California here we come! — the Edmonton Oilers are going back to California to face the Anaheim Ducks. This time it’s for Game 7 with the winner heading to the Western Conference Final to face the Nashville Predators. As the playoffs progress the stakes get higher, and for the Ducks, they just can’t seem to shake the Oilers.
Leon Daisaitl continues to be an absolute force against the Ducks, and he now has 21 points in 11 games this year against Anaheim. His hat trick is the first by an Oilers player since Bill Guerin’s on April 19, 2000, against the Dallas Stars. Not only that, his five-point performance in Game 6 now has him one point behind Evgeni Malkin (17 points) for the playoff scoring lead. If the Oilers can (dare I say) go all the way, could Draisaitl be a Conn Smythe Trophy frontrunner?
LEON DRAISAITL .VS. DUCKS (CAREER STATS)
* Includes Playoff Games
Anything Can Happen in Game 7
There’s one narrative that’s carried over from game to game from each team following a loss. Regardless what the score was, playoff losses all count the same. For Anaheim, they might be at ease knowing that the Oilers haven’t won back-to-back games in this series since the first two. Then again for Edmonton, they know the Ducks haven’t been able to exorcise their Game 7 demons, and it can be argued there’s more pressure on the Ducks to win this game than the Oilers.
The Ducks are walking into Game 7 with a healthy defense, while the Oilers are still recovering. Oscar Klefbom should be available for Game 7, but Andrej Sekera is out. Sure the Ducks are without Kevin Bieksa (16:42 TOI), but the comparison of losing Sekera (21:10) is a huge difference.
Anaheim also chose John Gibson in goal over Frederik Andersen, and there’s been some question as to whether the Ducks opted to keep the right goaltender after the latter was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer. After Gibson’s meltdown in Game 6, the pressure is on, and he’s been outplayed by his Edmonton counterpart Cam Talbot for much of the series.
Gibson has stopped just 139 of 157 shots (0.885 save percentage) in comparison to Talbot who’s stopped 223 of 242 (0.922 save percentage). In five of the six games already played in this series, the Ducks have peppered Talbot with over 30 shots and yielded a similar number of goals as the Oilers.
Anaheim also holds a significant percentage of the shots in this series (61%). So judging by the precedence already set, if the Ducks want to win Game 7, they’ll need to have a shooting gallery against Talbot, whereas the Oilers have been much more productive with less.
Winner Takes All
As much as Draisaitl’s success has been celebrated, you can’t overlook Ryan Getzlaf’s performance through this series. The Ducks captain has five goals and ten points and has been dominant. He’s been held off the score sheet twice in the series, both losses, but still threw nine shots on the net in those games.
You can’t keep a guy like Getzlaf down in back-to-back games, something that also hasn’t happened this series. Getzlaf’s running mate and former Hart Trophy-winning teammate Corey Perry has just one goal in this series, despite scoring five points in his last three games. Perry and Getzlaf aren’t going to go away easily and Edmonton will need to find a way to counter.
RYAN GETZLAF STATS
Where the Oilers are finding a way to counter the Ducks is on the power play. Regardless of all the hoopla about the officials making several controversial calls during this series against Edmonton, the Oilers have found a way to persevere. They’ve scored seven goals on the man advantage compared to the Ducks two. If the Oilers can finally get some offense from Jordan Eberle (no goals in 18 of last 20 games) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (no goals in last 15 games), they should come out on top in Game 7.
Meanwhile the Ducks duo of Jakob Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell have nine goals in this series alone compared to Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins’ zero. In their absence, Connor McDavid has three goals in the last four games in this series, and in the biggest game of his young career is sure to be ready to make an impact.
However way you slice it we’re in for one helluva finish between the Ducks and Oilers. California here we come, right back where we started from.