May 16, 2014, 8:06 AM EDT
Game 7: Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks [Series tied at 3-3] (9:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)
The Los Angeles Kings have already faced elimination five times in the 2014 playoffs. Can they survive a sixth time?
“When you’ve done special things together, you have the confidence no matter what happens to do that again,” Kings forward Mike Richards said, per NHL.com. “That’s a big thing in playoffs. When you’re down in a game, down in the series, you’ve been through comebacks and good things with the guy beside you, it is a good thing to lean on.”
If this game comes down to who has the most experience, then the Kings are likely to come out on top.
The Ducks aren’t a fresh faced team. Not only do they have 43-year-old Teemu Selanne, but their two biggest offensive contributors — Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry — can both still remember raising the Stanley Cup in 2007. However, many of the Ducks’ secondary scorers and some of their key defensemen are still pretty young. More importantly, they’ve been leaning on 20-year-old goaltender John Gibson, who had just three games worth of NHL experience going into this series.
He’s one of the main reasons the Ducks have made it this far in the series despite a mistake in Game 6 that cost Anaheim dearly.
At least it doesn’t sound like it impacted his confidence.
“Yeah, it was just one shot,” Gibson said. “Missed it. It happens.”
Gibson might be the least experienced when it comes to handling the pressure of a Game 7, but it’s crunch time for everyone.
For Selanne, it’s a chance to extend his career so that his final act as a player isn’t congratulating the rival Kings. For Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, it’s an opportunity to finally make it to a conference final. For Kings forward Marian Gaborik, it’s about preserving his shot at winning the Stanley Cup for the first time before he faces the uncertainty of the free agent period.
The winner of this game will establish themselves as the top team in California this year and set their sights on the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
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