Heading out for a run, wanted to get this up quickly, as I've mentioned it a time or two--compendium of some of the best hockey games ever played, in full-length versions. So, if you're looking for something to watch in Quarantine, which is also highly entertaining, dramatic, and either a nice history crash course or a potent reminder, here you go.
This is the Miracle on Manchester, from the 1982 playoffs, when the LA Kings overcame a 5-0 third period deficit against the high-flying Edmonton Oilers. This was the season when Gretzky exploded internationally, with his 92 goals and 212 points. I wrote about this game for The Atlantic. Celebration of the winner is pure boyish ebullience.
Some people hold this as the best game ever played. It's not, but it's good, and it signaled a kind of rebirth for hockey; that is, if you thought it had died somewhat during the heyday of the Broad Street Bullies Flyers. Game is from New Year's Eve 1975, a 3-3 tie largely because of Tretiak. The way Ken Dryden stands with his hands folded over his stick, knob under his chin, always strikes me as hockey's version of Rodin's The Thinker.
Underrated Canada Cup semifinal from the underrated 1984 Canada Cup. Dark horse candidate for best game ever. Goes to double OT.
Easter Epic OT-fest from Caps and and Isles in spring 1987. Wrote about this one for Sports Illustrated.
Game 2 of the 1987 Canada Cup final between Canada and the Soviet Union. Sport as art. The fastest-paced game you will ever see, because there has probably never been more speed in a given game, even now. Here's your actual best game ever, which Wayne Gretzky also termed his best game ever. By the way--he played 40 minutes.
Islanders nearly had their dynasty derailed in the season when they had their strongest team, and against the lowly Penguins, no less. Also wrote about this for SI.
Deciding Game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series. If you are Canadian, kind of the hands down most important game ever.
Game 7 of the Rangers v. Devils series from 1994. Perhaps the best series since it was played.
Meloche always looks to me like he's been shot with the winning goal--it's such a dramatic way to not make a save. Bruins had the Cup in their sights this year, and if there was ever a time for the Lunch Pail A.C. to win it, that was it. Wasn't to be.
Mid-1980s Flyers were similarly star-crossed. Wrote about them as one of the best teams not to have won a Cup for Sports Illustrated. They almost took down the 1987 Oilers, with Game 7 of that series being in doubt until Glenn Anderson salted it away. Listening to Dan Kelly is a treat.
I can put up more recent games later. The things I like about the above contests is you see the creativity--success is less beholden to systems, more to ingenuity.