Kings at Ducks Preview: Do or Die... Literally

Jeff Gross

Everyone knew this series was going to be close and many people picked the series to go all the way to seven games. Well after the Ducks laid a fat egg in game six, the hockey world got its wish.

Keys to the Game: The Anaheim Ducks avenged their first-round game seven loss from 2013 by not even allowing a game seven in the first round of 2014. Now with the stakes even higher, the Ducks failed to close out the series in a pivotal game six with what can only be described as a downright lackluster performance through 40 minutes. A crap goal given up by John Gibson went down as the game winner and the Ducks pretty much walked right into the Los Angeles Kings' death trap game plan.

Needless to say with the series now boiling down to one game, the Ducks can ill afford another pitiful effort at this point. Not only is a spot in the conference finals on the line, but the pride of two franchises and bragging rights for Southern California is also at stake.

Keys to the game? Same as pretty much every game really: forecheck hard, limit the defensive zone turnovers to a bare minimum, speed through the neutral zone, get traffic in front of the net consistently, and shoot without hesitation when given the chance. When the Ducks do all of these things, they're nearly unstoppable.

Oh, also, shut down Justin Williams.

What Can We Learn From this Game: Aside from the obvious (Chicago's opponent for the third round of the playoffs) we will finally learn if the Ducks are capable of closing out a series under tremendous pressure. Think last year was big? Welcome to the next level of important.

Other than that there really isn't much to learn from this game. It's either the Ducks learned their lesson from last year and will do it and we'll continue to enjoy watching them for another couple weeks, or they didn't and they'll get sent home earlier than they should for the second straight season by a hated rival.

Fearless Prediction: Regardless of what happens, these two teams will officially hate each other on the ice next year almost as much as the fans hate each other off of it.

Stay tuned here for updates throughout the day (lineup news, etc.) and start commenting. We'll have a quick stats pack shortly before puck drop for the in-game comments to flow.

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