Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Oilers are playing a game seven and something horrible is about to happen

The Oilers stomped the Ducks on Sunday night, staving off elimination and forcing a seventh game Wednesday night in Anaheim. In a series that’s had a little bit of everything, Edmonton’s 7–1 blowout was just the latest unpredictable twist, and at this point it’s fair to say that anything is possible in Game 7.

But we do know one thing: Something horrible is going to happen.

The Ducks’ recent history of losing Game 7s has been well documented; they’ve dropped five in a row, including seeing each of their last four seasons end in a Game 7 loss on home ice. Last year’s loss cost Bruce Boudreau his job and had Bob Murray ripping his players.

So today, as we wait for Wednesday night's showdown, let's relive the Oilers' history of Game 7 misery (with one Game 5 thrown in for good measure). We'll count down all 10 of the winner-take-all games in the team's history, from least to most tragic.

No. 10: 1984 – Oilers 7, Flames 4

The setup: The Oilers had run away with the Presidents' Trophy, finishing 37 points up on Calgary. They'd also threatened to run away with the series, taking a 3–1 lead, before a pair of one-goal Flames wins forced a deciding game.

The game: The Flames held tough early on, coming back from an early 2–0 deficit to take a 4–3 lead midway through the second. But the Oilers poured it on from there, scoring the game's final four goals to earn a 7–4 win.

Defining memory: Reggie Lemelin made a highlight-reel save on a Pat Hughes breakaway but lost his stick in the process, and Kenny Linesman stuffed home the winner while the Flames' goalie was scrambling to retrieve it. The goal also touched off a line brawl, because this was the Battle of Alberta and that's just how they rolled.

Misery ranking: 2/10. Consider this relatively painless game as the exception that proves the rule; the late collapse was tough on the Flames, but we'd all expected an Oilers win and the Flames had done well just to push them to the limit. Calgary would get a rematch two years later. Spoiler alert: That one would be worse.

No. 9: 1998 – Oilers 4, Avalanche 0

The setup: After dropping Games 3 and 4 at home to fall behind in the series 3–1, the underdog Oilers fought back to force a seventh game against an Avalanche team looking to win their second Stanley Cup in three years.

The game: What seemed like a potential goaltender's duel between Patrick Roy and Curtis Joseph ended up being a one-sided affair, with the Oilers building a 3–0 lead by midway through the third period. They'd end up taking the game by a 4–0 final in front of a dead-quiet Colorado crowd.

Defining memory: Joseph gets wiped out in the corner by a teammate, then scrambles back to his crease to make a diving save on Rene Corbet, snuffing out any hope of a Colorado comeback.

Misery ranking: 5/10. This would be the Avalanche's only first-round loss (and only time they didn't make it at least as far as the Conference Final) in their first seven years in Colorado. More importantly for the rest of us, it ended any chance of seeing another Red Wings/Avalanche cage match.

No. 8: 1989 – Kings 6, Oilers 3

The setup: A win in the dying second of game four had put the Oilers up 3–1 in the series, but the Kings fought back to force a seventh game. (As a side note, a lot of Oilers seven-game series seem to involve teams coming back from down 3–1. This means something. I don't know what.)

Of course, this was more than just a playoff series — it was the first post-season meeting between the two teams since the previous summer's blockbuster that had sent Wayne Gretzky to Los Angeles.

The game: Gretzky opened the scoring less than a minute in, but the two teams were tied late in the second. That's when Bernie Nicholls scored the eventual winner, as the Kings went on to a 6–3 win.

Defining memory: Gretzky's empty netter sealed the deal, ending the Oilers' two-year reign as champions.

Misery ranking: 6/10. Whether losing to their former franchise player made this more or less painful for Edmonton fans is a matter of perspective. At the time, it felt like the Oilers' time as an elite NHL franchise had ended with the trade, although they'd come back and win another Cup the following season.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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