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Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Game Notes R2G5: Need One More

The moment Matthew Tkachuk mentioned that “one player” was beating them, and then Rasmus Andersson repeated a similar thought moments later, it illustrated how deeply entrenched Connor McDavid was in the psyche of the Calgary Flames. But it was also fuel for the rest of the Edmonton Oilers. McDavid has been exceptionally brilliant in the playoffs, but many of his teammates have also stepped up this series, and in game four McDavid wasn’t the star and the Oilers won.

Of course Calgary wants to slow down McDavid, but believing only one player was the reason they were down 2-1 in the series, and now 3-1, was misguided.

Leon Draisaitl has set two NHL records this series. In game three he became the first player in playoff history to record four assists in a period. And after his three-point performance in game four Draisaitl is the first player with four consecutive games with 3+ points. He has 13 points in the first four games. Thirteen. And 11 have come at even strength. McDavid has 11 points in the series. I’d say Draisaitl has played a significant role in the series.

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Evander Kane has five goals and six points in four games. He also has 21 hits, the most in the series. When your top players are leading the charge physically (McDavid is second on Edmonton with 14 hits), then it forces others to follow. Kane has five goals in the past two games.

Zach Hyman has scored a goal in all four games, and he has five in the series. He’s scored shorthanded, on the powerplay and at 5×5. He leads the Oilers with 18 shots in the series. He’s been a significant factor in the outcome of games.

Mike Smith has allowed 10 goals in his four starts. Jacob Markstrom has given up 19. Smith has been better than his counterpart.

— The point is, despite McDavid’s elite skill, no player can win on their own. We’ve all watched McDavid dominate, so I understand why the Flames are frustrated, but in game four McDavid wasn’t the main driver for the Oilers and they still won. He will be a major factor most nights, he’s too good not to be, but he isn’t the only one dousing the Flames. Many of the Oilers top players have.

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— McDavid and Draisaitl have been one of the most dominant duos to start a playoff season in NHL history. They became the seventh duo to each score 20 points in their team’s first 11 playoff games.

Oilers fans have been pretty spoiled with elite offensive talent. Edmonton has produced four of the seven duos, and three of the top-four combined point totals. McDavid and Draisaitl have been outstanding for Edmonton.

— In the Oilers three victories, Edmonton has really controlled the game 5×5. The GF-GA ratio for their players is impressive. McDavid and Draisaitl are 7-0 while Evander Kane is 6-1. Every D-man is at least 2-2, with Darnell Nurse (5-1), Tyson Barrie (4-1), Cody Ceci (3-1) leading the way. At the other end Josh Archibald and Ryan McLeod are 0-2 while Derek Ryan, Zack Kassian and Warren Foegele are 0-1. If the Oilers continue to play well at 5×5 they will win the series.

— The Oilers’ top line has combined for 30 points in four games. Calgary’s top line has 13 points. Edmonton has dominated that head-to-head matchup. Will Darryl Sutter stick with it tonight, or will he use the Mikael Backlund line against McDavid more? The Lindholm line had better success, possession number-wise, in game four, but they were still outscored 1-0. He might have to stick with who brought him to the dance, but right now the Flames’ first line doesn’t match the size or skill of the Oilers’ top line.

— It was fair to ask why Jay Woodcroft played his fourth line after the Flames made it 3-1. They got scored on 36 seconds later and suddenly the game was 3-2. But then we also have to mention his decision to put Kailer Yamamoto in place of Jesse Puljujarvi on the RNH line late in the third. Yamamoto started the play that led to Nugent-Hopkins’ game-winning goal. It is easy to critique when a decision doesn’t work out, but I think Woodcroft has pushed more right buttons than wrong ones this postseason. He explained his decision to put Yamamoto with RNH late in the game.

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“That was just something that I felt I wanted to make a little flip, move some people around, pull a lever or two and I’m thankful we have a bunch of really good players who afford a coach the opportunity to move people around. That was just one of those gut feels at that time of the game.”

Some decisions pay off and others don’t, but overall I think Woodcroft’s deployment decisions have worked.

— Fun stat of the day.

In 11 games the St. Louis Blues have scored a total of 38 goals.
Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers have 36 goals in 11 games.
Connor McDavid has been on the ice for 34 goals and has 25 points.
Calgary has 31 goals in 11 games.
Carolina has 30 goals in 11 games.
Florida scored 23 goals in 10 games.

McDavid has been on the ice for more goals than three of the remaining eight teams and he’s within four goals of the three others. Not bad.

ARTICLE BROUGHT TO YOU BY WINE & BEYOND, LIQUOR DEPOT, AND ACE LIQUOR

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