Choke Wars: Oilers vs. Leafs, who did it worse?

Corey Perry was the hero in double overtime after Anaheim scored three unanswered goals with their goalie pulled late in the third, forcing overtime.

This is an exercise in pain, and more importantly, proof that everything can be made about the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In the aftermath of the Anaheim Ducks‘ unbelievable and controversial comeback win over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 5, the vast majority of Hockey Twitter is discussing what on earth goalie interference is. The ones who aren’t talking about that however are debating something else…

Which choke was worse: The Oilers blowing a 3-0 lead to the Ducks in Game 5 or the Leafs blowing a 4-1 lead against the Bruins Game 7 from 2013?

Let’s figure that out.

What kind of a lead was it?

Leafs: Three goals
Oilers: Three goals

Both Toronto and Edmonton had three-goal leads in the third period. Both teams blew those leads. Tight game so far.

Verdict: Tie.

Was it an historic collapse?

Leafs: Yes
Oilers: Yes

When the Leafs choked, no team in NHL history had ever choked on a three-goal lead in a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

When the Oilers choked, they became the first team in post-season history to choke on a three-goal lead with less than four minutes left in regulation and lose.

Verdict: Tie.

Who scored the goals?

Leafs: Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, Bergeron again (OTW)
Oilers: Ryan Getzlaf, Cam Fowler, Rickard Rakell, Corey Perry (OTW)

The goals from Horton and Lucic or Getzlaf and Fowler don’t matter too much in this equation, since none of them tied or won the game. Having Bergeron tie it against the Leafs or Rackell against the Oilers didn’t add extra sting because there wasn’t any true animosity toward either player.

Bergeron scoring the OT-winner has seared “Bergeron scores! Patrice Bergeron!” into my psyche but the fact it was a generally liked player like Bergeron lessened the sting ever so slightly.

The Oilers got scored on by Perry, one of the most despised villains in the league.

Verdict: Let’s be honest – it sucks no matter what. Tie.

How long did it take the to blow the lead?

Leafs: 10 minutes, 42 seconds
Oilers: Three minutes, 16 seconds

Toronto’s Game 7 choke is considered recent memory’s benchmark for choking. The Ducks took just over one-third of the time that the Bruins did to erase their three-goal deficit.

Verdict: The Oilers.

When was the game-tying goal scored?

Leafs: 51 seconds remaining
Oilers: About 15 seconds remaining

Who cares how long it took to score three goals? If the Leafs win 4-3 or the Oilers win 3-2, neither fan base cares about almost choking. It’s the playoffs! Just win, baby!

This makes Edmonton’s loss so much more heartbreaking that Toronto’s. Just 15 stinking seconds from victory.

Verdict: The Oilers.

Was the loss controversial?

Leafs: No
Oilers: Yes

Look, the Bruins got away with plenty in Game 7. My personal favourite was the UFC elbow JVR took to the face that went uncalled. The Leafs and Bruins combined for nine penalties in the first two periods: Four in the first and five in the second. In the third period: None. As if there wasn’t a single infraction in the third period of a season-deciding game. Really though, that’s just par for the course for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The game-tying going against the Oilers… hoo boy.

It was ruled that Ryan Kesler, who you might recognize in the picture above as that guy on top of Cam Talbot, did not interfere with the goaltender.

I’ve seen some people say “No excuses. The Oilers choked.” Well, I mean, they were winning with 16 seconds left and then this goal of all things was allowed to stand.

Verdict: The Oilers

Now for the big one…

Did it end their season?

Leafs: Yes
Oilers: No

This is why, no matter what, I have a hard time saying the Oilers’ Game 5 loss was worse. Yes, there was less time left. Yes, it was controversial. But guess what – the Oilers are still in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their season isn’t over. The Oilers have a chance to play at least one more game. The Oilers have an immediate shot at revenge.

The Leafs… well, let’s just say I remember the subway ride home from Maple Leaf Square being very quiet.

Forget immediate revenge. It took the Leafs four years just to get back into the playoffs after Game 7 in 2013. The Oilers play their next game on Sunday.

Verdict: The Leafs times a million.

So who won?

The Bruins and the Ducks, technically.

Now let’s all cheer up by reading about the 2006 Chris Pronger trade.

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