The second-round playoff series between the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks has involved a lot of drama and superstar performances.
The Ducks’ Game 5 comeback from down three with under four minutes left ended up being a historical moment. No team had come that far in that little time to set up overtime or win a game.
Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf has matched the Oilers’ young talent with some of the best hockey of his career.
With Wednesday’s Game 7 at Honda Center, this series of two evenly matched teams will come to an end. The winner will face the red hot Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Final.
Here are five keys to Game 7 and what to expect.
1. Anaheim’s Game 7 History
The Ducks have lost four straight Game 7s on home ice. Granted, Randy Carlyle was not the team’s coach of those teams, but the history still stings for a lot of the team’s players who were part of all those losses. In some ways, the legacies of Getzlaf and Corey Perry, who were part of all those prior Game 7s, will be on the line Wednesday. Will they finally rise to the occasion or will they falter again?
2. Leon Draisaitl’s dominance
Draisaitl has had a monster series against the Ducks. He has 13 points in six games and is coming off a three-goal, five-point performance in Game 6 that pushed off elimination for the Oilers. He has also shown himself to be a versatile scorer, doing his damage at both center and wing. While so much of the talk leading into the series has been about young captain Connor McDavid, Draisaitl has taken over the leading offensive role for the Oilers. They need him to shine one more time.
3. Connor McDavid’s “struggles”
In 12 postseason games, McDavid has had just one multi-point effort, which came in the Oilers’ Game 5 loss to the Ducks. Throughout the series, Anaheim center Ryan Kesler has pretty much shadowed McDavid’s every move, which has limited McDavid’s chances. There’s a feeling that McDavid is due for a huge game at some point, and what bigger stage than Game 7?
4. Ryan Getzlaf’s play
Getzlaf has played arguably the best postseason hockey of his career during this Ducks playoff run. In Anaheim’s three wins in this series, he has notched a total of eight points. In the Ducks’ three losses, Getzlaf has picked up a total of two points. Anaheim needs Getzlaf to be at his very best to have any chance to move onto the next round.
5. Special teams battle
The Ducks penalty kill this series has been a mess at 72 percent – the worst amongst all playoff teams this round. Meanwhile, the Oilers’ 28 percent power play conversion rate has completely neutralized Anaheim’s advantage 5-on-5. In this series the Ducks have held a better adjusted 5-on-5 CF% in every game except Game 3. At this stage, it’s unlikely Anaheim will figure out how to stop the Oilers’ power play, so the Ducks will have to stay out of the penalty box. If they play disciplined then they should put themselves in decent position to win this game. If they don’t then the Oilers will have the upper hand.
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