You know what they say: There’s nothing is better than a Game 7.
Well… usually. After six games of back-and-forth action, a deciding seventh game is almost always worth watching. The stakes are high, the teams are evenly matched, and the drama can be off the charts. It’s where reputations can be forged and championship dreams can be crushed, and many of the greatest moments in hockey history have come in Game 7.
But every now and then, a Game 7 serves up a dud. That was the case Wednesday night, when the Blues went into Dallas and smoked the Stars 6-1. Hopefully we’ll get something a little more entertaining in Thursday’s Sharks-Predators showdown. But it’s always wise to prepare for the worst. So today, let’s take a look at five games that will join the Stars and Blues as the worst Game 7 of the last 25 years.
1992: Devils vs. Rangers
The dramatic build: The Rangers had won the Presidents’ Trophy, but were facing heavy pressure under the weight of years of playoff disappointment. They added key pieces like Mark Messier and Adam Graves at the start of the season and were boasting a massive payroll in an attempt to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup since 1940. But they were facing an underdog Devils team that was putting up a fight – literally, in some case, including a wild bench-clearing brawl at the end of Game 6.
The dud: Despite the high stakes and bad blood, Game 7 was never competitive. Messier, Graves and Darren Turcotte all scored twice, and the Rangers were up 6-1 midway through the second period. They’d end up taking an 8-4 decision in what went on to be ranked the worst Game 7 (in any sport) in Madison Square Garden history.
Of course, two years later the two teams would get another shot at Game 7, this time in the conference final. That one ended up being just a little more memorable.
1993: Blues vs. Maple Leafs
The dramatic build: Both teams had scored first round upsets, with the Leafs knocking off the Red Wings in seven while the Blues shocked the Blackhawks in four. Their series started with a pair of double-overtime classics, and a dominant storyline quickly emerged: It was the high-powered offense of Doug Gilmour and the Maple Leafs vs. the spectacular goaltending of Blues’ first-year starter Curtis Joseph. After Joseph stood on his head to win a tight 2-1 decision in Game 6, the two teams headed back to Toronto for a series-deciding showdown.
The dud: Joseph picked the wrong time to unveil his Hardy Astrom impression, surrendering four goals in the opening period to decide the game before the first intermission had arrived.
The lead had grown to 6-0 by midway through the second, and that held up as the final in a game that’s probably best remembered for one of the only shots Joseph did stop – with his face.
For what it’s worth, this may not even have been the most miserable Game 7 for the early-90s Blues, with the other just missing the 25-year cutoff. Things were arguably even worse for St. Louis in 1990, when they dropped an 8-2 loss to the Blackhawks. But at least nobody took a slapshot between the eyes in that one.