By Kyle Shohara
CHICAGO – Having learned from previous mistakes, the Ducks enter Game 6 tonight at United Center with the mindset that there will be no tomorrow.
For them, tonight is about finishing off an opponent known for delivering its best performances under pressure. A victory will send Anaheim to the hallowed grounds of the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in franchise history, and the first since the club captured California’s first Cup in 2007. A loss tonight will send this series back to Anaheim for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday.
“It’s time for guys to step up and play a good road game like we did in Winnipeg in Game 4,” said Andrew Cogliano. “There are little things that need to get done that help you win games. Faceoffs, getting pucks in, finishing checks. Just little things. The little things go a long way in games like this. Guys are more experienced now in terms of losing these games, like last year.”
Patrick Maroon took a deep breath and shook his head when he was asked what he’d do if the Ducks move on to the Final. The rugged forward with a bird’s nest of a beard was speechless, but quickly drew his attention back to the task at hand.
“I’m really only thinking about preparing myself for Game 6 because anything can happen,” Maroon said. “Just preparing like it’s another game. If something good happens, then I’ll think about it. But right now, all I’m thinking about is Game 6.”
This will undoubtedly be the toughest game of the postseason for the Ducks, who’ve proven they can win when it matters the most in these playoffs. Anaheim went into MTS Centre in Winnipeg during the first round and completed the sweep in front of a raucous whiteout crowd, and then finished off the Flames with victories in Game 4 (at Scotiabank Saddledome) and Game 5 on home ice. But tonight, they face a team that has a winning record when their backs are against the wall.
Chicago is 9-4 in games when facing elimination since 2009, including a 5-3 record at United Center. The Blackhawks are also 11-1 in Game 6s since 2009.
“You can always use history as a good example for a lot of things,” said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. “One is, don't think just because you've got three that it automatically means you're getting four.”
Boudreau says he isn’t planning on saying anything different to his team despite the magnitude of this game.
“We played them five times now,” he says, “so there’s not going to be a lot of surprises thrown at you. They might come out a little harder than they did in the last game as we anticipate because they're at home, because we had a 3-0 lead, but I think we know how they're going to play. Hopefully we can do what we do and it comes up successful.”
The team that has scored first in this series has won every game. Pure coincidence, or is it a telling sign?
“I think that's more coincidental than anything because I think the lead has changed hands a couple times,” Boudreau says, “but when you score first, it gives you a little bit more jump. You know the other team has to get two to win. It's something that playing with the lead is a real important thing. We didn't do a real good job with it as of late. But for the most part, when we had a lead, it was money. We'll take a lead at any time we can get it at any point in this game.”