GDB +2.0 Oilers and Kings: Attack More (8pm MT, CBC)

Photo credit:Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
The message within the Oilers’ dressing room was consistent. Keep attacking.
They liked their start, but they want a better finish.
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“I thought we were a bit shy in the third period,” said Evander Kane. They didn’t play awful. In fact, after allowing an early goal Leon Draisaitl restored their two-goal lead, but they saw that evaporate in the final eight minutes.
“What did we have, six shots in the third period?” asked Warren Foegele. They had seven, but his point was made. They averaged 11 shots in the first two periods, but didn’t generate enough offensive zone time in the third.
But it isn’t just the Oilers who feel their play can improve.
“We need to play better,” said Kings head coach Todd McLellan. “We won’t win the series playing how we did in game one. We aren’t asking our players to be 10% better, just 1% in certain areas. We have some guys who can elevate their play.”
The Kings did not generate much in the first two periods, and if it wasn’t for a few keys stops by Joonas Korpisalo when it was 2-0, the Oilers could have buried LA. But they didn’t, and the Kings stormed back.
The Kings were too passive on the forecheck, while Edmonton’s blueliners did a good job of winning races to pucks, and then moving them quickly to their partner or up ice, which limited the Kings’ time in the offensive zone. The Kings mentioned they want to make “smarter” dump-ins tonight. Put the pucks to spots where the Oilers can be pressured, which often leads to turnovers.
Meanwhile, the Oilers would like to create a few more second and third chances. They had lots of shots 5×5, and did score twice, but they didn’t get enough traffic in front and around Korpisalo.
Playoff series are all about adjustments. LA wants to generate more 5×5 scoring chances and momentum, while the Oilers want to be more disciplined, while also making life more challenging for the Kings’ goaltending and defence.
I’m curious to see if Jay Woodcroft looks for different matchups. I understand if he doesn’t, because all four of the Oilers lines won the possession game and created more chances.
Connor McDavid played 15 of his 18 minutes at 5×5 v. Philip Danault. The Kings will view it as a win because McDavid’s line didn’t score, but they outshot the Kings 12-5.
Leon Draisaitl went head-to-head against Anze Kopitar’s line and outscored them 2-0. I’m sure Woodcroft will take that matchup again, but I think we could see some different matchups in the bottom six.
Mattias Janmark won’t play. I’m told he is likely out for the remainder of the series.
I expect the Oilers to dress 11 forwards and seven defenceman. They are comfortable doing it and it allows Woodcroft to deploy a few different line combinations. Warren Foegele and Ryan McLeod had solid games in game one. Woodcroft would have them as a duo and rotate one of the top-six forwards in with them at times. As we’ve seen before, when they dress 11 forwards Woodcroft isn’t afraid to ice nine or 10 different line combinations.
He could insert Devin Shore and play 12-6, but I sense it will be 11-7 and the game of chess between the coaches will increase.




RNH – McDavid – Hyman
Kane – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Foegele – McLeod – Ryan
Kostin – Bjugstad
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Janmark is out for the remainder of the series, and likely a bit longer. Sources tell me he has foot injury from blocking a shot. Janmark has been very solid for the Oilers. He rarely makes a bad decision with the puck. I’d lean towards the Oilers going 11-7.
One area the Oilers can improve is getting better deflections from point shots. The Oilers D-men had slap passes on the tape on three separate occasions (twice from Nurse), and the forwards didn’t make good redirections. The Kings like to collapse down low, and the forwards read the play properly, and moved into a spot, to get a stick on a shot/pass from the D-men, but didn’t execute the deflection as well as they’d like. Those high slot redirections are very difficult for goalies to stop. We’ll see if the Kings are better at getting their sticks in those lanes tonight or if the Oilers make better deflections.


Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Arvidsson
Iafallo – Lizotte – Vilardi
Grundstrom – Kupari – Kaliyev
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Edler – Durzi
Gabe Vilardi is healthy and will play. His 23 regular season goals were tied for fourth on the Kings. He’s a big boost to their offence. Todd McLellan wouldn’t divulge which line he will play on, but his top two lines were in grey jerseys this morning, while the bottom six wore white. Vilardi was in white and likely starts on the third line.
Kopitar was the only Kings player who wasn’t outshot 5×5 in game one. His SF-SA was 10-9, but every other Kings player had a negative shot differential. LA will want to be better 5×5. I’m curious to see if the Kings alter their forecheck tonight. They were unable to sustain much continual offensive zone time in game one. LA often only used one forechecker, and the Kings’ smaller forwards had a hard time winning any battles v. the Oilers’ bigger and mobile blueline. The D-men did a great job of moving pucks to their partners to get away from the forechecker. LA likes to play a patient game and keep it close. It worked in game one, so they likely won’t change anything tonight, but at some point, they will need to generate more offence if they want to win the series.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers rebound from a tough game one loss and win 4-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid picks up two points after being held off the scoresheet in game one.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Bottom six forwards produce two goals, as the 11-7 format gives them a few more minutes.

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