Judging by their comments last night, I’m going to go with no.
I mean, give these a gander.
Could it be Zach Hyman
, whose four goals are more than anyone in the series? What about Mike Smith, who despite allowing five goals on the first 17 shots he faced in the series, has turned things around by allowing just two goals since?
Truth be told, the Flames are more likely than not talking about Connor McDavid
. Of course they are, how can you not? The entire hockey world is in awe of McDavid turning the playoffs on its head and he’s already working his way into the Conn Smythe conversation. Wild stuff, to say the least.
But in games two and three, it wasn’t just Connor McDavid who beat them. It was all four lines keeping up the energy all night long. It was the Oilers defencemen who were hard on Flames forecheckers and were quick to get the puck out of Edmonton’s zone.
Here’s how the Oilers lines have fared against the Flames at 5×5 when adjusting for score and venue.
Kane – McDavid – Draisaitl
Hyman – RNH – Puljujarvi
Foegele – McLeod – Yamamoto
Archibald – Ryan – Kassian
Edmonton’s top line is producing at a great pace, but the Oilers’ other lines are doing their parts, too. The second line is controlling the scoring chances and expected goal share, despite getting out-attempted.
The third line has been a damn near revelation. They’re dominating the pace of play and getting to the dirty areas with a strong high-danger scoring chance rate. Most importantly, they’re not allowing goals against.
Edmonton’s fourth line… well, they’re a thing.
Nonetheless, the Oilers are doing a great job of countering the Flames attack. Calgary loves a heavy forecheck, so the Oilers have focused on quicker puck movement and better support in their own zone to counteract it. In the neutral zone, Edmonton’s taking advantage of the fact the Flames are a man short whose forechecking, and they’re attacking Calgary’s slow defencemen with speed while catching their forwards flat footed. Once they’re gaining the zone, the Oilers have simply been outworking the Flames.
Edmonton has been harder on pucks in all three zones than Calgary, and that’s been a big reason why they’re up 2-1 in this series. It’s not one player. It’s a full team.
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 [email protected]