Los Angeles Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks: Preview and Prediction for Game 7

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Los Angeles Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks: Preview and Prediction for Game 7
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The final game of Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Final will take place on Friday night, when the Los Angeles Kings head to Anaheim to conclude their series with the Ducks.

It’s the same venue where the Kings took a 2-0 series lead, but also the same venue where Anaheim won Game 5 to take its first lead in the series.

Harry How/Getty Images

Anaheim has persevered through rotating goaltenders, with rookie John Gibson ultimately claiming the starting job and two of the Ducks’ three wins in the series. The team has been led offensively by team captain Ryan Getzlaf, who with seven points in six games has double the production of anyone else. At the other end of the ice, the Kings have fought through a rash of injuries on the blue line. Marian Gaborik has delivered as hoped for; the trade-deadline addition leads the team in goals (five) and points (eight) in the series.

Now, the two California teams will conclude an eventful series in a winner-take-all final.

When: May 16, 9:00 p.m. ET

Where: Honda Center, Anaheim

Watch: NBCSN, TSN, RDS

 

Kings' Top Storylines

Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

Victorious in elimination games

The Kings have played five elimination games in these playoffs to date, and they have won all five. The team found new life when backed into a corner by San Jose in the first round and avoided permanent defeat again on Wednesday when it triumphed in Game 6 at home. Can it do it again?

 

The dynamic duo

Gaborik’s strong play, alluded to above, has come as the winger joined Anze Kopitar on the Kings’ No. 1 line. As Kopitar told the National Post’s Cam Cole, he adds an element Los Angeles hasn’t had in previous years:

It’s certainly a change since my time being here, we’ve never really had a No. 1 line, left-shot, left winger. He’s a constant threat with his shooting ability and his scoring ability. Every time he comes into the offensive zone, everyone is paying attention to him, maybe that gives me a few more inches to work with. Giving the puck to him in the slot is always a good option.

The two have worked wonderfully together and have recorded points in every second-round contest—with the exception of John Gibson’s Game 4 shutout.

 

A balanced shutdown unit

The series switching back to Anaheim means less than it otherwise might, not only because plenty of Kings fans will be there, but also because Darryl Sutter has plenty of shutdown options at his disposal. In Game 6 he leaned on Jarret Stoll’s line and his No. 2 defence pairing to play against Ryan Getzlaf’s unit, and they did pretty well:

The result is that if Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau wants to play games with the matchups, the Kings can oblige.

 

Ducks' Top Storylines

Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

The need to find another level

The Ducks have played long stretches of very good hockey in this series, but given a chance to close things out in Game 6, they were shown up by the Kings. After the game, Boudreau was quoted by the Ducks' official website as saying Los Angeles just wanted to win it:

They wanted to win tonight. You never want to wait until the seventh game. Just look at Boston. You want to win it when you can. We didn’t get it done, but we’ll get better and we’ll get ready. We’ll have a heck of a game on Friday.

Anaheim needs to match what the Kings did, now that its own season is on the line.

Harry How/Getty Images

 

Scoring beyond Getzlaf

Ryan Getzlaf has seven points in this series, but second place is a five-way tie between other skaters on the team who have a total of three points each. Somehow, the Ducks need to find some way to spread the offence around, to get more production out of players like Mathieu Perreault (43 regular-season points; just one assist here) and, for that matter, even Corey Perry (three points in the series).

 

The power play

The Ducks didn’t get much going on the man advantage in Game 6, and it is vital that they do a better job in Game 7. Every Anaheim win in this series has featured at least one power-play goal for the Ducks, and its 6-3 edge in goals in those situations has made up for L.A.’s 10-8 advantage at even strength. The more Game 7 is a special teams battle, the more it favours Anaheim.    

 

Prediction

Kings 2, Ducks 1

 

Jonathan Willis covers the NHL for Bleacher Report; follow him on Twitter for more of his work.

All statistics courtesy of NHL.com.

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