DETROIT -- The scenarios are clear-cut.
If the Chicago Blackhawks defeat the Detroit Red Wings in Game 6 of their Western Conference Semifinal series on Monday, they force a Game 7 in Chicago. If the Detroit Red Wings win, they take the series and eliminate the Blackhawks.
What isn’t so definitive is which team is feeling any pressure entering Game 6. The Blackhawks said Monday the pressure is on the Red Wings, but the Red Wings said otherwise.
“We talk about it all the time,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said after Monday’s morning skate. “Do you want to be tight and tentative or do you want to be loose and driving? Which one sounds like fun to you? Let’s play. There are six teams left in hockey. Play, let’s have some fun. The better you play, the longer you get to play. If you don’t play good, you get to go home.”
The Blackhawks held off elimination by winning 4-1 in Game 5 in Chicago on Saturday. With the possibility of the series returning to Chicago for Game 7, Blackhawks forward Viktor Stalberg believed the pressure was certainly on the Red Wings to win at home.
“We know they’re going to feel the pressure, especially tonight, [to close] it out in front of their fans,” Stalberg said. “Don’t think they want to go back to Game 7 in our building. Pressure is definitely going to be on them. I think they’re going to come out hungrier tonight. We got to find a way to weather that storm right off the bat. If we can do that, I think we’ll have a good chance.”
Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane agreed.
“You can’t think about pressure too much, but I think it is on them especially after having a chance to close out at home in our building, and it’s coming back here, they get another chance,” Kane said. “I’m sure they’re feeling a little bit of pressure. Hopefully we can use to that to our advantage and try to capitalize on them maybe making some mistakes.”
Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader thought there was a difference between playing with pressure and playing with desperation. He thought his team needed the latter.
“I think everyone realizes now how difficult [it is to close out a series,]” Abdelkader said, “Chicago played with its backs against the wall [Saturday] night. They played hard and with desperation. We have to play the same way.”
For the Blackhawks, they’re looking to duplicate the looseness they played with in Game 5. Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad said it was key to score first again.
“That’s something we want to do every game, especially against this team how well they’ve played defensively and how they play with the lead,” Saad said. “Especially in their building, their fans are loud. It’s going to be fun to be a part of, and we’re looking forward to it.”