Ramblings: Reliving some great games from the last decade

Michael Clifford

2020-03-27

I just wanted to take some to highlight some articles I've enjoyed from our Dobber writers over the last couple weeks. Sometimes it's not easy to draw attention away from everything that's going on so maybe there are some things our readers have missed. Here are a few from the last 10 days or so.

  • Cam Robinson took a spin at re-drafting the 1991 draft, or at least the top-10. Looking back, that first round as absolutely stocked to the gills with elite talent, so when the top-10 are assembled, it looks like an all-decade team or something.
  • Chris Kane reviewed mutli-cat defencemen and how their performance in different categories like hits and blocks compare to prior seasons. Basically, how levels of blocks/hits among the top blue liners in those categories have changed over the years. This kind of stuff is valuable knowledge when preparing for drafts as it's important to know what targets players need to hit, and how those targets are changing.
  • Grant Campbell has been working on the draft history of teams from the Western Conference, with his most recent post available here. It's one of those posts that's just interesting to read, especially in a time when there's just not much actual hockey news besides some ELC signings.
  • Ian Gooding looked at some Cy Young candidates on the season, or guys that score more goals than assists. (I argue we should name it the Brandon Pirri Trophy, but I digress.) These are always fun lists to look at.

That's just a handful of the articles or Ramblings I've enjoyed over the last week or so, either because they're informing or just entertaining. We could use a little more of the latter these days.

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We've done a lot of reminiscing around here of late. Again, without actual hockey or much in the way of news, it's either that or research-filled projects. It's the end of the week (I guess?) so let's have a little bit of fun.

I wanted to go over some games from the last decade that are burned in my memory. I'm going to set aside international competitions, lest this list just be filled with Olympic and World Junior moments. Most will be from the playoffs (for obvious reasons), and they're just my personal list. Readers will have a different list, and that's what makes this fun. Let's go through them.

 

Sam Gagner's 8-point game

The only regular season game on my list, it'll be very hard to forget this performance from Sam Gagner. If you're of a certain age, your parents may remember Darryl Sittler's 10-point game. The Gagner game with the Oilers back in February of 2012 is the Sittler game for the younger generations.

What makes this stand out for me is that I was on a road trip at the time for a youth team I was coaching, and it was myself, a couple of other coaches, a couple parents and their kids, all in the coach's chalet watching the game together. Here were 10 people, most of whom didn't know each other, or vaguely knew each other, six months earlier, all crammed in front of a 26" television in the dead of Canadian winter on a hockey road trip watching hockey history. I really do abhor many classic Canadian tropes, but even that one got to me a little bit, and it's a game I'll never forget.

 

Chicago-Los Angeles Game 5, Western Conference Final, 2014

One of my favourite hockey articles ever written was about this game, from Katie Baker at the now-defunct Grantland (RIP). She titled it as one of the greatest hockey overtimes ever played, and it's difficult to disagree. You can check out an 11-minute highlight video of that game here:


I'm not sure if the game is up on NHL Gamecentre, but if it is, I very much recommend going to watch it.

At the time, I wasn't heavily into DFS, more just playing very casually, and certainly not playing that deep into the playoffs. What I'm trying to say is that if it's a playoff game without my favourite team involved, without it being international competition, and without having money on it, I normally wouldn't get overly wrapped up in it. That overtime, however, had me on the literal edge of my couch for the entire duration. It's one of those things that just can't be scrubbed from memory, and I hope it never is.

This game was two absolute powerhouses at the peak of their dominance. That's a big part of what made it so special. It felt like a true heavyweight title bout with each fighter exchanging haymakers, and we were all witnesses. Just an incredible game, and an even better overtime.

 

Montreal-Boston, Game 7 Eastern Conference Quarter-Final, 2011

Oh boy. Ever watch alternate-reality television shows, or read alternate-reality books? You know, "what if XYZ never happened?" Well, that's what I think of when I think of this game.

You see, the 1993 Montreal Canadiens made me a Habs fan for life. The problem is, after that 1993 season, there really wasn't a lot to write home about with regards to the Habs and success for a long time. After that, they did not reach the Eastern Conference Finals until 2010 and have failed to reach the Cup Finals at all. Growing up in a household filled with Bruins fans, that wasn't easy. Then we get to 2011.

What if Nathan Horton's overtime slap shot, the one that was redirected en route to the back of the net, was deflected wide? Or what if the shot was saved? What if he fanned on it? We're talking about overtime Game 7, who knows what could have happened next. If the Habs somehow pull out that game, the Bruins don't win their Stanley Cup. Does Vancouver go on to win? Does it change Boston's approach to trades and free agency in years to come? What if, what if, what if…

Sorry, Habs fans.

 

Montreal-Washington, Game 7 Eastern Conference Quarter-Final, 2010

That Montreal team was wildly outmatched by Washington that year. Think Tampa Bay-Columbus in 2019, but probably more lopsided. (I'm serious: when you look at the 2009-2010 team stats, Washington was 2nd in shot share with Montreal 26th, while the Caps were first in goal share by a wide margin with Montreal 23rd. It was a true David vs. Goliath.) Given Montreal's lack of success for going on two decades, I didn't have a lot of hope.

At the time, I was in the Dominican Republic on a trip with some friends. One of my friends was also a Habs fan, and we found a television that had the game (I think it was on ESPN but I may be mistaken), and it was just some bar television that was maybe 17" big. But it was myself, my friend, and maybe like 15 other Canadians who were at the resort. When Dominic Moore scored the insurance goal in the third period, everyone just jumped up and started hugging each other and chugging beers. It was a truly wild scene at an otherwise quiet bar late at night. Jaroslav Halak made 41 saves, and I bought his St. Louis jersey about four months later after he was traded. He'll always be my favourite goalie in the world for that playoff run.

 

Montreal-Pittsburgh, Game 4 Eastern Conference Semi-Final, 2010

Back to that Montreal playoff run, I attended my very first NHL playoff game that year as well. I was going to a bachelor party in Montreal, and we all had tickets for a UFC event. By good fortune, the Habs got past Washington and that allowed us tickets for this game. We couldn't pass it up.

Walking into the Bell Centre for a playoff game, going through the pre-game ritual, and feeling the energy in that building is something I will never forget. You know the saying, you might not remember what a person said, but you'll always remember how they made you feel? That's how I feel about this game. It was almost delirium. Without looking at the box scores, I couldn't tell you who scored, but I can absolutely tell you our reaction after the goals. One of the guys on the trip was a Leafs fan and wore a Leafs shirt to the game to troll Habs fans (they were good about it, so thanks for that). Even he got so wrapped up in the emotion of the game, he ripped his shirt in two and threw it in the garbage. It was surreal.

Sometimes, it's not about who won or lost (though the Habs thankfully won), rather it's about the feeling. And the feeling from that night is still with me today.

 

Vegas-San Jose, Game 7 Western Conference Quarter-Final, 2019

This is a lot more recent obviously but I don't think it's an easily forgettable game. It was a late game for me (in hte Maritimes, West Coast playoff games start at 11:30), so once Max Pacioretty made it 3-0 in the second period, I turned the game off and went to bed. Like many of my millennial brethren, though, I didn't go to sleep like a normal person should. I stayed checking Twitter every five minutes because I had some money on DraftKings.

It took about an hour, but then the tweets started flooding in. "Joe Pavelski… cross-check… major penalty… goal scored… another goal scored…" and on and on they went. I turned the game back on at 3-2, and was treated to one of the most wild periods of playoff hockey I've ever witnessed.

If you're reading this, I'm sure you remember the game, as it was just 11 months ago. There's no need to re-hash everything. But for anyone that watched it, I can't imagine it's a game that will easily be forgotten.

 

Those are some games from the last 10 years that stick out in my memory. What are some of yours? Hit up the Facebook comments.

UPCOMING GAMES

Mar 29 - 12:03 PHI vs PIT
Mar 29 - 15:03 CHI vs L.A
Mar 29 - 15:03 N.J vs CAR
Mar 29 - 15:03 WPG vs VGK
Mar 29 - 19:03 STL vs MIN
Mar 29 - 20:03 EDM vs ANA
Mar 29 - 21:03 COL vs NSH
Mar 29 - 22:03 S.J vs ARI

STARTING GOALIES

  • No data at this moment.

HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
EVGENI MALKIN PIT 5 4 7 11
ADAM FOX NYR 4 1 6 7
JAKUB VORACEK PHI 6 0 10 10
NATHAN MACKINNON COL 5 2 6 8
MIKA ZIBANEJAD NYR 29 25 19 44
NIKITA KUCHEROV T.B 24 16 20 36
KEVIN FIALA MIN 11 9 7 16
EVANDER KANE S.J 7 5 5 10
KYLE CONNOR WPG 7 8 2 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 17 8 16 24

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency COL Players
21.1% J.T. COMPHER GABRIEL LANDESKOG VALERI NICHUSHKIN
19.5% PIERRE-EDOUARD BELLEMARE MARTIN KAUT MATT NIETO
16.2% JOONAS DONSKOI TYSON JOST VLADISLAV NAMESTNIKOV

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