G2 Game Notes Kings @ Oilers: Calm Down

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
11 months ago
I’m not sure what makes people overreact more: the first snowfall of winter or losing game one of an NHL playoff series? Despite experiencing both numerous times, we always see severe overreactions. Emotions are heightened in playoffs, so some irrational thoughts/comments are understandable, while a new snowfall shouldn’t cause such lunacy. Despite the game one loss, Oilersnation should stay calm. The series is far from over. The Oilers aren’t concerned after losing game one, but they realize they need to control their emotions better tonight.
Game one was a prime example of why someone should never state power plays don’t matter in the playoffs. They are massively important, especially when the opposition keeps giving you opportunities. The Kings went 2-for-6 on the PP in game one. They tied the game with 16 seconds remaining on the man advantage and won it in overtime. Edmonton needs to limit its infractions tonight.
— The Oilers controlled the majority of the game. In the 54:16 of 5×5 time Edmonton outshot the Kings 36-21 and outscored them 2-1. They were clearly the better team 5×5. But the game isn’t only played at 5×5, and usually, there are more goals in the significantly fewer minutes of special teams or the rare 4×4 and 3×3 situations.
LA outscored Edmonton 1-0 in the 3:38 of 4×4.
They outscored the Oilers 2-1 in the 11:25 of power play time. The Kings had 8:22 of PP time while the Oilers had 3:03.
It was a tough loss, but the Oilers weren’t dominated by a far superior team like Colorado last year. It is too early to have much panic in Oilersnation.
— Edmonton outscored LA 2-1 in 54:16, while LA outscored Edmonton 3-1 in the remaining 15:03. Being the best team for the majority of the game won’t guarantee victory if you let the opposition dominate on special teams. It wasn’t so much the Kings dominated the Oilers on special teams, they simply had more PP time. While some wanted to blame the referees, the truth was the Oilers took too many careless penalties.
— “We were 16 seconds from winning,” said Connor McDavid. “We put ourselves in a good spot and just didn’t close it out. By no means do I think we were turning the puck over and giving them grade A (chance) after grade A. We checked well, we just took too many penalties. I don’t think anyone is surprised to hear that. You can’t take six penalties in a playoff game.”
— They need to control their emotions better tonight. “We took far too many penalties. You give a team that many power plays it is going to bite you,” said Evan Bouchard. Bouchard’s penalty late in the third period was costly. Ideally, he keeps his stick down and doesn’t get his stick up in Trevor Moore’s face. That play was a result of the intensity of the playoffs. Bouchard isn’t a natural physical defender. He doesn’t make that hit in the regular season, but in the postseason, players are more amped up, and the game is more physical. It happens. It wasn’t a selfish penalty. He just needs to be under more control the next time.
— The rest of the game Bouchard was outstanding. He scored a great goal, rang another shot off the bar and the first two periods were some of the best hockey he’s played. I think his play is repeatable. It wasn’t just him getting hot. Eliminate the penalty and the Oilers might have won and Bouchard would have likely been one of the three stars. But a penalty late severely altered the game.
— But the Oilers weren’t wallowing in self-pity after the game or even yesterday after some time to reflect. The message was the same. They believe they played well for most of the game but weren’t composed enough at key times in the game. “We were all over them in the first,” said Mattias Ekholm. “The penalties in the second gave them some momentum, but we were still in good shape. We have to lock that down. The way we played 5×5 was good, we just need to keep playing like that.”
— There is no reason to panic. They didn’t lose because LA was the obviously better team. We saw that last season v. Colorado. The Avs were simply better, but the Kings aren’t. The Oilers believe they can win, and they have the experience of losing game one last year v. LA and Calgary, but also coming back to win each series. They obviously don’t want to lose game two. It isn’t a “must-win” game, but it is a very important game.
— The Oilers are 5-4 all-time in series when they lose game one at home. They did it last year v. LA and v. the Sharks in 2017. Their core has experience in how to handle a game-one loss. Remaining calm, poised, and confident is vital.
— I was quite surprised reading so many comments from fans and pundits about how McDavid struggled vs. the Kings. They did a great job shutting him down. The bar for McDavid is very high, especially after his 153-point season, but he produced 14 points in seven games last year vs. the Kings. They play the same system now. Drew Doughty and Vladislav Gavrikov are upgrades from the Kings D-men last year, no question, but I think it is a tad premature to suggest they’ve figured out how to contain him. His line outshot LA 12-5 at 5×5. It is fair to say McDavid and his linemates of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman can play better. I’d agree with that, but suggesting the Kings have figured him out is hyperbole, at least from my standpoint. He didn’t have a point on the Evan Bouchard goal, but he drew two penalties in 30 seconds to put the Oilers on the 5-on-3 PP. His speed was the catalyst to those power plays.
— Trying to start the wave in OT is a bad idea. The fans, and Hunter (Oilers mascot) who tried to get it started at numerous times need to understand the moment of the game. OT is not the time for the wave. Ever. Never.
— Throwing beer or bottles of water on the ice after a loss is a bad look. I don’t care how mad you are, you don’t do it. It’s a bad look, and a few idiots ruin it for the 99% of fans who understand how to act at a game. Don’t be a beer or bottle tosser. I thought the fans brought a lot of energy in game one. They added to the energy of the game, and I expect they will be even more engaged tonight.
— The Oilers have lost game one in seven of eight series, including all four on home ice, during the McDavid and Draisaitl era. In 2017 they lost game one at home to SJ, then won game two 2-0. In the 2020 bubble they lost game one 6-4, before rebounding to win game two 6-3. In 2021 they lost game one 4-1 (two EN goals), and lost game two 1-0 in OT. Last year they lost game one 4-3 to the Kings before winning 6-0 in game two.
They are 3-1 in games two after losing game one at home. They’ve posted two shutouts and blanked the Jets for 60 minutes, before losing in OT. They didn’t panic in those games and can’t afford to tonight. The playoffs are all about how you react after a tough loss or big win.
Reduce their trips to the penalty box and they should be fine.
— Anze Kopitar was excellent for LA in game one. He factored in on all four Kings’ goals and picked up his first four-point game of his playoff career. It was LA’s fourth 4-point game in the playoffs in the past 30 years. Jeff Carter had 3-1-4 in the third-round vs. Chicago in 2014, while Drew Doughty had 2-2-4 vs. San Jose in the first round in 2011 and also scored 1-3-4 vs. Vancouver in the first round in 2011. It was a rare offensive explosion for the Kings. Kopitar won his first Stanley Cup with the Kings 11 years ago and he’s still a force.
—In the last 30 years the Oilers have had eight games with a player scoring four points. Draisaitl has done it five times. He had four points in game v. the Ducks in 2017 and five points in game six v. Anaheim. He also had four points in games three and five vs. Calgary last year and in game four vs. Colorado. McDavid produced 1-3-4 in game one vs. the Flames last year, while Mark Letestu scored 2-2-4 in game six vs. the Ducks and Ryan Smyth had 2-2-4 in game five vs. San Jose in 2006.
— During the regular season this year, Edmonton had four games where they were shorthanded 6+ times, and they were 6th in times shorthanded/game at 3.39. In the first half of the season, they averaged 3.59 times shorthanded/game, and then in the second half dropped it to 3.20. Still not great, but better than the six they had in game one.
— Edmonton has played 38 playoff games since 2017. Here’s a breakdown of how many times they’ve been shorthanded.
In seven games they’ve been on the PK 6+ times.
Four times they took five minors.
Ten times they were on the PK four times.
Seven times they had three penalty kills.
Six times they only had to kill off two power plays.
Two games they had taken one minor penalty.
And two games they didn’t take one minor.
In 17 games they’ve been on the PK three times or less and in 21 games they’ve had four or more kills.
The Oilers are 8-12 in games when they have 4+ penalties and they are 8-9 when they take three or fewer. I expect they will be more disciplined with their sticks tonight.


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