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Beyond the Boxscore: Someone has got to get to the crease before it’s too late

Edmonton Oilers Florida Panthers
Photo credit:Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
1 month ago
The Oilers fell into a low-event slugfest Monday night and are now down 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals.
It wasn’t a great start for Edmonton as they struggled to get possession. They lost Darnell Nurse early to injury and then lost Warren Foegele to a 5-minute major, so they were shorthanded. Add in the load management that’s occurring for Evander Kane and the Oilers aren’t running with a full arsenal. They got a springboard for momentum after Mattias Ekholm got a 4v4 goal in the middle of the major penalty, but that’s all the Oilers could muster. Neither team gave way in terms of giving up a ton of quality, but the Panthers ended up the most opportunistic. Capitalizing on mistakes from the Oilers’ defence like they did in Game 1. Maybe going home for Game 3 will give the Oilers some better fortune.
CF% – 46.52%, SCF% – 39.52%, HDCF% – 0%, xGF% – 39.9%
Corsi King – There were a lot of special teams in this match, limiting the 5v5 play I like to focus on. McDavid (58.40 CF%) led forwards with 14:40, Zach Hyman (51.62%) behind him at 12:24. Nothing here appears to be lopsided either, the Oilers top players got some shot attempts they just couldn’t penetrate to get them from in front of the net. The violence level of the Florida Panthers was something I expected – that’s how they’ve played for two straight postseasons – but they have made it more difficult to get to the slot than anything the Oilers have faced all playoffs. It is not going to be easy facing the abuse that will happen in the crease but if the Oilers don’t force the issue they are not going to be able to win.

Under Pressure

Taken By Chance – Nobody got a high danger chance at 5v5. Even the goal at 4v4 was from distance – unscreened – and still got through Bobrovsky’s almost impenetrable five hole. Some guys I will shoutout for playing a good no-event game are Vincent Desharnais (100 SCF% // NA HDCF%) and the fourth line wingers in Connor Brown (100 percent // NA) and Mattias Janmark (51.13 percent // NA). All of them actively contributed to Edmonton’s success defensively, and yes limiting the Panthers to what little they achieved in terms of chances is a form of success. It’s not the ultimate form – that’s the win – but it does show things that are going well. It can’t be doom and gloom after game two, there needs to be hope that the Oilers can crawl back in within that locker room. Focusing on the positives can be of help.

xG Breakdown

xGF% – Dylan Holloway (53.04 percent) will be a successful Oiler for a long time – he’s actively been a positive quality share player for the majority of the playoffs. Even on these marginally low nights where his raw totals are 0.25 to 0.23 he still manages to stay in the positive. It’s not enough to be a primary source of secondary scoring, but if the primary scoring from McDavid (58.64 percent), Hyman (46.16 percent), Draisaitl (48.95 percent), and Bouchard (47.68 percent) doesn’t pick up what the secondary is doing won’t matter at all. Again, in focusing on the positives those four players were all in the top six amongst Oilers for quality share. The best are still their best – they just need to find ways to get to the slot and the crease for chances.

Game Flow

Game Score

Shot Heatmap

In The Crease – Two games into the final and still nobody can point the finger at Stuart Skinner and emphatically say he’s at fault here. Scoring 0.5 goals per game as an offence certainly needs to be addressed but this has been two quality games from Skinner the Oilers have not been able to capitalize on. They’ve got to win four of five now and the pressure only goes up for Skinner. It would also help if whoever is playing defence for the Oilers would stop passing to the other team in the slot – I don’t blame Skinner for those kinds of goals either. 0.83 expected goals against at 5v5 with two getting behind him.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –  
1) Connor McDavid
2) Zach Hyman
3) Dylan Holloway
(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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(Shane Stevenson has been a Nation Network contributor for three years. You can follow him on Twitter at @Flash_33)

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