Blackhawks

Blackhawks-Blues: Is there such thing as a Game 7 edge?

Blackhawks-Blues: Is there such thing as a Game 7 edge?

ST. LOUIS – The Blackhawks have played a few of these Game 7s in the past.

In every case over the past five years they forced the Game 7, winning late in a series to erase a deficit. They’ve had momentum entering each one. And on Sunday, prior to departing for St. Louis, the Blackhawks liked where they were entering this Game 7, too.

“Well, I think we wanted to get ourselves in this spot,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We put ourselves in an awful spot a little while ago. [Now] we put ourselves exactly where we want to be. We’ve got momentum; we’ve got to be excited about this challenge.”

There’s never a doubt about the excitement level. Hockey Game 7s just bring that out of every team, whether it’s the one that had the series lead or not. But does the team entering with momentum have the Game 7 edge, especially if that team has several players who have been through this before? Or with the series squared and with both squads facing elimination, is there such thing as having an edge?

“I think it helps to be there and have that experience,” said Marian Hossa, who’s played in six Game 7s since the 2008-09 season. “But again [it’s] starting 0-0, so it could go either way. Maybe in certain times you can use that experience.”

The Blackhawks certainly have been here before, playing in four previous Game 7s under Quenneville. They lost in overtime in Vancouver in the 2011 Western Conference quarterfinals, beat the Detroit Red Wings in overtime in the 2013 conference semifinals, fell to Los Angeles in overtime of the 2014 conference final and beat Anaheim in last year’s conference final.

So it’s been mixed results. Outside of last year’s game against the Ducks, in which the Blackhawks built a big lead early, every game has been tightly contested. The Blackhawks expect the same close game tomorrow against the Blues.

The Blackhawks came back from a 3-1 hole in this series to force Game 7. They have enough guys on this team who know winning Game 7s means playing the right way, keeping calm in anxious situations and getting something from everyone.

Having one other element doesn’t hurt, either.

“I think you have to have mental toughness,” Duncan Keith said. “I mean, I don’t think we really analyze things too much or try to measure certain things. But we’re just out there playing and we know that when we’re down 3-1 we’re in a situation where we’ve got nothing to lose. We were down 3-1 and we found a way to do it in Game 5, and then last night I thought we played a good game and had a lot of composure being down 3-1 in the game at one point. So it’s just kind of sticking with it.”

The Blackhawks clawed their way back into this first-round series. The Blues have been a formidable opponent, and they’ll be hungry to dispatch their division foe on their home ice. Can the Blackhawks eke out one more? They’ve been here, done this before, and they’re looking to do it again.

“We put ourselves in a tremendous spot. Have fun with it, play the way we did the last couple of games,” Quenneville said. “We keep getting better, and that’s what we’re looking for.”

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: