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Beyond the Boxscore: Connor McDavid has Oilers on the brink of the Stanley Cup Final

Edmonton OIlers captain Connor McDavid
Photo credit:Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
20 days ago
The Edmonton Oilers are one win away from the Stanley Cup Final.
They controlled the entire game until the Dallas Stars found the adrenaline to make a push in the final five minutes, but these are not the Oilers of old who know how to blow leads. They play smart, structured hockey as a unit in front of their goaltender. Dallas was finding success against Edmonton by exploiting their weaknesses in net and on the second defence pair, but when those parts of the team show up to play it really shows the Oilers at their best. Knoblauch has done a good job of keeping everyone on track as the best player in the world tries to make his first trip to the final.
CF% – 61.11%, SCF% – 45.49%, HDCF% – 48.26%, xGF% – 61.98%
Corsi King – Connor McDavid (81.87 CF%) is playing like he understands how close he is to the pinnacle of hockey success. He has finally got the right wingman in Zach Hyman (80.56 percent) and the entire core is dialled in. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (78.98 percent) continues to do nothing but score big time goals in big time games. I said during round two he’s got that dawg in him – he continues to prove that statement right. We talk a lot about Bouchard (75.94 percent) but Mattias Ekholm (72.24 percent) deserves massive recognition. He is playing a two-way game of excellence at the level of a true number one defenceman. Bouchard is commanding all the attention but Ekholm also needs brought to the forefront of the conversation – he’s been truly remarkable.

Under Pressure

Taken By Chance – There were actually quite a few Oilers who failed to even register a 5v5 opportunity. McDavid (76.48 SCF% // 87.36 HDCF%) was so good it counteracted some of the defensive lapses the rest of the roster gave up. Skinner will get his own props below, but the offensive engine was special teams and top line driven tonight. Credit to the entire defence because even the chances they did give up they were contested, high danger or not someone was in the face of the Dallas Star player as soon as they were on the puck. It wasn’t all sunshine and daisies – Adam Henrique (10.09 percent // 0 percent) failed to register a quality chance and gave up three.

xG Breakdown

xGF% – I’m going to talk to you about the perfect fourth line performance in my eyes – especially at this stage of the playoffs. I call it no-event hockey – nothing happens either way when you go out to play. You skate your shift, give the big guns a rest, and limit what happens in that time the best you can. Connor Brown (30.88 percent) and Sam Carrick (39.89 percent) only have percentages that look like that because the amount of raw value of their chances – both for and against – are almost next to zero. In this game they did not harm the team in any way and were actually tremendous helps to getting a full throttle McDavid (88.58 percent) over the boards with energy. Numbers can be misleading – it’s good to know how to read them to understand what they are trying to communicate.

Game Flow

Game Score

Shot Heatmap

In The Crease – I have done my fair share of critiquing Stuart Skinner this postseason, but credit where it’s due because the Stars poured it on late and Skinner was a major reason the lead never diminished with Oettinger pulled. I don’t blame him for one of the dirtiest deflection goals I’ve seen in a while from Johnston – he really played well. The defence in front of him has been playing a lot better as the series has gone on making his life easier as well. Dallas needs to do a lot more to overwhelm him early if they want a chance to crawl back. Skinner is more than capable of weathering the storm when he has 97 going in front of him.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –  
1) Connor McDavid
2) Evan Bouchard
3) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com // xG and Under Pressure charts from HockeyViz.com // Game Flow and Shot Heatmap from NaturalStatTrick.com)

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