Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is set to begin in downtown Edmonton tonight. Puck drop is scheduled for just after 8 p.m. This is it. For all the marbles. In all of sports there’s arguably nothing more intense than Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This is going to be wild. You just know Rogers Place is going to be rocking! 🏒 🥅
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WIll they or won’t they? Draisaitl and Kulak absent during morning skate
By Jim Matheson
Here’s what we know off the Edmonton Oilers morning skate:
No Leon Draisaitl. No Brett Kulak.
Here’s what we don’t know:
Whether Draisaitl has been in a hyperbaric chamber since he got back from Los Angeles to pump some oxygen into his suspected sprained ankle to help with a recovery so he can dress for Game 7 against the Los Angeles Kings. Or maybe some of that horse linament DMSO that was illegal for use on humans but was—nudge, nudge—reportedly used on an Oiler player or two back in the glory days to help heal their injuries. It helps draw toxins from the tissues.
Draisaitl was hurt in the scrum in the first period in LA when hauled down by defenceman Mikey Anderson, appearing to have his foot bend at an awkward angle. He played 18 minutes anyway and won 11 of 15 face-offs and set up the winning goal by defenceman Tyson Barrie with five minutes left in Game 6 but he was clearly labouring after the incident with Anderson.
So will Draisaitl play Game 7? “The other day when we were in LA I liked the way Todd (Kings’ coach McLellan) put it…just that time of year, guys. No commenting on lineups,” said Oiler coach Jay Woodcroft.
Sprained ankles are problematic, of course, with all the stopping and starting that goes on in a game, but unless Draisaitl has a broken foot, you’ll probably see him out there in a win-or-else game for the Oilers. He’s been very durable throughout his Oiler days. His medical status being what it is, it would likely mean dressing 12 forwards, not 11 as they did in Game 6. Winger Warren Foegele didn’t play in Los Angeles, the first game he’s missed after all 87 this season, would likely draw in.
As for Kulak, he had a strong game alongside Cody Ceci in Los Angeles on the shutdown defence pairing. He didn’t appear to be hurt in the game. So not seeing him for the morning skate was surprising. But no information on him, either.
Darnell Nurse, who missed Game 6 with a one-game suspension for head-butting Phillip Danault in Game 5 here, will be back. Nurse, a 25-minute-a-game defender, accepted the Department of Player Safety one-game-off penalty but said the head-butt “wasn’t intentional.”
Veteran Kris Russell, who blocked his customary four shots a game in the win in LA, will give them six healthy players in Kulak can’t go.
So game-time decisions on both Draisaitl and Kulak?
“I can’t control what you put out there,” Woodcroft said when asked by TSN’s Ryan Rishaug how to characterize their availability.
In other words, nothing to see here, move along…
Kings’ captain Anze Kopitar is expecting to see No. 29 in Game 7 to tag-team Connor McDavid. He was on the ice against both for much of Game 6. “It’s no secret they’re going to play a lot,” said Kopitar.
The Oilers haven’t had a home Game 7 since round one against Winnipeg Jets in April 1990 when they rallied from a 3-1 series hole to knock off the late Dale Hawerchuk and the Jets. Kings’ goalie coach Bill Ranford is the only guy in the building Saturday who can remember that game because he was in the Oilers net against Stephane Beauregard.
Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick is 4-0 in Game 7s since 2013, in case you’re wondering—three in their 2014 Cup-winning year. His counterpart Mike Smith has never played in a Game 7, hard to believe, and he’s played over 600 NHL games. There’s a time for everything for 40 year-olds.
This ‘n that: Kopitar is also 4-0 in Game 7s…LA hasn’t had top six winger Viktor Arvidsson (suspected lower-body) for the entire series. They’ve had their best player Drew Doughty around the team but he’s out until the fall after wrist surgery…The Kings sat on the boards for their 11:30 am skate until exactly then before going on the ice, even though everything was ready. “We did that before Game 5 here,” said Kopitar.
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