By Rob Ficiur
As the playoffs (in any sport) roll on, I rarely find time to watch after my team(s) have been eliminated. However, no matter the sport – when a Game #7 comes around, I suddenly find time. This past weekend hockey fan (atics) had two Game #7’s to watch.
Why are Game #7’s such a draw? A simple answer is that the winner moves on and the loser is eliminated. But there is more than that. In soccer and football all playoff games are sudden death. When two teams play to a seventh game it feels different. For nearly two weeks the teams have faced each other. Each seemed to have momentum then lost it. Both sides have worked so hard it is a shame that one team has to lose. With so many variables going into a seventh and deciding game predictions rarely are accurate.
The following are trivia facts about NHL Game #7’s.
-The NHL has had 635 seven game playoff series; of these 161 (25.3%) have needed game #7. The home team has a record of 98-63 (61%) winning record in Game #7.
-This year there have been five Game 7’s in the first fourteen rounds (36%). The home team has a 3-2 (60%) record this year. The home teams were 3-0 this year until both home teams lost this weekend.
-When Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop shut out the Rangers on Friday he became the third goalie in NHL history to post two game 7 shutouts in a single season. What does history predict about Bishop’s shutout success? The other two goalies he shares the record with had different fates. Tim Thomas won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011; while Patrick Roy’s Avalanche were eliminated in the semi-finals.
-New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist held an NHL record of six consecutive Game #7 victories before Friday’s game. His team mates Martin St. Louis, Dominic Moore and Dan Girardi had 6-1 records in deciding games. The New York Rangers had never lost a Game #7 at home. With all those numbers going for them on paper, the Rangers lost 2-0 on the ice Friday.
-Several players added to impressive Game 7 records this weekend. In Tampa Bay perfect streaks continued for three players: Anton Stralman (7-0), Brian Boyle (6-0) and Matt Carle (5-0) help the young Lightning win the big game. Chicago Black Hawks forward Brad Richards won his eighth career Game #7. This ties him with Ray Bourque and Glenn Andersen for the most Game #7 victories in a career.
The career NHL leader in Game #7 goals is LA’s Justin Williams with 7. Glenn Anderson and Williams are tied for NHL with 14 Game #7 points in their career.
-Anaheim Coach, Bruce Boudreau lost his sixth straight Game #7 on Saturday. Three times as the Head Coach of the Washington Capitals, Boudreau was eliminated in game seven. This year is the third year in a row that Boudreau’s Ducks have been lost Game #7 on home ice. In the regular season Boudreau has a .664 winning percentage but his playoff record is only .521. Taking the 2015 Ducks to the third round is the furthest he has ever taken a team. Losing again in Game #7 (again) makes people wonder if he is the right coach to take a team to the next level. On the other hand if a coach has great regular seasons and gets his team to a Game#7 he is doing something right. The players should bear their share of fans’ frustration. This weekend Anaheim was not the happiest place in the world.
The only thing better than two Game #7’s on a weekend would be to have Game #7 in the Stanley Cup final. In the last 25 years, seven Stanley Cup finals (28%) were decided in Game #7. June 17 is the day when Game #7 will be played (if needed). While both teams would prefer to win it much quicker than that – fans would once again catch Game 7 fever and ignore their lawns and outside chores for one more Game 7 treat.