Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 West Semi-Final:
Game 7 @ Anaheim
May 16, 2014
5:30pm PST (8:30pm EST)
With all of the hostility between the fans and most of the players on top of the already-heated rivalry between these rivals situated just 30 minutes apart, it is only fitting that the first-ever playoff series between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks comes to a winner-take-all seventh and deciding game. After the Kings edged the Ducks at Staples Center on Wednesday in Game 6, the stage is now set for Game 7 at the Honda Center - and it should be a memorable one to say the least.
For the Los Angeles Kings, they will look to go 6-0 in elimination games on Friday night. The Ducks, meanwhile, find themselves in unfamiliar territory as they will be taking part in their first elimination game of these playoffs. But both teams enter Game 7 feel as if they are the underdogs and with both teams having identical 2-1 records on the road, something will have to give.
But despite wanting the underdog labels, most know that both teams have plenty of experience when it comes to Game 7s. For the Kings, Justin Williams (who has 11 points in 10 elimination games with Los Angeles), is just as dependable in Game 7s. In five of them for his career, No. 14 has scored five goals and added 10 assists. In addition, Williams, along with Mike Richards and Marian Gaborik are 5-0 in Game 7s.
But while they did fall short in Game 6 and face a team who seems to thrive most when they are facing elimination, don't expect the Anaheim Ducks to roll over. After the Kings took Games 1 and 2 in Anaheim, some thought the Ducks were in trouble. Instead, they took Games 3 and 4 in Los Angeles before winning Game 5 to put the Kings in trouble instead.
The Ducks certainly have enough weapons to beat the Kings and move on to the Western Final. Outside of Game 6, Ryan Getzlaf has notched points in every game this series. Players like Patrick Maroon, Nick Bonino and Kyle Palmeiri have all found success against Los Angeles, but above all who has is the 43-year-old Teemu Selanne.
If things don't go well for the Ducks on Friday, then it will be Selanne's final career game. He may already have won a Stanley Cup in 2007 but many sentimentalists in the hockey community would love to see the Finnish Flash ride off into the sunset. The Kings, of course, will look to prevent that. But regardless of how Game 7 turns out, Selanne has had a strong series against the Kings scoring twice.
Goaltender John Gibson may have looked human on the game-winning goal in Game 6 but the rookie is still playing admirably and has shown that he is capable of outshining his American counterpart Jonathan Quick who is simply looking to further strengthen his status in elimination games.
It all comes down to this. Will the Anaheim Ducks play host to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Final or will the Los Angeles Kings set a precedent for eliminating two California teams in the same year before their anticipated rematch with the defending Stanley Cup champions?
The storylines are there, the excitement is prevalent and now the only thing that needs to be done is to drop the puck. I sincerely hope fans from both side will have their heart medication handy. They may very well need it.
Enjoy the game!