Beyond the Boxscore: Stuart Skinner shines as Oilers steal Game 4 victory from Kings

Edmonton Oilers Los Angeles Kings
Photo credit:Yannick Peterhans-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
5 days ago
The Edmonton Oilers scratched and clawed their way to a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 Sunday night.
It doesn’t matter how many you score it only matters that you score more than the other guys. The Kings followed their gameplan almost perfectly except for one penalty call that everyone could agree was a questionable one. The Oilers would go for their only man advantage of the entire game which was enough to be the difference for a 3-1 series lead. The Oilers have to leave this match feeling a bit lucky and the Kings a little deflated as elimination knocks on their door.
CF% – 34.97%, SCF% – 40.06%, HDCF% – 25.62%, xGF% – 27.72%
It’s a Team Game – The team that plays the best overall game does not always win the hockey game. It’s one of the reasons the Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to win in sports – so many bounces can happen at the speed at which the NHL is played, and there’s a lot of randomness that can occur. The Edmonton Oilers were by no means the better team in any of the periods they played, but their goaltender was the best player that suited up on either side. They didn’t win the shot share battle, the quality share battle, or the overall scoring chance battle in any of the three periods and yet, they get to walk away with the victory. One can certainly call this win gutsy, but you can’t call it a well-executed victory.
Corsi King – It’s always interesting to see when a team gets clearly outworked which of the individual performances stand out with positives. Vincent Desharnais (52.67 CF%) was the only Oiler player to see more shot attempts for the Oilers than he saw come back against them at 5v5. It was a 15-14 advantage, everyone else lost their battle here with Darnell Nurse (16.11 percent) at the basement with a 6-33 attempt disadvantage. That really highlights how much he and Ceci (19.60 percent) struggled to get the puck out of their zone. I wouldn’t exactly call that pairing adept against a speedy forecheck, and with wingers like Kempe, Moore, and Fiala coming in forechecking using a ton of said speed, it can cause problems. Especially if there’s hesitation on where to move the puck. A delicate balance of getting it up the ice without turning it over – a battle the Kings won handily in game four.

Under Pressure

Taken By Chance – Nobody on the team managed more high-danger looks for the team than the three Leon Draisaitl (41.25 SCF% // 31.53 HDCF%) accumulated – everyone else was at 2 or less. Leon saw seven go against him as well so that hinders the positivity a bit. Draisaitl’s 5v5 play has really only been a positive in one out of 4 games and yet he’s so productive with the man advantage it’s cancelling things out. Against the LA Kings, we can see it’s not hindering the team too much, but against other teams like Colorado, Vegas, or Dallas, this more than likely becomes a central talking point. The other two forward lines in the top nine weren’t as problematic, with McDavid (60.62 percent // 37.40 percent) having a 1-2 ratio and McLeod (52.42 percent // 53.26 percent) sitting at 1-1. The way the Kings have taken advantage of the Draisaitl line so far is more than worthy of an advanced look by the coaching staff to work on some improvements for game 5.

xG Breakdown

xGF% – The coach showed a lot of trust in Desharnais (59.81 percent) when he had him out to protect the lead at the end of the game with Ekholm (33.40 percent). They were a lot more effective than Nurse (9.76 percent) and Ceci (14.34 percent) who were also relied on heavily defensively. One good decision and one bad decision and it’s all okay because they got the win, right? It shouldn’t be. It should be an eye-opening evening for the coach who needs to go through the game tape and find where the Kings are exploiting the Oilers for better possessions and exactly how they are thwarting the movement of the puck through both the neutral zone and the attacking zone. What they have is enough for the Kings, but if those don’t get addressed in some manner, it’s not enough for a Stanley Cup.

Game Flow 

Game Score

Shot Heatmap

In The Crease – The Oilers’ first, second and third stars should all be awarded to the best player on the ice in game four – Stuart Skinner. That was the kind of performance you need to silence the disbelievers. He may have been able to steal this one, but if this level of defensive coverage in front of him continues, it’s too much to ask him to do it again. Getting things down to one win in the next three games to move on seems easy enough, but that fourth win is always the hardest. 3.03 expected goals against at 5v5 with nothing getting past him. Hell of a night from Stuart Skinner.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Stuart Skinner
2) Vincent Desharnais
3) Evan Bouchard
(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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