Winnipeg won game one because they were able to dictate more how the game was played. Edmonton was unable to play to its strength — create off the rush. Edmonton can play better offensively and if they do tonight they will have a much better chance to win. They didn’t create many second and third opportunities, and it is difficult to have success with one-and-done scenarios against Connor Hellebuyck.
— In the nine regular season meetings, when the Oilers were able to create scoring chances off the rush, they won. Here is a breakdown of the scoring chances off the rush in their seven wins. Rush chances EDM-WGP
In their two regular season losses:
And in game one the scoring chances off the rush were 5-5.
— In their seven victories they had 66 scoring chances off the rush for and 33 against; the ratio was 15-13 in their two regular season losses and it was 5-5 last night. When the Oilers don’t generate off the rush, their chance of winning decreases. They need to find a way to generate more off the rush.
— It isn’t just on Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl to create off the rush. Edmonton needs quicker outlet passes and transitions. Edmonton didn’t transition the puck as well as they would like in game one.
— “If you want to be quick, you have to execute and be clean (passes on tape) when you do it,” said Dave Tippett when I asked how they can improve their transition game. Tippett felt game one was cautious for both teams. That played more into the hands of a Jets roster without two of its better players. Look for the Oilers to be more assertive tonight. And I don’t mean physically, although they likely will be more physical — I see them being more assertive in their decision making with the puck. Move it quicker. Have the defencemen join the rush more often, and in the offensive zone the forwards need to take the puck to the net more and those without the puck need to get to the net more.
— Connor Hellebuyck didn’t have to deal with too much traffic, and the Oilers didn’t generate many plays side-to-side. Kevin Woodley said the best way to beat Hellebuyck is on plays that get him moving laterally. We’ll see if they can do more of that in game two.
— Jesse Puljujarvi had a really strong game. If Tippett is going to play Draisaitl and McDavid together, I think it is best to have Puljujarvi on the other line. He has been the team’s third best forward at 5×5 all year. If he is on the second line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and either Kailer Yamamoto or Dominik Kahun, I think that gives Edmonton the best chance to have two scoring lines. If you have Kahun-RNH-Yamamoto as a line they are too small and will get pushed around. Mixing in Puljujarvi’s size and skill on that line would allow them to create more.
— Edmonton’s defensive game was solid. The Jets didn’t generate a lot. Edmonton has been very good since February first in goals against. They just need to improve their transition game and their offensive game. Be more assertive in those areas and they should have a good chance to win.
— The Oilers are 9-11 in a seven-game series when they lose game one. In 2017 they lost game one to San Jose, but won the series in six. In 2006 they lost game one to Detroit and San Jose, but ended up winning both series in six games. They lost game one to Carolina, after blowing a 3-0, lead and ended up losing in seven games. And in 1997 they lost game one to Dallas, but ended up winning game seven on Todd Marchant’s overtime winner.
— In the previous nine series where they were down 1-0 and came back to win, the Oilers won in five games (3x), six games (4x) and seven games (2x).
— When Edmonton has gone down 2-0 in a series they have only won once. In 2006 against the San Jose Sharks and they lost the first two games on the road, then won four straight. They are 1-7 in series when trailing 2-0 including the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.
— Edmonton has started a seven game series on home ice and lost both games once in franchise history. In the 1983 Stanley Cup Final when they were swept by the New York Islanders. Going down 2-0 on home ice would be, to state the obvious, less than ideal.
Through 18 NHL playoff games:
Teams scoring first are 13-5.
Teams with more shots are 10-8.
Teams with more hits are 12-6.
Total PP/game per series:
CAR/NSH: 8.5 (2GP)
WSH/BOS: 7.66 (3GP)
FLA/TB: 6.0 (3GP)
VGK/MIN: 5.0 (3GP)
PIT/NYI: 4.66 (3GP)
COL/STL: 4.5 (2GP) TOR/MTL (1GP)
EDM/WPG: 1.0 (1GP)
— The Oilers are one of the teams who scored first and lost and had more shots and lost. I’d expect a few more powerplays tonight. I agree with Dave Tippett when he said game one was cautious. Edmonton does not play well when they are cautious. They need to come out aggressively. Toronto and Montreal proved that you can play with high energy and emotion without fans. I don’t but the “no fans” reason as to why game one lacked the playoff intensity of the other series.


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