By Michael Walters
It all comes down to tonight as the Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers will face off for one last time in a Game 7.
It’s another postseason and another Game 7 facing Anaheim. The Ducks are 2-6 in franchise history in Game 7s. At home they are 1-4 and on the road, they are 1-2. The last four years the Ducks have faced a Game 7 at home each post season and lost each time. However, Bruce Boudreau was the coach for those four losses and Anaheim hopes things will be different tonight with Randy Carlyle. Carlyle is 1-1 in Game 7s as the Ducks coach and 1-2 overall.
According to Randy Carlyle, Kevin Bieksa and Ondrej Kase could be available tonight. Patrick Eaves was seen yesterday without the walking boot, but still with crutches. He is unlikely to play. Nate Thompson had a maintenance day yesterday and is will play tonight according to Carlyle. The Ducks did call up center Sam Carrick and he could play on the 4th line if necessary tonight.
Keys To The Game
The beginning of this game, especially the first 5-10 minutes, is going to be critical for Anaheim. The Ducks have given up two or more goals in the first period of the last four Game 7s. They have been outscored by a combined 9-1 in those first periods. They also have never scored first or held a lead in those four contests. The Ducks need to score first or come out of the first period ahead or tied. They can’t afford to give up too many odd-man rushes like they did to begin Game 6. If the Ducks get down early, then it could be another long Game 7 for Anaheim and their fans.
Another key to this game is going to be the special teams. The Ducks need to play disciplined and stay out of the penalty box. The Oilers have scored a power play goal in every game except Game 3. The Oilers are 7 for 25 or 28% with the extra man. The Ducks are 2 for 22 or 9%. The special teams play could determine who faces Nashville in the next round.
Anaheim Projected Lineup
Rickard Rakell – Ryan Getzlaf –Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano – Ryan Kesler – Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie – Antoine Vermette – Chris Wagner
Nic Kerdiles – Nate Thompson – Sam Carrick / Ondrej Kase
John Gibson (Probable)
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The Oilers responded after giving away Game 5 in Anaheim. Edmonton came out with a purpose and blew Anaheim out of the water with a 5-0 lead after the first period of Game 6. If the Oilers can any kind of success remotely close to that opening period tonight, then they have a great chance at moving on to the next round. Oscar Klefbom was unable to play in Game 6, but it looks like he will be ready to go for the Oilers tonight.
Keys To The Game
The Oilers were able to use their speed and create multiple odd man rushes to start Game 6 and they will look to do the same tonight. They will look to draw penalties against the Ducks and get more power play opportunities where they have been successful. Leon Draisaitl ran wild with a hat trick and five points in Game 6, so he could be a big factor tonight if Edmonton wants to advance to the Western Conference Final.
Edmonton Projected Lineup
Patrick Maroon – Connor McDavid – Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Drake Caggiula – Mark Letestu – Zack Kassian
Benoit Pouliot – David Desharnais – Anton Slepyshev
Cam Talbot (Probable)
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May 10th, 2017