While it lacks the soap opera drama from the East, this 2014 Western Conference final series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings is delivering arguably the best hockey of what’s been a mostly superb postseason. It only seems fitting that the two West powerhouses pushed each other to a Game 7.
That decisive contest is rapidly approaching on Sunday night. You can catch the action on NBCSN and also soak it in via the livestream link below.
In the simplest terms, you have the Blackhawks fighting to defend their championship and continue their push to become a rare repeat champion in this era of parity. The Kings aim to avenge their defeat from the 2013 conference finals and avoid giving up a 3-1 series lead in the same year that they stormed back from an 0-3 deficit.
There are a ton of other storylines too, of course. Which goalie will add to his legacy and which one might be questioned (if ever so slightly)? Will Drew Doughty make a bigger impact than Duncan Keith? What should we expect from another round of Jonathan Toews vs. Anze Kopitar? Finally, does Patrick Kane have any magic left after his fabulous work in Games 5 and 6?
In some ways, the Kings are the favorites:
On the other hand, Chicago has momentum and home-ice advantage.
Most importantly, these are two fantastic teams fighting to host the New York Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. What more can a hockey fan (or sports fan, really) ask for?