GDB +3.0: Will Kings Gain Any Home Ice Advantage?

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
11 months ago
With the series moving to Los Angeles, the teams will wear different jerseys, but will the matchups change? Outside of the crowd, I’m not sure there is much home ice advantage in this series, especially when it comes to matchups.
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Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft didn’t push too much for a specific matchup on home ice. The Oilers controlled the first two games at 5×5. Every player had a SF% of over 55% except for Cody Ceci (51.2%) while Kailer Yamamoto and Nick Bjugstad were 50%. Not one Oiler was outshot while on the ice 5×5.
Darnell Nurse led the Oilers with 40:27 of 5×5 time on ice (TOI). He played 21 minutes v. Anze Kopitar’s line and seven minutes v. Philip Danault and Blake Lizotte’s line.
Drew Doughty led the Kings with 40:15 of TOI. He played 17:30 v. Connor McDavid and 16:51 v. Leon Draisaitl.
Philip Danault played 34:55 and 25:03 of that was against McDavid and 4:40 v. Draisaitl.
Anze Kopitar skated 29:31 with 23:18 v. Draisaitl and 3:55 v. McDavid. So 17:13 of his TOI was against the Oilers’ top two centres.
Kings head coach Todd McLellan got the matchups he wanted, but the Oilers still controlled the majority of play 5×5. I don’t see him deviating much now that he has last change. Woodcroft didn’t alter his rotation to avoid a matchup, because his team wasn’t struggling. There was no reason to.
On the morning of game two, after his team won game one, McLellan said, “We need to play better. We won’t win the series playing how we did in game one.”  They didn’t fare any better in game two. The Oilers dominated early, as LA didn’t register a shot on goal until 17:58 into the first frame.
McLellan could swap Danault and Kopitar’s lines and have Danault v. Draisaitl and Kopitar v. McDavid, but with Edmonton running 11-7, it is very difficult to have his top-two centres out against the Oilers centres all the time. In game two, the combination of Draisaitl, Klim Kostin and Derek Ryan scored twice. They only played 2:10 together and both goals came when they were out against the Kings’ fourth line of Rasmus Kupari, Carl Grundstrom and Arthur Kaliyev. Defenseman Sean Durzi was out for both goals, while Alex Edler and Mikey Anderson were on for one each.
Will McLellan consider matching Kopitar v. Draisaitl regardless of who his wingers are? He might, but the Kings haven’t done that all season and it would get them out of rhythm. In the playoffs matchups become more important, because you see the same team for up to two weeks. McLellan will either choose to keep things the same, hope his team keeps it close and capitalize on limited chances, or he opts for something they haven’t done all season. I doubt he likes either scenario. He is hoping his team can find a way to generate more offence and more time in the offensive zone.


He doesn’t have an even-strength point yet and only has one point in two games. That low of production is a storyline, and you have to give the Kings credit. Joonas Korpisalo has stopped all 11 shots McDavid has fired thus far. He is getting chances, but the Kings’ netminder has been perfect against the league’s top scorer. The question many are pondering is: Will his low production continue?
The Kings were the only team to limit McDavid in the regular season. He averaged 0.75 points/game in four regular season games. He averaged at least 1.00 points/game v. every other team. The Kings likely won’t change their matchups because of it, but if you dig down into McDavid’s numbers you will see LA has limited his shots from the inner slot and his passes to the slot in this series.
In the regular season McDavid was second in the NHL with 305 slot passes. He averaged 3.72/game. He’s at 2.00/game through two games. LA has opted to let McDavid attack outside the dots, and they’ve done a good job collapsing to the net and not allowing him to find teammates in the slot. I noticed twice in the third period of game two that McDavid opted to enter the zone between the dots, and both times it created more space. The challenge is when LA has time to set up their 1-3-1 in the neutral zone, the middle is severely clogged up and it makes it difficult to enter the zone in the middle.
The above chart, courtesy of Sportlogiq, shows McDavid only has one inner slot shot. He was fifth in the NHL with 106 in the regular season, while Zach Hyman led the league with 138. McDavid has one and Hyman has two through two games. In the regular season they combined for 3.05 inner slot shots/game, but only have 1.50/game thus far in the series. Hyman’s shots are down due to McDavid’s slot passes being reduced. LA has done a good job limiting shots from the most dangerous spot on the ice. That is why I don’t see McLellan changing his matchup, at least to start, but the odds suggest eventually McDavid will break out.
While McDavid’s line hasn’t had many inner slot shots, the rest of the team has. The Oilers are averaging 8.0/game. In the regular season, the Kings were 1st in the NHL allowing only 5.3 inner slot shots/game. They have done a good job limiting McDavid’s line, but they struggled against the other three. Edmonton leads the playoffs with 18.5 shots from the slot, and that is with limited PP time.
The next step in Evan Bouchard’s evolution will be hitting the net more. He’s taken 15 shots, but only four have hit the net. In the regular season, 160 of his 403 shot attempts hit the net (39.7%). Darnell Nurse was at 47.1% while Tyson Barrie was at 55%. Bouchard has the best shot of the three, and as he gains more experience don’t be surprised to see his goal totals increase, simply because he will hit the net more often.




RNH – McDavid – Hyman
Kane – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Foegele – McLeod – Bjugstad
Kostin – Ryan
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Give Jay Woodcroft credit. With Mattias Janmark out, he opted to move Nick Bjugstad to the wing on the third line and kept Derek Ryan and Klim Kostin together as wingers. It worked perfectly as each scored a goal with Leon Draisaitl as their centre. They only played 2:10 together as a trio but scored twice. They played a total of 8:31 together in the regular season. They’ve barely played together, yet they came up with two huge goals in game two. Going on a deep playoff run means you need unexpected production from individual players, or in this case a trio.
The Oilers should be thrilled with their defensive play through two games. LA has only had a total of 10 shots from the inner slot for an average of five/game. As mentioned above, LA led the NHL with 5.3 during the regular season.


Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Arvidsson
Grundstrom – Vilardi – Iafallo
Anderson-Dolan– Kupari – MacEwen
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Edler – Durzi
There are a few notable lineup changes in the Kings’ bottom-six. Blake Lizotte wasn’t on the ice for morning skate and appears out of the lineup, and Arthur Kaliyev appears to be out as well. Gabe Vilardi slides in 3C and Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Zack MacEwen enter on the fourth line as LA looks to add some grit to their game.
The Kings’ best attribute through two games has been patience. Despite being dominated in the first period of both games, and trailing 2-0 each time, the Kings didn’t panic and tied game one at three, before winning in OT, and tied game two 2-2 before the end of the second period. Of course, they want a better start tonight. More O-zone time and shots would be a good start.
The Kings’ top-six forwards have combined for 33 shots, while the Oilers have 40. LA has eight shots on the PP, while the Oilers forwards have six. LA has had 16:06 of PP time to the Oilers 3:56, but the Kings forwards aren’t getting many shots. Edmonton’s PK has two shots from top-six forwards. The total shots on goal among each team’s top-six forwards on special teams is 8-8, despite LA having 12:10 more of PP time.
The Kings’ power play scored twice in game one, which won them the game, but on many of their PP chances they’ve generated very little and haven’t maintained momentum. Edmonton needs to attack the middle of the ice in the offensive zone to draw more penalties.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers outplay the Kings again and win 4-1.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Draisaitl continues to produce and picks up two more points.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton has more PP chances and scores two PP goals.

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