Little to no edge for either Blackhawks, Kings | Hockey | CBC Sports

NHLLittle to no edge for either Blackhawks, Kings

Posted: Saturday, May 31, 2014 | 07:45 PM

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Patrick Kane (88) of the Chicago Blackhawks eludes Jeff Carter (77) of the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference final. (Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press) Patrick Kane (88) of the Chicago Blackhawks eludes Jeff Carter (77) of the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference final. (Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press)

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In many ways, it is appropriate. The series many hockey fans were anticipating, the showdown between the two most recent Stanley Cup winners, is going to a Game 7.

In many ways, it is appropriate. The series many hockey fans were anticipating, the showdown between the two most recent Stanley Cup winners, is going to a seventh game.

The defending champion Chicago Blackhawks ensured that Friday night with a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings, who won the Stanley Cup two years ago.

As Jim Morrison once sang, "The West is the best."

Of course, that remains to be seen. The New York Rangers are no shrinking violets and they will most certainly put up a fight no matter who they face in the Stanley Cup final.

In the meantime, though, there is that little matter of Game 7 in Western Conference final on Sunday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7:30 p.m. ET).

Who will win? Pfft, heck knows.

One has needed an abacus to keep track of the momentum shifts in the series. The Blackhawks took advantage of home ice to take a 1-0 lead, then struggled when the Kings flexed their muscles for three straight wins.

Then, in two wide-open, high-scoring affairs, the Blackhawks got themselves back into the series, outscoring the Kings 9-7 to win Games 5 and 6.

So do the Blackhawks have the advantage with Game 7 in Chicago? Normally, one would say, "Yes. Hands down." Home ice should be the deciding factor. But are you really going to count out a team that trailed 3-0 in the opening round and twice suffered three-game losing streaks yet is still around to talk about it?

Not a chance. It would be awfully hard to bet against the Kings.

Trying to pick the winner of this series is a mug's game. It could be a game for the ages, though.

Great response

Perhaps nobody gets it more than Los Angeles head coach Darryl Sutter. His what-will-be-will-be attitude seems to bring a calmness over his team that has carried his players through plenty of troubled times.

Asked what he said to the players after Friday's loss, Sutter mumbled: "Fly at 11."

At this stage, there is just no point whatsoever for long, drawn out speeches or bawling out sessions. The players know what is at stake. If you need a coach to motivate you for a Game 7 that will send you to the Stanley Cup final or the golf course, well...

No panic

When the Blackhawks fell behind 3-2 in Game 6 - the Kings scored two early third-period goals and the fans in Los Angeles were going nuts - Chicago kept its cool. The odds may have been stacked against them, but the Blackhawks knew there was still plenty of time (12:22) remaining.

"You don't put your head down," said Chicago left-winger Brandon Saad. "It's do or die here."

Added right-winger Patrick Kane, who paced Chicago with two goals and three points: "Yeah, you know, nothing was really said. I think it was pretty much just keep on playing the same way we know how to play. Ended up working out."

Kane rolls

With seven points in the past two games and eight in his last three, Kane seems to be making a mockery of the old adage that defence wins championships.

Surprisingly, however, he said it is not as easy as it looks - and he has sure has made it look easy at times.

"There's still not much room out there in this series," Kane said. "Right now, you have to take advantage of your opportunities when you do get space."

Team game

Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said Kane seems to play better the more important the game. Kane was asked why he plays so well in key games and said: "I don't know. You try to take it upon yourself to step up in big situations.

"But we have a lot of guys that do that. I think with our team and the amount of great players we have, it seems like everyone has their time to step up and have the spotlight ... When it's your turn, it's always fun to contribute."

Follow Mike Brophy on Twitter @HockeyBroph

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