Yes, No, Maybe So: Game 7s in the First Round of the 2010 NHL Playoffs
Game Sevens can only go one of two ways.
If you're the team that ends up on the winning end, it's the culmination of emotion, effort, and overcoming the trials and tribulations of a team that went the distance.
If you're on the losing end of things, it's flat-out heartbreaking. Everything that went into making the playoffs, the struggle to push it to seven, and the heart-on-your-sleeve style of play just went all for naught.
So when you look at the first round, you can see that there are four series worth of joy and heartbreak that are (potentially) set up for this week, with one a certainty.
4. Phoenix Coyotes vs. 5. Detroit Red Wings
Of the four series here, this is the one guaranteed to go seven.
Most (myself included) had Detroit winning this series in five or six, ridding themselves of the surprising Coyotes pretty handily and flexing their playoff muscle.
But this series has been nothing like that.
The Coyotes proved their mettle in Game 1, coming back from a 2-1 first period deficit to give the hometown fans a hard-fought 3-2 victory.
From there they won Game Three in Detroit to go up 2-1, but the Wings came back with two straight wins.
Detroit. At home in the Joe Louis Arena. With a series lead. Lock it in. Right?
Wrong. Phoenix led at every point of Game Six, netting a 5-2 win, and didn't back down physically from Detroit.
Game Seven Goes: Tuesday April 27, TSN (Time: TBA)
3. Buffalo Sabres vs. 6. Boston Bruins (If Necessary)
How about this for a potential upset?
The Boston Bruins, lacking the high-flying offense of last season and facing the best goalie of the 2009-10 season, have come out and surprised the Buffalo Sabres and backed them into a corner.
Buffalo has been forced to come out swinging and did so in Game Five, winning 4-1 on the strength of some unlikely goal-scorers.
We know that Ryan Miller can play well enough to keep the Sabres in it when they're down, but the trick is getting that offense in gear.
If they can force it, Game Seven could be a fun one.
Game 7 Goes: IF NECESSARY, Wednesday April 28, CBC/MSG (7:00pm)
2. Chicago Blackhawks vs. 7 Nashville Predators (If Necessary)
The Blackhawks haven't exactly won in conventional ways throughout this series, but heading towards the end they're up 3-2.
Everyone expected the 'Hawks to come out and dominate, so you can imagine the surprise when they lost Game One in the third period, allowing all four goals in the final frame.
The only game that the 'Hawks high-flying offense has actually gotten in hear for was Game Five—a game they tied at the last second, short-handed (The short-handedness is thanks to that Marian Hossa shove on Dan Hamhuis).
Other than that, the Nashville Predators have kept Chicago at three or fewer goals in every other game, and are one win away from Game 7 despite being shutout twice.
Raise your hand if you figured these two teams would have twelve goals each by Game Six.
Now raise your hand if you thought there would be a Game 6. Don't go overlooking the Preds.
Game 7 Goes: IF NECESSARY, Wednesday April 27, TSN/CSN (Time TBA)
1. Washington Capitals vs. 8. Montreal Canadiens (If Necessary)
The Capitals started out this series in a rough way: They lost the first game 3-2 in overtime, and were down 4-2 going in to the third period of Game Two until Alexander Ovechkin had his first three points of the series.
Washington went on to win 6-5 in overtime and scored 11 goals over the next two games.
But Montreal has battled back, with Jaroslav Halak stopping 37 of 38 shots in Game Five, making Game 6 possible. Halak will have to be just as impressive if the Canadiens expect to make it to Game Seven.
Game Seven Goes: IF NECESSARY, Wednesday April 28, TSN (Time TBA)