The retired former Lightning captain says he played in 13 Game 7s in his career. The last one is his most memorable. It was Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final between the Lightning and Flames on June 7, 2004. The Lightning won 2-1. Andreychuk, who capped the night by lifting the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career, spoke about what it is like to play in a Game 7.
Can you explain what it feels like to be in a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup final?
Actually, no. (Laughs.) It's like nothing else. It's really fun for everybody who plays in the game. It's the game that everyone wants to be a part of. When you're a kid, this is what you dream of: Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.
How did you feel the night before Game 7 of the 2004 final? Were you nervous? Did you sleep?
I was fairly good going into that game. I slept fine the night before. As you get close to the game, you start to get the jitters. Earlier in my career, I would be pretty nervous before a Game 7, but with the Game 7 in 2004, I was older, and I was okay.
Were you able to keep your normal routine on the day of the game?
My routine was exactly the same except we didn't go home during the day. We stayed in (the Tampa Waterside Marriott) across the street from the Forum. I like to walk on the day of games, whether it's outside or at the mall or whatever. Well, I couldn't walk outside the hotel that day because it was packed with people. So I called a grade-school buddy who was in town and told him to pick me up and take me to the mall. So he picks me up, and we're driving down Kennedy Boulevard headed to WestShore mall, and he says, "I'm too nervous. I can't drive. You have to drive.'' I said, "You're nervous?!'' So I drove to the mall and walked around.
Did people recognize you ?
Yeah, they did, but they weren't sure it was me. I'm sure they thought, "No, he can't be here, not today. That can't be him.'' Then I went back to the hotel and did what I normally do. Took a nap. Woke up at 4 and called my dad.
Once the game starts, does it become another game, or did you always know that it was the seventh game of the Stanley Cup final?
Once it starts, it becomes another game. But when it's late in the game, then you start to realize what you're playing for, and you start to realize the situation, and you start to get nervous. But while you're out there, for the most part it's just a hockey game.
Let's talk about this year's Game 7. How does Pittsburgh approach it?
The pressure is off them. They've given themselves a chance to be here by winning Game 6. Detroit is the defending champ. In 14 Games 7s, the visiting team has only won twice. So Pittsburgh isn't supposed to win. So the Penguins can just go out and play because they don't have the pressure Detroit has.
How does Detroit approach it?
Well, they're happy they are at home. They're a veteran team, but you know, for all of the players they have with playoff experience, they don't have a ton of Game 7 experience and especially in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. Game 7 is a dicey thing. A bad bounce, a bad call, anything can happen to decide it. That's what makes a Game 7 so great and what will make tonight a special game to watch.
Inside the numbers
18-0 Record of the home team over the past 29 years in Game 7s of the Stanley Cup final, NBA Finals and World Series
1979 The last year a visiting team won a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup final, NBA Finals or World Series. Coincidently, that team came from Pittsburgh: the 1979 Pirates, led by Willie Stargell, whose two-run homer helped lift the Pirates past the Orioles 4-1.
12-2 Record of the home team in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.
1971 The last year a visiting team won Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. The Canadiens beat the Blackhawks 3-2 in Chicago.
4-0 Penguins' all-time record in Game 7s on the road in all playoff rounds.
12-7 Red Wings' all-time record in Game 7s.
6-4 Penguins' all-time record in Game 7s.
How they will win
NBC analyst Pierre McGuire breaks down what the Penguins and the Red Wings each have to do to win Game 7.
"Pittsburgh will win if they stay out of the penalty box, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury repeats his performance from Game 6 and their star players find a way to fight through the matchup of Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski."
"Detroit wins if they get an early lead to keep the crowd in it and force the pace to keep the Pittsburgh defense on their heels."
Game 7 experience
Red Wings and Penguins players and coaches with experience in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final:
Penguins forward Ruslan Fedotenko: Scored both goals in the Lightning's 2-1 victory against Calgary in 2004.
Penguins forward Craig Adams: Played on the Hurricanes team that beat the Oilers 3-1 in 2006.
Penguins coach Dan Blysma: Played on the Ducks team that lost to the Devils 3-0 in 2003.
Penguins forward Petr Sykora: Played on the Ducks team that lost to the Devils in 2003.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock: Coached the Ducks team that lost to the Devils in 2003.
Red Wings defensman Brian Rafalski: Played on the Devils team that beat the Ducks in 2003.
Game 7s in Stanley Cup final history
1942: Toronto 3, Detroit 1. Leafs overcome 1-0 deficit with three in the third.
1945: Toronto 2, Detroit 1. Babe Pratt's power-play goal breaks a tie in the third.
1950: Detroit 4, New York Rangers 3. Red Wings win in double overtime.
1954: Detroit 2, Montreal 1. Last Game 7 decided in OT.
1955: Detroit 3, Montreal 1. Alex Delvecchio scores two for the Wings.
1964: Toronto 4, Detroit 0. Goalie Johnny Bower gets the shutout.
1965: Montreal 4, Chicago 0. Goalie Gump Worsley gets the shutout.
1971: Montreal 3, Chicago 2. Henri Richard scores the winner in the third.
1987: Edmonton 3, Philadelphia 1. Oilers erase early 1-0 deficit.
1994: New York Rangers 3, Vancouver 2. Mark Messier scores the winner in the second.
2001: Colorado 3, New Jersey 1. Alex Tanguay has three points.
2003: New Jersey 3, Anaheim 0. Goalie Martin Brodeur gets the shutout.
2004: Tampa Bay 2, Calgary 1. Ruslan Fedotenko scores both Lightning goals.
2006: Carolina 3, Edmonton 1. Frantisek Kaberle scores the winner in the second.
Note: The only road teams to win were the Leafs in 1945 and Canadiens in 1971.
St. Petersburg Times staff writer Tom Jones gets you ready for tonight's Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final between the Red Wings and the Penguins.