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Kings Advance; Wings, Hawks Look To Follow

Justin Williams and Jonathan Quick led the Los Angeles Kings to victory and the Western Conference finals Tuesday night.

Justin Williams and Jonathan Quick led the Los Angeles Kings to victory over the San Jose Sharks Tuesday night, securing a place in the Western Conference finals in the proces.

The Los Angeles Kings booked a return trip to the Western Conference Finals Tuesday, handing the San Jose Sharks a 2-1 defeat in Game 7 of what proved to be a very close series.

The defending Stanley Cup champions took advantage of home ice to hold-off the resilient Sharks in the second playoff series between the two Californian clubs.

The Kings now await the winner of the second conference semifinals series, which reaches Game 7 tonight.

The Chicago Blackhawks will hope to follow Los Angeles’ lead and utilize home advantage to fend-off the Detroit Red Wings when the two sides meet at the United Center.

Los Angeles Kings 2, San Jose Sharks 1

The Los Angeles Kings may be going about things differently this postseason, but the results are starting to look very similar to last season’s Stanley Cup winning campaign.

In 2012, the Kings dropped just one game before making the Stanley Cup finals. The unthinkable run was one of the truly magnificent stories to come out of professional sports in recent years. They Los Angeles side is facing a tougher time of things this year, but with a Western Conference finals berth secured, the Stanley Cup is again within sight.

After a tight series, the Kings took a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks Tuesday night, ending the series 4-3. The Kings have now played 13 games this postseason, four more than at this stage last season.

The Kings took the lead on a power play goal from Justin Williams 4:11 into the second period. Williams netted again less than three minutes later to give the Kings a 2-0 advantage. From there it was down to goaltender Jonathan Quick to take care of business.

Quick – the hero of last year’s Stanley Cup-winning run – made a number of significant saves to keep the Kings ahead, ultimately stopping 25 of 26 shots. He was beat by a Dan Boyle shot early in the third but had enough to hold-off the Sharks.


In the end it was home ice that proved decisive. The series saw the home team win all seven games. Fortunately for the Kings, a two-point differential in the final standings ensured that the Staples Center would see one extra game.

The Sharks – making a ninth conference semifinals appearance in 13 seasons and a 11th in the 21-year history of the club – proved resilient, but came up just short.

“In the end, we probably made one more mistake than they did,” Sharks head coach Todd McLellan told the Mercury News. “And, we couldn’t find a way to get another puck by Quick.”

Predicted by sportsbooks to finish eighth in the Western Conference this season, coming so close to the conference finals could be considered a huge success for San Jose. But still in search of its first Stanley Cup appearance, that’s likely to be of little consolation.

The Kings will learn who they will face in the Western Conference finals on Wednesday night.

Chicago and Detroit will meet as Western Conference foes one last time Wednesday.

Chicago and Detroit will meet as Western Conference foes one last time Wednesday.

Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks (Game 7)

Realignment will see the Red Wings move to the Eastern Conference this summer, meaning the best (not one of the best, the best) division rivalries in hockey will come to an end. Sure Chicago and Detroit will mix it up in inter-conference play, but there’s going to be a little something missing.

Thankfully, the two ‘Original Six’ sides have one game left this season.

After trailing the Red Wings three games to one, the NHL’s top team looked to be dead and buried. The Windy City side proved otherwise, taking Game 5 by a 4-1 score before edging Game 6 by one goal to force a decisive Game 7.

For Chicago, it’s now or never. Now or never to complete an amazing comeback. Now or never to reap the rewards of finishing with the best record in the league.

For Detroit, it’s now or never also. It’s now or never to make up for a disappointing season. Now or never to benefit from a spirited late season playoff charge. Now or never to upset its biggest rival in one of the biggest games the two have played. Now or never to (partially) end an historic Western Conference rivalry.

“Game sevens, you dream about winning these when you’re growing up as a kid,” Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard told the Detroit News. “The season’s down to one game. And we’ve got to go out there and execute.”

While Howard and his teammates may be saying the right thing, you can’t help but believe there will be a lot of doubt festering beneath the surface. The Wings had a 3-1 stranglehold on the series after a 2-0 victory last Thursday. Now the team could be on the verge of a historic collapse.

But then again, nobody expected Detroit to bother the playoffs this season, which means all of the pressure switches to the Blackhawks.

As Mark Lazerus described it for the Chicago Sun-Times: “the Blackhawks instantly will be anointed either indomitable conquerers with an iron will, or colossal disappointments with a questionable makeup.”

Detroit Red Wings vs. Chicago Blackhawks odds for 5/29/13 (Game 7) are available now.

Chicago (-215) opened as the favorite over Detroit (+195) on the moneyline, an advantage that has stretched with most bookmakers. Bovada currently has the Blackhawks as -230 favorites. Of course, Chicago has been favored in every game this series and only has three wins to show for it.

The total opened at five with the under (-130) preferred against the over (+118).

This series has seen the total go over once and under twice, with three pushes. Detroit (3-4-6) has favored the under narrowly, although six games have seen a push. Chicago (3-4-4) has also marginally favored the under this postseason.


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