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GDB +1.0: Oilers Look to change Game 1 struggles against the Kings (8pm MT, SNW)

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
13 days ago
Game 1 has not been kind to the Edmonton Oilers.
They are 1-8 in game one of a series in the Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl era. They are 4-4 in series where they lose game one, so it hasn’t crushed them, but in the last four playoffs seasons they are 0-7 in game one. They’d love to end that streak tonight.
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In 2017, after missing the playoffs for a decade, the Oilers returned to the dance and 3-2 to San Jose on home ice. The Oilers won the series in six games.
In round two they defeated Anaheim 5-3 in game one but lost the series in seven games. Game five is still a sore spot for most Oilers fans.
2020: They lost 6-4 to Chicago in game one and lost the best-of-five series in four games.
2021: They lost 4-1 to Winnipeg. They outshot the Jets 33-22, but they couldn’t beat Connor Hellebuyck and the Jets scored two empty net goals. Winnipeg swept the Oilers in four.
Round one 2022: Lost 4-3 to LA but won the series in seven games.
Round two 2022: Lost 9-6 in Calgary but won the next four games.
Round three 2022: Lost 8-6 in Colorado and were swept in four games by the Avalanche.
Round one 2023: Lost 4-3 in OT to LA, but the Oilers won the series in six games.
Round two 2023: Lost 6-4 in Vegas and lost the series in six games.
The Oilers haven’t won game one of a series on home ice since 1990. They lost to Los Angeles in 2023 and 2022, Winnipeg in 2021, Chicago in 2020, San Jose in 2017 and Minnesota in 1991. In 1990 they won game one in all four of their series. They defeated Winnipeg in round one, LA in round two and Chicago in round three on home ice. They won game one of the Stanley Cup Final in Boston.
In 23 series between 1991 and 2023 the Oilers have a record of 6-17 in game one of a series. They are 10-13 overall in those series. They are 4-2 when they win game one and they are 6-11 when they lose game one. It is a trend they’d like to change starting tonight against the Kings.
The Oilers had leads of 2-0 and 3-1 last year v. LA, before losing game one 4-3 in overtime.
In 2022, LA jumped out to a 2-0 lead, the Oilers tied it, LA went ahead 3-2 and Edmonton tied it again, before Philip Danault scored with 5:14 remaining. His goal came five seconds after Mike Smith made a bad clearing attempt.
The Oilers haven’t been overwhelmed in game one of their recent loses, but they also haven’t taken advantage of home ice. They have, however, been a dominant home team since Kris Knoblauch took over.
Edmonton is 27-5-3 in their previous 35 home games.
They’ve outscored teams 154-85.
Their powerplay is 35.1% and their penalty kill is 90.4%.
They’ve out shot teams by an average of 35 to 28.8.
They’ve outscored teams 107-66 at 5×5.
They are 19-0 when scoring first.
They are 16-0 when leading after the first period and 18-1 when leading after the second.
They’ve been a dominant team on home ice for the past 161 days. Yes, the playoffs are different, but they should feel extremely confident in front of their fans, especially when you know how loud the building will be tonight.
The Kings set an NHL record earlier this year when they won their first 11 road games of the season. But since that hot streak they’ve won 11 of their last 30 road games. Since December 9th they rank 25th on the road with a .433points%, which ranks 25th in the NHL. While the Oilers have been the best home team in the NHL for months, the Kings have been below average on the road.
I realize the playoffs are essentially a new season, but the Oilers should enter tonight’s game with loads of confidence. Home teams are 6-0 thus far in the playoffs. Edmonton and Dallas will try to make it a perfect 8-0 tonight in game ones.

GAME DAY ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Henrique – McDavid– Hyman
RNH – Draisaitl – Foegele
Holloway – McLeod – Perry
Kane – Carrick – Janmark
Ekholm – Bouchard
Nurse – Ceci
Kulak – Desharnais
Skinner
After two solid, fast-paced practices the morning skate was brief without many skaters, which was expected. Some guys like to go for a skate on game days, while others don’t. It is a personal feel.
Stuart Skinner didn’t skate this morning. A few weeks ago, we had a conversation about the playoffs. He said never felt physically fatigued. He learned a lot and plans to do a few things different this year. He spoke to Grant Fuhr and Mike Smith in the off-season about how they approached the playoffs. Skinner loves asking questions and learning new things. He joked, “some people might get tired of all the questions I ask.”
He will make a few small changes to his routine. He will shorten up his time on the ice in morning skates on game days. He wasn’t physically fatigued, but he felt staying on the ice longer and around the rink had him thinking about the game too much. He plans to either not skate, or if he does it will be a quick 15-minute skate and then get off, change quickly and head home and relax. Having a young son offers him lots of opportunities to not think about hockey.
They can play together, before both take their afternoon nap. (Sean Brown said the thing he misses most about playing is the afternoon nap). After his nap, Skinner will eat and  return to the rink (usually three hours before puck drop) to start his stretching and preparation for the game. Skinner felt not being on the ice as much on game day would allow him more of a mental break.

Kings

Laferriere – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Arvidsson
Byfield – Dubois – Grundstrom
Fiala – Lizotte – Lewis
Anderson– Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence
Talbot
Head coach Jim Hiller has altered his lines. He has opted to spread out his offence across all four lines. I’d be surprised if they remain this way for the series, or even all of tonight. Quinton Byfield was moved down after going 20 games without a goal, but he scored in the season finale against Chicago. We know Hiller will try to get Philip Danault out against McDavid, and Knoblauch has mentioned there are some matchups he wants, but he doesn’t like to chase them if it puts his team out of rhythm.
Hiller and Knoblauch are both coaching their first NHL playoff game, and it will be interesting to see which matchups they want, and how hard they push to get them.
Last year the Oilers power play played a huge role in winning the series in six game. Edmonton scored nine PP goals on 16 chances. They didn’t get a lot of man advantages, but going 56.25% was a big reason they won. However, the Kings penalty killed is much better this year. It was 24th in the NHL last year at 75.8% and even worse in the playoffs. They are 2nd this season at 84.6% and are hoping that carries over into this series.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers and their seven-game losing streak in game one of a series and pick up a 5-2 victory
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Leon Draisaitl scores a goal. He has 12 goals in 13 career games v. LA heading into tonight.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nurse scores his third career playoff goal in his 48th playoff game.

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