G3 Game Notes: Can Vegas Slow Down Oilers’ Top Guns?
Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
By Jason Gregor22 days ago
Through two games of this series, the Oilers’ top scorers have torched Vegas. Leon Draisaitl (6-0-6), Connor McDavid (2-3-5), Zach Hyman (0-5-5) and Evan Bouchard (1-3-4) have combined for five goals and 13 points on the power play. Draisaitl has also scored three goals 5×5. Through two games Vegas hasn’t had an answer for the Oilers’ skill, and if they aren’t more disciplined this series could be over in five games.
— The Oilers’ PP is 5-for-9 (55.5%) in the series, but the first unit is 5-for-8 as Jay Woodcroft put his second and third PP units out for a late power play in game two. They have scored five goals in 10 minutes of actual PP time. Ridiculous. Bouchard (10:13), McDavid (10:10) and Draisaitl, Hyman, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (10:07) have been a deadly five-man unit. Draisaitl has three goals while McDavid and Bouchard have one. Draisaitl has six shots, Hyman and Bouchard each three, McDavid two and RNH has one. They have a combined 33.3SH% on the man advantage.
— The power play’s dominance hasn’t just been two hot games in Vegas. In six games versus LA, it scored nine goals. The top unit had eight goals in 20 minutes of time on ice (TOI), while the second unit chipped in a goal in 3:21 of TOI. Overall the Oilers’ PP is 14-for-25. The best PP in playoff history (teams who played at least three rounds) was the 1981 New York Islanders at 37.8%. They scored 31 goals on 82 opportunities. The Oilers have 14 goals on 25 chances (56%). It seems unlikely they will remain at 56%, but to drop to 40% means they have to be goalless in their next 10 power play chances. That isn’t happening.
— Edmonton scored at least one PP goal in 60 of its 82 regular season games. Their longest streak without a PP goal was two games (happened three times). While their PP might not remain at 56%, the odds of it suddenly going dry are very low. The Oilers’ first unit PP is the greatest in NHL history and after a 32.4% regular season, it has gotten even better.
— And Vegas’ penalty kill is awful. It was 77% in the regular season, but it has sunk to a gaudy 52.4% in the playoffs. Winnipeg went 5-for-12 in their five-game opening-round series and the Oilers are 5-for-9 through two games of the second round. The only game they didn’t allow a power play goal was game five v. Winnipeg when they didn’t take a penalty. Vegas averaged 2.38 times shorthanded/game in the regular season and 2.40 v. Winnipeg, but they are averaging 4.5 TS/GP versus the Oilers through two games. Edmonton needs to keep using its speed and forcing Vegas into more stick infractions.
— Draisaitl’s start to the 2023 playoffs is the best we’ve seen in 100 years. Only Newsy Lalonde had more goals in the first eight games when he scored 15 in 1919. He finished with 17 goals in 10 games. Draisaitl’s 13 goals through eight games has him on pace to break the NHL record for most goals in a playoff year. Reggie Leach (1976) and Jari Kurri (1985) had 19 goals in 16 and 18 games respectively. It is important to put into context what Draisaitl is doing. Here are the most goals scored in a playoff series in the 2000s.
Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin each scored 15. Eight players, including Brayden Point twice, scored 14. Draisaitl could set the new mark before the end of this series. But where will he rank all time?
— Only 17 players have scored 15+ goals in one playoff season (Newsy Lalonde isn’t on the list, because the NHL website doesn’t track entire playoffs prior to 1927 — he had 17 goals in 10 games in 1919). Here are the other 16 players who scored 15+ goals in a playoff year.
Mike Bossy did it three times, while Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Kurri did it twice. Gretzky is the only player to score 15 goals with two different teams. If the Oilers defeat Vegas and move to the third round, Draisaitl’s quest to break Leach’s 47-year-old record would be very plausible. Thirteen goals in eight playoff games is astonishing. It borders on unbelievable.
— Draisaitl scored twice in the first period and that was the seventh time in his career he’s scored at least two goals in one playoff period. Only seven other players in NHL history have had multi-goal periods seven times in the playoffs: Gretzky (14), Maurice Richard (13), Kurri (12), Phil Esposito and Tim Kerr (9) and Mike Bossy and Bobby Hull (7). Draisaitl has done it in 45 games played. Gretzky (208), Kurri (200), Richard (132), Esposito (130), Bossy (129), Hull (119) and Kerr (82) played significantly more games.
— Draisaitl opened the scoring on Saturday after scoring all four goals on Wednesday. He tied the NHL record by scoring five consecutive team goals in the postseason. He tied Richard (1944), Leach (1976), Ray Ferraro (1993) and Joffrey Lupul (2006).
— Draisaitl already has six PP goals. He is three shy of tying Cam Neely (1991) and Bossy (1981) who hold the NHL playoff record with nine. He needs one more PP goal to set the NHL record for most PP goals in a single season (regular and playoffs combined). He is currently tied at with Lemieux (1989). Draisaitl could be re-write many NHL records before the playoffs are over.
— Draisaitl has been so good that he’s overshadowed McDavid’s current six-game multi-point streak. McDavid has 14 points in his last six games. He is the first player in NHL history to have two different streaks of six consecutive multi-point games. He had a streak of seven games last year. McDavid’s career-high was an eight-game multi-point streak in 2019. He had a seven-game in 2021, last year in the playoffs and had two six-game streaks this regular season.
— Draisaitl can tie his playoff career-high nine-game point streak with a point tonight. He and McDavid each had nine-game streaks last year, before Colorado shut out the Oilers in game two of the Conference Final. The NHL record is 18 games set by Bryan Trottier in 1981. The Oilers franchise record is 16 set by Gretzky in 1988. Mark Messier has the 2nd-4th longest streak at 14, 13 and 11 games.
Active players with a streak of 10+ games include Eric Staal (15 in 2006), Nathan MacKinnon (14 in 2020), Jonathon Toews (13 in 2010), Evgeny Kuznetsov (11 in 2018), Anze Kopitar (10 in 2014) and Mikko Rantanen (10 in 2020).
— In six games this season (four regular and two playoff) Edmonton has outscored Vegas 27-21. Game one was the only game Vegas outscored Edmonton 5×5. Much of the focus has been on the Oilers power play, which is fair because it went 5-for-9 in the regular season and is 5-for-9 in the playoffs, but Edmonton has outscored Vegas three times and they each scored two goals 5×5 twice. In their six meetings, Edmonton has generated 35 even strength scoring chances off the rush while Vegas is at 31. Slot shots at even strength are 71-62 in favour of Edmonton. The Oilers were sluggish in game one and their lack of pace and speed was apparent, and in game two they played like they did in the regular season — much quicker and faster.
Edmonton has the faster forward group, and when the team plays with pace it is difficult for Vegas to contain them. They outscored Vegas 13-11 at even strength in the regular season and 5-1 on the man advantage. The Oilers’ power play is lethal and it gives them a clear special teams advantage, but they also have the advantage 5×5. Keep using their speed and it will be difficult for Vegas to counter them.
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