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20th Anniversary: 1994 Stanley Cup Final: Canucks At Rangers Game 7

I still think this is the best Game 7 in Stanley Cup Finals history to cap off perhaps the best Cup Final ever from an entertainment perspective. The Canucks had erased a 3-1 series deficit and in turn stuck a stinky sock in the yaps of the cocky Rangers fans in the process. The Yankees Rangers were so stuffed with star players that most had thought they would take the series in Game 5. Yet, here we were in Game 7 at Madison Square Garden, after a very-convincing Canucks win in Game 6 (many call it the best Canucks game ever).

Pat Quinn You Genius!

I had mentioned previously that the Rangers had 11 players on their roster that had been in the Cup Finals before. They were loaded with experience and it really showed in the final game. As you will see in the highlights below, the Rangers went into the first intermission with a 2-0 lead. Both goals were fancy, and also the result of terrible Canucks defensive zone breakdowns. Terrible! Combinations of bad line changes and guys not covering their men. It was crucial because the Canucks never held a lead in this game. The only time this game was tied was when it was 0-0. At one point in the game the shots were 21-14 Rangers (midway through the second period).

Trevor Linden would staple his reputation as a Game 7 guru, scoring a beautiful shorthanded goal to make it 2-1 earlier in the 2nd period. But the other captain Mark Messier would make it 3-1 Rangers on the power play a while later in the middle frame.

The Canucks wouldn't quit though. Mike Richter made some super saves and the Rangers kept defending very well until Esa Tikkanen tripped up Pavel Bure who was about to turn him inside out and speed in on Richter alone at about the 16:00 mark of the third. That moment was the beginning of bedlam. The Canucks wasted no time with the man advantage, with Trevor Linden scoring again on a beautiful tic-tack-toe play. 3-2. From here the game finally changed in Vancouver's favor, mostly. The Canucks finally started dictating some form of pace, even though the Rangers were trying to hold them off defensively (and doing well). The Canucks were sustaining pressure finally.

Even though Kevin Lowe ripped a point shot off the goal post in the latter half of the 3rd period the anxiety-inducing madness was about to go down. Seconds later, Martin Gelinas carried the puck down the right side into the Rangers' zone, dropped it to Cliff Ronning who quickly gave it back to Gelinas and he had Richter diving like a fiend to get the goal post with about 7:00 left. That was a wide open net, Marty, what the f***? Moments later, the Canucks came barging back in with Linden passing it to Courtnall who wired a shot that was stopped by Richter. The puck went into the corner and Courtnall got to the puck first and put the perfect pass onto Nathan Lafayette's stick in front of the net....CLANK. Off the goal post. The Rangers almost stuffed the puck in past McLean moments later to their credit. They basically held on for their lives, while Rangers GM Neil Smith's lady and many other Rangers fans were having panic attacks until the final buzzer.

Here are the highlights:

Martin Gelinas had a wide open net and hit the outside of the goalpost with about 6:00 left in the 3rd:

Soon after...Lafayette hits the goal post and is bastardized for eternity:

...dear god. CURSES!

Lafayette recently told the Vancouver Sun's Elliott Papp:

"Courts beat his guy to the puck and saw me going to the net. He hit me and I chose to one-time it. Who knows? Maybe I could have stopped it and put it somewhere better but I chose to one-time it and I got creamed by Glenn Anderson right after that. Sometimes the game goes super fast and you have trouble figuring out what to do and where to be and, at other times, it slows down to a snail’s pace and you see things you don’t typically see. This was one of those instances where I shot it, saw it hit the post and then saw the puck flipping back at me logo, no logo, logo, no logo and it was just kind of suspended there. As I took my stick back to try and hit it again, that’s when I got creamed by Anderson. I never did make contact with the puck. Obviously it’s something I think about. I wish it had gone in. If it goes in, it’s 3-3 and who knows what happens after that?"

I don't know. I would hate to be Nathan. How the hell could you ever NOT think about THAT for the rest of your life?

None of the players on that Canucks roster would ever go on to win a Stanley Cup.

-Linden scores both goals and 7 shots.
-Bure has 1 assist and 2 shots on goal.
-Adam Graves has 1 goal and 1 assist.
-Mark Messier has 1 goal and 1 assist, including the winning goal.
-Sergei Zubov has 2 assists and his career is about to taking off as an offensive defenceman.
-In Game 7, Richter stopped 28 of 30 shots. Captain Kirk stopped 32 of 35 shots.
-Brian Leetch won the Conn Smythe Trophy, scoring an astounding 11 goals and 34 points in those playoffs. Pavel Bure was 2nd with 16 goals and 15 assists. Messier was third with 12 goals and 18 assists. Trevor Linden was 5th with 12 goals and 13 assists.
-Yep, the Rangers dressed Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos for this game, as a side note.

It's a huge heartbreak thinking about how close the boys came. Sure, second place is still shit but most Canucks fans that were old enough to remember that series can be and are proud of what that club accomplished. How can you not be proud of them? I watch highlights of their playoff run and then the entire Game 7 vs the Rangers at least once a year. It was an astounding run and one hell of a final game.

A big salute to the 1994 Canucks team! You did well, boys! Thanks for the memories!

Speaking of appreciation, check out this classic clip from the Fan Appreciation festivities at BC Place:

Rock star, hey? Pavel-mania runnin' wild. How many Canucks fans became Canucks fans because of Pavel Bure?

Check out the full Fan Appreciation Day Festivities:









PART 11:

A big hat tip to YouTube user Pfizerr for uploading those vids.