Rangers no strangers to Game 7 atmosphere
Six current Blueshirts have seen action in these rare situations
By Dan David, newyorkrangers.com
The New York Rangers have not played a Stanley Cup playoffs Game 7 in nearly 15 years since closing out Vancouver for the Cup itself on June 14, 1994.
While Rangers fans might be a bit rusty in their Game 7 viewing experience, that doesn’t mean, that the current Rangers players are unfamiliar with the experience of playing in it. In fact, roughly one in three of the 19 players who will skate tonight have been in a a Game 7 before, and four of the six have played in numerous Game 7s during their NHL careers.
|Current Rangers captain Chris Drury is shown here scoring the game-winning goal for his former Colorado team in Game 7 of the Avs's 2002 Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series vs. Los Angeles.|
Drury, known for his history of great performances in the clutch, will be playing in his ninth Game 7 tonight – by far the most of any member of the current Rangers.
He appeared in his first Game 7 with the Colorado Avalanche as a rookie in 1999, facing off against eventual Stanley Cup champion Dallas in the Western Conference Finals. The following year, he played a very strong game in the finale of seven-game series against Dallas in the conference finals. In fact, Drury set up two third-period goals in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, nearly pulling the Avs into a tie.
In 2001, Drury played on two Game 7 victors with Colorado -- in the second round against Los Angeles and in the Cup Finals vs. Gomez and the Devils. In 2002, all three of Colorado’s playoff series went seven games -- against Los Angeles in the first round, San Jose in the second round, and Detroit in the conference finals.
Drury played his most recent Game 7 with Buffalo at Carolina in the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals, but one of his Rangers teammates played in a more recent Game 7. That would be Naslund, who helped Vancouver win Game 7 over Dallas during the 2007 Western Conference Quarterfinals.
The second-most Game 7 appearances on the Rangers belongs to Gomez, who played in five seven-game series during his years with the New Jersey Devils. Gomez was 4-1 in those games, with the only loss coming against Drury’s Avalanche in the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals. The four wins came against Ottawa in the 2003 Eastern Conference Finals, Anaheim in the 2003 Cup Finals, Toronto in the 2001 second round, and Philadelphia in the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals.
Naslund and Redden have each appeared in a Game 7 four times. In addition to his 2007 appearance, Nalsund played for Vancouver in the 2004 first-round series vs. Calgary, the 2003 Round 1 series victory over St. Louis and the 2003 second-round series against Minnesota.
Redden, who scored his first playoff goal as a rookie with Ottawa during Game 7 of a first-round series vs. Buffalo in 1997, has yet to win a Game 7, despite some hard-luck losses. His Senators teams lost Game 7 to Toronto in the second round of the 2002 playoffs and the first round of the 2004 playoffs. The Sens also fell to Gomez’s Devils team in the 2003 Eastern Conference Finals.
The other Rangers with Game 7 experience are Morris with Colorado (2003 first-round series vs. Minnesota) and Antropov with the Leafs, who was on the winning side against Redden in the first round of the 2004 playoffs.
Between them, the six Rangers have been on the winning side in Game 7 a total of 11 times, but Gomez is the only Rangers player who has won a Game 7 on the road. He did it twice with New Jersey – the 2003 conference finals at Ottawa (3-2 Devils victory) and the 2000 conference finals at Philadelphia (2-1 Devils victory).
Drury is the only current Rangers player to score a game-winning goal in a Game 7, having achieved that feat with Colorado in both the 2001 and 2002 series vs. Los Angeles
Here is a look at the Game 7 scoring performances of the six current Rangers with winner-take-all experience in the Stanley Cup playoffs: