 years.

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Today In NHL History - Bobby Orr's Goal

On May 10th in 1970, Bobby Orr scored the overtime marker in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals giving the Boston Bruins a 4-3 win and their first Stanley Cup in 29 years, sweeping Scotty Bowman's St. Louis Blues.

The image of Orr flying through the air with his arms raised after being tripped by defenseman Noel Picard at the moment the goal was scored is arguably the most famous and recognized hockey image of all time.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Walker Punches Ward

On May 10th in 2009, Carolina Hurricanes forward Scott Walker sucker-punched Boston Bruins blueliner Aaron Ward down 4-0 with three minutes remaining in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal.

Walker was penalized 17 minutes and assessed a $2,500 fine but amazingly escaped suspension despite Rules 46.12 and 46.22 mandating such for instigating a fight with 5 minutes to play. Ward didn't miss a game quieting post game chatter of a broken orbital bone.

Boston beat Carolina that night by a score of 4-0 but lost the series 4-3.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Pronger's Heart Attack

On May 10th in 1998, Chris Pronger caught a slapshot in the chest courtesy of Detroit Red Wings defenseman Dmitri Mironov causing the St. Louis Blues blueliner to suffer an acute heart attack, with his team down 4-1 with 16 minutes remaining in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinal.

Further footage may be found at the 3:35 mark of the video below.

Pronger recovered from the freak incident, returning to play four days later. Detroit beat St. Louis that afternoon 6-1, eventually winning the series in six games en route to their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

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 651 best-of-seven NHL playoff series played, 166 (25%) have resulted in a Game 7 with the home team holding a healthy 97-69 (58%) edge. The team that scores first has a 124-42 (75%) edge, including a 5-0 record in 2016. 40 of the 166 (24%) Game 7s have gone to overtime, with the home and road teams each winning 20 times (50%).

Of the 166 Game 7s, 28 times a team trailing their series 3-1 won Game 7 and 4 times a team down 3-0 in their series won Game 7.  The most Game 7s in single playoff season is seven (1994, 2011, 2014). Only three times has a postseason gone without (1970, 1973, 1977).

Over the past 29 postseasons since the 1987 expansion of all series to best-of-seven, a Game 7 has been played in 122 of the 435 series. Put another way, 28% or approximately every 1 in 3.6 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) 2014: 7 (3P, 3Q, 1S)
1999: 3 (2P, 1S) 2015: 5 (2P, 1Q, 2S)
2000: 3 (1P, 2S) 2016: 5 (2P, 2Q, 1S)
2001: 4 (3Q, F)

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

Breaking it down by round, the most Game 7s over the past 29 seasons on a percentage basis have occurred in the Stanley Cup Final (8/29 = 28%) and Preliminary (66/232 = 28%) round, followed by the Semifinal (16/58 = 27%) and Quarterfinal (32/116 = 27%) rounds. Interestingly, 6 of the past 15 Finals and 4 of the past 6 Semifinals have been decided by a seventh game. In sum, the likelihood of a Game 7 in a NHL playoff series since 1987 is 1 in 3.5 for the Stanley Cup Final and Preliminary round with a slight decrease to roughly 1 in 3.75 for the Semifinal and Quarterfinal.

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: 25 (14-11) New Jersey: 15 (7-8)
Boston: 25 (13-12) Boston: 14 (8-6)
Montreal: 23 (14-9) Pittsburgh: 14 (8-6)
Toronto: 22 (12-10) Detroit: 14 (7-7)
Philadelphia: 16 (9-7) Washington: 14 (4-10)
St. Louis: 16 (8-8) New York*: 11 (9-2)
New York*: 15 (9-6) Philadelphia: 11 (6-5)
Pittsburgh: 15 (8-7) Toronto: 11 (6-5)
New Jersey: 15 (7-8) Montreal: 10 (7-3)
Chicago: 14 (7-7) San Jose: 10 (6-4)
Washington: 14 (4-10) Vancouver: 10 (6-4)
Calgary: 12 (5-7) Colorado: 10 (4-6)
Los Angeles: 11 (7-4) St. Louis: 10 (4-6)
San Jose: 10 (6-4) Los Angeles: 8 (6-2)
Vancouver: 10 (6-4) Chicago: 8 (5-3)
Colorado: 10 (4-6) Anaheim: 8 (2-6)
Edmonton: 9 (6-3) Calgary: 8 (2-6)
Anaheim: 8 (2-6) Edmonton: 7 (5-2)
Tampa Bay: 7 (5-2) Tampa Bay: 7 (5-2)
Minnesota^: 7 (3-4) Buffalo: 6 (1-5)
New York**: 7 (3-4) Dallas: 5 (2-3)
Buffalo: 7 (1-6)(5-2) New York**: 5 (2-3)
Dallas: 5 (2-3) Ottawa: 5 (0-5)
Ottawa: 5 (0-5) Carolina: 4 (4-0)
Carolina: 4 (4-0) Minnesota^^: 3 (3-0)
Minnesota^^: 3 (3-0) Phoenix: 3 (0-3)
Quebec: 3 (2-1) Florida: 2 (1-1)
Hartford: 3 (0-3) Nashville: 2 (1-1)
Phoenix: 3 (0-3) Hartford: 2 (0-2)
Florida: 2 (1-1) Minnesota^: (0-2)
Nashville: 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 (25) in NHL history with Detroit and Montreal winning the most (14). Over the past 29 seasons, however, New Jersey has played more Game 7s (15) than anyone else with the New York Rangers winning the most (9). 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) and Columbus have never skated in one.

In terms of winning more than one Game 7 in a single postseason, 21 teams have done it twice with only two teams winning three best-of-seven series in a Game 7 in a single playoff (Boston 2011, Los Angeles 2014). 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)
2014: Los Angeles (P, Q, S)
2015: Tampa Bay (P, S)

2016: St. Louis (P, Q)

* New York Rangers

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

The 2016 postseason featured five Game 7s, with the team that scores first going 5-0, home teams holding a 3-2 record, and none recovering from a 3-1 series deficit.
Game 7 ... kill or be killed.

* 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.
* See also Canucks Game 7 Overtime & Stanley Cup Finals.