One of the best parts about playoff hockey is absurdly long overtime games. The quadruple overtime game between the Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks in round one of the 2007 playoffs is one of my favourite hockey-watching memories. The game led to the coining of the phrase “pass it to Bulis,” which eventually became the name of my blog. It’s safe to say that game is indelibly stamped in my memory.
It was a crazy game and an absolutely insane way to kick off the playoffs. Keep in mind that it was the very first game of the first round. Brent Sopel injured his back prior to the game picking up a cracker and missed the whole thing. The players were hooked up to IVs between periods to stay hydrated. 8 goals were scored in the first 3 periods; no goals were scored in the next 3 periods. Ryan Kesler, in his first game back after hip surgery, fractured a finger and missed the rest of the playoffs.
It ended up being the sixth longest game in NHL history. Roberto Luongo, in his first career NHL playoff game, faced 76 shots. Henrik Sedin scored the gamewinning goal in the 138th minute of the game. Incidentally, you’d think posting 72 saves or scoring the winning goal in a quadruple overtime game would absolve a player of ever being accused of always choking, but alas, such is not the case.
The Canucks ended up winning the series in 7 games, despite Marty Turco posting 3 shutouts. What a ridiculous series.
Game three between the Rangers and Capitals won’t stick with me the way that game in 2007 has, but it might for fans of the Rangers and it was still a great game to watch. It was a bit easier for hockey fans on the west coast, who didn’t need to stay up late to watch it.
One of the best parts about such long games is the absurd numbers that come out of it. Defenceman Ryan McDonagh logged a game-high 53 minutes and 17 seconds in ice time for the Rangers, nearly a full hour in ice time. The game lasted 114 minutes and 41 seconds, so McDonagh played 46.5% of the game.
Compare that to the man with the fewest minutes, his teammate Stu Bickel, who played just 3 shifts, all prior to the 3rd period, and finished with 3:24 in ice time. Bickel was the sixth defenceman dressed, so the Rangers played 111 minutes and 17 seconds with just 5 defencemen.
Speaking of ice time, after much fuss over Alex Ovechkin’s ice time in game two, where he played just 13:36, he came just a few minutes short of 3 times as much ice time in game three, finishing with 35:14. He had one of the best chances in overtime, creating a turnover just in front of Lundqvist, only to have his shot clank off the post. He was also one of the few players on the ice who still looked interested in throwing a check in the final overtime period, finishing with 9 hits.
Ryan Callahan led all forwards in ice time, with 41:48. The Rangers captain scored the opening goal of the game 6:41 into the second period. The Rangers wouldn’t score for another 88 minutes.
Overall, the Capitals balanced their minutes far more than the Rangers. Their high-minute man, Dennis Wideman, played 40:42. 5 different Rangers had more ice time. Meanwhile, their low-minute man, Keith Aucoin, played 17:21. 3 Rangers had less ice time, including Stu Bickel, of course.
The two teams combined for 95 shots on goal, with a fairly even split: the Rangers had 49 to the Capitals’ 46. Both teams were near equals when it came to blocking shots as well, as the Rangers blocked 41 shots and the Capitals blocked 40. The Capitals actually had more shot attempts overall in the game, but sprayed far more wide of the net, with 28 missed shots to the Rangers’ 18.
There were a total of 222 shot attempts in this game: only one player on either team finished with no attempted shots and, surprisingly, it wasn’t Stu Bickel. Capitals’ defenceman Jeff Schultz didn’t make a single attempt on goal in his more than 31 minutes on the ice.
The only Capital who attempted a shot and didn’t have a single shot blocked was Matt Hendricks, who finished with 6 shots on net while avoiding the sprawling Rangers defenders. Hendricks had an impactful game, such as this impact on Ryan McDonagh just a few minutes into overtime. He finished with 11 hits, which is more hits than Keith Aucoin had in all 27 of his appearances with the Capitals in the regular season.
Only 4 skaters finished the game without recording a hit: Brad Richards and Carl Hagelin for the Rangers and Mike Knuble and Jeff Schultz for the Capitals. Bryan Boyle led the Rangers with 9 hits.
Boyle led all skaters in defensive zone faceoffs, taking 20 and winning 12, all against Nicklas Backstrom. The other Rangers’ centre took 12 defensive zone faceoffs total. In the defensive zone, Boyle was 12-for-14 against Backstrom, who fared much better against Brad Richards, going 3-for 3. Backstrom and Richards were the two worst faceoff men, finishing with a 34% and 39% success rate, respectively.
Brooks Laich took the bulk of the Capitals’ defensive zone faceoffs, going 10-for-16 in the defensive zone. The best faceoff man on the night was Matt Hendricks, who finished with a 71% success rate. Other than Backstrom, who was terrible, the Capitals dominated offensive zone faceoffs, going 12-for-15.
Braden Holtby was superb in net for the Capitals, but his mom was the star of the show. Lundqvist was also spectacular, but if his mom was in attendance, she wasn’t entertaining enough for the cameras to focus on her.
Finally, Marian Gaborik thoroughly deserved to score the game winner: not only did he have a game-high 7 shots on goal, he was absolutely dominant when it came to puck possession, finishing with a plus-19 Corsi. The next best player on the Rangers was Chris Kreider, who had a plus-12, with the bulk of the team finishing in the negatives. Gaborik and Kreider had the benefit of more offensive zone starts, but they made the most of them.
Well, other than the fact that Kreider had no shots on goal. Only two other Rangers didn’t manage a shot on goal: Mike Rupp and, you guessed it, Stu Bickel.