It’s the very best hockey has to offer, a game 7 showdown for the championship. The game 7 in question will decide the winner of the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs. For Toronto hockey fans it sparks memories of utter disappointment while for Texas fans it is a welcome relief, having been able to keep the series alive on Tuesday night.
It’s been a hell of a series so far with neither side being able to string together two wins in a row along with the first 4 games being decided by just 1 goal. Toronto finished the regular season 22 points ahead of Texas, but as the recent NHL champions will tell you, the regular season means nothing to playoff hockey.
The Toronto Marlies have the home ice advantage, but that didn’t help them much as they were defeated 5-2 on Tuesday evening. Now they have a second chance to secure their first AHL title. To do so they are going to have to really sort out their power play, they are converting at just 7% this series, scoring 1 power play goal but they also allowed a short handed goal. The Stars know that the Marlies’ power play unit is an utter shambles, there’s no other way to describe it, and will simply continue to do what they have been doing already. That is, if any penalties are even called, this series the refs have been letting a lot of offenses slide on both sides of the ice.
As I said, almost anything goes! This is just one example, several calls have been missed from both teams.
Garret Sparks will need to regroup, having been pulled in game 6 after allowing 4 goals on 17 shots. He has the talent to get the win, he’s shown us that all year in the regular season and continued this into the playoffs, he just needs to do it one more time. On the other hand, McKenna of the Texas Stars was pulled in game 5 but came back with a game deciding performance in game 6. If he can repeat this then the Stars will be on the home straight for claiming their second Calder Cup in franchise history.
The Texas Stars are likely to once again rely on their top line for their offensive power, that is, the captain Curtis Mckenzie, Justin Dowling and Travis Morin. These 3 players have accounted for other half of the team’s points so far this series. In terms of where the Marlies’ goals will come from, it will be a simple case of finishing the chances they are already creating, most importantly having someone get on the end of the centering passes. The Ricoh was full of frustrated fans as time and time again, Toronto players would centre the puck only for it to pass straight through to a Texas player. When the Marlies did get a shot on net, which was 45 times (they truly were dominate everywhere except on the scoreboard), they just couldn’t bury it. They were doing all the hard work but not getting the reward.
Both sides have the talent to clinch the win, I feel like the game is going to come down to which goalie gets into the zone. If both goalies play at the top of their game, we could see a defensive struggle and possibly overtime. Whereas if both goalies don’t settle in we could witness another goal fest as we did in game 1. Either way it is going to be one tense, exhilarating finish to the season, game 7s always are.