SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 17: Justin Williams #14 of the Los Angeles Kings in action against the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the First Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on April 17, 2014 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
The Los Angeles Kings have lost two games in a row to put themselves in a do-or-die situation in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks, but despite the peril of their predicament, odds are that they aren’t scared in the least bit.
That’s because the Kings have already been in this situation two times during this postseason run, and both times they’ve come out on the other side victorious. Against the San Jose Sharks in the first round, the Kings used a massive offensive push to finish off their comeback with a 5-1 victory. Against the Anaheim Ducks, the Kings pulled off similar magic, finishing off their comeback from a 3-2 series deficit to win a 6-2 decision on the road in Game 7.
The only real difference between the two series previous and this one is that the Kings are the ones who are on the ropes a bit after the last couple of contests. In the Sharks series, Los Angeles had won three games in a row heading up to SAP Center for the final game, and against the Ducks the Kings had won Game 6 on home ice to extend the series. This time around it’s the Kings who have been faltering as of late, losing two consecutive games to the Blackhawks and forcing themselves to once again go on the road to clinch a berth in the next round.
As the playoffs have shown on countless occasions, momentum is a fleeting thing that doesn’t necessarily carry over from game to game, and the Kings have to be hopeful that their star players can come through once again in a must-win game. Anze Kopitar, who currently is the NHL’s leading point scorer so far in the playoffs, had a goal and an assist in each of the Kings’ previous Game 7’s this season. Kyle Clifford has three assists in the team’s two Game 7 contests. New acquisition Marian Gaborik has been stellar too, with a goal and two assists in the wins over the Sharks and Ducks.
Ultimately though, the Kings’ biggest weapon in Game 7 play is one that has seen his production slow down a bit against the Blackhawks, and that’s Justin Williams. He does have a goal and four assists in the series, but in the team’s three losses to the Hawks Williams has just one assist and five shots on goal. In Game 7 situations however, Williams is in a class of his own for the Kings, with a 6-0 career record in those games while scoring six goals and tallying six assists.
That kind of comfort under duress is definitely something that the Kings are going to be looking to exploit in this game, but they shouldn’t be under any illusions that this game will be as easy as the previous two Game 7’s were in this playoff run. The Ducks and Sharks are both good teams, but the Blackhawks are the defending Stanley Cup champions for a reason, and if their past two games are any indication, then they have what it takes to win it all again this season.