One play doesn’t cost you a game. It can, without a doubt, play a significant role in the outcome, but Mike Smith’s brutal third period turnover wasn’t the sole reason the Edmonton Oilers lost game one. Make no mistake, it was a terrible gaffe, and one he can’t make again, but the Oilers have other areas they need to improve tonight.
— They had a jittery start. They shots were 7-0 in favour of LA early in the first and they trailed 2-0 on the scoreboard 16 minutes into the first frame. Connor McDavid scored a brilliant goal late in the first to give the Oilers life, but tonight they need to be better from the opening puck drop.
— Since Woodcroft arrived Edmonton is 17-3-1 when scoring first, and 9-7-3 (including Monday) when giving up the first goal. It is pretty clear how important the first goal is for the Oilers. They are 16-1 when leading after 20 minutes and 7-7-1 (including Monday) when they trail.
— Another area Edmonton can improve is pressuring the Kings’ defence. They had four D-men play their first NHL playoff game on Monday. They aren’t that experienced, nor are they a very big blue line. With Evander Kane, Jesse Puljujarvi, Warren Foegele, Zack Kassian and Zach Hyman the Oilers have enough big, fast wingers that they should be able to wear down the Kings’ blue line. Edmonton will need to chip and chase a bit more tonight.
— And of course Smith can’t make that play again this series. I strongly disagree with those suggesting he should just stay in the crease and not play the puck. His puck handling skills are big asset, as long as he doesn’t try to do too much. Stay within himself, and don’t look for the home run. His most important job is to stop pucks, and if he can knock down some dump ins and move the puck efficiently to his defenders that is a great. He can’t be scared to handle the puck, and I don’t believe he will be, but he simply can’t make the same gaffe again in this series. Especially late in a tie game.
— I noticed many jumping on the fact Smith is 0-10 in his last 10 playoff starts and Woodcroft should consider not playing him tonight. I don’t think that will happen, but if you are piling on Smith for his 0-10 record, then what are your thoughts about this: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Darnell Nurse have lost nine of their past 10 playoff games. Are they bad individually? Or is it a team stat? Blaming a loss on one individual is easy, but often not accurate. The Oilers, as a team, need to be better tonight.
— The team that wins game one of a seven-game series goes on to win the series 68.8% of the time. Those are just the odds. Each series, each season is different. Those odds suggest at least two of Edmonton, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Boston, New York, Florida, Nashville and Dallas will come back and win their series this season, and it could easily be more. The game one loss stung, no doubt, but the series is far from over and the Oilers can play better.
— If you want more historical data on game one losses: Home teams that lose game one of a seven games series have come back to win 42.4% of their series — a significant jump from the overall game one losers. And the Oilers are 4-4 in series when they lose game one on home ice (current players are 1-1). Oilers lost game one at home to San Jose in 2017 and came back to win, and last season they lost game one and then lost game two 1-0 in OT to Winnipeg.
— I’m giving away a pair of seats to tonight’s game on my Instagram feed. Follow the page for details.
— The Kings’ line of Iafallo-Danault-Moore was the best line on the ice in game one. They were excellent at 5×5 and the Oilers need to be better against not just their line, but the entire Kings team.
|Puck in OZ Time||14:22||19:43|
|OZ Possession Time||4:19||5:14|
|Slot Shots On Net||10||8|
|Scoring Chances Off-the-Cycle||7||6|
|Scoring Chances Off-the-Rush||5||1|
The Kings did a great job of limiting Edmonton’s speed through the neutral zone. The only scoring chance the Oilers had off the rush was McDavid’s brilliant individual effort. Edmonton will need to transition quicker, but also improve their backpressure, and create some turnovers and more odd-man rushes. LA had seven odd-man rushes to the Oilers’ one.
— Edmonton has been very good 5×5 since Woodcroft arrived, and struggling to generate offence 5×5 for a second straight game would be a bit of a surprise. “I have faith in our ability to regenerate and re-group,” said Woodcroft. “I think it has been a real strength of our team. You want to give your players something they can hang their hats on in terms of areas we played well and then what areas we need to improve,” continued Woodcroft when explaining how he would deal with the game one defeat.
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