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GDB +14.0: Oilers looking to pick up a third straight road win (6:00pm MT, CBC)

Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid Game 1 in Dallas
Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
baggedmilk
24 days ago
After a thrilling double OT win in Game 1 on Thursday night, we’re back at the American Airlines Center in Dallas with the chance to take a healthy lead in the Western Conference Final. It won’t be easy, but I believe the Oilers are up for the challenge. Grab your popcorn, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s game day.
Be sure to check out the latest NHL playoff odds with online sportsbook Betway.
As I sat down to write today’s GDB, I couldn’t help but think of all the playoff series from back in the day that drove me nuts. If you’re too young to remember, once upon a time, the Oilers and Stars used to meet in the playoffs on an annual basis back in the ’90s and early 2000s, and the results weren’t all that great if you’re an Oilers fan. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments when we were allowed to be happy, but most of the time, the results didn’t go our way.
Losing to Dallas on what was basically an annual basis made me despise the Stars on a core level, and that bubbling rage toward their franchise hasn’t faded even all these years later.
Those series were the stuff of legends and a big part of the reason why I love and hate the playoffs. It was David vs. Goliath every year, and I’m pretty sure you know which one the Oilers were. We felt the highest of highs with Marchant’s OT winner in Game 7 and the lowest of lows every other time these teams met. To quote Drew Doughty, it wasn’t much of a rivalry because Dallas kept kicking our ass. Even so, here in 2024, I would love nothing more than to watch the Oilers avenge the losses from so many years ago, and I know I’m not the only one.
We’re looking at a new era with a fresh cast of characters who are ready and willing to write the next chapter in the story. Of course, if the Oilers are going to write a new chapter in the Edmonton vs. Dallas playoff story, they have to find a way to win. In Game 1, the Oilers were the better team and ultimately closed out a win they deserved to have, but it would be disingenuous if I didn’t acknowledge the speed bumps along the way.
Despite playing well for the bulk of the four+ periods it took to win, there were still a handful of moments when the boys got caught by shoddy puck management. The obvious example was the giveaway by Brett Kulak that resulted in the first goal against by Tyler Seguin, but there were also other errant passes that the Oilers were lucky to get away with. If the boys are going to extend this series lead to two games, they’ll need to tighten up those details.
Another thing the Oilers will need to make adjustments on is how they deal with the Stars’ offensive tactic of flying the zone early as a means of manufacturing odd-man rushes. The Stars produce a tonne of offence this way, and I’ll be fascinated to see how Kris Knoblauch adjusts from his end of the chessboard. I thought the Oilers defended the cherry-picking reasonably well in Game 1, but having bodies behind them is something the boys will have to be aware of in Game 2.
Overall, I’m feeling good about where the Oilers’ game is at right now and I hope you do too as you’re reading this. That’s not to say that picking up the first win of the series means we’ve got this in the bag — Gord knows winning three more against the Stars won’t be easy — but this is the best the boys have played all season, and it seems like they’re peaking at just the right time. When the Oilers play a simple game, they will be very hard to beat, and that’s what we got in Game 1. Now, the task for Game 2 will be to see if they can do it again.
Let’s see what the numbers say…

THE NUMBERS

OILERSSTARS
RECORD9-48-6
WIN/LOSS STREAKW3L1
GOALS FOR4940
GOALS AGAINST3534
POWER PLAY%36.625.0
PENALTY KILL%92.570.4
AVG. SHOTS/FOR30.529.1
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST25.228.2
TEAM SAVE%.892.937
CORSI FOR%49.8848.91
PDO0.9981.014
TEAM SHOOTING%10.627.67
EXPECTED GOALS FOR%49.9453.56
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)

GAME PREVIEW PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Hyman
Holloway – Draisaitl – Kane
Foegele – McLeod – Ryan
Janmark – Carrick – Brown
Ekholm – Bouchard
Nurse – Desharnais
Kulak – Ceci
Skinner
After the big win on Thursday night, my biggest question was whether Kris Knoblauch would make any changes to his lineup. He said that Adam Henrique is back to 98% yesterday at practice and that he’s a game time decision for tonight, but that they were still deciding whether to let him get back to 100% first. Part of me thinks it’s a good idea to let him heal up because it was clear that his mobility was off in the game he played versus Vancouver, but the other part of me is annoyed that we’re up in the air about whether our big deadline acquisition can play. Either way, I want the best possible lineup we can ice to go tonight in Game 2, and I’m trusting Knobby to make the best decision for the team. Gord knows that he’s done well with that stuff so far.

Stars

Robertson – Johnston – Stankoven
Marchment – Duchene – Pavelski
Benn – Seguin – Dadonov
Steel – Faksa – Smith
Harley – Heiskanen
Lindell – Tanev
Suter – Petrovic
Oettinger
The biggest question I have is whether Roope Hintz will be getting back into the Stars lineup after missing Game 1 due to injury. After yesterday’s morning skate, Peter DeBoer said that Hintz is “possible” for Game 2, which would undoubtedly be a significant lift for the Stars if he can go. After the Stars’ morning skate, DoBoer said that Hintz will be a game time decision, which leads me to believe he’ll probably be playing. If not tonight then he’ll definitely go in Game 3.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
Game Day Prediction: A power play goal and an empty-netter send the series back to Rogers Place on the back of a big 4-2 Oilers win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Leon Draisaitl continues his reign of terror with his 10th multi-point game of the playoffs, extending his point streak to 14 games.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Ryan McLeod picks up his first goal of the playoffs, and I mean it this time. McLeod has been steady on the defensive side of the puck, but we needed him to find his offence, and #71 gets the job done here in Game 2.

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