Game seven for the Stanley Cup! I haven’t been following the playoffs nearly as intently as I used to, but even if it’s hard to relate to hockey in June when your team isn’t in it (which it most definitely is) … well — it’s still Game seven for the Stanley Cup!
For those who’ve been following even less intently than I have, it’s the Boston Bruins versus the St. Louis Blues. The Blues — who joined the NHL as part of the expansion that saw the league double from six teams to 12 back in 1967–68 — have never won the Stanley Cup before. Boston has won it six times, with its first victory coming 90 years ago in 1929. Even so, the Bruins have never been part of a seventh game for all the marbles on home ice.
I heard someone mention on the radio the other day that this was the Bruins’ first Game seven at home, but that’s not quite as remarkable as it sounds. Boston did win its last Stanley Cup title in a seventh game in Vancouver back in 2011, but this is only the 17th Game seven since the Stanley Cup Final was expanded beyond a best-of-five format 80 years ago in the spring of 1939. (Boston beat Toronto 4 games to 1 that year.) In all that time, seven-game series have been the rarest of all possible outcomes:
Four games: 20 times
Five games: 19 times
Six games: 24 times
Seven games: 17 times
Boston becomes just the 12th NHL city to host a seventh game for the Stanley Cup. New York and Chicago (two other so-called “Original Six” cities) have only hosted the grand finale once. Montreal also has just one Game seven at home. Only the Red Wings and Maple Leafs have had a seventh game on home ice more than once. Toronto won the first Game seven for the Stanley Cup at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1942, and did so again in 1964. Detroit (who lost both of those games, by the way) has hosted the seventh game five times overall, winning three and losing two. Complete Game seven results are as follows:
June 15, 2011 Boston 4 at Vancouver 0
June 12, 2009 Pittsburgh 2 at Detroit 1
June 19, 2006 Edmonton 1 at Carolina 3
June 7, 2004 Calgary 1 at Tampa Bay 2
June 9, 2003, Anaheim 0 at New Jersey 3
June 9, 2001 New Jersey 1 at Colorado 3
June 14, 1994 Vancouver 2 at NY Rangers 3
May 31, 1987 Philadelphia 1 at Edmonton 3
May 18, 1971 Montreal 3 at Chicago 2
May 1, 1965 Chicago 0 at Montreal 4
April 24, 1964 Detroit 0 at Toronto 4
April 14, 1955 Montreal 1 at Detroit 3
April 16, 1954 Montreal 1 at Detroit 2 (OT)
April 23, 1950 NY Rangers 3 at Detroit 4 (2OT)
April 22, 1945 Toronto 2 at Detroit 1
April 18, 1942 Detroit 1 at Toronto 3
When the Bruins won their first Stanley Cup title in 1929, the final was just a best-of-three affair. Boston swept the New York Rangers in two straight.
Back in April, I wrote about the new playoff format that was introduced that year. It saw the Bruins, who’d finished first in the NHL’s American Division, play the Montreal Canadiens, who’d finished first in the Canadian Division, for one spot in the Stanley Cup Final, while the second and third place teams in those divisions played their only little mini playoff for the other spot. Even though the odd format had been introduced by Bruins owner Charles Adams and his general manager Art Ross, Boston sportswriters couldn’t help mocking the fact that the toughest series already seemed to be over and that the Rangers now had a chance to beat the Bruins for the Stanley Cup despite having lost five of six games to them during the regular season. A Boston Globe columnist known as “Sportsman” wrote before Game one on March 28 that, “The series starting tonight looks a good deal like an anticlimax to a season that has about run its course.”
And with the Bruins on the verge of clinching the Cup title in the second game the very next day, “Sportsman” wondered…
What would he possibly have made of hockey still being played in June?
But, hey, if you’re watching tonight (as I will be), enjoy the game!