Key Player in the 2017 NHL Eastern Conference Final Game 7

 

Ah Game 7, the crown jewel in major sports. It’s the game where everything is on the line. Where both teams can be eliminated. Sure, both squads try their best during the best-of-seven series. But Game 7 has a finality to it. You leave nothing in the tank and empty it all on the ice. Playing versus a team that you’re sick of at this point, you attempt to run over them and into the next round.

Key Player in the 2017 NHL Eastern Conference Final Game 7

For Ottawa and Pittsburgh, it’s been a series of such highs and lows. We’ve seen key injuries, a goaltending change, blowouts and of course unsung heroes. But it all ends in Game 7.

I saw an amazing stat the other day. Ottawa has never won a Game 7 on the road in the playoffs. But Pittsburgh has never won a Game 7 at home following a loss in Game 6. Something’s got to give.

To me, you know what you’re going to get from certain players. Both Matt Murray and Craig Anderson will be stellar in nets. Erik Karlsson and Sidney Crosby will be terrific. But, who will step up and change the game?

My prediction is that the game-changing player for this 2017 NHL Eastern Conference Final Game 7 will be a guy who’s been there for his team all postseason, doing it all and knowing his role. The feisty Jean-Gabriel Pageau seems to rise to the occasion every time his team needs him. His four-goal playoff game notwithstanding, he’s been very consistent each and every night.

I look for Pageau to score tonight and lead his team on to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in franchise history. I also look for the good people of Ottawa to erect a statue in his honor if the Sens go on to win the championship. Enjoy the game everyone.

Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Follow him @MatthewWords.