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Don't know if I can take it

Wednesday, 05.13.2009 / 9:46 AM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Semifinals

By Paul Kukla - NHL.com Correspondent

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Three game 7's within 25 hours.  I am not sure if my heart can take the pressure, my fingernails will be chewed down and my good-luck hat will be worn out by Friday morning!

We can ask for nothing more. As fans, we all dream of games that mean everything, winner moves on, loser goes home.  Well, we have three of those games facing us now and we should be watching, watching and watching.

The buildings will begin to rock during the National Anthem, the players will be pumped, and it will be hard to hear any whistle, let alone any on-ice communications.  Players will have to fight pre-game jitters, focus on the task at hand and then just play the best games of their lives.

Every shift counts, every mistake is magnified and every shot at net could be the difference between heading or cleaning out the gear. No one wants to go home, no one believes they will go home, but three teams will.

At this point, I am supposed to give you my predictions. But I can't. I can't do it and do not believe anyone can. When it comes to Game 7, all stats, all previous history, all that can get thrown out the window.  I can only tell you to watch and enjoy the games and hope the team you want to win does just that.

Who will be the star, the hero or the goat?  Again, when it comes to Game 7, throw everything away that you have observed in the previous six games. In games like this, the team and the players with the most determination and desperation usually come out with the win. There is only on thing on their minds, holding the Stanley Cup above their heads and this is their chance to do just that.

The Cup is a huge motivational factor. Those that have held it in the past want to do so again. Those who have yet to experience the thrill of hoisting the Cup want to. Emotions and pride will be factors in Game 7, those who actually perform at their best will be rewarded, that is of course a bad bounce or a deflected goal off a skate gets in the way.

Anything can happen in Game 7. I have witnessed a few games in which things were over by the end of the first period. But generally, these games are not decided until sometime in the third period. The chance of OT always exists too, but I don't even want to go there, just writing about it makes my palms sweaty.

The only suggestion I can give you is this -- watch everything, watch every shift, watch every player. When you least expect it, the red light may turn on and you don't want to miss that.

Emotions will be high, the pressure is building and just think, much more to come. After the conference semifinals are complete, we are only half way home. Four teams will have eight victories, the next goal, four more wins, then onto the Stanley Cup Final where first to four wins, wins it all!  I can't wait and I will be watching and you should too.

One last note, a note to the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans.  Don't get too comfortable. You sense of relief time is about to end and soon, you will be joining all us in the pressure cooker. Sit back and study your next opponent, it is the last time you will be able to do that for the next few weeks.

Need to talk some hockey? Feel free to email me at pk@kuklaskorner.com or leave a comment below.


Quote of the Day

Obviously a lot happened in a short period of time. At the end of the day, considering everything I went through, I really felt close to my teammates and I really feel like what we accomplished, I know we didn't win it all. ... I'm really proud of how we got there and what we did once we got there.

— Rangers forward Martin St. Louis to Jim Cerny of BlueshirtsUnited.com