Photo: Stephan Savoia Archives Associated Press
Supporters had counted the last seconds of the match, the “Brass Bonanza” resonated through the speakers of the Hartford Civic Center and the players of the Whalers, Dave Tippett, Joel Quenneville, and Dean Evason, have celebrated their sweep of three games against the Quebec Nordiques.
Wait a moment. The Hartford Whalers ? The Quebec Nordiques ? A sweep of the three games ?
It was in 1986 and it was one of the last series of the NHL played under this format. This summer, the league will hold a series of three to five for the first time in 34 years, and Tippett, Quenneville and Evason are part of the people that know somewhat what to expect because of their experience in the past.
“You have to be ready to provide the effort, said Tippett, who is now the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers. When a unique situation like this, you spend the inaction of the game of hockey in the playoffs. You have to accept the efforts-mental and physical. “
These efforts are very different after more than four months without hockey due to the pandemic of COVID-19. The champion team may need 19 wins to lift the Stanley cup, the highest total of all periods together. Sixteen teams will compete in eight series, three of five to determine who will move on to the next round.
The Oilers of Tippett will intersect the iron with the Chicago black hawks, who were led by Quenneville and who have won the Stanley cup three times in the decade to 2010. The Florida Panthers, led by Quenneville, will face the New York Islanders while the Wild of Minnesota of Evason in découdra with the Vancouver Canucks.
“He must go back several years. At the time, we had a series of three to five and we played four games in five nights from the beginning, said Quenneville. It was quite an effort. At the game number four, are you wondering sometimes if your legs were still there. “
There will be more time to rest this year, so that the series are spread out over eight or nine days, and that there is no travel, because the teams are installed in one of the two cities. However, there is a possibility of two games in 24 hours in each of the qualifying rounds, which is very rare in the series of the modern era.
“I think the players are a bit worried by this possibility, but you play only to win the game in which you find yourself at this time,” said Quenneville. The momentum will be important. This is what requires attention in a short series. “
Evason has shared this mentality to his team since he took the reins in February. He does not want that the players on the Wild look too far forward.
“It is necessary to go one game at a time, said Evason. When the washer is filed for the first part, you have to play the right way and then you find solutions. “
But what happens when it is too late to turn the wind ? Eddie Olczyk has won and lost a series three of five at the beginning of his career with the Blackhawks, and he remembers the nervousness of live these moments to be 18 or 19 years old.
“The first match will be absolutely crucial in these qualifying rounds,” said Olczyk, who is now an analyst at NBC Sports.
Rod Brind’amour, the head coach of the Hurricanes of the Caroline, understands the urgency of the moment even though he was drafted two years after the NHL had adopted the format of four-of-seven series. Its Hurricanes were on their way to the New York Rangers.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, led by goalie Jim Rutherford, who has seen several series, three of five, will face the Montreal canadiens. The Blue Jackets of Columbus will compete for their victory at the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In the Western conference, the Coyotes are in Arizona to play against the Predators in Nashville. The director-general of the Predators, David Hair, has already won a few series, three of five with the Washington Capitals. Finally, the Winnipeg Jets will battle the Calgary Flames.
“In a short series, anything can happen,” assured Quenneville.