Both the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks have recent and spotty histories when it comes to Game 7s. Each side fell to the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings in the decisive matchup in last year’s NHL playoffs, and the Ducks haven’t claimed a Game 7 victory since 2006, with a 2-4 record all-time. Anaheim’s dropped its last two Game 7s in consecutive playoffs, both at home.
On the other hand, the Blackhawks are 6-6 all-time in Game 7s, having split their last two appearances with a loss to the aforementioned Kings and a 2-1 overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings in route to the Stanley Cup.
But Game 7s offer squads a chance at redemption as well as the opportunity for bigger things, and both sides appear ready for their final matchup in the Western Conference Finals Saturday at the Honda Center.
Anaheim missed an opportunity to finish off the Blackhawks with a disappointing 5-2 loss in Game 6, with previously stalwart goalkeeper Frederik Andersen lit up for a third straight game. But Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters he’s confident in his squad and that using the letdowns from previous years isn’t the type of motivation he wants to tap.
"I'm not bringing that up to them at all," Boudreau said. "To me, quite frankly, every year is a different entity. The guys that have been here for the three years know what's happened.
"If we have to draw on extra motivation for a Game 7 … I think we've got the wrong guys. … We have the right guys."
The Ducks certainly have the right scorers and playmakers on the attack. Center Ryan Getzlaf’s produced 17 assists during the postseason, including seven against the Blackhawks, with right wing Jakob Silfverberg right behind with 13 assists. And then there’s equal parts scorer and assist man Corey Perry, who’s totaled nine goals and eight assists.
It’s a dominating core of offensive power, but Chicago’s countered with stellar play on the defensive lines. The Blackhawks entered the series banged up on defense, but relied on All-Star Duncan Keith, as well as Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Keith’s plus-minus dipped to plus-1 in the series, after racking up a plus-7 in the previous sweep against Minnesota, but he still maintains an awesome plus-11 throughout the postseason. He’s also chipped in a team-leading 14 assists, including three in Game 6.
Seabrook’s right there at plus-6, and Hjalmarsson’s next up at plus-5, and left wing Patrick Sharp believes the Blackhawks have the proper blend of talent to stave off whatever Anaheim throws at them in Game 7.
“I think we’re good,” Patrick Sharp said to the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’re healthy. We have a defense core that want to be on the ice — they’re fighting to jump over the boards. [They] want to play heavy minutes.”
Along with Sharp’s five goals and eight assists, Chicago’s received 10 goals from right wing Patrick Kane and seven goals and nine assists from center Jonathan Toews, a trio that’s largely carried the Blackhawks deep into the postseason for the last five years.
“Up front I think we’re feeling pretty good,” Sharp said. “Whether it’s a physical game or a wide-open game, we like that style of play. We’ll be ready for whatever they throw at us.”
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC
Live Online: A live stream is available at NBC Sports Live Extra
Betting Odds: Ducks -1.5, over/under 5 goals
Prediction: Anaheim over Chicago, 3-1