With a win tonight, Anaheim would advance to their 5th Western Conference Final in franchise history. Here’s three keys to the Ducks taking the next step:
The Big Three
You obviously need your best players to play their best games in the biggest moments. Ryan Getzlaf has been a monster in these playoffs, leading the Ducks with a whopping 15 points. Corey Perry has been clutch so far this year, with both of his goals being overtime winners. Ryan Kesler has done a fantastic job this series of containing Connor McDavid.
During Anaheim’s streak of 4 consecutive Game 7 losses, the Twins only have 5 points combined (2 goals for Perry, 3 assists for Getzlaf). The big boys will need to lead by example if they don’t want to be at the golf course next week. Kesler has been solid in Game 7’s (2) since joining Anaheim. Continuing to contain Connor McDavid will be very important for the veteran centerman.
In Anaheim’s four Game 7 losses in this decade, Anaheim has never held a lead. Let that sink in for a moment. In four “do-or-die” games, the Ducks spent the entirety of the contests either tied or trailing.
While scoring the first goal has by no means guaranteed a win in this second round series, it would be huge for Anaheim. Getting the momentum and the crowd going early will be very key to propelling Anaheim to a Game 7 victory.
No Soft Goals
John Gibson struggled mightily in Game 6 before being pulled in favor of Jonathan Bernier. All three of the goals he gave up before being yanked were saves he should have had. Despite his numbers (.903 Sv%, 2.99 GAA), Gibson has been crucial to a number of Anaheim’s wins these playoffs. If the Ducks want to have a shot of winning this game, Gibson will have to put Game 6 behind him and play maybe the most important game of his career.