Game 4 Notes: Edmonton Oilers @ Los Angeles Kings
Photo credit:Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis7 months ago
Game 4 between the Oilers and Kings in Los Angeles is pivotal. It’s not technically a must-win for the Oilers, but everybody knows deep down that this is a must-win.
Either the series is shifting back to Edmonton tied at two games each or the Oilers will have to beat the Kings in three consecutive games to take the series. Winning two of three against L.A. with home-ice advantage is obviously a much, much more attractive option than trying to become the 32nd team in NHL history to come back from down 3-1 in a playoff series.
1. The Kings were in this position in Game 4 last year. They came into Edmonton and earned a gritty Game 1 win but the Oilers answered back with commanding 6-0 and 8-2 wins in Games 2 and 3 to put them down 2-1 in the series. Los Angeles was in a pretty much must-win situation in Game 4 and they won by a score of 4-0.
This year’s series started off the same with a very tight Game 1 as last year’s series but the ensuing games have been very different. Games 2, 3, and 4 were all lopsided scores while all of the games in this year’s series have been incredibly tight.
2. A big difference for L.A. between this year and last has been goaltending. Jonathan Quick allowed 22 goals on 228 shots last year, which was good for a .904 save percentage. He played well in five of the seven games but got lit up for 10 goals between Games 2 and 3.
This year, Joonas Korpisalo has been a rock for the Kings. He’s allowed eight goals on 116 shots through three games, which is good for a .931 save percentage. L.A. got five strong games out of Quick and two duds last spring. Korpisalo has given them three strong games. Can he keep it up?
3. Stuart Skinner hasn’t had a bad series but he also hasn’t been the better goalie in any of the three games the teams have played. There have been some huge stops, some ugly goals that he’d like back, and he has a .900 save percentage all told. Again, not bad, but not great either.
It would be huge for the Oilers if Skinner could outduel Korpisalo in a game or two in the latter part of this series. Last year, Mike Smith did that twice.
Edmonton got a couple of easy wins in Games 2 and 3 when Quick was terrible and they earned two wins in Games 6 and 7 when Quick was playing well due in part to Smith being the better goalie. In Game 6, the Oilers scored three goals on Quick on 36 shots, while Smith allowed just two goals on 32 shots. In Game 7, Quick had his best game of the series, stopping 39 of 41 shots, but Smith was even better as he came through with a 29-save shutout.
4. There’s been plenty of talk about the reffing in this series and there’s certainly validity to Edmonton’s gripe that the calls have been lopsided.
The Oilers are beating the Kings in virtually every head-to-head battle at even strength in this series, including 186 shot attempts to L.A.’s 128 and 98 shots on goal to their 63. Not only is Edmonton winning these head-to-heads, but they’re also doing so handily, as they rank in first place of the 16 playoff teams in both categories while the Kings rank last.
You’d think that the team that’s clearly dominating the other in even-strength puck possession would wind up with more power play opportunities than the one that’s being dominated, because the latter is spending more time chasing and defending the former, but that hasn’t been the case for the Oilers and Kings.
The Kings have had 15 opportunities with the man advantage, which is tied with the New York Rangers for the most of any team in the playoffs through three games. The Oilers, meanwhile, have the second-fewest power play opportunities with eight. That’s a difference of seven power play opportunities, the widest margin in any series. The next-widest margin in any series is four.
5. In order for the Oilers to come back and win this series, they need to accept that many infractions by the Kings simply won’t be called for penalties and they have to avoid getting sucked into L.A.’s game of fighting back because the refs have been looking for and calling the retaliation.
They also need to find ways to score at even strength if the power play opportunities aren’t coming as frequently as they’d like. Jason Gregor took a deeper look at this topic earlier today…
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