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G2+ Game Notes: Oilers look to continue Game 2 success

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Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
12 days ago
Home teams went 7-1 in game ones of the first round. And so far, home teams are 3-3 in game twos with Dallas and Edmonton playing tonight. Prior to Monday’s victory, the Oilers were 1-8 in game ones during the Connor McDavid era. However, they were also 7-2 in game twos. They were very good at rebounding, and they know firsthand how desperate and determined the Los Angeles Kings should be tonight.
— What makes the playoffs so great, is that each game, each series and each year is often very different. The Oilers have been good at rebounding in game twos, whether the games were on the road or at home, likely because they were desperate. They only series where they won Game 1, prior to Monday, was in the second round v. Anaheim in 2017. They won both games in Anaheim, before losing games three and four on home ice. Only McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Darnell Nurse remain from that team, so I don’t think it connects with this group. What they do know is that LA should be much better tonight, like the Oilers were against the Kings in their previous two series.
— LA will want to be better on the penalty kill and at limiting Edmonton’s speed through the neutral zone. Edmonton moved the puck quickly and efficiently, and the players were very connected as a group. They didn’t have large gaps, and LA rarely was able to settle into their 1-3-1. The Oilers didn’t have to dump the puck in very often, instead they were able to carry it in the zone and create chances.
— Being better 5×5 will be easier than improving their PK, because the Oilers added some new wrinkles, and according to McDavid they have more. “We have good players, making good plays and that shot by Leo was incredible. I’m not sure how you stop that,” said McDavid. “I thought we were able to hit them a couple different ways, which is good because it leaves them to try and figure it out. That being said, we have a few things up our sleeves still, and that is a good thing.”
— In their last seven playoff games v. the Kings, the Oilers’ power play is 60% with 12 goals on 20 chances. They went 3-for-4 in Game 1 after going 9-for-16 in six games last season. Credit Glen Gulutzan and the Oilers’ top unit for finding new ways to attack the Kings’ penalty kill. It is impressive considering LA was second in the NHL this season at 84.6%.
— Edmonton’s three PP goals were all different. I can’t recall a time this season where RNH scored from inside the crease on the PP. Usually that is Hyman’s spot, but Edmonton moved their guys around more, which seemed to confuse the Kings.
Then Draisaitl’s goal from the bottom of the circle. Many years ago you wanted to get shots from the top of the circle, but Draisaitl has changed that. He’s very good from sharp angles, and watch how he twists his blade a bit, to ensure he gets the shot up quickly. Talbot had no chance.
And the third goal had McDavid pass through the seam from right to left down to Hyman in his usual spot beside the net.
The Oilers unveiled some new looks on the man advantage on Monday and LA had no answer. We’ll see how they respond tonight. Making adjustments, in-game, and pre-game, are often the difference in winning and losing. We don’t see it in the regular season, because teams are playing three or four different teams each week. I love the cat and mouse strategy of the playoffs.
— Evan Bouchard will play his 30th playoff game tonight. His 30 points in 29 games puts him among the best offensive starts by a defenceman in NHL history. Only five defenders have more points through their first 30 playoff games. Bobby Orr and Brian Leetch had 36 points, Denis Potvin scored 33, while Al MacInnis and Adam Fox had 31. Bouchard needs one point to move into a tie for fifth and two points would put him in fourth.
— Leetch had the most power play points with 24. Bouchard has 20 followed by MacInnis (17), Fox (16), Potvin (14) and Orr (13). There is no question Bouchard benefits from being part of the Oilers’ power play, but he’s an integral part of it. He’s really improved in how he walks the line and holds onto the puck. It is such an underrated skill for a defenceman. Leetch was excellent at it, and Sergei Zubov was the best I’ve ever seen do it. Bouchard’s patience and poise at the blueline has become another weapon in his arsenal.
— Leon Draisaitl has 13 goals in 14 playoff games v. the Kings — the fourth-most goals by any NHL player v. the Kings in the playoffs. Esa Tikkanen had 18 goals in 28 games, Jari Kurri had 16 in 24 games and Glenn Anderson has 16 in 37 games. All of Tikkanen and Kurri’s goals came when they played for the Oilers. Anderson had 11 as a member of the Oilers. Evander Kane has 10 goals in 14 games v. the Kings the past few seasons with Edmonton.
— In case you’re wondering, Mike Modano has the most playoff goals v. the Oilers with 16 in 38 games followed by Luc Robitaille with 15 in 28 games and Joe Nieuwendyk with 13 in 29 games.
— Zach Hyman had nine shots on goal in game one and scored three times. That is a new career high for shots on goal in a playoff game. He’s had 10 shots in a regular season game twice. January 18th v. Winnipeg, when he played for Toronto and November 23rd, 2022, against the Islanders when he played for the Oilers. He didn’t score a goal in either game. He did have nine shots once in the regular season and scored twice against Colorado on January 7th, 2023.
Hyman had a stellar regular season with 54 goals, and burying three on opening night of the playoffs only adds to his confidence. He had three goals on 46 shots in 12 games last year in the playoffs. In 2022 he scored 11 goals on 67 shots.
— The Oilers had a total of 45 hits in game one, while the Kings had 65. The Kings forwards had 44 hits compared to Edmonton’s 19, which is often a sign of the Kings chasing the puck. The Oilers forwards possessed the puck more often. Edmonton’s defence had 26 hits to LA’s 22.

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