Game 7 heroes will emerge | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaGame 7 heroes will emerge

Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 | 01:04 PM

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Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist has no time to dwell on the beating he and his team took in Game 6 in Philly. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist has no time to dwell on the beating he and his team took in Game 6 in Philly. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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With three Game 7s on tap for Wednesday night, who will be the heroes? Here are six candidates, one from each team, as well as six others who could be difference makers:
Game 7 heroes are not always the usual suspects, not always the players you suspect will lead their teams.

On a team that included Vinny Lecavalier, Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis, it was Ruslan Fedotenko that came through for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final against the Calgary Flames in 2003-04.

Fedotenko scored his 11th and 12th goals of the playoffs to give the home Lightning a thrilling 2-1 victory.

So, with three Game 7s on tap for Wednesday night, who will be the heroes? Who will be the goats?

Here are six candidates, one from each team, as well as six others who could be difference makers:

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

Widely regarded as one of the best goalies in the NHL, Lundqvist is coming off a horrible performance in Philadelphia on Monday night during which he was pulled after surrendering four goals in just under 40 minutes. Not only that, he has now lost 12 straight games in which his team was leading a series. Two years ago Lundqvist led the Rangers to the Eastern Conference final, so this is not uncharted territory for him.

The other Ranger: Rick Nash was invisible in Game 6 and has one goal in 16 playoff games as a member of the Rangers. For a guy earning nearly $8 million US a season, that is deplorable. It is time to step up to the plate.

Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers are Giroux's team and will go as far as he carries them. Giroux overcame a horrible start to the season (no goals in his first 15 games) to become one of the most productive players in the NHL, finishing third in league scoring. Giroux tied for fourth in road production in the regular season and will have to be at his best in Game 7.

The other Flyer: Wayne Simmonds is coming off his first playoff hat trick and has the skill and toughness to be successful on the road. His game is tailor-made for the playoffs.



Mike Richards, Los Angeles Kings

This has not been a great season for Richards, but he, along with teammate Jeff Carter, knows what it takes to come back and win a series in seven after trailing 3-0. They did it with the Flyers against Boston in 2010. Richards is a winner and leader and will be tough to stop in Game 7. A big night could help ease the pain of an otherwise forgettable year.

The other King: Goalie Jonathan Quick played horribly at the start of the playoffs, but all will be forgiven if he steals Game 7.

Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks

On a team with many weathered veterans, it's the 25-year-old Couture who must lead the way. The likes of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and even Dan Boyle have been unable to get it done in San Jose. Couture, who is mature beyond his years, can put his stamp on the franchise with a productive Game 7.

The other Shark: Indeed, Jumbo Joe Thornton can erase a lot of demons by shooting the lights out. He has never been able to take his game to the next level this time of year, but it is never too late to start.

Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche

The 28-year-old centre is enjoying a breakout season in the playoffs with nine points in six games. On a team that is rich with youth, he can be a calming force if he plays to his potential. Stastny will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and leading the upstart Avalanche into the second round could go a long way in getting him maximums dollars.

The other Avalanche: Teenage scoring sensation Nathan MacKinnon has been a scoring terror at home. All 10 of his post-season points (which ties him for the league lead in scoring) have come at the Pepsi Center, including the OT winner in Game 5.



Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild

One of the best two-way defenders in the NHL, Suter will be charged with trying to keep Colorado's young guns off the score sheet while, at the same time, trying to lead his team on offence. He has both the skill and maturity to make it happen.

The other Wild: Minnesota had a game like this in mind when it signed Zach Parise to his wealthy contract. Parise is a competent two-way player who has scored four of his 10 playoff points on the road.

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