The Most Memorable NHL Playoff Moments of our Lifetimes

The Stanley Cup Playoffs bring out the best, the worst, and the unexpected out of all the teams that qualify every year. With just hours before puck drop of the 2015 NHL Playoffs one cannot help but remember all the past triumphs and defeats that have stuck with us throughout the years. So, the writers at Hit the Cut decided to weigh in on their most memorable Stanley Cup playoff moments (from 1995 to the present). Now, you may or may not agree with all these moments as being “memorable,” but it’s not all about just the actual event or moment. It’s the underlying story that really matters, the part that makes it unique or special to a specific person and something they will never forget.

Here are the results:

Adam: 2006 Stanley Cup Finals – Game 5

Over the years, the 2006 Stanley Cup finals have really stuck out to me. Going to seven games, this series could easily have resulted in producing the first Canadian cup winner since 1993 (although we’ve got a 5/16 chance this year). This was not the case though, and the series, instead,  brought the Carolina Hurricanes their first ever championship. More importantly though, this series introduced us to the enigma that is Fernando Pisani. Now, if you weren’t attuned to the happenings in the hockey world for the 2006 playoffs, you might be asking yourself, “Who the f*** is Fernando Pisani?” The playoffs are all about unlikely heroes, and Pisani embodied this. Pisani’s brightest moment came here, killing a penalty in overtime of Game 5 in the Stanley Cup Finals. As is the case for most unlikely playoff heroes, Pisani will be remembered for that magical Oiler playoff run, nothing more, nothing less.

Carter: 2011 Stanley Cup Western Conference Quarterfinal – Game 7

Being from the Greater Vancouver area and being a diehard Canucks fan, I’ve had my fair share of playoff highs and lows, but in my opinion, if you want to talk about memorable moments, look no further than Alex Burrows OT winner on April 26th, 2011. The entire lead up to this specific moment is what really makes it so special: Vancouver taking a 3-0 series lead only to see it evaporate into nothing. Plus, the previous two playoff years saw the very same Canucks bow out to the Blackhawks, 4-2 in the series (both times) and in the conference semifinals (both times). As regulation was winding down, the Canucks on the powerplay, conceded a seemingly back breaking goal by Jonathan Toews to tie the game at one. Then, Burrows appeared as though he would be the goat by taking a penalty in overtime. But after the penalty kill, Burrows turned hero and brought a province to their feet. All that was left were tears streaming down my face in my living room and a single arm flung up in the air.

Adam: 2014 Stanley Cup Finals – Game 5

Not sure if this is just recency effect, but Alec Martinez’s goal kept popping into my head when I was thinking of what to put in this list. I think what sticks out to me is the transparent contrast of emotion. When that puck goes in for Martinez, I don’t think any other clip can truly encapsulate pure joy as well as that moment. Conversely, you have the reaction of Henrik Lundqvist, which I think is captured best by the netcam. He just lies there, after the puck goes in (like Mufasa, after he was trampled over by a stampede of wildebeest) . He’s probably thinking of the whole season, his whole career, his whole life perhaps. He knows the playoffs are over, 7 months of his life all for naught. I’m sure it crosses his mind if he’ll ever get a change like that – to lift the most hallowed trophy in sports – and in that moment, he probably doesn’t believe he ever will. It’s kind of poetic in a way, the mirroring of joy and defeat. It’s hard not to be romantic about…hockey.

Carter: 2014 Stanley Cup Western Conference Final – Game 7

Now, for this moment it’s not so much the actual goal that was memorable for me, but the situation that arose from it so bear with me. Kings-Blackhawks in Game 7 of the  2014 Western Conference final. Overtime was needed (of course) in a game that Chicago led three (yes, three) different times at home, with one lead being in the 3rd period. 2014 Playoff hero Alec Martinez netted the overtime winner, and went on to also score the Stanley Cup winning goal. The important part now, the aftermath: Myself, my brother Tyson, his girlfriend, and my girlfriend were sitting in a sports book at the Excalibur Hotel (we were on vacation in Las Vegas) and taking in the game like any other hockey fan. I want to state at this time we did not cheer when either team scored for the entire game (very important) just so there’s no confusion. So Alec Martinez proceeded to score to win the series and send the Kings to the Stanley Cup, and my brother and I looked at each other and nodded which was to say, “wow, good for them.” As we finished this exchange, some yahoo, who I may add was annoying everyone the entire game and was Kings fan, leapt to his feet, got into the face of my brother and yelled, “Are you a Blackhawks fan?” Since, like I said, we did not cheer for the winning goal, just like we did not for every goal. Literally a split-second later, before Tyson could even take his next breath of air, the fan yelled, “I f***ing hate you!!!” Shell shocked, the four of us looked dumbfounded at one another and tried to soak in what just had transpired. The fan later returned for an apology. One of the most bizarre moments I’ve ever experienced and a playoff moment to boot.

Adam: 2001 Stanley Cup Finals – Game 7

Without a doubt, my most memorable moment in the Stanley Cup playoffs was one of my first memories…ever. Recently I learned about a type of memory called a flashbulb memory. It’s when you remember, in vivid detail, the exact circumstances and environment surrounding a certain memory. This is the case, for me, for Game 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup finals. I was 6 years old at the time, me and my family were in a Crabby Joe’s in Belleville, Ontario, I was in a booth with a circular table instead of the usual rectangular ones, the table cloth was a sheet of brown paper (so you could doodle on it), it was a swell time. And it’s not like I remember the whole game or anything like that, it’s the moment I remember, like a snapshot. Of course I’ve watched the video below countless times, reliving that memory. I get goosebumps every time, and I know some people might say, oh it’s just hockey, and they may be right, but that doesn’t make the moment when Joe Sakic, without hesitation, hands the cup to Ray Bourque (at 3:35) any less special.

Carter: 2013 Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Game 7

The only appearance in the playoffs since the 2003-04 season was one to forget for the Toronto Maple Leafs. In a heated matchup with one of their fierce rivals, the Boston Bruins, Toronto threw all they could at the Bruins all series. Toronto climbed back from a 3-1 series deficit to force a game 7 and proceeded to hold a 4-1 lead with 10 minutes left in the game. The Leafs were skating, checking, and shutting down a startled Bruins team and were poised to head to the second round. Boston miraculously was able to force overtime, scoring three goals in those last 10 minutes, two of which coming in the final minute and a half of play. It was as if, as a viewer, you expected this to happen, even with the absolutely unlikely odds that it ever would. Unable to regroup, the Leafs anteed up the overtime winner to Patrice Bergeron, much to the chagrin of Leafs Nation. Thus continuing the trend of dismal years for a once proud franchise. You can watch the end of the collapse below.

Adam and Carter: 2005 Stanley Cup Western Conference Quarterfinals – Game 6

Adam: I despise the Vancouver Canucks, always have, always will. And although my hatred for them has waned a tad over the years, it definitely peaked as a result of this game. I remember I watched it with my dad, my uncle, and my cousin, all huge Canucks fans. Truthfully, I didn’t like Calgary that much either, both teams were divisional rivals (to my team, the Avalanche) and I never really bought into that whole notion of liking Canadian teams just because you’re Canadian. Nevertheless, this was what was on Hockey Night in Canada, so I watched. Halfway through the game, Vancouver was up 4-0 and my family was loving it. I, on the other hand, was having a rotten time, and half-heartedly proclaimed that Calgary would come back. My family laughed it off, thinking I didn’t understand how hard it was to make up a four goal deficit with half of the game already done. Most nights, my prediction would have been way off (only two teams in playoff history have come back and won when down by four goals in a game[i]). But this night, the Flames did come back. They responded with four straight goals of their own and sent the game to overtime. I remember my 10-year-old self being ecstatic and exuding smugness, good times were had. Now anyone from the East knows how late Western Conference playoff games can get, especially the ones that start at 10. This game started at 10 and went to triple overtime (over five 20 minute periods), when Brendan Morrison scored this goal, and absolutely ruined my night.

Carter: This is a memory that will for sure last a lifetime for me. We (myself and family) were at a baseball fundraiser at a local restaurant and the game was on the entire time, so naturally everyone was watching from start to finish. The Canucks needed to win to keep the series alive, so tension was running high as we witnessed their four goal lead disintegrate. When overtime began we all couldn’t even speak. Two overtimes past and it seemed the game would never end, so fittingly, my family thought it would be the right time to jump in the car and head home to catch the start of the third overtime from the comforts of our own home. Well of course, with one exit left before arriving home, CKNW 980 (radio station of the Canucks back then) blared Brendan Morrison’s catastrophic goal in our 1989 Honda (nicknamed “The White Rocket”). With no time be unhappy at the fact that we missed seeing the goal, hearing the goal was just as memorable. Poppa Ron honked the horn like a man stuck in traffic on the way to work, and we all cheered like madmen in the back. Thank you Brendan.

Have a favourite moment? Share it with us!

Adam is a student at McGill University. You can follow him on Twitter @adam_m3318.

Carter is hockey player in WHL for the Vancouver Giants. You can follow him on Twitter @carter_popoff.

You can follow Hit the Cut on Twitter @hitthecutblog.



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