Stan Fischler’s Second-Round Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions

I'm beyond pumped for the second round tonight and delighted to go off the wall with my predictions for both the four series and...

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3 Keys to Winning Game 7: Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings

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It all comes down to this.

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Everyone likes Game 7s, except the team and the fans that come out on the losing end. The Edmonton/Los Angeles series has been quite something, mixing a blend of complete one-sided blowouts and close affairs all series long.

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The first-round matchup heads back to Edmonton, where the Oilers will look to finally advance to the second round for just the second time in Connor McDavid’s career. The Oilers have the skill to do some serious damage in the second round, which, of course, could be against the Calgary Flames.

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The Kings, meanwhile, have been in situations like this before and hope to make quick work of their opponents on the road. It’s not going to be easy, but if Jonathan Quick can stand on his head, the Kings might be able to take this one as the lower seed.

Let’s get set for what should be a wild Game 7 on Saturday night:

1. This is Connor McDavid’s House

Since Connor McDavid entered the league for the 2015-16 season, the Oilers have won one playoff round, a 4-2 series over San Jose in his sophomore campaign. After sitting second in the Pacific Division, the Oilers had high hopes for the post-season, but it’s been anything smooth but sailing.

McDavid has a mind-melting 12 points in six playoff games and has been, by all accounts, the best player in the post-season. But McDavid hasn’t been able to get over the hurdle, since 2017, so this is a true testament of what he’s capable of. He can’t win it all, and the depth of this team needs to step up, but McDavid’s the best player in the world for a reason.

2. Can the Kings Rely on Playoff Experience?

Fans love to make a lot about playoff experience. There’s nothing like Stanley Cup playoff hockey.

So if you believe in the concept, this would be a good time for the Kings to trigger it. They still have some key pieces of the core that won the Cup in 2012 and 2014, including forwards Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown and goaltender Jonathan Quick.

But that was a long time ago now. Since the last Cup, the Kings have made the playoffs three times, with Kopitar recording 10 points in 15 games and Brown recording just four points, with no goals. In Brown’s case, he’s looking for one last chance at glory before retiring this off-season, and a Game 7 loss would not be a good way to go out.

This, essentially, is the last chance with the key pieces of those two Cup runs to win again. They’ve had some true stinkers against Edmonton, but have found ways to battle back and take the energy away from the Oilers.

If anything, the Kings are going to do this for Dustin. The Kings have more playoff experience than the Oilers in recent years, even if it’s not a ton over the past eight years. Let’s see if that makes a difference.

3. The Difference Could Be Goaltending

At one point, Edmonton’s Mike Smith was a surprising name atop the goalie stats column. But overall, Quick’s numbers – a .932 save percentage and a 1.59 goals saved above average – has made him the best goalie in the playoffs outside of the Dallas/Calgary series.

Smith, though, isn’t far off with a .928 SP and 1.09. Both have had their ups and downs, but goaltending truly looks like an X-factor heading into Game 7.

Will this be Quick’s final chance at a playoff series victory? Could this be Smith’s final game, period? Both teams have struggled getting consistent defense, so that’s allowed the goalies to stay busy.

Other than Igor Shesterkin, who dealt with most of the damage in a triple-OT game to kick off the playoffs, Quick (46) and Smith (37) have faced the most high-danger shots at 5-on-5 of any goalies in the playoffs. They’re no stranger to quality chances, but shutting everyone out is what’s needed right now.

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Source: thehockeynews.com

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