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Ducks vs. Kings Game 7 Preview

by Photo of Gil Santos

Game 7 of the Battle of California is tonight. Who will take the series and head to the Conference Final?

Ducks vs. Kings Game 7 Preview

It is do or die time for these two California rivals. The Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings will face off in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Honda Center tonight for the chance to face the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals.

This series has been an odd one, as it seemed the Kings had it in the bag after they took the first two games on the road. However, the Ducks showed their mettle and won the next three before they fell in Game 6 in a potential closeout game.

As expected, the Kings have held the lion's share of possession. When the score is close, the Kings attempted 54.7% of the shots. However in the last four games, they have struggled to convert that possession into goals. After scoring three tallies in the first two contests, the Kings have reached that mark only once since.

On the other side, the Ducks have made most of their opportunities especially on the power play. The Ducks boast the league’s best power play left in the playoffs and are 5-for-21 in the series.

Between the pipes, the Kings’ Jonathan Quick has been up and down in this series like he was against the San Jose Sharks. Quick started out strong and stopped 69 of 72 shots in the first two games. But Quick began to falter as he allowed nine goals during the three-game losing streak and was pulled in Game 4. Fortunately, Quick bounced back in Game 6 as he made 21 saves on 22 shots to force Game 7.

After switching between Jonas Hiller and Frederik Andersen, the Ducks gave the net to rookie John Gibson. It turned out to be a great decision. Gibson has been very strong for the Ducks and is one of the main reasons they had a shot at closing it out on Wednesday. In three games, Gibson boasts a .946 save percentage with a 1.69 goals against average. 

Both teams have been in this situation before. The Ducks lost a Game 7 last year at home to the Detroit Red Wings after they held a 3-2 series lead. They will look to reverse their fortunes this time around and we will see if they learned anything from that loss. As for the Kings, they are very comfortable playing in Game 7s as they are in their second one in this year’s playoffs. In addition, they are 5-0 in elimination games this postseason.

As always, the key for both teams will be to score first. In the second round, the team that scores the first goal is 19-1. Also in this series, the team that breaks ice is undefeated. It is especially imperative for the Ducks to score first as the Kings’ defense gets even more difficult to score on when they have a lead. They must be aggressive from the jump and keep their home crown excited.

Players to Watch

Justin Williams (Kings) - Williams always plays his best when the stakes are at its highest. In five career Game 7s, Williams is 5-0 with 10 points, including five goals and two game-winners. If the Kings win this game, it is likely Williams made an impact somehow.

John Gibson (Ducks) – In his first playoffs, the 20-year-old goaltender has looked like a veteran. Gibson came into a tough situation, getting the call-up from Norfolk to start a crucial Game 4 with his team down 2-1. Gibson showed he was the real deal and earned the shutout in his first career postseason start. While Gibson has looked great for the most part, Game 7 is whole different animal and it will be interesting to see how he will handle the pressure.

Prediction

All signs point to a Kings’ win, but I think this is the Ducks’ time to shine. They will find a way to pull out the win and they take it, 3-2, at home.

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