The Wraparound: Rangers, Hurricanes boast incredible Game 7 records

The Wraparound: Rangers, Hurricanes both boast incredible Game 7 records
Left Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images; Right Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television information.

• While the Lightning keep resting up, they’ll find out their opponent as the Hurricanes and Rangers clash in Game 7 on Monday.

• Fans get treated to a playoff clash of superstars out West. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and the Oilers will face Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, and the Avalanche in the 2022 Western Conference Final.

Jason Spezza announced his retirement from the NHL on Sunday. He’s joining the Maple Leafs front office.

As exciting as a Game 7 can be (and as much as NHL coaches obsess about staying sharp over getting rested), most teams would admit it’s not a “best practice” to play too many do-or-die contests. That said, it’s startling just how proficient both the Rangers and Hurricanes have been in Game 7 situations.

During their past eight Game 7 matchups, the Rangers have won seven and lost once. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, have been perfect since relocating from Hartford. If they prevail over the Rangers on Monday, the Hurricanes would become the first team in NHL history to win seven consecutive Game 7 contests.

Ultimately, something has to give in Game 7 on Monday (8 p.m. ET).

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and recall the many Game 7 high points for the Hurricanes and Rangers.

Hurricanes: a perfect 6-0 in Game 7s since relocating

2006 Stanley Cup run powered by Game 7 wins

Some of Rod Brind’Amour’s best moments as a player took place as the Hurricanes shockingly won a Stanley Cup in the batty 2005-06 season.

As far as Game 7s go, the Hurricanes first beat the Sabres 4-2 at home in the 2006 Eastern Conference Final.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

Buffalo Sabres fans likely attach a lot of angst — though a different flavor of angst than recent feelings related to futility — to this one. A banged-up Buffalo blueline eventually caved in, with Jay McKee’s puck over the glass burned into many memories.

A couple weeks later, the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup by overcoming Chris Pronger and an even-more-unlikely Oilers finalist in a Game 7.

‘Shock at the Rock’ and other past Hurricanes Game 7 triumphs

On April 28, 2009, it looked like the Devils would hold on for a home Game 7 win against the Hurricanes. (Or, at least, the game would go into overtime).

Instead, Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal stunned Brodeur and the Devils with two late goals, producing “The Shock at the Rock.”

If you want a very deep dive on “The Shock at the Rock,” check out this 2020 breakdown from Ford Hatchett of Canes Country.

During that same 2009 run, the Hurricanes beat the Bruins in overtime in Boston. Let’s just say Scott Walker was a touch excited. It’s the sort of moment that lingers for certain Bruins fans.

Modern era, plus a note about the past

The Hurricanes wouldn’t play another Game 7 for about a decade.

On April 24, 2019, Rod Brind’Amour won his first playoff series as Hurricanes head coach when Brock McGinn scored off of a Justin Williams deflection against the Capitals in double overtime. You can see that goal around the three-minute mark:

The sixth Hurricanes Game 7 win should be fresh in most memories. With two Max Domi goals, the Hurricanes controlled Game 7 against the Bruins in the First Round.

So, that covers the Hurricanes’ history in such “win or go home” situations. It’s worth noting that, while they’re 6-0 in Game 7s as the Carolina Hurricanes, the franchise lost all three Game 7 contests as the Hartford Whalers.

Harsh.

Rangers’ iconic 1994 Stanley Cup win featured Game 7 triumphs

Naturally, the New York Rangers boast a longer Game 7 history, including losing their first four such contests in 1939, 1950, 1971, and 1974.

However, the Rangers’ more recent Game 7 history is rich with success.

Some of the most iconic moments from the Rangers’ curse-killing 1994 Stanley Cup run came in Game 7 situations. MSG Network put together a nice little documentary of Stephane Matteau’s memorable Game 7 heroics for the Rangers over the Devils.

(Fans in the tri-state area will either want you to know that the Rangers also beat the Devils in a 1992 Game 7, or really not want to broach the subject, in general.)

Then, Mark Messier, Brian Leetch and the Rangers beat the Canucks in Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final:

Plenty of recent successes

While the Rangers haven’t won a Stanley Cup since then that remarkable streak-breaking run, they’ve won a lot of Game 7 matchups nonetheless.

Over the last decade, the Rangers won two Game 7 matches against the Penguins and Capitals; in each case, one win came at Madison Square Garden, while the other happened on the road.

The vast majority of those contests have happened at Madison Square Garden.

That includes the Rangers completing their First Round comeback against the Penguins in Game 7 this postseason. There were plenty of dramatics in that one, as the Rangers needed to rally to win in overtime.

[NHL Power Rankings: 2021-22 surprises]

Will the Hurricanes strange home/road dichotomy continue in Game 7, or will the Rangers remain scrappy while facing elimination?

For what it’s worth, the NHL notes that home teams are 111-78 all-time in Game 7s (58.7%). Normally, you’d say that Carolina hopes history repeats itself. Considering the success of both franchises in these situations, it may be important to ask: “Whose history?”

2022 NHL playoff schedule: Eastern Conference Final

CAROLINA HURRICANES/NEW YORK RANGERS v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Game 1 – June 1: Lightning at Hurricanes/Rangers, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)
Game 2 – June 3: Lightning at Hurricanes/Rangers, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)
Game 3 – June 5: Hurricanes/Rangers at Lightning, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)
Game 4 – June 7: Hurricanes/Rangers at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)
*Game 5 – June 9: Lightning at Hurricanes/Rangers, 8 p.m. ET (TBD)
*Game 6 – June 11: Hurricanes/Rangers at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (TBD)
*Game 7 -June 14: Lightning at Hurricanes/Rangers, 8 p.m. ET (TBD)

* If necessary

2022 NHL playoff schedule: Western Conference Final

EDMONTON OILERS v. COLORADO AVALANCHE
Game 1 – May 31: Oilers at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (TNT, SN, CBC, TVAS)
Game 2 – June 2: Oilers at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (TNT, SN, CBC, TVAS)
Game 3 – June 4: Avalanche at Oilers, 8 p.m. ET (TNT, SN, CBC, TVAS)
Game 4 – June 6: Avalanche at Oilers, 8 p.m. ET (TNT, SN, CBC, TVAS)
*Game 5 – June 8: Oilers at Avalanche, TBD
*Game 6 – June 10: Avalanche at Oilers, TBD
*Game 7 – June 12: Oilers at Avalanche, TBD

* If necessary

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    Stanley Cup champion Avalanche steadily returning to health

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    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Had his coach been watching, this might have made for an anxious moment: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar catching an edge and falling in the fastest skater contest.

    Jared Bednar wasn’t tuned in, though, and had no idea what happened in the skills contest over All-Star weekend. Only that Makar emerged from his crash into the boards just fine.

    These days, things are definitely looking up for the Stanley Cup champions on the injury front. Defenseman Bowen Byram returns to the lineup, along with forward Valeri Nichushkin. Defenseman Josh Manson is creeping closer to a return. Same for captain Gabriel Landeskog, who’s yet to play this season. Forward Darren Helm is progressing, too.

    In spite of all their bumps and bruises, the Avalanche entered the All-Star break in a playoff spot. To weather the injury storm, Colorado has relied on 39 different skaters this season, a mark that’s tied for the most in a single season since the team relocated to Denver in 1995.

    “Anybody we can get back right now is huge,” said Makar, whose team kicks off a three-game trip Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.

    Byram returns after being sidelined with a lower-body injury since early November. He was an integral part of their Stanley Cup run a season ago, when he led all rookies with nine assists in the postseason. Byram was off to a fast start this season – two goals and three assists in 10 games – before his injury.

    “He’s looking great. He’s buzzing out there,” Makar said of his fellow blue liner. “Hopefully it doesn’t take him too long to get back into game mode. But I think he’s a guy that can turn it on pretty quickly.”

    Byram missed a chunk of games last season as he dealt with concussion symptoms. This time, he was able to be around the team as he worked his way back.

    “I was just happy it wasn’t my head,” Byram said. “It was a lot easier to be out when you’re still feeling good and feel like yourself. … I’m just excited to get going again.”

    Count on Byram for as many minutes as necessary, too.

    “I’m 100%, so no reason to ease into it,” Byram said. “I’m confident with jumping back in.”

    Manson will join the Avalanche on the trip so he can skate with the squad. He’s been out with a lower-body injury since the start of December.

    “I do think it helps to get on the road, be around the guys,” Bednar said.

    Landeskog could be back “fairly soon,” Bednar said, but didn’t have a definitive timeline quite yet. The longtime Avalanche captain has been sidelined since knee surgery in October.

    The Avalanche entered the All-Star break on quite a roll, winning seven of their last eight. They’ve amassed 57 points, which trails Dallas (66 points at the All-Star break), Winnipeg (65) and Minnesota (58) in the Central Division.

    One thing the Avalanche are guarding against is another slow start out off the break. It happened over Christmas when the team had a few days off and promptly went 0-4-1 upon their return.

    “It’s just shifting the mentality back to game mode. No more vacation,” Makar said. “We still have a long way to go. We’re not where we want to be right now. But there’s a lot of time left.”

    Kraken add some size, acquire Jaycob Megna from San Jose

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    SEATTLE — The Seattle Kraken acquired defenseman Jaycob Megna from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2023 fourth-round draft pick.

    Megna is in the midst of his best season with 12 points in 48 games for the Sharks while averaging more than 19 minutes per game.

    “Jaycob has shown with his play this season that he is a responsible defenseman that can be relied on in all situations,” Seattle general manager Ron Francis said. “He provides welcome depth to our defensive group and we are happy to have him join our organization.”

    The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Megna will add some size and bulk to Seattle’s lineup. Megna ranked fifth for San Jose in both blocked shots and hits.

    Megna previously played for Anaheim for parts of three seasons between 2016-19. The 48 games played this season is a career-high for the 30-year-old.

    Seattle is tied for the lead in the Pacific Division and will return from the All-Star break beginning against the New York Islanders.

    Islanders sign Bo Horvat to 8-year deal after trading for him

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    The New York Islanders signed center Bo Horvat to an eight-year contract less than a week after acquiring him in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks.

    The team announced the contract after their first practice following the All-Star break. Horvat’s deal is worth $68 million and carries a $8.5 million salary cap hit through the 2030-31 season.

    General manager Lou Lamoriello joked to reporters at practice on Long Island that Horvat’s contract was “too long and it’s too much money.”

    The Islanders sent forward Anthony Beauvillier, prospect Aatu Raty and a protected first-round pick to the Canucks for Horvat . He was set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and the trade was a result of Vancouver and Horvat’s camp being unable to reach a deal last summer.

    Lamoriello and Horvat expressed confidence about getting a deal done after the trade. The 27-year-old has scored more than 30 goals for a second consecutive season.

    Horvat was chosen as an All-Star and played for the Pacific Division despite the trade. He played with longtime Canucks teammate Elias Pettersson and combined on one last goal together before parting ways.

    “I want to get going,” Horvat said after the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament. “That’s enough. Let’s start playing some games and getting to know the guys. I just want to start playing hockey again.”

    Horvat was on vacation with his family in Orlando when he was traded. He said coach Lane Lambert wanted him to enjoy All-Star festivities before getting rolling with the Islanders, who play at the Philadelphia Flyers.

    “Obviously getting my legs under me is going to be No. 1 and getting systems down and obviously chemistry with the new linemates and stuff like that,” Horvat said.

    After facing the Flyers and Seattle, Horvat will play against his former team when Vancouver visits UBS Arena.

    Bruins rolling, rest of NHL making final push for playoffs

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    SUNRISE, Fla. — Bruce Cassidy’s Vegas Golden Knights lost eight of 10 games going into the All-Star break after leading the Pacific Division at the midway point of the NHL season.

    They’re still safely in a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but they can’t keep it up.

    “We’re still in a good position – that’s the way we look at it,” Cassidy said. “There’s not too many teams that can cruise home the last 30 games in this league, and we’re certainly not one of them.”

    Cassidy’s old team, the Boston Bruins, probably could. They’re atop the NHL and running away with the Atlantic Division.

    With 39 wins and 83 points through 51 games, Boston is on pace to break the record for the best regular season in NHL history. The Carolina Hurricanes, who beat Boston in seven games in the first round last year, are next in the standings at 76 points.

    “Top to bottom, there’s no weaknesses,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said.

    The Bruins are in a class of their own, but the playoff races behind them in the East and West should be hot down the stretch with roughly 30 games to go before the chase for the Stanley Cup begins.

    METROPOLITAN DIVISION

    The Hurricanes rode a seven-game winning streak into the break, putting some fear into the Bruins in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage through the postseason. Winger Max Pacioretty re-tearing his right Achilles tendon five games into his return didn’t slow them down, and if their goaltending holds up, Carolina stands a good chance of reaching the East final.

    “This team, it’s a special group of guys,” said Brind’Amour, who captained Carolina to the Cup in 2006 and is in his fifth year as coach. “We kind of show that nightly. It’s just very consistent, and they take their job real serious. They do it right.”

    The second-place New Jersey Devils are contending for the first time since 2018. Bottoming out the next season helped them win the lottery for No. 1 pick Jack Hughes, a two-time All-Star who has them winning ahead of schedule.

    “Much better than being out of the mix,” Hughes said. “We’re really excited because it’s going to be a lot of important hockey, and it’s going to be really competitive and we’re really pumped to be where we are.”

    They’re followed by the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders. All three New York-area teams could make it, which was the expectation for the Rangers after reaching the East final last year.

    “I think the run last year really taught us a few things and stuff that we obviously could build on for the rest of this year,” 2021 Norris-Trophy winning defenseman Adam Fox said.

    ATLANTIC

    The Rangers lost to the Lightning in six games last spring, when two-time champion Tampa Bay reached the Stanley Cup Final for the third consecutive season before getting beat by the Colorado Avalanche.

    The Lightning are almost certain to face the Toronto Maple Leafs – who haven’t won a playoff series since the NHL salary cap era began in 2005 – in the first round and remain a threat to the Bruins.

    But Boston has separated itself despite starting the season without top left winger Brad Marchand and No. 1 defenseman Charlie McAvoy. The Bruins have lost only 12 games under new coach Jim Montgomery.

    “You just keep winning,” said All-Star right winger David Pastrnak, who’s tied for third in the league in scoring. “Every single line and every single guy is going and it obviously builds our confidence. It’s funny sometimes what confidence can do in hockey.”

    The Islanders should have some more confidence after acquiring 30-goal scorer Bo Horvat from Vancouver, but still need to make up ground to get in.

    CENTRAL

    Defending champion Colorado climbed in the standings – winning seven of eight going into the break despite an injury-riddled first half of the season. Captain Gabriel Landeskog still has not made his season debut since undergoing knee surgery. It would be foolish to bet against the Avs coming out of the West again.

    “It’s up to us: We control our own fate,” All-Star center Nathan MacKinnon said. “We need to definitely keep playing the way we were before the break. No matter who’s in the lineup we were playing well, playing hard, so it would definitely help with healthy bodies.”

    They still trail the Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild in the Central, and the Nashville Predators are on their heels. Only the Stars and Jets are essentially guaranteed a spot.

    “Every point, you grind for it,” Stars leading scorer Jason Robertson said. “Every point’s going to be a dog fight, so it’s going to be a fun 30 games down the stretch.”

    PACIFIC

    Undisputed MVP favorite Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers, who were swept by Colorado in the West final, have a little bit of catching up to do in the Pacific Division.

    The top spot is held by the Seattle Kraken, who surprisingly are on pace to make the playoffs in their second season but still need to fend off the Los Angeles Kings and the Vegas Golden Knights.

    Edmonton – and the Battle of Alberta rival Calgary Flames – have the talent to not only get in but make a run. McDavid leads the league with 41 goals and 92 points, 16 more than No. 2 scorer and teammate Leon Draisaitl, and is producing unlike anyone since Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux in the mid-1990s.

    Now he’ll try to carry the Oilers into the playoffs and beyond.

    “It hasn’t been easy at all for our group. We’ve kind of had to battle for everything that we’ve got,” McDavid said. “We’ve always been a second-half team for whatever reason. Even since my first year, we’ve always been better in the second half, so we’ll definitely look to continue that. That being said, we’re not going to hang our hat on that and expect that to carry us to the playoffs. There’s a lot of work to be done.”