It’s a winner-take-all scenario to decide the Western Conference.
The Chicago Blackhawks host the L.A. Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final on Sunday, after the Blackhawks pushed the series to its ultimate conclusion with a win in Game 6 on Friday. It’s also the ultimate conclusion to a very entertaining series that has seen Chicago come back from a three-games-to-one deficit.
“I’m excited we’re home. I’m really excited we’re playing Game 7. It’s a good opportunity,” Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville told reporters. “We got momentum, so let’s go. It’s one game, but there’s a lot at stake. I’m sure the guys are going to have a lot of fun with it.”
Regardless of which team has momentum or which doesn’t, it’s still a battle between two teams that have clearly set the standard in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks could earn their third Stanley Cup Final berth in the last five years. The Kings went to the final and won the Stanley Cup in 2012.
The Blackhawks and Kings have combined to win three of the last four Stanley Cup championships. The New York Rangers, champs in the Eastern Conference, await the winner.
“I think this series deserves a Game 7,” Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson told the Chicago Tribune. “I think that the crowd deserves it too. I think it’s going to be a great finish to a great series. Hopefully we’ll be the winner.”
Of course, the Kings will likely have something to say about that.
It seems there will be no NHL comeback attempt by Alex Semin. At least not in 2016-17.
Instead, Semin has inked a one-year extension with Magnitogorsk Metallurg, according to Sport-Express writer Igor Eronko.
At 32 years old, Semin still could have a lot of years left in him as a professional hockey player, but at this point it wouldn’t be surprising if he has played in his last NHL game. Early in his career his talent was clear and demonstrated by some great showings offensively, but he was plagued by inconsistency. In recent years though, he wasn’t so much inconsistent as he was underwhelming.
After being limited to six goals and 19 points in 57 games with Carolina in 2014-15, the one-time 40-goal scorer was bought out of his five-year, $35 million contract just two seasons into it. Montreal took a chance on him for 2015-16, but he only appeared in 15 games with the Canadiens before they put him on unconditional waivers on Dec. 9.
He’s fared better in the KHL though, with five goals and 14 points in 20 regular season games followed by another seven markers and 15 points in 23 playoff contests.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Among the 21 NHL.com and NHL Network experts offering their prediction for the Stanley Cup Final, 17 of them are choosing the San Jose Sharks. (NHL.com)
The majority of ESPN’s experts are also picking the Sharks. (ESPN.com)
For CBS Sports, Adam Gretz and Chris Peters are split on the outcome. (CBS Sports)
Tickets for the first Stanley Cup Final in San Jose appear to be going for significantly more than their Pittsburgh Penguins counterparts. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Inspired by John Scott‘s comments, here’s the start of a World Cup All-Snubs’ team. (TSN)
Peter DeBoer said that then New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello fired him from the Devils’ head coaching job late at night on Christmas. The news then broke on Dec. 26. (Tom Gulitti)
The Pittsburgh Penguins are Vegas favorites to win the 2016 Stanley Cup, but the odds lean toward a San Jose Sharks player capturing the Conn Smythe.
Bovada released a variety of odds on Sunday after others surfaced on Friday.
Joe Pavelski is pegged as a +400 favorite as a winner, edging some other top candidates such as Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel and Matt Murray.
Here’s the full list:
Logan Couture +500
Martin Jones +600
Brent Burns +700
Joe Thornton +900
Evgeni Malkin +900
Kris Letang +1400
Bovada also released prop bets, including how long the series might last. Check that out here.