Stanley Cup Final: Game 7 by the numbers

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It all comes down to one game.

Somebody is going to win the Stanley Cup on Wednesday night in Boston when the St. Louis Blues visit the Bruins in a winner-take-all Game 7 (8 p.m. ET, NBC; Live Stream) that will either produce a historic night for St. Louis (first Stanley Cup) or be a continuation of Boston’s recent professional sports dominance.

Here are some numbers and facts to help get you ready for the big night.

Game 7 Historical Numbers

• This will be the first Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final since the Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks during the 2010-11 postseason. It is only the fourth Game 7 in the salary cap era (starting with the 2005-06 season) and will join 2006 in Carolina, 2009 in Detroit, and 2011. The road team has won two of the previous three games. This will be the 17th Game 7 in Stanley Cup Final history. The home team has a 12-4 record in the previous 16 games.

• Wednesday’s game will be the first time the Bruins have ever hosted Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, and it is one of the most expensive tickets the city has ever seen for a sporting event.

• This is the sixth Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, making it the seventh time that the NHL has had that many Game 7s in a single year.

This will be the second time the Bruins have had to play at least two Game 7s in a single postseason, joining their 2011 championship season when they played in — and won — three different Game 7s.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will set an NHL record on Wednesday by playing in his 14th career Game 7, snapping a tie between him, Scott Stevens, and Patrick Roy.

Of the previous 16 Game 7s in Stanley Cup Final history, only two of them have required overtime. Pete Babando scored for the Detroit Red Wings to lift them over the New York Rangers in 1950. Four years later Tony Leswick scored again for the Red Wings to beat the Montreal Canadiens.

This will be the 28th Game 7 in Bruins history (most all time) where they own a 15-12 record. The Blues will be playing in their 18th Game 7 and are 9-8 in their previous games.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

How They Got Here This Postseason

• If the Blues are going to win the Stanley Cup they are going to have to win another game on the road, something they have been great at this postseason. So great, in fact, that they have been better on the road than they have at home. They enter Wednesday’s game with a 9-3 away record. They finished the postseason with a losing record (6-7) on home ice.

The biggest key for the Blues will be maintaining their discipline and staying out of the penalty box due to the strength of the Bruins’ power play. Boston enters Game 7 having converted on 32.9 percent of its power plays this postseason. No team in NHL history with a minimum of 20 playoff games has ever had a higher power play percentage in a single postseason. The next best team was the 2017-18 Washington Capitals who finished at 29.3 percent. After them no other team has had a mark higher than 27 percent.

One of the biggest factors in that power play success: Patrice Bergeron and his seven power play goals. Before this season he had scored just six postseason power play goals in his entire career.

Among goalies with at least 20 games played in a single postseason, Tuukka Rask‘s .938 save percentage is currently the sixth highest of all time. Jordan Binnington‘s mark of .912 is 44th.

With one point in Game 7 Ryan O'Reilly will set a new franchise record for most points in a single postseason. He enters the game tied with Bernie Federko, Doug Gilmour, and Brett Hull at the top of the list.

If Binnington and the Blues get the win on Wednesday he will become the first rookie goalie to ever win 16 games in a single postseason. He is currently tied with Patrick Roy, Cam Ward, Ron Hextall, and Matt Murray with 15 wins. Three of the other four (Roy, Ward, Murray) won the Stanley Cup in their seasons.

During 5-on-5 play the series has been mostly even, with the two teams separated by just a single goal. The Blues still have a slight edge in the shot attempts and scoring chance metrics, but it is very fitting that this series has required seven games given that the Blues and Bruins were two of the NHL’s best teams since the beginning of January. Since Jan. 1 they were second and third in points percentage (both trailing only the Tampa Bay Lightning) and were both in the top-seven in shot attempt differential and scoring chance differential.

More Blues-Bruins Game 7
Blues vs. Bruins: Three keys for Game 7
The Wraparound: It is all on line for Blues-Bruins 
Which Blues, Bruins player will get Stanley Cup handoff?
Conn Smythe watch
Stanley Cup roundtable discussion

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Penguins remain hot with win vs. Avalanche

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Brandon Tanev notched a shorthanded goal in overtime to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel also scored as Pittsburgh recorded its fourth straight victory. Matt Murray added 26 saves.

Matt Calvert and Nathan MacKinnon found the back of the net for the Avalanche but their six-game point streak to open the season came to an end.

Crosby continues to dazzle

The Penguins captain has clearly moved on from a disappointing playoff run last year, which ended in a first-round sweep at the hands of the Islanders. Instead, Crosby is off to a tremendous start, recording points in each of Pittsburgh’s seven games and leading the club on the ice to a 5-2-0 record.

Crosby netted a highlight-reel backhander to tie the game late in the first period and then assisted on a Jake Guentzel tally in the second.

The superstar center craftily tipped the puck around Erik Johnson, played the puck with his glove, and then somehow had the wherewithal to outlast goaltender Philipp Grubauer until an opening appeared for him to slide a backhander into the net.

Early in the second period, Crosby intercepted a pass at the blueline, then set up Guentzel to help the Penguins grab a 2-1 lead.

While several notable players remain sidelined, Crosby will be expected to lead the Penguins on the ice, and continue to improve the players around him. Pittsburgh will need Crosby to play at the top of his game until reinforcements return over the next few weeks.

Avalanche upcoming free agents

After the Mikko Rantanen contract issue this past summer, the Avalanche have several pending RFA’s for next summer.

Colorado is expected to be a legit Stanley Cup Contender with a great mix of dynamic playmakers, infusion of youth and seasoned veterans capable of leading the way during turbulent stretches.

However, Bob McKenzie offered that general manager Joe Sakic wants to see how the first part of the season plays out before engaging in contract talks.

Andre Burakovsky, Tyson Jost and Nikita Zadorov headline the pending RFA class and all presumably have a role to fill moving forward.

Is Lafferty here to stay?

The Penguins have been bitten by the injury bug early and have been forced to rely on their organizational depth to stay afloat during a challenging stretch.

During their Stanley Cup-winning years, the Penguins have always been able to call up a role player to fill a specific need. Is Sam Lafferty the next player to seamlessly fit in?

Lafferty was close to making the team out of training camp according to Bob McKenzie, but fell victim to the numbers game of a roster. However, injuries to five impact forwards — Evgeni Malkin, Nick Bjugstad, Alex Galchenyuk, Bryan Rust and Jared McCann — created a roster spot for him to slide in.

“We always felt like Sam was close coming into this training camp this year. But I think he has a whole lot more confidence in himself that he belongs here,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “And that’s great for him, and that’s great for us.”

The 24-year-old originally from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, about two hours outside of Pittsburgh, Lafferty has taken advantage of the opportunity recording five points over the previous three games.

“He’s earned his playing time. He’s just playing terrific hockey,” Sullivan said. “He made a difference every game he’s been in. As a result, he’s getting more ice time. He’s a very good penalty-killer. I think he really understands his role and is taking pride in it. You can see it every shift. He’s gaining more confidence.”

The Penguins have done an excellent job in sliding players into appropriate roles, and Lafferty is just the latest example. Does the kid have what it takes to stick around for a full season and continue to make a difference? We will find out as the season goes on.

MORE: Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV Schedule

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Blue Jackets’ Milano scores ridiculous between-the-legs goal vs. Stars

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Sidney Crosby scored a wonderful highlight reel goal despite hard-working defense, yet he has some competition for Wednesday’s best one-man effort.

Sonny Milano hasn’t always been able to justify being selected 16th overall in 2014 by the Columbus Blue Jackets, but there have been flashes of brilliance when he’s avoided landed in John Tortorella’s doghouse. The 23-year-old authored his best NHL effort so far against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday, beating Esa Lindell, Roope Hintz, and Ben Bishop, making a great move and then finishing his chance with the sort of between-the-legs move you’d see in a shootout.

You’re just not supposed to be able to that at full speed in NHL action, particularly against quality players and Bishop, who finished second in Vezina voting in 2018-19.

That goal ended up standing as the game-winner as Columbus beat Dallas 3-2 on Wednesday, too.

So, which goal do you prefer: Milano’s (above this post’s headline) or Crosby’s from the Penguins’ eventual 3-2 OT win against the Colorado Avalanche?

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Flyers visit Oilers on NBCSN

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Wednesday’s matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers. Coverage begins at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Oilers have missed the playoffs 12 of the last 13 seasons, but this year has started successfully under new GM Ken Holland and new head coach Dave Tippett. Edmonton won their first five games of the season before losing on Monday in Chicago, 3-1. Still, with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl carrying the load as usual, boosted by a torrid scoring pace from James Neal, the Oilers have shown promise early on.

The Oilers’ two superstars both have four goals and eight assists and are tied for the league lead with 12 points. They are tied with Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine, who have played two more games.

During the Oilers season-opening five-game winning streak, they became the first team in NHL history to win their first five games despite trailing at some point in each of those games.

Tonight, Carter Hart will play his first NHL game in his hometown; Hart was born in Sherwood Park, Alberta, which is just east of Edmonton. Hart did play the Oilers last season, but only in Philly; he was called up to the NHL three days after the Flyers played at Edmonton.

Hart’s mother Shauna will be in attendance, but his father John is in Regina on business and will not be at the game. In addition to Shauna, Hart’s longtime sports psychologist John Stevenson (who also works with Braden Holtby) will be there – the first time Stevenson will see Hart play an NHL game in person.

Prior to the game in Calgary yesterday, the Flyers signed Chris Stewart to a one-year contract after he joined the team on a PTO in the offseason. Stewart had three hits in 9:12 of ice time – his first NHL game since March of 2018.

[COVERAGE OF FLYERS-OILERS BEGINS AT 9:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

WHAT: Philadelphia Flyers at Edmonton Oilers
WHERE: Rogers Place
WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 9:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Flyers-Oilers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

FLYERS
Claude GirouxKevin Hayes – James van Riemsdsyk
Oskar LindblomSean CouturierTravis Konecny
Tyler PitlickScott LaughtonJakub Voracek
Chris Stewart – Michael Raffl – Carsen Twarnyski

Ivan ProvorovJustin Braun
Travis SanheimMatt Niskanen
Robert HaggShayne Gostisbehere

Starting goalie: Carter Hart

OILERS
Leon Draisaitl – Connor McDavid – Zack Kassian
Alex ChiassonRyan Nugent-Hopkins – James Neal
Jujhar KhairaRiley Sheahan – Patrick Russell
Tomas Jurco – Markus GranlundJosh Archibald

Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
Oscar KlefbomJoel Persson
Kris RussellMatthew Benning

Starting goalie: Mikko Koskinen

MORE: Oilers’ Neal comfortable again in bounce-back season

Kathryn Tappen will host NHL Live on Wednesday with analysts Patrick Sharp, Roenick and NHL insider Bob McKenzie. Chris Cuthbert and Ray Ferraro will have the call of Flyers-Oilers from Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.

Sidney Crosby bamboozles Avs with absurd backhand goal

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are hosting the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday Night Hockey (airing on NBCSN; watch live), which means hockey fans are treated to Sidney Crosby vs. Nathan MacKinnon.

Now, with hockey, you don’t always get to see two superstars actually face off, as coaches sometimes avoid best-on-best matchups. Delightfully, we’ve seen Crosby vs. MacKinnon quite a bit through the early stages of Wednesday’s games, and both have managed to dazzle.

… Crosby’s won the first round, though. He set up some great chances with pinpoint passes to Dominik Simon and Jake Guentzel, but the Penguins couldn’t get on the board until Crosby took things into his own (back)hands. In a truly mind-blowing display of skill and timing, Crosby corralled a bouncing puck, beat Erik Johnson and Samuel Girard‘s pokecheck attempt, and then waited out Philipp Grubauer to score a highlight-reel goal.

MacKinnon, meanwhile, is off to tougher start. That’s mainly because of a debatable hit by Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist:

MacKinnon seemed shaken up by the hit, yet he didn’t appear to leave the Avs’ bench. Sometimes we see players realize that they were injured after the adrenaline of game action wears off, so this is a situation to watch. (Ed Olczyk mentioned that MacKinnon was “laboring” early in the second period.

On one hand, MacKinnon struggled at times …

On the other, he managed to score later in the game, so who knows?

You can watch the Avalanche-Penguins stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.