Welcome to a weekend of Game 7s. If your favourite crew isn’t taking part in in a single, put together to be entertained. If they’re, nicely, put together for ache.

Whenever I make a rating, I do know what I’m in for. It’s a enjoyable format to play with, and readers often get pleasure from them, however any individual will all the time get mad. It doesn’t matter how apparent the subject is perhaps. Some fan on the market will take it personally. I might do a rating of the NHL’s finest gamers that had Connor McDavid and Cale Makar on the prime, and a few Columbus fan will present as much as yell at me that it’s really Zach Werenski. And that’s cool — just a little little bit of hometown bias is a part of the deal.

But in the present day … I’m undecided in the present day goes to go nicely for me. That’s due to this rating’s matter: Every crew’s most painful Game 7 loss, ranked from least to most heartbreaking.

I’m keen to wager that virtually each fan who noticed that headline instantly thought that their crew has to rank excessive. Maybe you even determine you’re a slam dunk for prime spot. After all, it is perhaps true that each fan base has suffered, however absolutely no fan base has suffered as a lot as yours. I’m fairly certain that’s a common trait of each die-hard sports activities fan. We all have the scars, we’re weirdly pleased with them, and we’ll present them off in case you ask, and even in case you don’t. Nobody is aware of your ache. Of course, this form of record has to construct in the direction of your crew, who else might even come shut?

Sounds like enjoyable, let’s do that.

Here’s how this can work. For each crew within the league, I’ve gone by way of their historical past and picked what I believe was their most agonizing Game 7 loss. (In some circumstances, I reached out to others for assist, however I made the ultimate name so you’ll be able to blame me in case you suppose I missed a better option.) We’re contemplating a crew’s complete historical past, though we’ll attempt to lean in the direction of the fashionable period the place we will. It goes with out saying that I’m solely a crew’s present location, as a result of no one in Carolina ought to really feel dangerous about one thing that occurred in Hartford.

And most significantly, I’m in search of all of the totally different sorts of distress a Game 7 can present. An in depth sport or a late collapse will harm, however so can an particularly embarrassing blowout. Overtime is a bonus. So are any controversies, dangerous bounces or memorable errors. Context issues too, so we’ll think about the season, the current historical past, what got here after, and even how likable the crew was earlier than all of it got here crashing down. To borrow a time period a few of you’ll acknowledge, we’re in search of Those Games.

We all have our ache, and that is going to get ugly. There’s no such factor as a pleasing Game 7 loss, however we’ll begin on the merely painful and work our approach into the depths of utter distress. Read it now, earlier than we get a number of new candidates this weekend.

Not ranked: Seattle Kraken, Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets

OK, possibly we don’t all have our ache, not less than relating to the topic at hand. The Hurricanes have by no means misplaced a Game 7 since transferring to Carolina, going a sickening 5-0 in winner-take-alls. They did drop a number of in Hartford, together with that legendary night back in 1992, and naturally might lose one tomorrow. But for now, they’re protected.

The Kraken (clearly) and the Blue Jackets (considerably surprisingly) are the one different present NHL groups which have by no means misplaced a Game 7, which means our precise rating could have 29 groups to work with. Sorry Seattle, and Columbus followers, higher worse luck subsequent yr.

29. Minnesota Wild: 2021 vs. Vegas

This one isn’t all that painful, coming by a 6-2 last on the highway in a sequence by which they have been underdogs. It’s additionally the one Game 7 loss the Wild have ever had, so right here we’re. Man, this franchise’s historical past is so boring that it may well’t even do gut-wrenching agony proper. Yet.

28. Arizona Coyotes: 2010 vs. Detroit

The Coyotes have three losses to select from, however we’ve to go together with the latest. The 2009-10 version of the membership was arguably the primary really good crew that followers within the Phoenix space had seen, ending with 107 factors that also stands because the franchise document. But they drew the veteran Wings and bowed out in an embarrassing home-ice blowout, giving up 50 photographs on purpose and dropping 6-1.

27. Florida Panthers: 2012 vs. New Jersey

This is likely one of the solely picks that no one will disagree with, as a result of it’s the one Game 7 loss in Panthers’ historical past to this point. And on the floor, it’s not all that dangerous. The Panthers weren’t good that yr, and their loss to the Devils got here within the first spherical. But they did lose Game 6 and Game 7 in additional time, the latter on residence ice, and I’ve to offer a number of bonus factors only for the fast cutaway to Dale Tallon and Bill Torrey wanting like a devastated Statler and Waldorf.

26. Los Angeles Kings: 1976 vs. Boston

The Kings have been remarkably immune to Game 7 distress, with simply 4 losses in 55 years, none within the Gretzky or Stanley Cup eras and none previous the second spherical. I’ll go together with the 1976 loss to the Bruins, which got here in Marcel Dionne’s first yr as a King. It was a traditional underdog battle, with the Bruins successful Games 1, 4 and 5 by a mixed rating of 14-1 however the Kings hanging round with three shut wins, two of which got here in additional time. That included a memorable Game 6 winner by Butch Goring, however the Bruins would slam the door with a 3-0 win in Game 7.

25. Tampa Bay Lightning: 2011 vs. Boston

I understand no one is simply too keen to supply a lot sympathy to the two-time defending champs, however the Lightning have misplaced three convention finals in a Game 7, and watched the crew that beat them go on to win the Cup every time. I’m going to go together with the primary of these, in 2011, partially as a result of Game 7 ended 1-0, however 2016 and 2018 would work too.

24. Dallas Stars: 1997 vs. Edmonton

The Stars have misplaced 4 Game 7s in Dallas, however I believe this one fairly clearly comes right down to the 2 that went to additional time: 1997 towards Edmonton, and 2019 towards St. Louis. Recency bias says we must always go together with the latter, and it was a double-OT loss that wasted a heroic effort by Ben Bishop, however that Stars crew wasn’t all that good. I’m going to succeed in additional again for the Oilers loss, if just for the way it occurred. A spectacular Curtis Joseph save at one finish, a “blink-and-you-miss-it” Todd Marchant rush to the opposite, and the perfect season in franchise historical past is over.

23. New York Islanders: 2021 vs. Tampa Bay

The Islanders solely supply six choices from over 5 a long time of historical past, which I assume is what occurs when you’ve one dynasty the place you by no means lose and one other stretch the place you by no means make the playoffs. We might return to a troublesome 1975 loss to the Broad Street Bullies, however we will in all probability accept one thing more moderen: Last yr’s convention finals loss to the Lightning, a 1-0 nail-biter with the 18th-place Habs ready within the Final. That stung, and to make it even worse, the followers who mentioned there’s all the time subsequent yr turned out to be fallacious.

22. Nashville Predators: 2018 vs. Winnipeg

We’ve solely bought two choices right here, however the 2018 loss is a worthy choose. The Predators had been to the Final the earlier yr, and had simply gained the Presidents’ Trophy when the Jets confirmed up on their residence ice and knocked them out with a 5-1 win by which franchise icon Pekka Rinne lasted just 10 minutes. Like we mentioned, context issues, and this Predators crew had gave the impression to be on the verge of a championship. They haven’t gained a spherical since.

21. Montreal Canadiens: 1955 vs. Detroit

I’ve bought to be trustworthy, for a 105-year-old franchise, they don’t give us a ton to work with. Sure, dropping to the Bruins all the time hurts, and so did dropping a sequence to the hated Nordiques in 1985. But contemplating what number of gut-wrenching video games we’re going to get to for the opposite groups, the Habs get off annoyingly straightforward right here.

We’ll go together with 1955 for the historic significance – this was the yr of the Rocket Richard suspension, one which value the Habs residence ice in a Final by which the house crew gained each sport. The followers rioted and said they were robbed. Then the Habs gained the following 5 Cups, as a result of even the heartbreak in Montreal often ends nicely. Screw it, I’m rating this one within the 20s.

20. St. Louis Blues: 2000 vs. San Jose

The Blues are a little bit of a bizarre one, since in 55 years of franchise historical past they’ve solely had two Game 7s previous Round 2: The 2019 Cup Final that they gained, and the 1986 Campbell finals that they misplaced. We might go together with that latter one, however as an alternative I’m leaning to the 2000 loss to San Jose within the first spherical. That Blues crew gained the Presidents’ Trophy with a franchise-record 116 factors and have been heavy favorites over the Sharks. But a flat effort and a buzzer-beating Owen Nolan hail mary on Roman Turek spelled the top of a dream season, and left Blues followers questioning if their day would ever come. It did, nevertheless it took some time.

19. Chicago Blackhawks: 1971 vs. Montreal

It’s very tempting to make use of the 2014 loss to the Kings, which got here in a improbable sequence and value the Blackhawks an opportunity to win three straight Cups. But I’m going to go old fashioned by going again to the 1971 Final, by which the Stan Mikita/Bobby Hull/Tony Esposito core got here inside a sport of successful all of it. The Hawks had residence ice for Game 7 in a sequence by which the house crew gained every of the primary six video games, they usually jumped out to a 2-0 lead halfway by way of the sport. That’s when coach Billy Reay left Hull and Mikita on the bench in favor of his grinders, solely to observe Montreal claw again for a 3-2 win. The Hawks wouldn’t win a Cup for nearly 40 years.

18. Winnipeg Jets: 1990 vs. Edmonton

The 2.0 period has but to provide a Game 7 loss, and the Thrashers didn’t have one both so we will’t even break the foundations to succeed in again for that. But that’s OK, as a result of as per longstanding DGB protocol, The Jets Are The Jets. That means we will use the unique model, and it’s a simple name. The Oilers kicked sand within the Jets’ faces all by way of the Nineteen Eighties, however with Wayne Gretzky passed by 1990, it felt like payback time. Winnipeg built a 3-1 series lead, and all of us thought it was over. Instead, the Oilers gained a pair of one-goal video games to get to Game 7, then completed the job.

17. New York Rangers: 1950 vs. Detroit

The crew that famously didn’t win a Game 7 till the franchise was almost 65 years outdated additionally hasn’t misplaced all that many; only a half-dozen in virtually a century, and solely a type of coming since 1974. We’ll attain again to the 1950 and considered one of solely two Stanley Cup Final Game 7s to finish in sudden dying, and the one one to go to double-OT earlier than Detroit’s Tony Leswick ended it. To make issues worse, the Rangers didn’t get a single residence sport within the sequence as a result of the circus had bumped them from Madison Square Garden.

And sure, we simply did a double-OT loss within the Cup Final and we’re barely into the Top 20. I advised you, that is going to get ugly.

16. Ottawa Senators: 2003 vs. New Jersey

While the Leafs delivered a pair of painful losses, this one comes down to 2 decisions. There’s a powerful case for the 2017 convention finals OT loss to the Penguins that ended a Cinderella run, and that one will clearly resonate extra with youthful followers. But I’m going to go together with 2003, when the Senators hosted the Devils, with the winner getting a visit to the Final and a probably straightforward matchup with the upstart then-Mighty Ducks. That Senators crew had gained the Presidents’ Trophy, and the celebs gave the impression to be aligning for the franchise’s first championship.

Instead, a sport that gave the impression to be heading to additional time turned on a disastrous defensive misinterpret on a innocent rush that left a surprised crowd lifeless quiet. Nearly twenty years later, that Cup appears additional away than ever in Ottawa.

15. Colorado Avalanche: 2002 vs. Detroit

The Avs have had eight of their 25 seasons finish with a Game 7 loss, together with 5 in a six-year span from 1998 to 2003. But with apologies to Andrew Brunette ending Patrick Roy’s career, I believe this one is a simple name. It must be the humiliating 7-0 to the Red Wings in 2002. That sport won’t have even occurred if it weren’t for Roy’s Statue of Liberty in Game 6, and what gave the impression to be establishing as a traditional ended up as a relentless butt-kicking from the team’s great rival. To today it’s each the final playoff sport of the Avs/Wings rivalry, and the final time we’ve seen Colorado in a convention finals.

14. Philadelphia Flyers: 2000 vs. New Jersey

The Flyers are one other powerful one, and in case you needed to go together with the 1987 Cup Final loss to the Oilers then I might hardly blame you. Instead, I’m going to go together with 2000 towards the Devils, if just for what’s turn out to be the lasting picture of that sequence: Eric Lindros crumpled on the ice after a monster headshot from Scott Stevens. While we didn’t understand it on the time, it was the final we’d see of Lindros as a Flyer, spelling the abrupt finish of an period that by no means delivered the championship it appeared destined for.

13. Buffalo Sabres: 2006 vs. Carolina

The post-lockout Sabres have been in all probability the perfect groups in franchise historical past, and deserved not less than one journey to the Final. Instead, back-to-back seasons ended one spherical brief, together with a heartbreaking Game 7 loss to Carolina in 2006. Pretty a lot each Sabres defenseman was injured, they have been on the highway, they usually bought screwed on the game-winning purpose by the brand new “puck-over-glass” rule. And all of it with an eight-seed ready within the Final.

12. Washington Capitals: 1987 vs. New York Islanders

I do know, I figured the Capitals would rank greater than this too. But the issue is that they’ve had so many crushing Game 7 losses — a dozen in complete, all within the final 35 years (and eight of them within the salary-cap period). For their followers, every one is its own kind of awful, however for the remainder of us, Washington Capitals heartbreak suffers from three stooges syndrome.

I couldn’t determine this one out, so I turned to my go-to supply for Capitals’ distress, Japer’s Rink. Here’s what he advised me:

Such a tough name. The Easter Epic was clearly a 12 out of 10 for sheer agony. The 2010 sport was brutal due to the potential that crew (ostensibly) had and the 3-1 lead within the sequence, plus (Jaroslav) Halak. The 1992 sport was underrated terrible (a 3-1 sequence lead and a loss to Pittsburgh), ditto 1995. The 2009 loss was dangerous (2-0 blown lead, Pittsburgh, Ovi stoned on an early breakaway, blowout loss). And 2017 was back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies, Pittsburgh but once more, and felt just like the window had closed. The others weren’t fairly as dangerous as these six (OMG).

It’s onerous to not choose the Easter Epic for heartbreak, however 2010 wins for disappointment and embarrassment.

Good sufficient for me. The solely quadruple-overtime Game 7 loss in NHL historical past will get the nod.

11. Anaheim Ducks/Mighty Ducks of Anaheim: 2003 vs. New Jersey

With all due respect to the Bruce Boudreau period, we don’t must overthink it right here. A storybook Mighty Ducks season ended with a Game 7 loss within the Staley Cup Final, with Martin Brodeur shutting them out. To pour salt within the wound, whereas no one might have imagined it on the time, this ended up being Paul Kariya’s final sport as a Mighty Duck, they usually didn’t even make the playoffs the following yr.

And sure, we’ve nonetheless bought 10 of those to go. We’re nicely previous the purpose the place numerous this distress all begins to bleed collectively, however we promised you a rating to get mad about, and that’s what we’ll ship. Hey Penguins followers, you realize who else delivered when it counted?

10. Pittsburgh Penguins: 1993 vs. New York Islanders

Maybe you possibly can make a case for the 1996 convention finals with Florida, or after they bought Halak’d by the Habs in 2010. But I don’t suppose there’s going to be a lot dispute right here, as fairly presumably the only biggest crew in franchise historical past has its quest for a threepeat stopped by David Freaking Volek.

9. Toronto Maple Leafs: 1993 vs. Los Angeles

First issues first: I do know numerous you expect “It Was 4-1” right here. But that was a foul Leafs crew that deserved to lose, and upsetting the Bruins would have in all probability set them again years. As embarrassing and/or hilarious as that loss was, it ended up being an excellent factor for the franchise.

Instead, our choose comes from the 1993 run, which stays the closest that two generations of Leafs followers have seen their crew come to a Cup. Wayne Gretzky’s five-point night time at Maple Leaf Gardens, in what he calls his single greatest game, put an finish to the dream. Coming so shut and falling one purpose brief is dangerous sufficient; having it come on the heels of considered one of the most infamous missed calls in NHL historical past simply cements this as the Leafs’ worst of the worst.

8. Vegas Golden Knights: 2019 vs. San Jose

This is the one Game 7 loss in Golden Knights’ historical past, nevertheless it’s excruciating. Leading 3-0 halfway by way of the third, the Golden Knights have been mainly coasting. That’s when Cody Eakin took a controversial main for cross-checking Joe Pavelski, and San Jose roared again to attain 4 power-play targets. To make issues even worse, the Golden Knights managed to get off the mat and power additional time within the last minute, which solely ended up prolonging the agony.

7. Detroit Red Wings: 2009 vs. Pittsburgh

Red Wings’ historical past gives 11 choices, together with three separate losses to the Maple Leafs within the Final through the Original Six period, the Nikolai Borschevsky sport, the Sharks stunner of 1994, and an additional time near-miss towards the Hawks in 2013. Still, I don’t suppose we’ve to galaxy-brain this choose. Let’s go together with the 2009 Final, by which the Wings’ quest for back-to-back titles falls simply brief by the hands of the Penguins, and one of many biggest Final-ending moments we’ve ever seen.

6. Calgary Flames: 2004 vs. Tampa Bay

The Flames have had their share of Game 7 heartbreak, together with memorable losses to the Oilers in 1991 and the Canucks in 1994. But it’s one factor to get beat within the first spherical by Pavel Bure and even Theo Fleury. It’s one other to lose within the Final to Ruslan Fedotenko. And that’s very true when the sport shouldn’t even have occurred as a result of you already scored the series-winner in Game 6. (Yes, it was in — struggle me, you parallax view weirdos.)

Bottom line: Jarome Iginla deserved a Cup, and when the league screwed up and he didn’t get one the hockey gods have been so mad they cancelled the NHL for a yr.

5. Edmonton Oilers: 2006 vs. Carolina

I went back-and-forth on the Oilers greater than some other crew, and I’m nonetheless undecided that is the appropriate name. After all, Steve Smith’s own-goal in 1986 could have been the biggest gaffe in hockey history, costing the Oilers a shot at 5 straight Cups. It feels virtually sacrilegious to rank terrible Game 7 losses with out together with that one.

But that got here in an period the place the crew had it good, which is why I believe it could not sting fairly as a lot because the 2006 loss within the Cup Final. That crew was a beautiful underdog story that got here inside one sport of a miracle championship regardless of dropping their goalie in Game 1. Do they win the sequence if Dwayne Roloson is wholesome? We’ll by no means know for certain (the reply is clearly sure), however we do know {that a} decade of darkness and counting would comply with.

4. New Jersey Devils: 1994 vs. New York Rangers

Another powerful one, because the 1994 loss was crushing however the Devils additionally misplaced the 2001 Final in seven to Colorado. I reached out to lifelong Devils fan Greg Wyshynski for his recommendation:

It was 1994. Even although (successful the Cup in) 1995 occurred, 1994 was the second once we lastly thought we have been going to get our revenge for a decade of hell from the Rangers. Plus, you gotta bear in mind, we needed to coexist in life with these Rangers followers too.

Yep, I’ve to agree. Greg additionally factors out that the Matteau winner solely occurred as a result of the Devils despatched the sport to additional time with seconds left (the unique Zelepukin goal). Plus the 2001 loss not less than gave us the feel-good Ray Bourque second, whereas 1994 nonetheless will get introduced up endlessly by the league’s advertising and marketing machine, which means even to today Devils followers can’t escape it.

3. Vancouver Canucks: 2011 vs. Boston

The Canucks are form sufficient to supply us a pair of Game 7 losses within the Stanley Cup Final, and you possibly can completely go together with both of them. (Fun reality that’s not remotely enjoyable: No different crew in NHL historical past has misplaced a Game 7 within the Final with out ever successful a Cup, and Vancouver has executed it twice.) You actually can’t go fallacious with both selection. Unless you’re a Canucks fan, by which case you’re nonetheless not prepared to speak about it.

In my first draft of this piece, I went with 1994. That crew was simply so easy to love, even in case you weren’t a Canucks fan, they usually fought again from down 3-1 within the sequence to power a deciding sport that noticed them come inside a Nathan LaFayette goal post of forcing additional time. That’s the place I needed to solid my poll.

But I figured I’d examine in with a number of Canucks followers, they usually all advised me the identical factor: It must be 2011. As Thomas Drance put it:

It’s 2011. By a ton. Arguably the group by no means recovered from it. If you take a look at the choice tree that’s adopted, it’s virtually prefer it was a trauma.

Yeah, I’ve to concede this one. The 1994 Canucks have been a feel-good crew that just about went all the way in which. The 2011 Canucks have been the favorites who collapsed, then tore town aside in a collective rage. They’re not simply the appropriate choose for Vancouver, they’re a legit candidate for prime spot on this record.

2. Boston Bruins: 1979 vs. Montreal

You’d count on an Original Six crew to supply up loads of choices, and Boston does. Thirteen, to be precise, together with the 2019 Final and one of many solely blown 3-0 sequence leads in NHL historical past.

As dangerous as these have been — they usually have been very dangerous! — I nonetheless don’t suppose this one is all that shut. It must be a loss so painful that to today, it may be invoked with three phrases: Too Many Men.

That sport wasn’t for the Stanley Cup, however with the Rangers ready within the Final, it sort of was. The loss was as crushing as they arrive, particularly because it was self-inflicted.

1. San Jose Sharks: 2014 vs. Los Angeles

There are numerous candidates for prime spot on this record, and possibly it feels fallacious to you to offer the honors to a first-round loss. But most of those different fan bases have a Cup or two to fall again on, or not less than some imprecise hope for the long run. Not in San Jose, the place this loss got here to outline an period the place the Sharks have been all the time good, simply by no means adequate.

Put it this fashion: Other video games on this record are a crew at its low level. This one is a crew cementing its fame all the time.

This was, in fact, the sequence that noticed the Sharks blow a 3-0 lead, turning into simply the fourth crew to ever accomplish that. Joe Thornton’s mournful face after the loss still haunts me, and that was earlier than Drew Doughty twisted the knife along with his quote about seeing fear in the Sharks eyes, nevertheless it’s not like anybody wanted assist with the distress index right here. Even the usually chipper NHL.com referred to as the Sharks “devastated” in its headline, and featured quotes like “this one is a type of series that will rip your heart out.” Then they needed to watch the hated Kings go on to win all of it.

The Sharks missed the playoffs a yr later, however to their credit score they recovered to go all the way in which to the Final in 2016, the place they in fact misplaced. That’s what they do in San Jose, typically in probably the most heartbreaking methods attainable. They chased one other shot at glory for therefore lengthy that now the crew is outdated and capped out, to not point out dangerous. All they’re left with is a history of misery, with this sport standing head and shoulders above the remaining.

It all in all probability leaves Sharks followers questioning if anybody has ever had it fairly as dangerous as them. Maybe, certain, not less than general. But in a single Game 7? I’m actually undecided.

(Photo: Harry How / Getty Images)

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