Oh hell yeah, the second greatest two works in sports: Game Seven. (The best of course is Free Beer)
And tonight in the NHL Playoffs we get not one, but two of these babies to round out the Conference Final match-ups and I cannot wait for the action to start.
In the early game we have what is the main event of the playoffs as the Pittsburgh Penguins travel to DC to take on the Washington Capitals, and then we will round out the second round with the upstart Edmonton Oilers traveling to not LA to take on the Anaheim Ducks.
The two series’ have been pretty dang similar, with there being four pretty dang close games that could have gone either way, and each team picking up one blowout win. The Edmonton-Anaheim series has been pretty back-and-forth, while the Capitals-Penguins has had the drama of Washington hoping to slay their longtime nemesis after falling behind 3-1.
Edmonton at Anaheim
We’ll start out west and save the game that everyone is waiting for last.
Edmonton has been the better team in this series, outscoring the Ducks 23-19 over the six games, and is a little bit of puck-luck away from ending this earlier had they been able to hold onto a late lead in either Game 4 or 5. Seriously, if Anaheim wins this series, the Oilers and their fans are going to have nightmares about game forever.
Edmonton also has momentum though, and are fresh off a 7-1 mollywhomping in Game 6. They also have Connor McDavid, who has been slightly quiet but is still one of the two best players in the world, and I think that gives them the early edge.
From a rooting interest going forward, you have a chance to see 3-4 great young stars in Edmonton play in a Conference Final, which would be fun as hell, or you have the chance to see the team featuring the most punchable faces in the NHL. Seems like an easy one for those on the fence.
Ron – Edmonton (Bonus: since this is the last game of the round it’ll go 2OT and we’ll all be up to 3am for it.)
James – Edmonton (The Ducks have been extremely undisciplined and just looked wholly outmatched in Game 6. The Ducks’ luck numbers haven’t been great recently, losing the last four potential series-clinching Game 6’s, home or away. This year was their best chance to end that and well… the Oilers have a great chance to add to the Ducks’ collective nightmare.)
Shawn – Anaheim (5-4, The Oilers are far expanding past their threshold, and this was a team I said to watch for. McDavid is living up to his pseudo-nickname Connor McJesus, and he’s been too fun to watch make this Oiler team too good. However…I don’t like what I saw in the last game, as odd as that sounds. I get nervous about non-clinch game blowouts, especially of that ugly of a magnitude. You go into the next game unfathomably cocky, and if you don’t start as quick or even start behind, you’re sucked out of the game. There’s a lot of important pieces on Anaheim who’ve shown consistency this series, and I think the old farts get the job done. Edmonton is a year or two away, and I hope that’s true.)
Walsh – Edmonton (Outside of the final three and a half minutes of regulation and the subsequent OT in Game 5, the Ducks have been getting outscored 10-2 by Edmonton. The Oilers young roster of top former overall picks seems to finally be gelling into a contender fulfilling its potential.)
Pittsburgh at Washington
The only downer about this game, which feels like a Stanley Cup Game 7, is that it’s happening in the second round. But such is life in the NHL, and as a fan I would rather have this showdown, regardless of when it might be, than not have it at all.
This series has been so fascinating, because each team can make the argument that they should have won it in five or so games, and yet they could also each just as easily have been out and there wouldn’t be much arguing about it.
If you wondered how even this series has been, the goals scored is tied at 18-18.
Washington has dominated play, and yet is an OT win in Game 3 away from getting swept. Pittsburgh had all the bounces go their way through the first four games, but the Capitals have looked like the better, and more desperate team since.
The caps have momentum squarely on their side, winning the last two games by a combined 9-4. Oh and they also have Mr. Game 7 himself, Justin Williams on the team, he of 14 points in seven career Game 7s. Oh and he’s won them all.
This also has the feeling of, if the Capitals don’t win this one, it may never happen for Ovechkin and crew.
Ron – Washington (Bonus: Mr. Game 7 is held pointless, but Ovechkin nets the winner in the final five minutes of the game.)
James – Washington (The Caps have a Game 7 at home and recent numbers show that the Pens have a 5-0 (?) record in road Game 7’s and are 4-0 all-time vs. the Caps in Game 7’s. Not great numbers, Brent! But honestly, that’s a luck statistic and that luck has to run out sometime.)
Shawn – Pittsburgh (4-2, Simply put, the Capitals are NOT the Penguins, as cliche as it sounds. This is an experienced, champion, veteran squad that has been under pressure of this magnitude, against a team that hasn’t advanced to the conference finals in the ovechkin era. Holtby isn’t the goaltender that Fleury is and has been. Maybe this is a null point to bring up goaltending in this highly offensive series, but regardless, you need somebody to close the game. Malkin puts this one on ice.)
Walsh – /is a Capitals fan and passed out dead from a combination of dread and excitement/
So there you have it. Happy hockey everyone, the games start at 7:30 EST on NBCSN, regardless of who you’re pulling for, let’s just hope for two good games tonight.