CHICAGO -- The number of the game has changed again, but what’s at stake for the Chicago Blackhawks in their Western Conference semifinal Wednesday isn't any different than it was in their two previous games against the Detroit Red Wings.
The Blackhawks have been facing elimination for nearly a week, since going down 3-1 in the series on May 23. With everything to lose, they have found a winning recipe with a nothing-to-lose mentality, and have fought back to even the series and force a Game 7.
“I just thought we played two Game 7s, so we’re looking forward to the real Game 7,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Tuesday. “We’ve put ourselves in a good spot and I’m excited about it.”
The momentum appears to be with the Blackhawks after they took the past two games, which included rallying from a 2-1 deficit after two periods in Game 6 Monday in Detroit. Game 7 is in Chicago, but the Red Wings already defeated the Blackhawks once at United Center in the series.
“We’re excited about the way we’ve played in the last couple games,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “We feel like we deserve to be where we are. We’ve got a great chance to go win this series in Game 7 [Wednesday] at home, so we’ll be excited about that, but we know that we’ve got a lot of work left to do if we want to do that.
“We know they’re going to play their best hockey. We are, as well. We know what they’re capable of. We know what they like to do. It’s all about our preparation. Again, we focus on the little things that the other team does -- their best players, we want to get on those guys the way we have in the last little while. But mostly, it’s about our preparation and how much we want it. That’s what it comes down to.”
Some of the Blackhawks know what a Game 7 is like, whether it was with Chicago or another team. Some of the current players were part of the 2010-11 conference quarterfinals, when the Blackhawks rallied from a 3-0 series deficit against the Vancouver Canucks, but fell in overtime in Game 7.
That was Toews’ lone Game 7 experience.
“I don’t think there is another one, I’m pretty sure, so there’s only one memory and it was a tough one,” Toews said. “We want to change that.”
Blackhawks forward Michal Handzus has been on both sides of a Game 7.
“When I was in my rookie year in St. Louis [with the Blues,] we came back from 3-1 to beat [the Phoenix Coyotes] in their building 1-0 in overtime, so that was a lot of fun,” Handzus said. “All of them, if you win it, it’s fun. All of them, if you lose it, they’re not.”
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is planning to enjoy himself in Game 7.
“We’re going to look at it as more fun,” Crawford said. “We’re excited about this game, having it in our building. The crowd is going to be loud. Like I said, it’s just going to be exciting. It’s going to be fun to go out there to try to win a game and move on.”