1) It’s just another game... No it isn’t. This is for the right to parade Lord Stanley’s Cup around the United Center ice in front of 22,000 plus screaming fans. But the players have to treat it like it’s just another important playoff game. Keep up the same routine, the same sleep patterns, the same habits that you would have on any other game day. It certainly isn’t a given that the Blackhawks will be celebrating their third Stanley Cup in the last six years later tonight, so heed the advice head coach Joel Quenneville offers at times like these and “be excited about the opportunity that is laying right in front of you”. Listen to what he says - he’s 15-4 in series-clinching games.
[MORE: Young Blackhawks keeping their calm before Game 6 vs. Lightning]
2) Redemption, the sweetest drink. A lot of players making the most of these Stanley Cup Final games were healthy scratches during long stretches of this post season. Kris Versteeg has only played in half of the 22 playoff games, but he’s been a huge factor in Games 1 and 5 of this series. Antoine Vermette, who didn’t play the first two games of these playoffs, and missed another in the Western Conference Final, has scored two of the three game-winning goals in this series and has been a beast in the face-off circle. And let’s not forget about Corey Crawford, the goalie who was the designated backup for four straight games early in the postseason, only to have Coach Q state that more than a few of his teams victories have been “goalie” wins. Who knows who the next unsung hero may be.
[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
3) Use the crowd. Right now the Hawks have home ice advantage. Make sure you are using your crowd and all that energy to come out with a barrage of shots and bodies. You can’t win a game in the first period, but you can certainly set the tone. The 22,000 faithful at the United Center are the best in the league. I’ve seen this crowd pick up a player (Crawford after being reinserted in Game 6 against Nashville) with their supportive cheers when he came off the bench. They know the game and how this team feeds off of their support. Have a great start, get the crowd into it, and ride that wave of emotion and energy. By the way, both teams are 11-1 when they score first.
After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.
Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.
"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.
"What was said this time around crossed the line."
The Capitals released a statement about the incident:
"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."
The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.
Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.
"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."
The Capitals released the full interview.
Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.
Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.
Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:
After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:
Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: