Four Oilers’ playoff takeaways from Games 1 and 2

Edmonton Oilers Los Angeles Kings
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Sean Panganiban
9 days ago
The Edmonton Oilers head into Game 3 against the Los Angeles Kings with the series tied 1-1 and several key points stood out from the previous two games.
Connor McDavid is continuing his usual wizardry with six points in the series, and it appears Leon Draisaitl’s shot remains as lethal as ever, as shown by his highlight reel tally in Game 1.
Additionally, the Oilers’ power play is looking dangerous, showing off its new tricks and plays that have resulted in goals. Also, hats off to Oilers fans in Rogers Place for cranking up the decibel levels with their chant-fueled cheers and jeers.
With that in mind, let’s uncover a few more takeaways from the Oilers’ efforts in both Games 1 and 2.

Is Dylan Holloway About to See an Increase in Ice Time?

Dylan Holloway turned heads down the playoff stretch when he recorded five points in the final six games and had many wondering if he’d crack the playoff lineup, and so far in his opportunity, he’s rising to the occasion. He displayed his speed and forechecked hard in Game 1, dishing out three hits and playing the biggest game of his NHL career in Game 2.
In the second period of Game 2, he received a pass from Sam Carrick and wasted little time getting the puck off his stick and beating Kings’ netminder Cam Talbot, and while the tally was nice, the celly was even better for his first career playoff goal. Later in the period he earned a shift with McDavid and Zach Hyman, got off a good shot off in the slot and finished his shift by delivering a nice hit on Pierre-Luc Dubois. In the third, he tallied his second goal of the night, scoring again from a distance, beating Talbot.
In the two playoff games, he’s averaged 9:43 minutes of playing time. While he may not be as defensively responsible as some of the veterans on the team, his recent two-goal outing suggests the youngster may be the most confident he’s ever been. Given his fitting nickname of ‘Hollywood,’ it might be time to let him loose in California and increase his playing time in Game 3.

Injury Isn’t Putting the Breaks on Evander Kane

Evander Kane made headlines before the start of the playoffs when he revealed he’s been battling a sports hernia, which kept him off the ice for a week before the start of the postseason. At the time, it was intriguing why he would disclose that, as it could’ve potentially caused distractions and revealed a general area for opponents to target if they were to throw a hit on him. However, so far, he hasn’t shown any signs of lingering effects.
The rugged forward was held pointless in the first two games, but he’s trending in the right direction. In Game 1, he logged the most minutes among forwards at 5v5, playing 15:45 minutes. By my count, he had three 2-on-1 chances and fired six shots on net. Notably, the scoring chances were 8-6 in his favour, which is impressive considering that only 28.5% of his 18 shifts were in the offensive zone.
In Game 2, the trio of him, Ryan McLeod and Corey Perry had scoring opportunities early in the first period. At one point, Kane had three chances to score on Talbot within a minute and overall, the line created chances off the cycle throughout the night.
Moreover, the 32-year-old has been a physical presence in the first two games, and his biggest hit in the series so far came when he delivered a heavy check to Drew Doughty in Game 2, sending the defenceman flying and igniting the crowd at Rogers Place. Despite not scoring yet, Kane has been effective during 5v5 play, as evidenced by his scoring chances ratio of 21-11 combined in the first two games of the series. If he maintains his effort level, it won’t be long before we see his impact reflected on the points column on the scoresheet.

Hyman’s Excellent Regular Season Play Has Carried into Postseason

Zach Hyman scoring a career-high 54 goals was one of the best feel-good stories of the regular season, and it’s no surprise he’s carried over that high level of play into the postseason. In Game 1, he sent Rogers Place into a frenzy when on the power play, he presented his stick on the ice to receive a pass from McDavid, for a routine tap-in for his third of the night, sending the hats flying onto the ice. In Game 2 he found the back of the net once again with a wonderful one-timer on the power play.
Additionally, throughout both games he’s also been physical, combining for eight hits, including an enormous check on forward Phillip Danault in Game 2 that knocked him to the ice. Moreover, Hyman has played the majority of the first two games with McDavid and Adam Henrique and according to Natural Stat Trick, the trio boasts a 60 percent goal share at 5v5 with a remarkable high-danger chances for a ratio of 12-0 in the first two playoff games, indicating the line has been very effective so far.

Stuart Skinner’s Resiliency Will Be Tested in Game 3

Apr 24, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar (11) scores the game-winning goal during overtime against Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) in game two of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place.
When you see that Stuart Skinner has given up nine goals in the first two playoff games and boasts a 4.42 goals-against-average (GAA), it doesn’t suggest stellar performances between the pipes. Could he play better? For sure. Should he make an extra big save or two? Absolutely.
Yet, in the four goals he gave up in Game 1, at least three were rather flukey tallies with unlucky bounces. In Game 2, at least two of the goals against were as a result of his team’s play in front of him. The first goal against occurred due to a soft pass off the boards, which was intercepted by the Kings, who then capitalized off an odd-man rush.
On the third goal against, the team’s lack of awareness of Drew Doughty posing as a potential breakaway threat led to a failure to pick him up, resulting in a goal. On top of that, sometimes you just have to tip your hat to a great play, like Adrian Kempe’s second goal in Game 2, where he batted the puck out of the air and into the net. However, all things considered, Skinner does indeed need to elevate his play a notch or two.
There could be a feeling in Oil Country of ‘not this again’ as the netminder posted a .883 save percentage (SV%) in his first playoff appearance last season, but it’s too early to count out out the native of Edmonton, AB. He’s shown resilience throughout the 2023-24 campaign, when he struggled with a .856 SV% after his first five games to start the season, improving to .905 overall, including winning all of his games in January. That said, he was honest about his performance after Game 2, saying, “I didn’t really do too much; I don’t think I was a big factor in the game tonight, and that’s ok. I’m going to get better from that and move on.”
Overall, Skinner proved throughout the season that he has the ability to bounce back. All things considered, I anticipate we’ll see a more dialled-in Oilers netminder in Game 3, and I’d imagine he’ll have to battle through the Kings’ fans jeering his name loudly, just like Oilers’ fans did Talbot’s in the opening two games of the series.
With that in mind, what Oilers’ takeaways stood out to you in Games 1 and Games 2?

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