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No Matter Tonight's Victor, There'll Be a Poignant Side

Either Flames will reward Canada or Lightning will make Andreychuk's career in the deciding game.

June 07, 2004|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

TAMPA, Fla. — All NHL questions will be answered tonight.

Will Jarome Iginla lead the Calgary Flames to drink from the Stanley Cup, thus sating a nation that views the Cup as a personal possession too long misplaced?

Can Tampa Bay's Dave Andreychuk end 22 years of wandering in the NHL wilderness, following in the skates of Ray Bourque to touch the Cup for the first time?

Does Lightning Coach John Tortorella have a personality slightly less abrasive than a power sander?

Is this the last time anyone wins the Stanley Cup?

Well, almost all questions will be answered here tonight when the Flames and Lightning play in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. The last one will be left hanging during a black hole of an off-season, as labor negotiations remain dormant.

A photo-op showing what lays ahead for the NHL was evident in Game 6. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players Assn. executive director Bob Goodenow sat at opposite ends of the rink, a large gap in between.

But as far as on-ice activities go, the 2003-04 season has come down to one game, and anyone who doesn't appreciate a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup is probably incapable of differentiating hockey from lawn bowling or camel racing.

This is the 13th time the Stanley Cup finals have come down to a Game 7, the third time in the last four seasons. Home teams have won 10 of the previous 12.

"It's exciting, the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals," said Iginla, who has enjoyed his first postseason opportunity. "We have played a lot of these as kids growing up in the street, in outdoor rinks. Now we're going to get to play in one, a lot of us for the first time."

It's doubtful as a kid that Tortorella used to dream of giving snippy answers at postgame news conferences, but that has been the case in the finals. Asked if the Lightning will feel extra pressure playing at home, as he suggested the Flames did in Game 6, Tortorella snapped, "You're really working on that."

Still, the moment was enough to make even Tortorella talk in awe of the Lightning's 3-2 overtime victory in Game 6, even if it was for only a second.

"Game 7 in the final," Tortorella said. "This is the opportunity of a lifetime for players. We're not going to tiptoe, we're going to drive in."

Andreychuk has been on this road for two decades and is in his first Stanley Cup finals. He has been close before, leaving Colorado and New Jersey a year before those teams won the Cup.

He has become a sentimental favorite, much as Bourque was when he won his only Cup with the Avalanche in 2001. Andreychuk has played more NHL games without winning a Stanley Cup than any player in league history, 1,758 in 22 seasons.

"I have been trying to stay composed through the whole thing," Andreychuk said. "Deep down inside there's a lot of emotion. I have dreamed of being in this situation. So, you know, I don't think I could have asked for anything more. I have a chance to win one more game and win the Stanley Cup."

While Andreychuk may have personal business to attend to tonight, Iginla is carrying the hopes and dreams of a nation. A Canadian team has not won the Stanley Cup since 1993.

Both teams have an eye on the prize knowing they have been tested in seventh games in the playoffs this season.

The Lightning lost Game 6 to Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference finals, then came home to win Game 7.

Calgary lost Game 6 at home against Vancouver in the first round, then defeated the Canucks on the road to advance. The Flames, who have tied an NHL record with 10 road victories in the playoffs, will be without forward Shean Donovan, who missed Game 6 because of an undisclosed injury, and may be without defenseman Robyn Regehr, who left the arena Saturday wearing a walking cast.

"This is Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals," Iginla said. "It's not supposed to be easy."



The Last Roll

Results in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals:

*--* YR. RESULT NOTE 1942 Toronto 3, Detroit 1 Three goals by Maple Leafs in third. 1945 Toronto 2, Detroit 1 Babe Pratt's power-play goal breaks tie. 1950 Detroit 4, N.Y. Rangers Red Wings win in double overtime. 3 1954 Detroit 2, Montreal 1 Only other overtime game. 1955 Detroit 3, Montreal 1 Alex Delvecchio scores two goals. 1964 Toronto 4, Detroit 0 Maple Leafs' third straight Cup win. 1965 Montreal 4, Chicago 0 All Canadien goals in the first period. 1971 Montreal 3, Chicago 2 Henri Richard scores game-winner. 1987 Edmonton 3, Phila. 1 Oilers score goal in each period. 1994 N.Y. Rangers 3, Van. 2 Mark Messier scores game-winner. 2001 Colo. 3, New Jersey 1 Ray Bourque wins first Cup. 2003 New Jersey 3, Ducks 0 Goalie Martin Brodeur ends Ducks' run.


Source: NHL

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