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GDB +2.0: Oilers are ready to match Kings’ desperation (8pm MT, SNW)

Leon Draisaitl Zach Hyman
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
10 days ago
The Edmonton Oilers haven’t won the first two games of a playoff series on home ice since the second round in 1990. They defeated the Los Angeles Kings then, and will look to do it once again tonight versus the Kings franchise.

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We know the Kings will want a better effort tonight, but so will the Oilers. They didn’t like how they sat back a bit in the second period in game one. Corey Perry will play in his 198th playoff game tonight, and he’s been through this situation many times. “It is a new day, a new game, you reset and you go back out there,” said Perry. “You have to match their intensity. You know they will come out hard because they are down one nothing. They will be a little better than they were in game one and you have to be better as well. Whether you win or lose the previous game, you need to be better the next game if you want to win.”
The Oilers want to win. Desperately. This group believes they can win the Stanley Cup, and to win the Cup you need to win round one. No team has won every playoff game on way to hoisting the Cup. In 1986-87 the NHL expanded to seven game series in all four rounds and the 1988 Oilers lost the fewest games, two, on their way to winning the Cup. The 2014 Kings and 2019 St. Louis Blues each lost 10 games on their ways to claiming the Cup.
Edmonton will lose some games along the way, but tonight presents a wonderful opportunity to show a killer instinct. This group has never been in this position in game two. Over their previous four playoffs, they’ve never won game one in a series, so they were always entering game two desperate for a win. They are still desperate, but in a different way.
The Oilers played well in game one, but they aren’t satisfied. They had many good chances on odd-man rushes, but didn’t capitalize. “We were good on pucks, but we had three of four two-on-ones and you’d like to pot one of those,” said Ryan McLeod. The Mcleod-Perry-Evander Kane trio had a strong game. They played the most minutes together at 5×5 of any line with 12:37 together and generated five or six quality chances. They won a lot of puck battles, specifically Kane, and if they keep generating that many quality chances they will score their fair share.
LA expects to play better, but so does Edmonton, especially at home. The Oilers were 27-5-3 under Kris Knoblauch in the regular season on home ice. They outscored teams 154-85. They dominated the opposition and there is no reason they can’t in the playoffs. Edmonton was 6-1-1 v. the other seven playoff teams from the Western Conference. They outscored them 26-16. They were really good, and that continued in game one.
They were flying in the first period on Monday. They led 2-0, and had many quality chances to lead by three or four. Edmonton is a faster team than LA.
In the regular season the Oilers team was the second fastest in terms of bursts of speed. The Kings were ninth, but Edmonton had 550 more bursts of 20mph than LA.
Edmonton played fast in game one. They moved the puck quickly and accurately. The defence followed their passes, thus giving forwards support, but also kept a close gap, in case LA got the puck and tried to transition. Edmonton also did a good job of limiting turnovers. They didn’t give LA any easy chances. Maintain that discipline and the Oilers should win again. They have more skill.

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
No reason to change the lineup. In the regular season, Knoblauch didn’t like having guys sit out too many consecutive games. I asked if that would continue in the playoffs and he said no, which makes sense.
McDavid has only had one game in April where he played more than 20 minutes, and that was April 1st in St. Louis in overtime. He’s played 20 minutes a few times, but he logged 18:47 in game one and 18 and 15 minutes v. San Jose and Arizona last week. He is well rested, and if the Oilers need to play him 23+ minutes he can handle it easily.
The advantage of taking control of game one early, was Knoblauch was able to spread out the ice time of all his skaters. Evan Bouchard, Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci were the only players with more than 19 minutes TOI.

Kings

Laferriere – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Arvidsson
Fiala – Dubois – Byfield
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Lewis
Anderson– Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence
Talbot
The Kings will ice the same lineup as well. Jim Hiller was very direct in the areas he expects his team to be better tonight — on the penalty kill and limiting chances off the rush. The latter will be easier than the former.
I spoke with Leon Draisaitl today about his one timer. He has an unorthodox windup, but it works very well for him. He goes down on one knee, and twists his torso more to get a better angle to raise the puck. His blade makes it a bit more challenging to raise the puck quickly if he’s standing upright. Then you add in his accuracy from a sharp angle and that shot is extremely difficult for any goalie to stop.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers fans revel in a 2-0 series lead as the Oilers win 5-3.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid picks up two points and is halfway to his career high of 14 points in one playoff series (although he did have 12 points in five games v. CGY, so a higher PPG).
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: RNH scores his second goal of the playoffs and is off to his best start in any playoff year. It is the first time he’s scored a goal in consecutive playoff games.

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