Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: the Anaheim Ducks have a chance to close out a series in six games. Instead of doing so, they gag on the opportunity and are forced to play a Game 7 on home ice.
The miracle comeback win in Game 5 did not weigh on the Edmonton Oilers at all. Instead, the Ducks couldn’t get out of their own way to change history as they were annihilated by the Oilers, 7-1.
“Everything,” replied a red-faced Randy Carlyle when asked what went wrong with his team in the Oilers’ five goal first period. “[The Oilers scored] on basically their first three chance to score … We weren’t able to recover.”
Leon Draisaitl netted the first two goals of the game. Zack Kassian followed it up with a third.
Three goals on six shots in a span of less than six minutes. That was it for starting netminder John Gibson.
“I wasn’t very good. I got to come up with a couple saves,” said Gibson post-game. “Maybe it’s different, maybe it’s not … Stuff happens sometimes. It’s my job and obviously I wasn’t good enough tonight as I want to be. I just kind of let them down.”
Gibson also added, “We’re just upset at ourselves, and with each other, more than anything.”
“[N]obody has success in the playoffs without a complete team effort, and goaltending is a part of that and that’s a team game,” added Carlyle. “I’m not going to sit here and say that our goaltending was where it needed to be, but our other side of our game wasn’t where it needed to be either. There was lots of culprits, from a standpoint of not managing the puck, not involved emotionally and physically.”
By the third period, with the Oilers sitting comfortably at 7-1, the Ducks were in full meltdown mode. In that one period, the team accumulated 46 penalty minutes; Korbinian Holzer, Ryan Kesler, Josh Manson, and Corey Perry all hit the showers early after picking up misconduct penalties.
It felt like an appropriate ending to a disastrous game. Or as Andrew Cogliano – who appeared to have suffered a broken nose after an elbow by Eric Gryba in the first – put it, “We deserve to lose that way.”
(Hey, at least they held Connor McDavid off the score sheet and didn’t get scored on in the third period! That’s something!)
In the postgame press conference, friend of the blog Frank Seravalli of TSN pressed Carlyle on the team’s core being together for the last four Games 7 losses and what Carlyle has to do to change their mindset.
“I look at it, it’s not the same group, but I wasn’t here,” said Carlyle. “So don’t pin any of the Game 7s on me.” Carlyle then gives a somewhat nefarious laugh.
Technically he’s right. He wasn’t Anaheim’s coach when they started the Games 7 losing streak, buuuut he was Toronto’s coach at the time. Game 7 in 2013 against the Boston Bruins, anyone?
Oops. Trigger-warning for Leafs fans. My bad. Back to the Ducks.
After the chuckle, Carlyle continued, “Simple as that. This is a different group, and we’re going to approach, as we do every game, with a game plan, and we’re not afraid to go into our building and play a solid hockey game. And that’s what is going to be required.”
Carlyle answered another question before the mic returned to Seravalli. Then the exchange became a bit testy.
Seravalli: I know you said it’s a different core, but more than a couple guys were talking about that history this morning. Part of it has starting Game 6s…
Carlyle: [shakes head] The couple guys you’re talking about are…who?
Seravalli: Cogliano, Perry, Getzlaf. There’s been…
Carlyle: OK. Those are three guys.
Seravalli: My question is, they said this morning that they felt like some of their issues in Games 7 started in Game 6’s. Do you think any of that history had an impact on today?
Carlyle: Not for me. As I said, I wasn’t there for the situations that they lived through. It’s my job, and it’s our job as a coaching staff to prepare this group to play the best game of the year come Wednesday night in Anaheim.
The French judge gives Carlyle a 6.5 for the deflection.
Gibson also went head-to-head with an unknown member of the media (in the most laid-back way). Oddly enough, it too was about the Ducks history.
Reporter: Can you, for this team, embrace a Game 7 the way it should be embraced given the history of Game 7s for this team? Could it still be like the [inaudible]?
Gibson: Yeah, why not?
Reporter: Because you’ve lost the last four.
Gibson: What’s your point?
Reporter: You have a history…
Gibson: Yeah, it’s a history. Exactly. If we look at what happened tonight, it’s history too, right?
Woaah, brah. Slow down. You’re blowing my mind.
Of all the players the spotlight of Game 7 shines on the most, Gibson could be the one feeling the most pressure. For the first time in his post-season career with the Ducks doesn’t have the cushion of Frederik Andersen to back him up. Jonathan Bernier had been strong down the stretch of the regular season and in one comeback win Calgary, but wasn’t great Sunday night.
It’s highly unlikely Carlyle goes with Bernier in Game 7. That would be a total Bruce Boudreau panic move, which is exactly why GM Bob Murray fired him. Got rid of Boudreau and brought in proven winner (minus that one time in Toronto), Randy Carlyle.
Sadly for the Ducks, they have two extra days to think about their history in Games 7, whether they want to or not.
The first scheduled Game 7 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs will take place on Wednesday.
No pressure, Ducks…?