By Dan Di Sciullo,
The Bruins and Penguins both wrapped their respective Eastern Conference semifinal series in five games, but a pair of Game 7s will be needed to decide which teams get to battle for the West title.
Game 7s are always good news for sports fans. We get to see the already high stakes of the playoffs get boiled down to its essence, as two teams play one final game to find out who is the better team.
For once, the hype machine isn't needed because a Game 7 is more than capable of selling itself.
First up is Tuesday's clash between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. The Kings, of course, are the defending Stanley Cup champions and they hope Game 7 sticks to the same script the rest of the series has followed, or else their chances of repeating are over.
The home team has won all six meetings in the series, and
"We really don't have anything to lose," McLellan said. "We're going to play Game 7 against the Stanley Cup champs in their building. We look forward to that challenge."
Pressure is only one part of the equation, however. A bigger question is will the Sharks be able to solve Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick when it matters most?
"It's time for us to get there and try to change the story," McLellan said. "Obviously, we're going to have to play a much better game than we did the last time in that building. They earned the right for home ice. It's our job to take it away from them."
Although the Kings figure to have the odds in their favor due to home ice, this is a new situation for head coach Darryl Sutter's club. When
When asked whether he thought this series had a chance to go seven, Sutter answered with his trademark deadpan humor.
"Yep. Why not? I think every series has the chance to go seven. Somewhere between four and seven."
I guess if you can't play the underdog role, keeping them laughing is another good way to make sure the locker room stays loose.
On Wednesday, we'll get to see a different kind of Game 7, as the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks try to pull off a memorable comeback after trailing
This Original Six encounter has been a series of streaks. The seventh-seeded Red Wings won three straight after losing Game 1 in
For a team like the Blackhawks, who went 24 straight games without a regulation loss to open the regular season, taking three in a row from
"We've got that momentum,"
Like McLellan is doing for
"If I would've told
Of course, Game 7s are a treat for the fans to watch, but the players and coaches involved in the do-or-die games seem just as excited.
"It's one game. This is what we play for," said Sharks center Logan Couture.
The time for manufactured excitement is over. Tune into the NHL playoffs over the next two days and catch a glimpse of the real thing.