After last night, we know that the Chicago Blackhawks will extend their defense of the Stanley Cup to the Western Conference Final at a minimum and the New York Rangers will play in the Eastern Conference Final for the third time since their championship 1993-94 campaign.
Who those squads will play remains to be seen, but we won’t have to wait for much longer to find out..
Game 7: Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins [Series tied at 3-3] (7:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)
This is the ninth time Montreal and Boston have played each other in a Game 7, which is the most in the history of North American pro sports, per NHL.com. The rivalry between these teams might be old, but they don’t have to thumb through an NHL history book to find reasons to play with intensity tonight.
The heated finish of Montreal’s 4-0 victory over Boston Monday night wasn’t about the days of the Original Six.
After the game, Bruins coach Claude Julien fought against the notion that Boston was the instigator of that melee and challenged the idea that the Bruins are the villains in this series. Either way, that incident will likely be on both teams’ minds going into tonight’s game at the TD Garden. Which would probably be fine by Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.
“I hope their crowd is louder than in here [Bell Center.] I hope it gets nasty,” Subban said, “I hope it gets dirty because at the end of the game when you’re shaking hands, whoever wins, that’s what the feeling’s all about.”
Game 6: Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings [Anaheim leads series 3-2] (9:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN)
The Ducks broke the trend of the home team losing in this series with their 4-3 victory on Monday. Now the Los Angeles Kings will face elimination for the fifth time this season.
“To win four games against [the Kings] is going to be the toughest job this team will ever face,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said, per the Los Angeles Daily News.
Certainly the Kings have been in worst situations before. They fell behind 3-0 against the San Jose Sharks and managed to win four straight to advance to the second round. So what’s two in a row?
Rookie goalie John Gibson is likely to be back between the pipes tonight for the Ducks after he earned a 28-save shutout in Game 4 and stopped 39 shots Monday night. His potential was recognized long before this series started, but he’s still just 20 years old and these games are only going to get harder.
“A lot of pressure on him now,” Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said. “A lot of pressure on him.”
Then again, he won’t be doing it alone. He’s got an experienced team in front of him that’s proven time and time again capable of standing up to a fierce opponent like the Kings.