Coffee is for closers, as Blake told the roomful of real estate salesmen in “Glengarry Glen Ross.” The Chicago Blackhawks, since Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews came aboard, have been nothing but closers come playoff time. In Tuesday night’s Game 6 against the Minnesota Wild, they’ll have a chance to send another team home, something they’ve rarely failed to do lately.
In 13 opportunities to win a fourth and deciding game in a playoff series Chicago is 11-2 with Kane and Toews. It’s no wonder they have two Stanley Cup in the last four years. When you get the chance to say goodbye, you do it. Because why would you want to give your opponent hope? Look at the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re a loss away from a collapse none of us expected was coming after Game 4 of their series with the New York Rangers.
And you can't close without getting ahead.
It’s no surprise that scoring the first goal of the helps. Teams scoring first in Round 2 are 21-1. (The Wild earned that lone loss in Game 5.) During their comeback against St. Louis in the opening round, the Blackhawks went up 1-0 in each of their four consecutive victories. Again, it goes back to giving a team hope. Just don't do it.
Game 6 presents a difficult challenge in trying to close out the Wild. Minnesota is 5-0 in the playoffs at home, allowing only five goals and posting two shutouts in process. It hasn’t mattered if it’s Darcy Kuemper or Ilya Bryzgalov in goal. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, are 1-4 away from United Center in the postseason, allowing four goals in each of those losses.
The Wild faced a similar predicament in Round 1 against Colorado, winning the final two games of the series after falling behind 3-2. But historically, the numbers are in favor of a Blackhawks’ Game 6 conquest, no matter where it is; and, as you would expect, their biggest stars lead the way.
Whenever the Blackhawks have had a Game 7 in their pocket in the Kane/Toews era, they never need it. They are 7-0 in Game 6 clinchers — including 5-0 on the road — heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Wild at Xcel Energy Arena.
In the seven Game 6 clinchers, Kane has seven goals, 12 points and is a plus-6; Toews has five goals, 11 points and is a plus-5.
The Wild find themselves battling history tonight, but this postseason has already shown us that they're not going to lie down easily. If you want to assign which team has the most pressure in this series, it's Chicago, looking to defend their 2013 Stanley Cup title, over an upstart Minnesota side who've become this year's Cinderella team.
They've done it once already. Can they do it again?
"It doesn't matter what game, there's always pressure this time of year," said Wild forward Zach Parise. "In a 1-1 series there's always pressure to make it 2-1. You can always find that.
"For us, we're finding ourselves, like we did last series, having to win two Game 7s. There's no way around it. "
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