Kukla's Korner Hockey
“I don’t think there’s a player in the league that has the puck on his stick, time of possession over the course of a game, more. He sees plays, makes plays. The bigger the stage, the more he likes that challenge.”
-Joel Quenneville, head coach of the Chicago Blackhaws on Patrick Kane. More on Kane from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
So it comes down to this again:
One game, between the last two Stanley Cup champions, to decide which team gets to play for the trophy again.
Well, why not?
You always had the sense that the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings’ series would go down to the wire – and it will, thanks to Chicago’s 4-3 victory Friday night at Staples Center. The win, in a nervously played game where the lead kept changing hands, tied the Western Conference final at three apiece, with the deciding game set for the United Center in Chicago Sunday night.
Chicago is a sparkling 8-1 on home-ice in these playoffs, its only loss coming to the Kings in Game 2 of the series.
L.A., meanwhile, has won six road games in these playoffs, including victories in two previous Game 7s against both the San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks in the first two rounds.
from Shawn Roarke of NHL.com,
The coaches have never stopped pushing buttons from the opening faceoff of Game 1 until the final whistle Friday. Quenneville has changed his personnel and jumbled his lines. His decision to put Kane with Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw in Game 5 looks inspired. Sutter has made adjustments, both minor and major, to counter many of the things the Blackhawks normally do well. He has rendered tame their potent power play for long stretches and has found weaknesses in a penalty kill that had dominated Chicago's first two opponents this spring.
It all culminates in what every hockey fan covets: a winner-takes-all Game 7 that will be played in United Center, which will be a madhouse of epic proportions.
Thirty-eight players, some good, some great, will take the ice and try to be the difference-maker, trying to propel their team to greater glory and a place in the Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers.
For the Blackhawks, it is for a chance to try to defend the crown that has rested so comfortably on their head all year. For the Kings, it is the chance to be the first team in League history to win three Game 7s -- all on the road, no less -- to reach the championship round.
"Hey, it's been a great series," Sutter said. "Now it comes down to one game."
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
This is a trip the Kings didn't want to make. And for a few moments, after Alec Martinez put them ahead, 3-2, at 7:38 of the third period, it appeared they wouldn't have to pack their bags yet again. But their inability to stop Kane — again — has put them on the edge of a playoff precipice.
"We've got a one-game playoff here in their building to punch a ticket to the finals," Martinez said, "and we've got to focus on learning from our mistakes tonight and going in there ready to play."
Defenseman Drew Doughty, every bit as dazzling for the Kings on Friday as Kane was for Chicago, tried to put a positive spin on the situation.
"I think before the series if we were asked 'would you go to Game 7 with Chicago and just be put in that spot in just a one-game thing,' I think we would take it," he said.
But there's a different feeling to it now, after they've backed into this winner-goes-to-the-finals scenario.
They haven't been able to dictate the style in the last two outings and the Blackhawks have gained control and confidence. There's a reason why the Blackhawks won the Cup last season and are a victory away from continuing their quest to become the first repeat champion since the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings: The Blackhawks are 13-0 in Games 5 through 7 of their playoff series over the last two postseasons, a sign they know how to close things out.
Perhaps the line of the playoffs from Darryl Sutter when asked what he said to the players after the game.
His response, "fly at 11".
Watch a quick recap from both Joel Quenneville and Darryl Sutter post-game...
added 11:22am, A second video has been added, with the quote from Sutter at the beginning of the video.
Watch it below the first video...
Just like last night, game 6 will be played like a game 7 for Los Angeles Kings.
They certainly do not want to fly to Chicago again for a game 7 on Sunday while the Chicago Blackhawks know tonight is a must win game.
My thoughts, the Kings win and stay home, waiting for the arrival of the New York Rangers.
Tonight's game starts just after 9:00pm ET and is on NBCSN, CBC and RDS.
Enjoy and feel free to leave a comment on anything hockey related.
from Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times,
It’s a mind game now. You just know the Blackhawks like their chances.
“We want to stay with that mentality that we’re putting all the pressure on them,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said Thursday before heading to Los Angeles with his teammates for Game 6 of the Western Conference final, “and it’s going to be tough for them to close it out and win that fourth game against us. We showed how resilient of a group we are [in Game 5]. We’re going to do it again [in Game 6].”
Trailing the series 3-2 but buoyed by a thrilling 5-4 double-overtime victory in Game 5, the Hawks are reaching deep into their bag of tricks for possibly the only trump cards they have left — their mental toughness and will to win.
The way this series has gone it’s the Hawks’ last and best hope to complete a mathematically unlikely comeback from a 3-1 series deficit. They’re certainly not outclassing the Kings on the ice. They’ve given up six unanswered goals in one game, lost two-goal leads in two games. The Kings are the better team in the face-off circle, on the penalty kill and the power play.
"We know we can't let it go to Game 7. They're a good team in their home arena. They feed off their fans. It's a tough arena to play in. So we need to win [Friday].
"No matter what, this game has to be ours. It's so important for us to advance to the Stanley Cup Final that we win this game. If we give them this game they're going to have so much more life and they're going to be a different team."
-Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings via Helene Elliott of the LA Times where you can read more as Chicago and Los Angeles prepare for game 6.
from Ed Sherman of the Chicago Tribune,
They won't admit it, but privately NBC will be rooting for the Blackhawks to pull off the comeback against the Kings this weekend.
Having the Hawks in the Stanley Cup Final is huge for NBC. Not as much with the Kings.
With the Rangers and Kings still alive, Chicago technically is the nation's No. 3 TV market in terms of overall viewers during the playoffs. But thanks to the avid following for the Hawks, the town is a clear-cut No. 1 in terms of delivering hockey viewers.
The numbers tell the story. Before Thursday's Rangers-Montreal game, New York was averaging a 4.1 rating for Rangers games during the playoffs; Los Angeles is at 1.7 for Kings games. Meanwhile, Chicago checks in at a robust 13.4 for Hawks playoff games.
While being careful not to play favorites in the Western Conference finals, NBC announcer Mike Emrick knows what the Blackhawks have meant to the NBC in recent years.
"It's a magical time for hockey in Chicago," Emrick said. "There's a passion that is hard to discount. Even Mr. Fix-it on Saturday morning is talking Blackhawks hockey."
By Nick Tranfaglia of TiqIQ,
After a Game 5 loss in Chicago Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Kings return to the Staples Center for Game 6 Friday in hopes of eliminating the Blackhawks on home ice. Though they lead the series 3-2, the Kings continue to see a drop in average secondary ticket price for Game 6 in Los Angeles.
As Game 6 approaches, the average price for LA Kings tickets on the secondary market at the Staples Center is now $410.48, down 6.75% from yesterday’s average of $440.19, according to TiqIQ. Los Angeles holds the cheapest secondary average among all remaining teams in the NHL Playoffs.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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