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G5+ Game Notes: Oilers can end series vs. the Kings, and McDavid can match Gretzky

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Photo credit:© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
3 days ago
The Edmonton Oilers are 3-0 vs. Los Angeles in elimination games over the past two seasons. They won games six and seven in 2022 and won game six in 2023. They can improve to 4-0 with a victory in game five tonight.
— The Oilers also defeated Calgary in their other elimination game in 2022. Of course, they also lost to Colorado and Vegas when Edmonton was facing elimination, but when the Oilers have the chance to end a series, they’ve gotten the job done. And they need to again tonight. A victory tonight is more than just moving to the second round. It means fewer games, less travel, more rest days and presents an opportunity to have a full practice before the next round. It isn’t a must-win game, but more so a beneficial-win game.
— Vancouver lost to Nashville last night, which guarantees two 4.5-hour flights and at least one more game, possibly two if they lose in Nashville tomorrow. A victory tonight for the Oilers ensures they will be the most rested team in their round two matchup.
— Connor McDavid has nine assists through four games. He can join Wayne Gretzky as the only other player to record 10 assists in a playoff series twice. McDavid had 10 assists vs. the Kings in 2022. Gretzky did it four times, registering 10 assists twice and 13 and 14 once. Seventeen players have had 10 or more assists in a series.
1011131415
B. BourneP. CoffeyD. GilmourGretzkyL. Draisaitl
B. FederkoR. FrancisGretzkyR. Middleton
M. LemieuxA. MacInnis
F. MackellM. Messier
McDavidM. Ridley
S. MikitaH. Sedin
P. Stastny
Gretzky (2x)
Leon Draisaitl holds the NHL record with 15 assists. He had helpers and 17 points in the Oilers’ five-game series win over Calgary in 2022.
— Rick Middleton holds the NHL record for most points in a series. He had 19 points in the Bruins series win (seven games) over Buffalo. Gretzky had 18 points v. Chicago in 1985 (six games), and Draisaitl is tied with Mario Lemieux (six-game victory over Washington in 1992) for third with 17.
— Three players have scored 10 goals in a series. Jari Kurri (Edmonton) had 12 over Chicago in 1985, Newsy Lalonde (Montreal) scored 11 vs. Ottawa in 1917 and Tim Kerr (Philadelphia) had 10 against the Penguins in 1989. Zach Hyman could become the eighth Oilers player to score seven goals in a series. Kurri (12 and 7), Mark Messier had eight while Glenn Anderson, Esa Tikkanen, Evander Kane (vs. LA in 2022), Gretzky and Draisaitl (vs. LA in 2023) each had seven. If Hyman scores tonight, it will mark the third-consecutive season an Oilers forward had seven goals in a series vs. the Kings.
— I’m still perplexed by how many people were concerned about Stuart Skinner after Game 2. He allowed two goals he didn’t like. He spoke about it, but many analysts and fans questioned his ability to perform. No goalie dominates every game, just like no forward or defenseman does. But Skinner has been one of the top goalies in the NHL since Kris Knoblauch and Paul Coffey joined the team on November 12th, a span in which Skinner started 86% of his games this season. Here is where he ranks among NHL starters since November 12th.
Regular season:
He was first in wins with 34.
Ranked eighth in Sv% at .912 and behind Connor Hellebuyck (.927), Sergei Bobrovsky (.917), Joey Daccord (.916), Pyotr Kochetkov (.914) and Thatcher Demko, Linus Ullmark and Igor Shesterkin (.913).
Was fifth in GAA at 2.46 and trailed Hellebuyck and Kochetkov (2.25), Bobrovsky (2.31) and Daccord (2.43).
He ranked third in goals saved above expected at 17.11 (via Clear Sight Analytics). Hellebuyck and Binnington were higher.
— In four playoff games, he has a .919Sv% and 2.48 GAA. Most would agree in Game 1 he had three unlucky goals against with two going in off defenders’ skates, and the late goal where Cody Ceci’s stick exploded, and LA had a 2-0 lead. Even with those unlucky goals and an off night in game two, he still has very solid numbers. I don’t see the need to freak out and jump to “Skinner isn’t reliable” claims after an off night. Last year is irrelevant. Skinner has been very consistent for the past five and a half months.
— The Oilers’ penalty kill has been a perfect 11-for-11 through four games. They’ve never had a perfect PK in a playoff series. Their best was one goal against, which happened twice during their fifth Stanley Cup victory in 1990. They’ve had eight series with a PK above 92%.
YearRNDOPPGPTSPK%W/L
19904thBOS518 of 1994.7%W
19902ndLA418 of 1994.7%W
20062ndSJ633 of 3594.2%W
19981stDAL530 of 3293.4%L
19971stDAL737 of 4092.5%W
20063rdANA536 of 3992.3%W
20001stDAL524 of 2692.3%L
— It is staggering how fewer penalties are called today compared to previous years. During the 1997-2000 years there were power plays galore, and again in the first few seasons after the 2005 lockout when the league was cracking down on obstruction. The Oilers and Kings have had a total of 26 power plays in four games. The Dallas/Vegas series has 14 combined power plays. The Oilers were shorthanded 11 times in one game vs. Anaheim in 2006. There is less obstruction today, but I’m skeptical that today’s game has so fewer infractions occur in games. I think the officials simply call fewer penalties.
— The Oilers’ power play has eight goals on 15 opportunities (53.3%). Last year in six games vs. LA the PP was 56.3% (9-for-16). Through four games the Oilers combined PP and PK% is 153.3%, while LA sits at 46.6%.
— Never let anyone tell you special teams don’t matter in the playoffs. Edmonton has eight goals in 19:32 of PP time. They have nine goals in 197:04 of 5×5 time.

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