Whereas the primary spherical of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs has included a number of too many blowouts for our liking, it has additionally offered no less than three Recreation 7s, the last word “rigidity conference.”
In keeping with ESPN Stats & Info, Saturday would be the first time since Apr. 30, 2014, that there might be three Recreation 7s performed on the identical day, and it’ll even be the primary time in NHL historical past that two Recreation 7s might be hosted by Canadian groups on the identical day.
To assist get you prepared for Boston Bruins–Carolina Hurricanes (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), Tampa Bay Lightning–Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET, TNT) and Los Angeles Kings–Edmonton Oilers (10 p.m. ET, ESPN), we’re breaking down a path to victory for every workforce, figuring out the X components in all three contests and making final-score predictions.
4:30 p.m. ET | Watch reside on ESPN
Main scorers: Brad Marchand, Bruins (4 G | 7 A)
Tony DeAngelo, Hurricanes (1 G | 7 A)
Path to victory for Boston: One of the best information for the Bruins right here is that they’ve acquired nothing to lose. Carolina has been the higher workforce on this sequence general. They have been the upper seed entering into. But Boston nonetheless stands with an opportunity to advance previous them.
ESPN and ESPN2 might be broadcasting first- and second-round video games, with one convention finals sequence on ESPN and the Stanley Cup Closing on ABC.
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All of the strain is on Carolina to carry out in Recreation 7. The Bruins merely get to exit and play. And that would be the Bruins’ superpower. They’ve the veteran know-how from Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. They’ve the goal-scoring abilities of David Pastrnak and Taylor Corridor. They’ve rock-solid goaltending from Jeremy Swayman, and a again finish led by the skills of Charlie McAvoy. To win Recreation 7, Boston has to only be itself. — Shilton
Path to victory for Carolina: For this reason the common season issues. The Hurricanes return to Raleigh licking their wounds, however understanding that they’ve completely dominated the Bruins on house ice on this sequence.
They’ve outscored them 15-4, however extra importantly, they’ve scored early and sometimes. Carolina had leads of 2-0, 3-0 and 4-0 of their house wins. They’ve taken fewer penalties in all three house video games. They’ve gotten higher goaltending, as Antti Raanta has a .974 save proportion in Raleigh. They’ll get the matchups they need towards the Bruins’ prime two traces. “Clearly at house you get the final change, which is a bonus. However you continue to have to return to play,” stated defenseman Jaccob Slavin. With the amount and ferocity of their house followers, they’ll come to play. — Wyshynski
Shilton’s X issue: This might come all the way down to goaltending. Carolina has performed all the sequence with out starter Frederik Andersen. Raanta has been nice in his absence, and Swayman has been equally good since taking up for Linus Ullmark. Swayman is using the excessive of a Recreation 6 win although, and that confidence might carry over in an enormous manner for the Bruins.
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Wyshynski’s X issue: Line matching. Coach Rod Brind’Amour waved the white flag in Boston when it got here to getting Sebastian Aho away from the Bruins’ duo of Bergeron and Marchand. The Bruins have the final change, and Bergeron performed the vast majority of his minutes towards the Hurricanes’ prime line. Of their earlier three wins, Carolina despatched out Jordan Staal‘s line as a countermeasure towards Bergeron and Marchand, whereas getting Aho away from them. Try this once more, and it might be the Aho line that’s the distinction in Recreation 7.
Closing rating prediction: Shilton: 3-2 Bruins
Wyshynski: 5-3 Hurricanes
7 p.m. ET (TNT)
Main scorers: Nikita Kucherov, Lightning (2 G | 6 A)
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs (4 G | 4 A)
Path to victory for Tampa Bay: The Maple Leafs can discuss all they need about being the higher workforce within the sequence and their previous playoff failures — not having received a playoff sequence since 2004 — being buried prior to now. Nevertheless it’s Recreation 7. It’s the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s the primary time all sequence the Lightning have needed to plant these seeds of doubt within the minds of their opponents and see what crooked limbs develop from them.
Tactically, the Lightning must play tighter protection in entrance of Andrei Vasilevskiy and might’t permit the Leafs to attain a number of objectives in fast succession as they’ve within the final two video games. The trail to victory is evident. It’s been blazed earlier than by Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Brayden Level, Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn and Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning received a Recreation 7 to advance to the Stanley Cup Closing final season. The Leafs are 0-8 within the Auston Matthews/Mitch Marner period when having an opportunity to get rid of their opponents. — Wyshynski
Path to victory for Toronto: The Leafs’ unhappy latest historical past of being unable to advance within the playoffs must be motivation sufficient to get the job performed in Recreation 7. Toronto was the higher workforce in Recreation 6. Shedding in extra time was a troublesome tablet to swallow given the quantity of alternatives they’d. Vasilevskiy was sensational in internet, and Toronto will count on that to be the case once more in Recreation 7. Actually the Lightning have confirmed the final two years they know easy methods to win on an enormous stage.
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But Toronto has outplayed Tampa most of the time on this sequence. The workforce’s core stars — Matthews, Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares — have all been essential contributors the final two video games. Jack Campbell is again on level in internet. If the Leafs can merely preserve that established order, and problem Vasilevskiy a bit of extra with visitors in entrance, they’ve an incredible probability of pushing by. — Shilton
Shilton’s X issue: It’s not a lot a participant as it’s the potential to deal with circumstance. This sequence has been outlined by momentum swings — huge ones. By penalties known as, and never. By alternatives grasped, and missed. Tampa has the Stanley Cup pedigree right here, however Toronto shouldn’t let that intimidate them. Campbell has a sub-.900 save proportion on this sequence (.893) — however so does Vasilevskiy (.885). Nearly every little thing up to now has been evenly matched. Recreation 7 might be determined in favor of which workforce can keep calm, cool and picked up the longest.
Wyshynski’s X issue: For all of the discuss in regards to the Lightning’s unimaginable 17-0 file after postseason losses, the Maple Leafs are going to have to interrupt a special mind-boggling streak to advance to the following spherical (eight straight losses in video games that may have received them a sequence). Vasilevskiy has pitched a shutout within the remaining recreation of Tampa Bay’s final 5 sequence wins, together with two Stanley Cup-clinching victories. Let’s be actual: He hasn’t been nice this sequence, with a .885 save proportion behind a quite leaky protection. However when the Lightning are prepared to shut, he’s slammed the door on many sequence prior to now.
Closing rating prediction: Shilton: 4-2 Maple Leafs
Wyshynski: 4-3 (OT) Maple Leafs
10 p.m. ET | Watch reside on ESPN
Main scorers: Adrian Kempe, Kings (2 G | 4 A)
Connor McDavid, Oilers (3 G | 9 A)
Path to victory for Los Angeles: “First objective wins” is likely one of the dustier cliches within the Stanley Cup playoffs, nevertheless it’s undeniably relevant on this sequence. Within the Kings’ three victories, they’ve struck first; of their three losses, they haven’t. Scoring first permits the Kings to get arrange of their defensive posture. Padding that lead builds a security internet for when Connor McDavid inevitably scores for Edmonton.
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However to win Recreation 7, they’ll want two issues. First, to boost their compete stage to match that of the Oilers, who have been the higher workforce at 5-on-5 in Recreation 6. Additionally, they’ll want somebody to step as much as be an offensive difference-maker. Trevor Moore had three factors of their Recreation 1 win. Carl Grundstrom had three factors of their Recreation 4 win. Adrian Kempe had three factors and the extra time game-winner of their Recreation 5 victory. Who would be the hero this time? — Wyshynski
Path to victory for Edmonton: Give the puck to Connor McDavid. Simply kidding (form of). Edmonton’s stars have carried the day on this sequence, although, from McDavid (12 factors) to Evander Kane (seven objectives) to Leon Draisaitl (eight factors). These huge names have to point out out yet one more time, towards a Kings workforce wielding nice offensive depth and able to locking down defensively.
After which there’s Jonathan Fast, who has been equal elements revelatory and rickety on this sequence. The Oilers love producing rush probabilities, however making Fast uncomfortable with visitors and extra dedication to the cycle recreation might repay early. Closing out any sequence’ remaining recreation is a marathon effort. The Oilers must deal with Recreation 7 as such. — Shilton
Shilton’s X issue: Phillip Danault. How good has he been for the Kings on this sequence, and all the season, actually? He’s annoyed the Oilers repeatedly with a suffocating defensive recreation. Danault does all of it for L.A., whether or not it’s successful essential faceoffs, scoring well timed objectives or efficiently battling for unfastened pucks. He’s the definition of a difference-maker, with the flexibility to show Recreation 7 in L.A.’s favor.
Wyshynski’s X issue: Does Fast have yet one more classic efficiency in him? The Kings goaltender battled in every of their victories, together with his 31-save Recreation 4 efficiency that made this a sequence. Whereas we don’t count on that sort of effort on this recreation, Fast is the very definition of an X issue. If he’s on, he would be the distinction.
Closing rating prediction: Shilton: 4-3 Kings
Wyshynski: 3-2 Kings