It is now a one-and-done series as the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks meet in Game 7 of their first round Western Conference playoff matchup. Game time is set for 7 p.m. (PT) Tuesday at BCPlace Stadium in Vancouver and it will be broadcast on VERSUS.
The defending Stanley Cup champions were all but left for dead after dropping the first three games of this series, but Chicago’s never-say-die attitude has it poised for one of the biggest upsets in the history of the NHL playoffs. The Blackhawks lost the first three games by a combined score of 9-5.
Chicago was a 164 road underdog in Game 1 and a 166 road dog in Game 2. The Blackhawks lost 3-2 in Game 3 as a slight 109 home favorite and staved off elimination last Tuesday night with a resounding 7-2 victory as a 116 home underdog.
Chicago’s offense remained in high gear with a 5-0 shutout as a 181 road underdog in Game 5 and was able to hammer out a 4-3 series-saving overtime win as a 117 home favorite in Game 6 this past Sunday night.
A win on Tuesday would be just the fourth time in playoff history that a team won the final four games of a best-of-seven series. It would also be the third straight season that Chicago eliminated Vancouver from the postseason.
To make history, the Blackhawks will need to rely on Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane who have combined for four goals and seven assists in this series. Defenseman Duncan Keith has also come up big with four goals and two assists.
Chicago is averaging 3.5 goals a game against the Canucks after averaging 3.07 in the regular season.
The only injury concern for the Blackhawks is right winger Thomas Kopecky, who is listed as questionable after sustaining an upper body injury in Game 1.
Chicago will also need another strong effort from goalie Corey Crawford, who has a save percentage of .922 after a rough start in this series. His goals-against-average of 2.27 is slightly better than his 2.30 season average.
Vancouver has to quickly recover from its state of shock to avoid becoming one of the best teams ever in the regular season to make a first-round exit in the playoffs. The Canucks led the league in scoring with 3.15 goals per game but have only managed five goals in the past three games.
The Sedin brothers have combined for 12 points, but they have been unable to score when they needed to the most. Daniel opened the scoring in Game 6 two minutes into the first period with an assist from Henrick, but that was it for the duo for the rest of the game.
Roberto Luongo stopped just about everything he faced in the first three games, but gave up 12 goals in the next two games. Head coach Alain Vigneault decided to start Cory Schneider in Game 6, with somewhat better results, but a loss nonetheless.
No decision has been made as to which goalie will be in net for this game, but Schneider is listed as questionable with a leg strain that forced him out of Game 6 late in the third period.
Head-to-head, the two teams split their four-game regular season series this year with each winning one game at home and one game on the road. The total was split 2-2 in the regular season and is 3-2-1 in this series. Vancouver is 44-22 as a favorite this season and should open as a moderate home favorite in this game, while Chicago is 11-8 as an underdog this year.
It is hard to believe that the best team in hockey could blow a 3-0 series lead, but with all the momentum in the world on its side, stick with the Blackhawks to complete the incredible comeback with a win in Game 7.