At some point Sunday night — or maybe even Monday morning — we’ll know who the New York Rangers are facing in the Stanley Cup Final, which begins Wednesday. While we wait, the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings will finish their glorious series off in proper fashion with a Game 7.
In Game 2, the Kings became the first team this postseason to defeat the Blackhawks at United Center. LA then won the next two games at Staples Center to build up a 3-1 series lead, putting them on the cusp of a second trip the Final in three seasons. But a double overtime goal from Michal Handzus in Game 5 and the Patrick Kane Show in Game 6 brought us to this final game.
With the Blackhawks hoping to keep their repeat hopes alive by winning another game at home and the Kings trying to not blow a 3-1 series lead, is either team facing pressure?
“I don't look at it as pressure,” said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. “I think it's been fun."
"We've been in a real interesting situation the last two games. As series progress, and as in-series progress as well, the games get tougher and faster and more important.”
Kings head coach Darryl Sutter agrees with Quenneville and isn’t a believer that one team faces more pressure than the other ahead of Game 7.
“I think both of us have been in it long enough to know singing that little song doesn't work,” he said.
There may be no pressure, but each side faces challenges, like getting better performances from their goaltenders. For the Kings, they have to find a way to slow down the Kane/Brandon Saad combo that’s combined for 11 points over in the last two games. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, would like to contain Drew Doughty (3 goals, 7 points in the series) and keep LA’s Game 7 good luck charm, Justin Williams, in check.
Over his career, Williams is 6-0 in Games 7, posting six goals and 12 points. As Sam Fels Tweeted after Game 6, the Blackhawks should enter this game knowing they’re already down 1-0 for the Williams goal we all know is coming.
“I think most guys on our team treat Game 7s as an opportunity,” said Williams, “an opportunity to do something special, an opportunity to prove yourself, an opportunity to advance and get the better of a team that you battled with for six games.”
The Kings know a thing or two about Game 7s with this being their third this postseason and fourth in their last five playoff series. They aren’t showing the effects of playing the maximum amount of games to this points and why would they, a win tonight and they’re back in the Final.
“If we have to play 28 games this year to win, that's what we have to do,” Williams said.
“We’re using all our lifelines so far. We plan on getting the job done yet again.”
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