The Edmonton Oilers, Vegas Golden Knights and matchups in the playoffs
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing29 days ago
For the first time, we’ll get a look at an Edmonton Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights matchup in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
It kicks off Wednesday night in Vegas, with game two set to go on Friday in the Sin City as well. While the Oilers had home-ice advantage in their first-round matchup with the LA Kings — one that ended on Saturday night with a 5-4 Edmonton victory — the only Alberta team left in the playoffs will kick things off in Vegas.
Edmonton and Vegas have met three times this season with the Oilers going 3-0-1 in those games. Game one came on November 19th and saw the Oilers win 4-3, The Oilers took the second game by the same score on January 14th, but fell 4-3 in overtime in their third game on March 25th. Lastly, Edmonton capped things off with a 7-4 win on March 28th.
While the Golden Knights didn’t have Mark Stone back for the latter three of those games, the Oilers were strong against Vegas all year. At 5×5, the Oilers controlled 54.17 percent of the shot attempts, 54.55 percent of the goals scored and 56.3 percent of the expected goal share.
The Golden Knights dropped game one of their first-round series against the Winnipeg Jets, but roared back with four-straight wins to clinch the series. A big reason? Mark Stone. After missing significant time this season after undergoing back surgery he roared back into the playoffs scoring three goals and eight points in five games against the Jets. And truth be told, the Golden Knights are a different team with him in the lineup and on the ice, than without.
|Reg season. 2022-23 5×5||TOI||CF%||GF%||xGF%||SCF%|
|w/ Mark Stone||620:21||52.59||60.34||58.47||53.59|
|w/o Mark Stone||3500:28||47.34||52.45||49.48||47.68|
The numbers in the regular season are stark from this past season — and are similar over later sample sizes that include last season. It’s clear as day the Golden Knights are a better team when Mark Stone is on the ice.
Looking at a sample size of the last two seasons, we’ve also seen the Golden Knights look different against the Oilers with Stone on the ice, and without him.
|Vegas reg season. 2021-23 5×5 vs. Oilers||TOI||CF%||GF%||xGF%||SCF%|
|w/ Mark Stone||57:28||52.23||33.33||53.91||51.56|
|w/o Mark Stone||348:51||49.42||48.48||47.45||50.29|
Breaking down the numbers deeper over the last two years at 5×5, when Stone has been on the ice against Connor McDavid (xx TOI, the Golden Knights have controlled 46.81 percent of the shot attempts, 62.14 percent of the expected goal share and 48.39 percent of the scoring chances. Vegas, however, has been outscored 2-1.
Looking at the same situation, but with Draisaitl on the ice instead of McDavid (28:21 TOI), Vegas controlled 50 percent of the shot attempts, 42.61 percent of the expected goal share and 44.83 percent of the scoring chances. They were also outscored 2-1.
The biggest caveat in all of this is the fact we might not even see Stone against the Oilers’ big guns. In the playoffs, Vegas has spread its lineup out like a layer of Nutella on toast in the mornings. Jack Eichel is centring the top line with Ivan Barbashev and Jonathan Marchessault on his wings. William Karlsson has centred the second line with Reilly Smith and Mike Amadio on his wings. The third line has seen Chandler Stephenson center Stone and Brett Howden.
That could create some interesting matchups as the series progresses. Given how strong Edmonton’s depth has performed last in the season and into the playoffs, I really wonder how the Golden Knights will approach the series. The LA Kings had no answer for the Warren Foegele, Ryan McLeod and Derek Ryan line, who at 5×5 controlled 74.07 percent of the shot attempts, 83.52 percent of the expected goals and 76.92 percent of the scoring chances.
How will the Golden Knights utilize Jack Eichel? Over the last two years at 5×5 when Vegas had Eichel out against McDavid on the ice (27:10), Vegas has controlled 58.98 percent of the shot attempts, 56.07 percent of the expected goals, and 58.06 percent of the scoring chances, despite being outscored 2-1.
Much like with Stone and Draisail, Eichel and the Golden Knights have struggled against the German. In those 5×5 situations, Vegas controlled just 45.16 percent of the shot attempts, 38.65 percent of the expected goal share, and 37.84 percent of the scoring chances while being outscored 4-3.
This will be a series for the ages.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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