Game 6 Notes: Edmonton Oilers @ Los Angeles Kings
Photo credit:Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis7 months ago
This time last year, the Oilers had their backs up against the wall after the Kings won Games 4 and 5 and led the series 3-2 heading into Game 6 in Los Angeles.
This year, the script has been flipped. The Oilers won Games 4 and 5 and have an opportunity to finish the Kings off in six games with a win on Saturday night in L.A. If not, the Oilers and Kings will again head to a Game 7 in Edmonton to decide the series.
1. The Oilers have traditionally done a good job at finishing their opponents off when they’re leading a series heading into an elimination game. They took down the Flames in Game 5 last spring and didn’t give them any life for a possible comeback and the Oilers got the job done against the Sharks in Game 6 in 2017 to avoid a winner-take-all situation.
The last time the Oilers lost a Game 6 with a chance to clinch the series was in 1997 against the Dallas Stars, but Edmonton came back and won the series in overtime in Game 7. In order to find the last time the Oilers wound up losing a series after having a 3-2 lead, you have to go all the way back to 1989. Wayne Gretzky’s L.A. Kings went down 3-1 to the Oilers and stormed back to win the series in seven games.
That Game 7 win over the Stars came on this day, April 29th, in 1997…
2. It’s incredible how much this series shifted after the first period of Game 4. The Kings had a 3-0 lead and appeared to be on their way to a commanding 3-1 series lead heading into the first intermission. The Oilers scored three goals in the second frame and wound up winning the game in overtime to knot the series at 2-2.
All told, since the Kings went up 3-0 in the first period of Game 4, the Oilers have outscored them 11-4.
3. A major contributing factor to Edmonton’s dominance over the Kings over the past five-and-a-half periods of play has been special teams. The Oilers have done an excellent job at staying out of the penalty box and their lethal power play is capitalizing on nearly every opportunity that it gets.
The Oilers had three power play opportunities in Game 5 and scored on two of them, while the Kings scored on one of two chances. In Game 5, the Kings only had one chance on the power play and the Oilers killed it off, while Edmonton scored two goals on three power play opportunities. That’s 4-for-7 for the Oilers and 1-for-3 for the Kings on the power play over those two games.
4. If the Kings are going to have any chance at coming back and winning this series, they’ll need to either figure out how to stop Edmonton’s power play or they’ll have to stay out of the penalty box entirely.
Over at The Athletic, Eric Stephen shared some interesting insights from former NHLer and ESPN analyst Dominic Moore about what he believes the Kings are doing wrong with their penalty kill…
“Times have changed for sure, but I’ve played in the playoffs against the Penguins’ power play and Capitals’ power play in their heyday. You have to be aggressive. You can’t do it the way L.A. is doing it.They are worried about plays through seams and trying to protect the inside but instead they are shrinking closer and closer to their net, giving way too much time, space and allowing shots from scoring areas,” he said. “If they are going to play a diamond, they need to force the Oilers away from the home plate area.Whenever they see a bobbled puck, all four Kings have to force the play. The Oilers’ power play is obviously lethal, but the Kings are significantly helping their cause.”
Kings centre Phillip Danualt, who’s been tasked with shutting down Connor McDavid during this series, offered a rebuttal, saying that the skill on Edmonton’s power play makes it difficult to be overly aggressive on the penalty kill…
“You’ve got to be smart with that,” Danault said. ““You can’t be too aggressive. Normally, you see a number and you go hard. But these guys, they can just turn on a dime. You’ve got to be careful. They can make magic out of nothing.”
The Oilers scored on 32.36 percent of their power play opportunities during the regular season, which was the highest percentage by a team in a single season in league history. They’re operating at a 57.1 power play percentage in the playoffs so far.
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