Will Game 7 live up to the hype?

Will Game 7 live up to the hype?
June 1, 2014, 12:45 pm
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(Scott Stewart-USA TODAY Sports)

The Chicago Blackhawks have rallied from third period deficits in each of their last two wins, but their biggest comeback in the Western Conference Finals may not be complete just yet.

Once down 3-games-to-1 in the conference final against the Los Angeles Kings, the Blackhawks would become just the second team in NHL history to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NHL’s conference final round should they win Game 7 tonight [NBCSN; 8:00 p.m.].

The New Jersey Devils rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2000, before beating the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup.

“They find a way,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville after Chicago rallied for a 5-4 double overtime win in Game 5 and a 4-3 win in regulation in Game 6.

“They overcome a lot of different challenges. [Game 6] is a good example and Game 5 was the same situation. Down in third periods, it doesn't look good, but they don't change their approach… I commend the guys for what they've done, what they've accomplished, how they handled big situations.”

Both the Blackhawks and Kings have shown a knack to elevate their games as the stakes get higher, with Chicago posting a 13-0 record in Games 5-7 in each of the last two postseasons, and Los Angeles going 6-0 this spring when facing elimination.

“We've got to win. There is no other option,” said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. “I think we're going to have our best effort of the series next game. All of the guys are going to step up to the plate. Our leaders are going to lead the way. Everyone else is going to follow. We're going to have our best effort.”

HOME ICE ADVANTAGE: The Blackhawks are 8-1 at the United Center this postseason and 19-3 in home playoff games since 2013.

“I'm excited we're home,” Quenneville said. “I'm really excited we're playing Game 7. It's a good opportunity.  We got momentum, so let's go. It's one game, but there's a lot at stake. I'm sure the guys are going to have a lot of fun with it.”

ROAD ICE ADVANTAGE: In one of the more unusual statistics to emerge from the 2014 playoffs, road teams are 5-1 in Game 7s this postseason. The Kings are responsible for two of those victories, having won Game 7 in San Jose in Round 1, before winning Game 7 in Anaheim in Round 2.

“We're coming into a rink that is pretty loud, but really we have nothing to lose,” said Kings forward Anze Kopitar, the playoffs leading scorer with 23 points in 20 games.  

“We're going to go out, we're going to play hard, throw everything on the line. At the end of the day we think, and we're confident enough, that if we do that, if we do play our game, we think we have a very good chance of winning.”

CAPS CONNECTION:  Former Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz has been a healthy scratch for the Kings since Game 2 of the conference final and is not expected to dress for Game 7.

Schultz has appeared in seven postseason games for the Kings after spending the regular season with the American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs. If L.A. wins Game 7 against Chicago, Schultz would be the first member of the 2009-10 Presidents’ Trophy winning Caps team to reach the Stanley Cup in the four years since (albeit, as an extra defenseman).

UP NEXT: The Western Conference champion will host the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday, June 4.