7s are very cool, very special, great moments in sports. Teams want you to avoid them because they can be such bad guys but when you get to them they will be embraced, appreciated and put to bases in “I was there” memory banks.
Where will Game 7 of Sunday’s game at the Edmonton Oilers Stanley Stanley Cup playoffs end in your personal ranking for the game you watched?
I will have the privilege of being in the press box for all 11 7s in Oilers history. In different directions, they were all memory makers.
• 1984 Calgary
Wayne Gretzky said he’s obsessed with his first 7 game of the day. “All I thought about was questions. Where have I been? Why didn’t I perform? This was the most important match of my career to this point. It was the most important match in the history of our organization.” Gretzky snatched the match by the throat and the Oilers won 7-4 and went on to win their first Stanley Cup.
• 1986 Calgary
On the back of a raw novice, the breed died. On his 23rd birthday, Steve Smith effectively finished one of the greatest match streaks ever played. With a 2-2 draw, Smith came out behind his net and attempted an ice pass, and goalkeeper Grant Four hit the net at 5:14 of the third half. Calgary would go on to win 3-2 to cut five in a row Stanley Cup.
• 1987 Philadelphia
The first game of 21-year-old Kelly Buchberger’s career was game seven of the Stanley Cup Final. tense? “If it was a race horse, we would have to scratch it,” said Craig McTavish. The Oilers won 3-1. “The man for us was Gretzky. Wayne showed why he’s the greatest player in the world,” said coach Glenn Sather. But it was Flyers goalkeeper Ron Hextal who made 40 saves in Match 7 in Edmonton who won the Conn Smythe MVP award.
• 1989 Los Angeles
Gretzky was sold to the Kings and the Oilers would meet the Kings in the second round. Marc Messier went out of his way to hit #99 early in the series. “I am the godfather to his daughter Paulina,” Messier said. In Los Angeles, the Kings won Game 7, 6-3 to become only the fourth team in history to lose 3-1 to win a series.
• 1990 WINNIPEG
Bill Ranford was a mess against the Oilers in game one and early in the first round of the series. “He’s not the first goalkeeper to have his problems. It’s up to Bailey to respond,” coach John McCler said. Ranford played superbly in a pair of 4-3 wins and the Oilers went home in Game 7 and won it 4-1. Oilers went on to win the Stanley Cup Fifth, Ranford won Smythe as the best player in the supplement.
• 1991 Calgary
Winning a Stanley Cup playoff in Game 7. Another thing is to put your name in Game 7 the way Issa Tekanen did to win it. Tikkanen scored three goals including the winner in 6:10 of overtime. This will be the last time the two qualifying teams meet in the Battle of Alberta.
• 1997 Dallas
The following year, after Edmonton won twice in overtime from the first round series against the Dallas Stars, Todd Marchant won it in the OT in Game 7 at Reunion Arena. Marchant went in alone and fired a shot off former Euler blocker Andy Mogg to win 4-3 at 12:26 of overtime. The Oilers had eight budding players in the game.
• 1998 Colorado
Opening the playoffs against the avalanche, the Oilers seemed to be on the cusp of an early exit, but racked up big wins facing eliminations in Game 5 and Game 6 to finish in Game 7 at McNichols Arena. “I don’t think there was anyone who thought we’d come here for one game and go four goals ahead,” Suther said of the 4-0 win.
• 2006 Carolina
It was the first time two previous WHA franchises had reached the final, and the first time two teams who had missed the playoffs the previous season had featured. If Dwayne Rawson, the GM goalkeeper Kevin Lowe who got him mid-season, wasn’t hurt in the first game, it would probably be his sixth championship trophy. A 4-0 win in Game 6 sent the Oilers into Game 7 in the Carolinas, where they lost 3-1.
• 2017 Anaheim
The Ducks won 2-1 in the Pacific Division Final as the Ducks finished a streak of four consecutive losses in Game Seven at home to the Honda Center. They have not advanced on their soil in the organization since the first game. Edmonton has lost four of its last five games. “You shouldn’t even have had a 7, so you know it sucks to lose that game,” said Oilers striker Milan Lucic.