(Photo: Andrew A. Nelles/AP)

We all know there’s very little difference between “Under Pressure” and “Ice, Ice Baby.”

Pressure doesn’t get much higher than on the ice of the Western Conference Final’s Game 7. The Chicago Blackhawks have come back from a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series and the winner of tonight’s game will advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

They won Game 1 at home. From there, the Los Angeles Kings have proven themselves formidable opponents, stealing away Game 2 at the United Center–proving home ice comes with no guarantees–and winning the next two at the Staples Center.

But, again, there are no guarantees, not even with 3-1 leads. The Blackhawks fought back on home ice again, then stole one in L.A. as well, thanks to the ever-magical clutch playoff prowess of Patrick Kane and Corey Crawford.

None of this has come easy. These are two highly-competitive teams.

Can Chicago make history?

Chicago came back from a 3-1 deficit last year against the Detroit Red Wings.

The 2000 New Jersey Devils are the only other team in NHL history to overcome such a deficit and advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

The Blackhawks are 13-0 in Games 5,6,7 over the past two postseasons, including a 5-0 record when facing elimination.

 

How do the two match up in the postseason this year?

Against each other, Game 1 was 3-1 Chicago. Game 2 was 6-2 Los Angeles. The Kings took Game 3 4-3 and Game 4 5-2. Chicago countered, winning Game 5 5-4 in second overtime and Game 6 4-3.
The Kings have held Chicago close when the Blackhawks managed to win, but were able to take a couple big leads with their victories.

In the postseason overalls, the Blackhawks’ record this year is 11-7. The Kings are at 11-9.

The Kings are averaging 3.4 goals per game, while the Blackhawks only have 3.o; however, in goals-against, the Hawks have the advantage, with 2.78 to the Kings’ 2.80. The Kings have, on average, gotten in more shots per game, 30.6, versus 27.2. The Hawks have seen more shots from their opponents, as well–31.2 to 29.8.
And then there’s special teams. The Blackhawks’ Power Play is drastically impacted by its abysmal road performance, finally broken with a Power Play goal in Game 6, but is only at 19.2 percent to the Kings’ 26.2 percent. Fortunately for Chicago, this is a home game. As for the Penalty Kill, Chicago has a narrow edge: 84.1 percent versus 82.7 percent.

 

What about the Kings and Those Lucky Number 7s?

The Kings are the third team, since the NHL started using best-of-seven series’ in 1987, to play all 21 games through the first three playoff rounds. The only other two teams, according to the NHL, were the 1993 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 2002 Colorado Avalanche. Neither of those team advanced to the Final.
The notable difference is that the Kings are the first team to play all each Game 7 on the road, winning the two previous this year to advance to the WCF.

“I think Game 7 is what hockey’s all about,” Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell said. “As a hockey player, that’s the game you want to play, is Game 7 with everything on the line. It’s kind of the essence of the game.

“We’ve had some success in that and we look to continue that. We feel if we do the things we’re capable of doing, the style of play we need against the Blackhawks, we’re going to get the result we want.”

Jonathan Quick has three career Game 7 wins, zero losses, a 1.33 Goals Against Average, and a .957 Save Percentage. On the other side of the ice, Crawford is 1-1 with a 1.4 Goals Against Average and a .954 Save Percentage.

 

Game 7 Fast-Stats (Courtesy of the NHL)

  • In all-time Game Sevens, home teams are 91-64. But, in the 2014 postseason, they are 1-5.
  • The team to score first has won 115 games to 40 all-time, including 4-2 this year.
  • Overtime has been needed for 38 of 155 Game Sevens. The home and road teams are 19-19 in those 38.

 

But we all know the stats don’t make a difference. We have ourselves some exciting hockey here tonight.

“It’s almost like it’s an overtime game right from the start,” Patrick Sharp said. “From the first shift of the first period. We’re excited to get going, and we’re glad we’re in Chicago.”

The winner will play the New York Rangers on the winner’s home ice Wednesday. The loser is done.

“We’re looking to play every shift, every period, like it’s our last,” Brandon Saad said. “Because it could be.”

I’ll be praying to Lord Stanley from the goosebump-inducing anthem to the final buzzer, for the boys in red to give it all they’ve got… Because it’s the Cup.

Carly Mullady grew up needing to know more about icing than its deliciousness on cupcakes. She's the lone daughter of four children, with a father who was among the last cut from the Midwest tryouts for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. And she knows very little matches the thrill that happens from puck-drop to handshakes. A rink didn’t return to her hometown until she was gone, but she’s been able to see two younger brothers on the ice. She's their feistiest fan. Her other hockey loyalty lies with the Blackhawks--whether it's meant seeing games for $8 with student IDs when the Madhouse didn’t have much of a temper at all, or dancing to Chelsea Dagger at standing room only--there’s something magical about a roaring anthem, the Indianhead sweater, and the Original Six. A former journalist and current editor, she carries a penchant for excitement (and maybe even fighting) with a resume that includes working for Chicago-area newspapers, and television, including The Jerry Springer Show, as well as NBCUniversal in New York. After East Coast living and a return to the Chicago area, the new Mrs. is giving Graceland a go with her Southern Gent, who now shares her adoration of the game, and their rescue dog, Doc Holliday. Other interests include Cubs, Bears, Illini, Crimson Tide, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, baking a mean pineapple upside-down cake, Kate Spade accessories, and a properly coordinated cardigan for every ensemble.

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