Blackhawks both keen for, and wary of, 50/50 prospects in do-or-die Game 7 vs. Red Wings
Head coach Joel Quenneville (centre) looks on from behind the bench of the Chicago Blackhawks during an intense Game 6 of the NHL Western Conference semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Monday, May 27, 2013. The Hawks won 4-3 to tie the best-of-seven series at three games each.
Photograph by: Dave Reginek, NHLI via Getty Images
CHICAGO — Joel Quenneville’s interview session Tuesday, held in the Chicago Blackhawks’ dressing room because the Rolling Stones had the rest of United Center on lockdown, ended where it ought to have begun.
“What’s your favourite Stones song?” someone asked the coach.
Quenneville didn’t miss a beat.
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” he said, grinning for the first time — possibly the first time ever. He winked once and, recognizing a good exit line, departed stage right.
It’s true. You can’t always.
In fact, what the Blackhawks want out of Game 7 Wednesday night on home ice (5 p.m. Pacific time, CBC) — ice that could be iffy considering the massive takedown of staging that has to happen overnight after the Stones played here Tuesday — is pretty much a 50/50 proposition, give or take home advantage.
It marks the 49th time in National Hockey League history that a team has come back to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-1 in a series, and exactly 24 of the previous 48 times, they have lost the deciding tilt. Which means, they’ve also won 24 times.
What this has to do with 2013, with the Detroit Red Wings or the Chicago Blackhawks is probably minimal, or as L.A. Kings coach Darryl Sutter would so succinctly put it: “Who cares?”
Still, it does tend to argue that momentum is only a three-syllable word with a passel of m’s in it.
Nobody has to tell the Hawks.
Asked for his reflections of Games 7 he has played, captain Jonathan Toews said: “Well, the game in Vancouver. I don’t think there is another one. So there’s only one memory, and it’s a tough one,” he said of the 2011 first-round series ended by Alex Burrows’s overtime goal on Corey Crawford, after Chicago had climbed out of a 3-0 series hole.
“We want to change it this time,” Toews said.
Memories of that series are all around the Chicago room.
There is Michael Frolik, who had beaten the Canucks’ Cory Schneider on a penalty shot in Game 6, a 4-3 win that forced Game 7. Frolik, who did the same thing Monday night in Detroit, beating Jimmy Howard with a gorgeous backhand top-shelf move, said the memory of the 2011 goal was vivid, even to the point of Schneider cramping up while trying to make the save, and having to be replaced by Roberto Luongo.
“Yeah, there was a lot of talk about that. I couldn’t believe he got injured at first,” Frolik said Tuesday. “It was a nice one to score, for sure.”
“I remember winning three games in a row and just the feeling of invincibility,” Toews said, “so I think maybe this time we know that it’s one thing to carry that momentum and ride it into a Game 7, but that other team is going to come back with everything they’ve got, too. So we’ve gotta be ready for that, and we know it’s going to be a good one.”
“I haven’t played in a whole lot (of Game 7s),” said defenceman Duncan Keith. “Obviously, the one against Vancouver. And the Olympics, not Game 7s but we played in four straight games that were basically do or die. If we lost them we’d be done, so those are pressure, especially being on your home soil.
“But we’ve all played in pressure situations, even if it’s playing for a championship in peewee. They’re always there in the memory bank, and as you get older you just use that experience, one way or another, somehow, and just use it as confidence.”
Crawford, who fanned on a fluttering “knucklepuck” by Detroit’s Joakim Andersson to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead Monday before the Hawks stormed back with three goals in the third, has only one really bad memory of the one Game 7 he’s played: Burrows’s shot, also a rolling puck, that won the series for the Canucks to kick-start their run to the Stanley Cup Final.
“Well, if you look back on that year, he played 30-something games in a row to get us into the playoffs, and he had some amazing games in that stretch,” said Quenneville, “but none better than that Game 7 in Vancouver. He gave us a chance, and single-handedly was outstanding to get it to overtime, and who knows what could happen on a break.”
The Andersson goal Monday didn’t shake Crawford, or the Hawks.
“He didn’t beat himself up, we knew he was going to bounce back. There was not even an actual thought about that goal,” said Toews, who believes the Blackhawks’ refusal to give into negative thoughts after losing Games 3 and 4 in Detroit to fall behind 3-1 has been what got them to this point.
“I mean, to look at the attitude we’ve had over the last couple of games and where we were just a few days ago — it’s a huge credit to the guys for keeping their heads up and staying loose and being positive,” he said.
“We felt like we’d worked really hard but nothing seemed to go our way those first four games, and I think for anybody ... I don’t want to say it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself, but it’s easy to get down on yourself a little bit, and we didn’t do that at all.”
“We had a meeting after Game 4,” Quenneville said of his Presidents’ Trophy-winning lineup, “and the belief was definitely in this room here. We believe in each other and we wanted to go capture the momentum, and we got it back, had a great Game 5 at home, played well early and then had a big third period in their building, and here we are.
“I feel like we’ve just played two Game 7s, so we’re looking forward to the real Game 7. We put ourselves in a great spot, and we’re excited about where we’re at.
“You can feel it. Guys want to be out on the ice, they’re comfortable out there, they want more.”
Of course, you can’t always get what you want.
From Mick and Keith’s lyric sheet to your lips, Q.
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