If patterns hold, then we'll be talking about the Anaheim Ducks winning their first post-season series in four years on Sunday night. The Detroit Red Wings are disinterested in such patterns. They battle the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center on Sunday in the first Game 7 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The two teams have traded victories in the same back-and-forth pattern for six games. Detroit has never had an advantage in the series, and both of the last two games have featured blown leads by the Red Wings that have forced overtime. Detroit, however, has a shot to go out to California and win a series just by playing a complete game in Anaheim on Sunday.
Despite late heroics by the Ducks, Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard was pretty great in Game 6, making some huge saves in the game to keep the Red Wings ahead at times. He made 34 saves overall, and couldn't really be faulted on the goals by Bobby Ryan and Emerson Etem to tie the game.
The Ducks will likely call on Jonas Hiller again. He stopped only 25 out of 29 shots in Game 6, and looked merely okay. He never made a save that could really be called spectacular like Howard did. He'll need to be better in Game 7, which is a pretty obvious statement to make. Everybody needs to be better in Game 7.
Can Detroit hold a lead if they get one?
The Red Wings have blown leads that have forced overtime in each of the last two games. While the first was just a 2-1 lead in a competitive game (the Ducks tied it for good late in the second), they blew a two-goal cushion with 3:30 left in a must-win game. They obviously came back and won in overtime, but letting a team that can eliminate you back into games again and again is probably not the right move. That's not to mention the Ducks' epic comeback to force OT in Game 2. If the Red Wings get a lead in Game 7, they really have to tighten up.
Will goaltending be the difference?
Jimmy Howard and Jonas Hiller haven't really been inconsistent in this series, but each has had a game they'd likely want to throw away. For Hiller, it would be the five goals the Wings scored on him in Game 2, while Howard would probably erase the 4-0 whitewashing on behalf of the Ducks in Game 3. Both goaltenders have had sparkling moments in this series, but it's safe to say they'll need one more to get to Round 2.
Will there be overtime one more time?
Four overtimes in six games is pretty impressive. The Red Wings are 3-1 in those extra-session games in this series, so perhaps they'd prefer to get it there. Playing for overtime in a Game 7 on the road is far from wise, however. The last Game 7 to go to overtime was between New Jersey and Florida last year, which went to double OT. It could be heart-attack city in Orange County on Sunday.
Game Time: 10 p.m. ET
National TV: NBC Sports Network, TSN
Detroit TV: FS Detroit
Anaheim TV: FS West