CHICAGO -- It will be Team "Momentum" against Team "Third Time Is The Charm" in Game 7 at United Center on Wednesday night.
The Chicago Blackhawks, winners of the Presidents' Trophy after a historic regular season, have a chance to become the 25th NHL team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-7 series. Conversely, the seventh-seeded Detroit Red Wings have a chance to extend their underdog run and knock off their rivals.
Chicago is the 49th team in NHL history to win Games 5 and 6 after falling behind 3-1. If the cliche that a Game 7 is a coin flip wasn't used enough, those teams are 24-24 in the deciding contest.
Do the Blackhawks have the edge when they welcome the Red Wings on Wednesday (8 p.m., NBCSN, CBC, RDS), or can Detroit win a Game 7 on the road for a second straight series?
Tale of the tape
PIM per game
Let's break it down:
Chicago's star power has a slight edge in production, while Detroit's depth has been better. The Blackhawks' top line in the past two games of captain Jonathan Toews flanked by Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane has been dominant at times, while the fourth amigo -- Marian Hossa -- has been dangerous on the second line.
Detroit's bottom two lines have done a lot of damage in the series, including scoring all three goals in a 4-3 loss in Game 6. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have been quiet the past few games, but they tend to stand out in elimination games.
Daniel Cleary has been solid (two goals and three points in the past three games), but Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula have combined for two goals and five points in the series. Filppula has a strong history in Game 7s: six points in five games.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville will be able to dictate the matchups at least at the start, which could mean more open ice for the Blackhawks' top trio.
This is an area where the advantage has swung back and forth. At one point, the Blackhawks were a bit of a mess on the blue line. Brent Seabrook's ice time went down, and Nick Leddy's went way down. In the past two games, Seabrook has been back with typical partner Duncan Keith and things seem to have stabilized.
Detroit's young defensemen have been a bit inconsistent, and rookie Brendan Smith had a particularly tough Game 6. If they are lined up one through six, it is hard to find a player on the Red Wings who is better than his counterpart. But there have been games in this series when the defense corps from Detroit has had the upper hand.
Detroit's Jimmy Howard was superhuman at times in Games 2, 3 and 4, stopping 86 of 88 shots. He was fantastic in Game 1 as well, but constant pressure from Chicago finally wore down the Red Wings. Howard's numbers are still great, but he has yielded four goals in back-to-back games.
Chicago's Corey Crawford might have had one of his best games in Game 6 -- but it also could have been his worst after yielding a fluky goal to put his team in a 2-1 hole. Earlier in the series, Quenneville deemed Crawford's play as "fine." He's been a little better than that since, but given the first six games as a body of work, Howard is a better bet to have a star turn in Game 7 and potentially steal the series.
Advantage: Red Wings
With a win in Game 6, Quenneville has one more career Stanley Cup Playoffs victory than Detroit coach Mike Babcock. Chicago's lineup changes for Game 5 worked, and it played its way back into the series. Babcock has done less shuffling in this series than he did in the opening round against the Anaheim Ducks. What will he have planned for Game 7; he rolled out new lines against Anaheim in the first series. Quenneville is one of the top coaches in the NHL, but Babcock might be the best.
Advantage: Red Wings
This was a wash through the first four games -- neither team was able to do much of anything on the power play. Chicago has scored three times in the past two games with the man-advantage, and the Blackhawks' penalty killers have been dominant throughout the 2012-13 regular season and into the playoffs.
The Blackhawks think they have the momentum after winning two straight and pumping eight goals past Howard. The Red Wings do not believe in momentum, and played the "We'd have been happy to have a Game 7 before the series" card aplenty Monday night and Tuesday afternoon.
What intangibles really matter? The home ice? The experience for Detroit from the first round?
Toews has played better the past two games after a sluggish start to the series. Zetterberg has been a monster in big games for the Red Wings -- in the final four of the regular season (all wins to eke out a playoff berth) and the two elimination games in the first round, the Detroit captain racked up five goals and 15 points. He's also got eight career points in Game 7s, the most on either team.
Advantage: Red Wings
These teams were separated by 21 points in the regular-season standings, but the Red Wings have proven in this series that the improvement of their youth and the play of Howard have closed the gap. Is it enough to knock off a Stanley Cup favorite in its home barn in a win-or-golf season Game 7?
These franchises have met 15 times before in the postseason. This will be the last before the Stanley Cup Final under the current format, because the Red Wings are moving to the Eastern Conference next season. Twice before they've gone to a seventh game, both times in the mid-1960s.
On paper, the Blackhawks have more talent, more depth and what should be a boisterous crowd behind them at United Center. The Red Wings might have the better goalie, and as Babcock said Tuesday, his two star centers might be due.