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Going The Distance

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTRÉAL -- After a punishing 82 game season, and an even more punishing two months of playoff action, the Canucks and Bruins get set to battle it out in the 16th Game 7 in Stanley Cup finals history.


Thirty teams before them know just what it feels like to have an entire season boil down to a single game. For Vancouver, Wednesday night will mark the chance to find success where the 1993-94 edition of the Canucks fell short against the Rangers, winning the club its first Stanley Cup. For the Bruins, after being pushed to the limit against both the Canadiens and the Lightning, it marks their chance to become the first team ever to win three Game 7s in a single playoff run.

While the Bruins may have momentum on their side thanks to Monday night’s win in Boston, the Canucks can look forward to having history on their side as 12 of the last 15 home teams to host a Game 7 final went on to win the cup. Look for Vancouver to cash in on their league-best season by trying to follow in the footsteps of the New Jersey Devils who took the Cup in seven games in 2003 by closing out a series in which the home team won every game played.

Closer to home, the Canadiens have definitely dealt with their share of heart-pounding Game 7s, going the distance in 1954, 1955, 1965 and 1971. Montreal teams coached by Dick Irving in 1954 and by Toe Blake in 1955, came up short against the Detroit Red Wings in their first two trips to the end of the line, with their 1954 clash representing the last time the seventh game of a final series stretched into overtime. The Red Wings and the Canadiens stand above the pack as the two teams to have played in the most Stanley Cup final Game 7s, with Detroit appearing in 46,7% of them and the Habs in 26,7%.

Luckily, the Hockey Gods would have a kinder fate in store for the Canadiens the next time they found themselves in similar circumstances. In 1965, the Blackhawks marched into the Forum ready to carry Lord Stanley’s Cup back to the U.S., but Toe Blake and his crew had other ideas. The Habs exploded out of the gate scoring four first-period goals while Gump Worsley posted a shutout to lock in the win. The Blackhawks and the Canadiens would meet again for an ultimate Game 7 in 1971, this time in Chicago. While the venue may have changed, the results did not, as the Habs hoisted the Cup on enemy ice after downing the Blackhawks 3-2.

Including Wednesday night’s game at Rogers Arena, six of the 16 ultimate Game 7s that have been played in NHL history have taken place over the last 10 years.

Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.


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