2014 WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL – GAME 7: The last thing the Los Angeles Kings wanted to do was return to Chicago for Game 7 of the Western Conference Final. But even though they’re in the Windy City, preparing for tonight’s game, they are doing so with comfort and confidence. Final segment of a two-part story.
LOS ANGELES — As reported in Part 1 of this two-part story, the Los Angeles Kings wanted anything but to return to Chicago, but that is exactly what they had to do after losing Game 6 of their 2014 Western Conference Final series against the Chicago Blackhawks on May 30 in Los Angeles.
Despite that, the Kings are not uncomfortable about being back in the Windy City for tonight’s Game 7 (5:00 PM PDT). After all…
- The Kings are 6-4 all-time in Game 7’s.
- They have a combined 77 games of Game 7 experience.
- Kings players have a combined record of 70-7 in Game 7’s.
- Right wing Justin Williams has played six career Game 7’s, scoring six goals and adding six assists for twelve points, and has earned a 6-0 record in those games.
- Center Mike Richards has played six career Game 7’s, scoring a goal and tallying four assists for five points. He also has a 6-0 record in those games.
- Left wing Marian Gaborik has played six career Game 7’s, scoring two goals and adding three assists for five points. Gaborik is also 6-0 in Game 7’s
- Forward Jeff Carter has played four career Game 7’s, scoring a goal and adding two assists for three points. He is 4-0 in those games.
- Goaltender Jonathan Quick has played three career Game 7’s, earning a 3-0-0 record, a 1.33 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage.
(Game 7 notes provided by Jeremy Zager, Manager, Communications and Broadcasting, Los Angeles Kings).
Those statistics say a lot about why the Kings are comfortable having to play their third Game 7 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs—this is the first time they will play three Game 7’s in a playoff year.
Right after their Game 6 loss, the Kings were already focusing on Game 7.
“You’ve got to keep going,” said center Jarret Stoll. “You’ve got to stay positive. We haven’t lost this series yet. It’s 3-3. We’re disappointed with the outcome [in Game 6]. We’ve got to go to Chicago and win a road game. We’ve done it before.”
“We’re definitely not making it easy on ourselves, but we have a great group with a lot of character,” added Stoll. “We’re confident. There’s nothing else to do but go in there and win a game.”
“We won a game there already in this series,” said defenseman Drew Doughty. “We know that the last game there, we could’ve won. We just need to come out fresher, we need to come out better. That’s been our lapse, lately. I guess, in the third period, giving up a lead—that’s not a good thing, either. But we need to come out better in the first period.”
Although they would have preferred to be at home today, resting up for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Kings are not lamenting their situation, having to play yet another Game 7.
“If you play Game 7’s throughout the playoffs, it’s going to be pretty tough on your body,” said Doughty. “But whatever. We’re in this situation. Before the series, if we were asked, ‘would you go to Game 7 with Chicago,’ and just be put in that spot, just a one-game thing, I think we would take it.”
“If we have to play 28 games this year to win, that’s what we have to do,” right wing Justin Williams told the media in Chicago on May 31. “We’re using all our lifelines so far. We plan on getting the job done yet again.”
Williams said that Game 7 is an special opportunity.
“I think most guys on our team treat Game 7’s as an opportunity,” he noted. “[It’s] an opportunity to do something special, an opportunity to prove yourself, an opportunity to advance and get the better of a team that you battled with for six games. It’s going to be no different tomorrow.”
“We obviously have a huge bone to pick with them,” he added. “We’re going to leave it all out there because there’s no more after that.”
Veteran defenseman Willie Mitchell indicated that Game 7’s are often defining moments for teams.
“I think Game 7 is what hockey is all about,” he told the media in Chicago on May 31. “As a hockey player, that’s the game you want to play—Game 7 with everything on the line. It’s kind of the essence of the game.”
“I think, as a team, that’s what you look for—big games, defining moments, define games to get yourself to play for the ultimate prize,” he added. “That’s what we’re looking to do as a group. I think, over the course I’ve been here, we’ve been able to do that—rise to the challenge at the right times. I’m pretty confident about that. I’m really look forward to the challenge tomorrow.”
As mentioned earlier, the Kings have a lot of reasons to be confident and comfortable about tonight’s Game 7.
“We’re coming into a rink that is pretty loud,” center Anze Kopitar told the media in Chicago on May 31. “We really have nothing to lose. We’re going to go out, we’re going to play hard, throw everything on the line.”
“At the end of the day we think, and we’re confident enough, that if we do that, if we do play our game, we think we have a very good chance of winning,” Kopitar added.
“We feel if we do the things we’re capable of doing, the style of play we need against the Blackhawks, we’re going to get the result we want,” said Mitchell.
The Kings’ success tonight could hinge on the play of Williams, who could be referred to as “Mr. Game 7.”
“I’ve reiterated quite a few times, I’m proud of my individual status,” he noted. “But the one I’m most proud is the 6-0 in Game 7’s. I’m going to do everything in my power to make it 7-0.”
“We’ve had a lot of guys with success in Game 7’s, not just me,” he added. “It’s very humbling, I guess, that everyone seems to want an interview on a Game 7. At the end of the day, I feel if I didn’t get the point, someone else on our team would have and we would win those games regardless.”
“We’re successful hockey players because we’ve been able to rise to the challenge, not occasionally, but we’ve been able to rise to the challenge every time it’s come towards us. Right now, we’re just forgetting all this other junk that’s going on. We’re in Game 7. The best team’s going to win tomorrow, and that’s that. We’re going to make sure it’s us.”
There’s that confidence again.
“We know we can still beat this Chicago Blackhawks team, [and] we also know it’s not going to be easy,” said Doughty. “They’re going to play their best game in Game 7, especially in their home rink. We’ve just got to reset…and be ready to win a hockey game.”
“We’ve got another game to play, Game 7,” added Doughty. “We’ve had two chances to close out this series and we’re not going to blow the third one.”
- 2014 Western Conference Final – Game 7: LA Kings Make Unwanted Trip Back To Chicago
- Anze Kopitar”s Improvement In Face-Off Circle Is A Key Factor In LA Kings”s Playoff Success
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Great article Gann. Experience under pressure is very underrated in sports. I believe one of the keys to the Kings winning is Mr. Lombardi and the scouts have done a great job scouting and trading for players with this experience. Ps Any word on Regher?
No need to rush him back. I’m sure he’s close, though. Should know more when they practice on Tuesday.
Been a lurker for a couple of years. Keep up the great articles Gann. Love reading about the prospects, coaches, Black Aces, and little things that help make the team become great.
Thank you! Don’t be a lurker!