ANAHEIM, CALIF. – Coach Bruce Boudreau says his Anaheim Ducks can find all the inspiration they need by knowing that in Game 7 lies an opportunity to play in the Stanley Cup Final.
Reputations also hang in the balance.
Eight of the Ducks who played Wednesday in a 5-2 loss in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals — including stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry — also were also part of the teams that were eliminated in Game 7 losses at home the past two seasons.
Although beating the Chicago Blackhawks at Honda Center on Saturday would be sweet redemption, defeat would qualify as a trend. Is the desire to flip that script a motivational button the coach would press?
"I'm not bringing that up to them at all," Boudreau said. "To me, quite frankly, every year is a different entity. The guys that have been here for the three years know what's happened.
"If we have to draw on extra motivation for a Game 7 ... I think we've got the wrong guys. ... We have the right guys."
Questions nag because the Ducks blew 3-2 series leads to the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the 2013 playoffs and to the Los Angeles Kings in the conference semifinals last season.
"Our goal wasn't to get to the conference final," defenseman Francois Beauchemin said. "Our goal was to get to the Stanley Cup Final. We have a chance to do that.
"It takes pride. Losing those last two Game 7s has been hard on everybody. Now we have a chance to regroup and get ourselves a chance to win that game at home, in a good series that we've played pretty solid hockey at times. We just have to be doing it for a full 60 minutes Saturday and things should go well."
Getzlaf, Perry and Beauchemin had a combined minus-9 rating in Game 6 as the Ducks suffered their first regulation loss of the postseason. Getzlaf said he played "horrible," and Perry had just one shot on goal.
Although Getzlaf and Perry experienced a Stanley Cup championship in 2007 as youngsters and played together on two of Canada's Olympic gold medal-winning teams, this season is different. It's their team. Win or lose, they'll wear this.
"I ... hope that the response is that this is why they've won a Stanley Cup in the past, two Olympic medals, a World Junior Championship - draw on those experiences and play the game of their lives," Boudreau said.