There's nothing better than Game 7 of a playoff series, and the hockey gods have smiled upon us all as Wednesday features not one, not two but three Game 7s.
The 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs have been extremely competitive almost across the board. The Boston Bruins' 4-1 series win over the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens' sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning are the only two first-round series that failed to go at least six games.
Wednesday will be a great night to be a hockey fan. As a precaution, make sure your schedule is cleared, because from 7 p.m. on, you wouldn't want anything interrupting your viewing experience.
Here's a look at where and when you can find each of the three games.
|2014 NHL Playoffs Schedule|
|Home||Away||Time (ET)||TV Info|
|New York Rangers||Philadelphia Flyers||7 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Colorado Avalanche||Minnesota Wild||9:30 p.m.||CNBC|
|San Jose Sharks||Los Angeles Kings||10 p.m.||NBCSN|
New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers pushed this series to a Game 7 with an emphatic 5-2 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night. Wayne Simmonds had a hat trick, while Steve Mason was back to his best with 34 saves.
After the win, Mason spoke about how much the Wells Fargo Center crowd spurred the team on to victory, per Jeff Skversky of WPVI in Philadelphia:
So far in the series, the teams have alternated wins and losses. Just when the Rangers grab an advantage, the Flyers win, and vice versa. By that measure, New York has to win on Wednesday. That's simple science.
Mason's performance will almost certainly decide Game 7. In Game 4, he stood on his head en route to making 38 saves in a 2-1 win, but in Game 5, he let in three goals on 24 shots.
Perhaps the Rangers will alter their game plan a bit after having little success testing Mason's glove side:
Having a hot goaltender can help to cover a team's offensive shortcomings and almost single-handedly win a game. On the other hand, nothing loses a game faster than a leaky netminder.
Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild
We can all agree that Patrick Roy should've pulled the goaltender right from the opening faceoff. It's worked so well for him in the final minutes of games already. Why not just start out that way, right?
In all seriousness, you have to give Roy a ton of credit for thinking outside the box and taking big chances in high-pressure situations. With so little experience coaching in the postseason, you would expect him to use a much more conservative strategy.
The home team has won every game so far in this series. Roy spoke about how much playing in the Pepsi Center could help the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.
"How good is this?" the first-year coach said, per The Associated Press, via CBC Sports. "They're excited about it and they should be. We're playing Game 7 in our building, in front of our fans."
Along with Roy, this series has been a coming-out party for Nathan MacKinnon. The 18-year-old rookie has 10 points so far with two goals and eight assists, and his winner in Game 5 is one of those special moments you'll remember for a while.
On the other side, Zach Parise also has 10 points from three goals and seven assists. He's accounted for a large portion of the Wild's offense.
Both players have been the offensive spark for their respective teams, and the player who has the better performance may win the game for his side.
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings
With the way that the momentum has shifted in this series, maybe the San Jose Sharks aren't completely dead in the water. Almost nobody would've predicted that the Los Angeles Kings would win three games in a row to push this to a Game 7, so why can't the Sharks win on Wednesday after dropping their last three?
Perhaps the Sharks are so shell-shocked from having dropped three games in a row that they're emotionally spent. Or maybe playing at home will be the perfect tonic to take the players' minds off of their recent struggles.
According to the Associated Press, via CBC Sports, eight teams have battled back from a 3-0 series deficit in NHL history, but only three of the eight teams have won Game 7. San Jose was also in the same position it finds itself now back in 2011, and it beat the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 to advance to the conference finals.
In this series, though, all bets are off.