3 Takeaways From Kings’ Game 7 Loss to Oilers

The Los Angeles Kings were eliminated from the playoffs Saturday night, falling 2-0 to the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7. This ended an incredible season for the Kings where they defied expectations by making the playoffs and pushing the Oilers to Game 7. Here are three takeaways from the loss.

Jonathan Quick Stands Tall

When looking for reasons why the Kings lost this game, the play of Jonathan Quick will not be discussed. This game would have been a blowout early if it weren’t for his heroic play in net. He made 39 saves on 42 shots, finished with 2.55 goals saved above expected (GSAx) and came up big when the Kings needed him. This was the first Game 7 loss of his career, as he was a perfect 4-0 in Game 7’s heading into Saturday’s game. Fans around the league were reminded why Quick earned the reputation as a clutch performer.

Jonathan Quick Los Angeles Kings
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In a season that was supposed to involve Quick passing the net off to Cal Petersen, Quick has re-established himself as the starter for the Kings. He’s earned a reputation as a hyper-competitive athlete, so it should be no surprise that he hasn’t given up his net without a fight. The team proved they were ready to compete in the postseason again this year, and Quick has made it clear that he can still be the backbone of this team. The term “vintage Jonathan Quick” was used throughout this series, and it was most accurate for Game 7. He proved once again why he is a legend in goal.

Kings are Dominated

The Kings took two of three games away from home in this series, leaving several fans optimistic about their chances of grabbing a win on the road in Game 7. Unfortunately, they were second best throughout this game, rarely threatening the Oilers’ net and only surviving an onslaught of chances off the back of Quick’s stellar play. The Oilers attacked in waves, beating the Kings on nearly every shift, and they made sure to include their star player Connor McDavid in most of those shifts. McDavid played an astonishing 27:23 and dominated all game. He had the primary assist on Cody Ceci’s goal and scored the Oilers’ second goal, torching Sean Durzi before depositing his second chance into the net.

Alex Edler Los Angeles Kings Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Alexander Edler of the Los Angeles Kings, Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

After Game 5, I said that McDavid’s performance in the third period of that game was the best period of hockey I’ve seen one player put together, and he continued that play through the rest of the series. Playing over 27 minutes in one game is almost unheard of from a forward, and McDavid’s ability to impact the game through all 27 minutes is a testament to how good he is. They say you need your big players to perform in big games, and that’s precisely what happened in Game 7. The Kings did everything in their power to slow him down in this series, but at a certain point, you have to just accept defeat. His 14 points will lead all players in the first round, as he again proves why he is the best player of his generation.

A Passing of the Torch

The most devastating part of this loss for Kings fans is the realization that this was the last time they’ll see Dustin Brown play a game for the team. He captained the team to two Stanley Cup victories and set the tone for the team’s most successful era. It is painful to accept that he will never suit up in an NHL game again, and it is the end of a legendary career in Los Angeles.

Dustin Brown Los Angeles Kings
Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In brighter news, I found it almost symbolic that in this game, young forward Arthur Kaliyev was moved up to the top line. Kaliyev played on the right wing of Anze Kopitar, a spot that Brown has been anchored to for so many years. While Kaliyev plays a game that is in no way similar to Brown’s, it still felt like a torch being passed to the new core of Kings players. Brown retires just as a young player steps into the spot he called home for so many years.

Related: Kings Dustin Brown Will Retire a Team Legend

Outside of the symbolism of this move, it was an aggressive move from Todd McLellan, swapping Kaliyev with Alex Iafallo early in this game. Kaliyev has made huge strides in his development this season, but never looked comfortable in the top-six during his short stints there. Iafallo was seemingly on the top line to help them deal with McDavid during this series, and McLellan clearly felt this line needed an offensive jolt. The move didn’t pay off, as the team was shut out and struggled to create chances. Still, it was nice to see the vote of confidence in Kaliyev, who played a solid game despite the lack of production. A top-six winger is on most fans’ shopping lists, but the organization might feel they have that spot covered internally, as Kaliyev will only get better with another summer of training.

Kings Can Hold Their Heads High

While the pain from a Game 7 loss will sting for a while, this Kings team has nothing to be ashamed of. They’ve battled through adversity all season, including several major injuries, most notably to Drew Doughty and Viktor Arvidsson in these playoffs. It hurts even more thinking about how different this series would have looked if those two had been healthy, but there’s no point in worrying about that now. The future is extremely bright for the Kings, and that future could arrive much sooner than most expected. This team will be a series threat out of the West moving forward, and the league needs to be aware of this.

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