There are six teams remaining in the quest for the Stanley Cup, but after just 120—or hopefully slightly more—minutes on the ice, there will be just four.
That's right, in the next two days, we will be lucky enough to witness not just one, but two of the most scintillating events in sports: a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Let's take a closer look at each matchup.
No. 6 San Jose Sharks at No. 5 Los Angeles Kings
If the first six games—which have all been won by the home team—are any indication, the Los Angeles Kings are headed to the Western Conference finals.
No matter what happens, though, you can bet Game 7 will be a stingy defensive battle. Five of the six matchups have seen just three goals or less hit the back of the net, and both squads currently reside in the top three in postseason goals allowed per game.
The Kings are allowing just 1.58, while the Sharks aren't far behind at 2.00.
In what figures to be a low-scoring fight—and as a general rule for most Game 7's—you stick with the better goaltender.
While Antti Niemi—and the pipes behind him—has been playing well, there is little question that the elite netminder in this matchup is Jonathan Quick , who is playing just as well as he was during last year's magical, domineering run through the postseason:
Jonathan Quick has a 1.50 GAA, .948 spct & 3 shutouts in 11 playoff games. He finished 2012 Cup run w/ a 1.41 GAA, .946 spct & 3 shutouts.— NHL (@NHL) May 26, 2013
Moreover, two of those shutouts have come at home against the Sharks, and it won't be surprising if he makes it three of four on Tuesday night.
No. 7 Detroit Red Wings at No. 1 Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks, who were undoubtedly the most dominant team during the regular season, have responded well to their first adversity of the season.
Who will meet in the conference finals?
Detroit went up in the series 3-1, but with its back against the wall, Chicago pulled out a dominant Game 5 win at home and a thrilling come-from-behind victory in Game 6 on the road.
This one will come down to the performance of Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, who has epitomized polarizing play in this series.
In Detroit's three wins, Howard has given up just two goals on 88 shots (save percentage of .966) and looked downright spectacular in the process. In its three losses, however, he has allowed 11 goals on 114 shots (save percentage of .904), including a series-worst performance in Game 6:
Maybe Jimmy Howard can't handle the ninth.— scott pianowski (@scott_pianowski) May 28, 2013
The win-loss splits are obviously expected to be different, but those are some staggering variances.
Holding all of the momentum at home, the Blackhawks—who are clicking offensively and back to getting production from all over the ice—will likely be able to get the best of Howard and advance.