Edmonton Oilers fans awoke to the warmth of the sun and the promise of another Alberta summer today, but many of us are too excited about hockey to notice. After an 11-year deep freeze outside the playoffs, this exorcism of the past is too fantastic to ignore. I love Edmonton, it’s the place where my kids were born and we chose to raise them here. You can quote me chapter and verse about the downside, the cold and the wind and the snow and the salt stuck to all of my vehicles every spring. All true. Also true? Today, this special day in the city.
If you are an Edmonton Oilers fan spending the day in this city, then you know. It matters not where you go for breakfast, Oilers chatter hammers complaints about the weather, the government and various other maladies. There is an energy in this city today, a force that passes from one to another and will through game time and long through the night. We are Edmonton, the true north, and we are together as one today. Giants walk among us, and tonight we unite as one voice. It is Sunday, in Edmonton. The power and the glory. Let’s roll.
After Game 1 of this series, I think there was genuine concern among Oilers fans about the health of Connor McDavid. The points weren’t coming as often, but that was a minor part of the story. McDavid didn’t have his normal jump and it looked like he was unable to separate from opponents in his usual roadrunner fashion. It all came back in Game 2, where in the first 30 minutes Anaheim once again had no answer for him. McDavid drew penalties, created chances and should have had a couple of points based on quality of scoring chances.
Which brings us to tonight’s game. Edmonton’s 23-man roster have proven games are winnable even without 97 on overdrive, but one of the best things about hockey today is Connor McDavid on afterburner mode. There have been few things in my life as a fan of hockey as fantastic as Connor McDavid in full flight. Will we see it tonight? My bet is yes.
Maroon – McDavid – Draisaitl
Lucic – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Caggiula – Letestu – Kassian
Pouliot – Desharnais – Slepyshev
Klefbom – Larsson
Sekera – Russell
Nurse – Benning
At the time of posting, no lineup details had been released for the Oilers. Todd McLellan said yesterday that he expects Drake Caggiula to play tonight but we’ll update the lineups as news comes out.
Ritchie – Getzlaf – Eaves
Cogliano – Kesler – Silfverberg
Rakell – Thompson – Perry
Wagner – Vermette – Shaw
Fowler – Montour
Lidholm – Manson
Theodore – Holzer
As of this morning, Vatanen is still a game time decision for the Ducks and it looks like Kevin Bieksa could miss the remainder of the series.
Lineups (subject to change) are courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com
- As of Sunday morning, it looks like Drake Caggiula will draw into the lineup. Candidates to replace him (if necessary) include Iiro Pakarinen and Matt Hendricks. Anton Lander gets mentioned too, but only by fans.
- Expecting a sweep entering the series would have been insane, and it’s just as crazy now. These Anaheim Ducks will be heard from and will play desperate from the opening faceoff tonight.
- Anaheim has owned the shot clock through two games and done well at 5×5 shots. Game 1 5×5 shots total favored Anaheim (30-20) and also in Game 2 (27-15). Edmonton has had the more dangerous chances, but the home games should see the Oilers close that shots gap in the next two games.
- Cam Talbot is having the kind of playoff run that gets noticed and remembered.
- We should look for better breakouts from the Sekera-Russell pairing tonight, things can get bogged down without a crisp outlet or carry. If McDavid is on the ice with this pairing, we might see him do the Gilbert Perreault move and gain speed while grabbing the puck behind his own net (and transporting that way).
- Anton Slepyshev is slowly but surely establishing himself as a bona fide member of this team. Along with Matt Benning and Drake Caggiula, that’s an interesting trio of youngsters added over the 2016-17 season. Jesse Puljujarvi and perhaps others will join them in the fall.
- The Oilers are unbeaten since the 7-0 loss to San Jose on April 18. Edmonton’s victories came by scores of 4-3 (OT), 3-1, 5-3 and 2-1 (last two Anaheim).
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
- Anaheim Calling: The Ducks as a whole play better when they create traffic, buzz around, and crash the net. None of this perimeter passing and shooting nonsense. The success we have seen from this club during the last third of the regular season and post-season predominantly came from either 1) creating traffic in front of the goaltender or; 2) second shot opportunities after crashing the net and cashing in on rebounds. Cam Talbot is staying low to the floor and moving laterally well. He is going to absorb all clear perimeter shots easily. The Ducks really need to focus on giving him a hard time in and around the crease. Get in the slot, create traffic, block Talbot’s view, crash the net, look for tips & rebounds. Source
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Ducks come out firing and score two minutes into the game, and add another on a late power play that arrives because Zack Kassian looks at Randy Carlyle “funny”. 2-0 Anaheim after 1 and the crowd is pissed!
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Connor McDavid scores a stunning goal early in the second period, and after that, the game settles down and the checking gets tighter. Edmonton throws the kitchen sink at John Gibson late in the period but cannot cash. 2-1 Ducks.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers give up an early goal in the third period and for five minutes their level of play sags. An ill-advised high stick from a guilty Duck (pick one, there are many candidates) allows a four-minute power play and the Oilers score twice! The game goes to overtime, and then another overtime! At 9:39 pm local time, Connor McDavid drives into the Anaheim zone, stops up, and sees an open lane to the driving Patrick Maroon. John Gibson is set, and cheats ever so slightly for the pass he knows is coming. McDavid, a wise 20, looks at Maroon—but sends a bullet high glove—and the roar from the crowd is so loud it can be heard clearly on the International Space Station. Edmonton spends Monday on no sleep and cares not one damn!