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For the Kings, the secret to winning dwells in the details.
This isn’t a team that will overwhelm opponents with raw firepower. L.A. thrives on possession and grinding out the other team slowly and methodically—and that begins with faceoffs.
The club’s pivots must work to ensure that the Kings aren’t on their heels early on Friday, getting everyone touches right off the hop to get into a rhythm and impose their tempo on the Ducks.
In a Game 7 on the road, draws will come into even greater focus, as Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau will have the luxury of last change and will be looking for weaknesses—chiefly the second line—to exploit.
Jarret Stoll has taken the second-most faceoffs among Kings in the playoffs and is tops on the team with a 56.4 percent success rate in the circle. Also, he faces the toughest zone starts among all forwards on the team.
He will need to put in a solid performance at the dot in Game 7 in order to facilitate head coach Darryl Sutter’s matchups.
The playoffs are very much a chess match for coaches, and a dependable center who can win faceoffs and be counted upon in the defensive zone allows the bench boss to place his pieces in the right position more often than not.
Elsewhere, discipline will be a huge question mark for the Kings, as they’ve taken 11 penalties in the past, granting the Ducks scoring chances they haven’t necessarily earned.
As a central figure on the penalty kill, Stoll’s tenacity disrupts passes while his motor drives him into shooting lanes. Winning faceoffs when short-handed is massive as well, dripping precious seconds off the clock and forcing the opposition to regroup outside the offensive zone.
He's only been on the ice for one power-play goal against in the postseason.
Sutter must deploy Stoll for faceoffs in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill in order to control the circle and keep L.A.’s end as clean as possible.
Even if he merely takes the draw and then immediately bolts for the bench, he needs to be out there for the vast majority of the key faceoffs. If he can win roughly 60 percent of them and deliver the goods on the PK, he will have done his part to help the Kings in Game 7.