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GDB +6.0: Oilers and Canucks Matchup Options and a Silovs Scouting Report

Edmonton Oilers Vancouver Canucks
Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 month ago
Playoffs are often decided by who wins a key matchup. You’ve waited patiently (doubtful) for a week to see which matchups Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch wants and which ones Canucks bench boss Rick Tocchet will go after.
We won’t know until the puck drops, but we can look at the first-round series to get an inkling of what each coaching staff will want.
Be sure to check out the latest NHL playoff odds with online sportsbook Betway.
Vancouver defeated Nashville in six games. It was a low-event series with a combined total of 25 goals in six games. The Oilers scored 22 goals in their five-game series victory over Los Angeles. Edmonton had more shots on goal (155) in five games than Nashville (148) or Vancouver (121) had in six games.
Nashville doesn’t have the offensive firepower of Edmonton. Not at 5×5 and definitely not on the power play, and it will be interesting to see which players Vancouver wants out against Connor McDavid’s and Leon Draisaitl’s lines.
Here’s how they deployed their defencemen vs. Nashville’s four lines. I listed the centres in order of lines one to four.
Red = most minutes played against
Green = second most min played against
Blue = third most min played against
Black = fourth most min played against
The Canucks opted to play Tyler Myers and Carson Soucy the most against the Predators top line of Ryan O’Reilly, Filip Forsberg and Gustav Nyqvist. Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek played the most against Colton Sissons’ line, while Nikita Zadorov and Ian Cole faced the Michael McCarron line the most.
Hughes and Hronek did log the most against Nashville’s top-two lines with a total of 71 minutes for Hughes and 65 for Hronek. Hughes played the most 5×5 min at 111 followed by Zadorov (102), Hronek (100), Cole (87), Soucy (85) and Myers (80). But Myers missed Game 2, and he still played the most v. the O’Reilly line. The O’Reilly line scored twice that game and won 4-1. With Myers out, Hughes and Hronek logged seven minutes v. that line, while Soucy and partner Noah Juulsen played the fewest at three minutes. Clearly, Myers was the one they wanted out against O’Reilly’s line.
Their four lines played what you’d expect against Nashville’s top line.
JT Miller played 41 minutes, Elias Lindholm logged 32 minutes, Elias Pettersson skated 20 minutes and Teddy Blueger played 12 minutes against O’Reilly.
Nashville didn’t have an offensive second line, but the Oilers do with Leon Draisaitl, and this is why matchups will become more interesting this round.
I’d expect Miller to face McDavid and Lindholm vs. Draisaitl, which leaves Pettersson to play against Ryan McLeod. Teams will want certain players out often, but no one really hard matches anymore.
In Round 1, McDavid played 80:46 at 5×5 and the Kings tried to match either the Drew Doughty-Mickey Anderson pairing or the Vladislav Gavrikov-Matt Roy pairing against him. Doughty played 38:49, Gavrikov (37:10), Matt Roy (34:31) and Anderson (30:43). The third pairing of Jordan Spence (12:57) and Andreas Englund (7:15) barely played against him. They did the same with their four centres with Anze Kopitar and Philip Danault each playing 30 minutes vs. McDavid, while Pierre-Luc Dubois played 14 minutes and Blake Lizotte skated seven minutes.
Draisaitl played 75 minutes 5×5 and saw a similar balance facing Doughty (36:06), Gavrikov (33), Roy (31:58) and Anderson (29:04). He faced Spence (10:31) and Englund (9:34) much less. His minutes against the Kings’ forwards were similar as well with Danault (28), Kopitar (26), Dubois (11) and Lizotte (10).
Vancouver is much more comfortable with their three defence pairs, but it will be interesting to see if Tyler Myers sees more of McDavid than Hughes does. Neither team will go out of its way to chase a matchup, but I enjoy digging into the numbers to see which pairing or forward line each coach will lean towards.

SILOVS SCOUTING REPORT…

Arturs Silovs has played nine NHL regular season games and three playoff games. The 23-year-old was chosen 156th overall in 2019 by Vancouver, and while his .906Sv% in 89 AHL games doesn’t scream outstanding, he played very well for Vancouver in round one. He only allowed five goals, on 80 shots, in three games. His .938Sv% and 1.70 GAA are very good, but did his play match the numbers? I got a scouting report from one of the best goalie analysts, Kevin Woodley, from NHL.com and In Goal Magazine.
There’s not a big sample size, which means there’s also not a really big sample size to break down if you’re trying to look for sort of trend tendencies and weaknesses. The Oilers will dig into the footage they’ve got in the American League. They would know him very well from Bakersfield. And I got to say, this has not been a great season for him in the AHL. He lost his starting job for a bit and let in a goal from centre ice. A lot of the talk has been about how he sort of leans on the World Championship experience he had with Latvia, backstopping them to a bronze medal — the only medal in that country’s history in a tournament, which parts of it were played in his hometown of Riga, Latvia, and the pressure that comes with that.
He managed that really, really well. It’s almost like that was easier for him than some of the lows he went through this season. They can dig through the AHL footage, but I’m not sure we’ve seen that goalie since he got here. Throughout his time in the American League this year, the tendency was to try and do too much, to chase the game, to be too aggressive. And certainly, in his first four games in the regular season, while Demko was injured, there were times we saw glimpses of that. But in the playoffs, I haven’t.
Will he be positionally aggressive off the rush when he reads shot and has defensive help on the backside? Yes, he will be outside his crease. He will be at the edges. And if you can get that pass across against the defense, you’re going to force him into a massive movement, athletic, dynamic, and you’re going to have a chance to score. He’s been better, as much as that doesn’t make sense, under these bright lights since he got into this series than he was during the regular season. As for trends and tendencies in the last series, the one that did jump out to me — and I thought Nashville went after in Game 5, when they scored the winning goal, but then, strangely went away from in Game 6 — was getting traffic in front of him.
We know that it can be effective. I’m not saying he handles it poorly, but he gave up three screen goals in the regular season on just six chances. And we saw him lose that puck at the top of the ice on [Alexandre Carrier] in Game 5. I was covering Game 5, and there were a number of times I remarked in the third period to the people sitting next to me, like, he didn’t see that. He didn’t see that. And pucks that just went wide, just missed the net or hit the post. And to me, I thought if I was Nashville I would keep going there because he looked like a goalie who’s struggling to find the puck at the top of the zone when there’s traffic in front of him.
But Nashville just didn’t. We’ll see if the Oilers identify that. Obviously, they’re not a team that just throw pucks to the net from the point and hope they can create more dynamic offense. But that seems to be something he’s struggled with at this point early in his career.
The Oilers have Zach Hyman, Evander Kane and Corey Perry who are very comfortable around the net and creating traffic and havoc. Will we see the Oilers make a more concerted effort to create traffic in front of Silovs?

GAME DAY ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Janmark – McDavid– Hyman
Nugent-Hopkins – Draisaitl – Kane
Holloway – McLeod – Perry
Foegele – Ryan – Brown
Ekholm – Bouchard
Nurse – Ceci
Kulak – Desharnais
Skinner
Adam Henrique won’t play and Mattias Janmark will start on McDavid’s line, but expect other players to get a few shifts there as well. Connor Brown will make his playoff debut for the Oilers. Ryan McLeod could see a lot of the Elias Pettersson line tonight, and McLeod, Holloway and Perry need to use their size and speed and take the game to that smaller line.

Canucks

Suter – Miller – Boeser
Joshua – Lindholm – Garland
Hoglander – Pettersson – Mikheyev
Di Giuseppe – Blueger – Lafferty
Hughes – Hronek
Soucy – Myers
Zadorov – Cole
Silovs
I suspect this will be another series where the top two lines go head-to-head as much as possible. Vancouver has to be disciplined and limit their trips to the sin bin, if they have any hope of winning. The Kings took 20 minors and lost in five games as the Oilers scored nine power play goals. Vancouver was shorthanded 22 times v. Nashville, and if they give Edmonton that many chances, the Oilers will make them pay.
Both teams are rested, and should be amped up to play. I hope this series ignites an on-ice rivalry between these two clubs that has never really existed since the Oilers joined the NHL in 1979-80.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers win game one in consecutive series for the first time since 1992. They beat LA and Vancouver in rounds one and two that year and it happens again tonight as Edmonton is victorious 4-1.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid picks up two points. He has at least two points in eight of his last 10 road playoff games.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ryan McLeod scores his first goal of the 2024 NHL playoffs.

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