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Photo Credit: NewfieMikey

GDB +8.0: Road Warriors

Through 46 games in the 2017 playoffs the road teams are 26-19, but the eight teams left in the NHL tournament are a whopping 20-5 on the road. The Edmonton Oilers are 3-1 and will go Duck hunting for their fourth road victory tonight, which would give them a commanding 2-0 series leading heading back to Edmonton.

This is the 17th series in Ducks history where they played the first two games on home ice.

When they’ve win game one they are 9-2 in the series, but when they’ve lost game one they are 0-5, and in four of those series they also lost game two.

The 2006 Oilers, 2008 Stars, 2014 Kings and 2016 Predators won the first two games in Anaheim before winning the series in five, six, seven and seven games respectively. The only time the Ducks managed to win game two at home after losing game one was in 2011 versus the Preds, but they still lost the series in six games.

A quick start by the Oilers could have the Ducks thinking, “Here we go again.”

We saw the Oilers bounce back after a poor game one versus San Jose with a dominating performance in game two. The difference, however, is the Ducks played well in game one, unlike Edmonton did last series. The Oilers and Ducks were tied through 55 minutes and then Edmonton got a bit of a lucky bounce on Adam Larsson’s second goal of the game.

The Ducks will play with more desperation, no doubt, but they didn’t lose game one due to poor play or an uninspired effort. They lost due to too many penalties, and considering how they’ve played all season, it will be difficult to significantly reduce their trips to the sin bin.

The Ducks were shorthanded 281 times in the regular season, the most in the NHL. They averaged 3.4 kills per game. Through five playoff games they’ve been shorthanded 21 times, 4.2 times/game. And right now their penalty kill is horrendous.

They were fourth best in the regular season at 84.7% (43 goals on 281 kills), but the Flames and Oilers have torched them for eight goals in five games. Their PK has sprung a leak, 61.9%, and the Oilers need to draw some penalties early and attack the weak spot of the Ducks: their PK.

Cam Fowler and Josh Manson were on for both goals on Wednesday, while Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Getlzaf and Logan Shaw were on for one.

Against the Flames, numerous combination got scored on.

Korbinian Holzer-Cogliano-Shaw-Theodore
Holzer-Cogliano-Shaw-Manson
Holzer-Getzlaf-Ryan Kesler-Manson
Kevin Bieksa-Chris Wagner-Nate Thompson-Theodore
Bieksa-Wagner-Thompson-Theodore
Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg-Manson-Sami Vatanen

Manson (13:50), Hampus Lindholm (12:16), Thompson (12:03) and Kesler (11:30) have been on the PK the most this postseason.

When Lindholm is on the ice they don’t get scored on, but when he’s off the opposition has feasted on their PK.

Lindholm took the second penalty to put the Ducks down 5-on-3 for Letestu’s first PP goal. On the second Letestu goal, the Ducks’ D pairs were out of sorts due to the Bieksa injury. Lindholm and Brandon Montour had just finished a 62-second shift when Silfverberg was called for holding. Manson and Fowler started with Cogliano and Shaw, and 41 seconds later the Oilers PP scored.

Despite some Oilers fans believing the refs are out to get the Oilers, of the eight remaining teams only Ottawa has had more powerplays, 27, to the Oilers 21. When Edmonton plays with discipline they rarely take trips to the penalty box. They’ve only had a combined nine penalties in games three, five and six versus San Jose and game one versus the Ducks. Not surprisingly, they’ve won all four games.

The combination of the Ducks propensity to take penalties, their sudden inability to kill them off and their historical incompetence when losing game one on home ice, the Oilers are in a great position to take control of the series. It won’t be easy. The Ducks are a good team, but they have some obvious deficiencies and Edmonton needs to exploit them this evening.

LINEUP

Oilers

Maroon – McDavid – Draisaitl
Lucic – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Caggiula – Letestu – Kassian
Pouliot – Desharnais – Slepyshev

Klefbom – Larsson
Sekera – Russell
Nurse – Benning

Talbot

No changes for the Oilers. No reason to.

Ducks

Ritchie – Getzlaf – Eaves
Cogliano – Kesler – Silfverberg
Rakell – Thompson – Perry
Wagner – Vermette – Shaw

Fowler – Montour
Lidholm – Manson
Theodore – Holzer

Gibson

Kevin Bieksa is out and it looks like Holzer will draw in. We’ll make any adjustments necessary after the Ducks finish their morning skate.

Lineups courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com.

QUICK HITS…

  • I don’t put any stock into the suggestion McDavid is injured. I expect you will see him use his speed more often tonight. Kesler did a good job of getting in McDavid’s space (physically and mentally), but McDavid has always made quick adjustments. McDavid will be much more noticeable tonight.
  • I thought the fourth line had a really strong game one. Anton Slepyshev was very involved, and I thought Desharnais and Pouliot were good as well. Pouliot is sneaky dirty and he’s quite strong. The dirty, nasty games suit him and he and Slepyshev are big bodies who can skate and hit. And while Pouliot doesn’t fight very often, he can hold his own when he uses his reach to his advantage.
  • The Oilers need to contain Getzlaf, which is easier said than done. He was very good in game one and he’ll try to set the tone early tonight. Adam Larsson had a wonderful game offensively on Wednesday, but tonight his biggest contribution could come in the way of slowing down Getzlaf.
  • It won’t just be Larsson who tries to contain Getzlaf. In game one Getzlaf played 15:22 at EV, the most of any Ducks forward. He played 6:19 versus Larsson, 5:39 versus Oscar Klefbom, 5:09 versus Darnell Nurse, 4:51 versus Kris Russell, 4:25 versus Matt Benning and 4:19 versu Andrej Sekera. It will be a group effort as the most any forward line played against him was Jordan Eberle/RNH at 5:49 and Lucic at 5:46.
  • McDavid played 14:07 at EV facing Silfverberg (8:51) Kesler (8:46), Manson (8:13) Cogliano (7:55) and Lindholm (7:31) the most. So Kesler was out against McDavid for 62% of his EV TOI. Carlyle went away from the matchup in the third period when the Ducks were trailing 3-1, and put Getzlaf’s line out against McDavid. If the Oilers can get an early lead I wonder if Carlyle goes away from the matchup sooner. The chess match in the playoffs is great to watch.
  • And lastly, since it is playoffs and your animosity/hatred meter was in the red five minutes into game one, another classic from @Isuckatpicking.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: @TomKostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Before game one I had Oilers winning Wednesday and Ducks tonight. However, after researching the Ducks success, or more aptly, their lack of success when losing game one on home ice, I’m pulling a George Costanza and going against my original thought. Oilers leave So-Cal with their second 4-3 victory of the series.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ducks dominate in faceoffs. Oilers score on the PP. Kesler annoys Oilers fans even more.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The game winning goal comes off another unexpected stick. Darnell Nurse tallies his first NHL playoff goal.

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