Edmonton Oilers vs Anaheim Ducks Second Round Preview

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ANAHEIM, CA - JANUARY 25: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center on January 25, 2017 in Anaheim, California. The Oilers shutout the Ducks 4-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks square off in the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs was 2006 in the Western Conference Final. It also happens to be the last season that the Oilers made the playoffs.

Edmonton Oilers vs Anaheim Ducks Second Round Preview

How They Got Here

Anaheim finished atop the Pacific Division with 105 points. Edmonton finished second with 103. In the first round, the Ducks swept the Calgary Flames in four games. Three of the four contests were decided by one goal, including a 5-4 overtime win in Game 3. The Oilers edged the San Jose Sharks in six games. They managed two shutouts against San Jose, but also surrendered a 7-0 loss in Game 4. Edmonton went 3-2-0 in the season series, Anaheim was 2-1-2.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WLS2DdEBnA

Kesler vs McDavid

The biggest, most intriguing matchup in this series is going to be Ryan Kesler versus Connor McDavid. Kesler won the Selke as a Vancouver Canuck back in 2011 as the league’s top defensive forward, and was named a finalist again this year. Meanwhile, Connor McDavid lead the league in points this season with 100, and has the ability to break the game wide open.

The Oilers go as Connor McDavid goes, but in the first round he was good, but not as good as we’ve seen him be. He had four points in six games, but didn’t quite look like the dominant player that he is. San Jose did a fairly decent job limiting his chances and getting under his skin. The Ducks ‘checking line’ of Ryan Kesler, Andrew Cogliano, and Jakob Silfverberg will try to wear down the superstar, like they have all season.

Goaltending

Cam Talbot will likely be tested more than he was in round one. The Ducks are deeper at centre than the Sharks and will therefore have the puck more, generate more shots, etc. However, Talbot has been very good this season. He set an Oilers record with 42 wins in the regular season. In the playoffs, he had a 2.03 goals-against average, a .927 save percentage and two shutouts against the Sharks. He needs to be the Oilers best player for Edmonton to win this series.

John Gibson has been solid for Anaheim. He had a 2.59 GAA and a .937 save percentage against Calgary, but no shutouts. He doesn’t need to be out-of-this-world in this series for the Ducks to win. As long as he plays solid, clean, calm hockey the Ducks should be able to take care of the rest.

Strengths

For the Oilers it’s the depth, which until this year seems like a weird sentence. But in the first round, McDavid didn’t get nearly as many opportunities as he did in the regular season and he still lead the team in points (four points in six games). The benefit is that opponents often get so caught up trying to contain the All-Star, that it creates room for the rest of the Oilers squad to go to work.

Zack Kassian came out of nowhere, scored two big goals and was a huge physical presence. Mark Letestu put up three points, Milan Lucic got two, and David Desharnais scored the overtime winner in Game 5. Anton Slepyshev and Leon Draisaitl scored about a minute apart in Game 6 to shoot the Oilers to victory. Oscar Klefbom has three points on the back end. A line that needs to come alive for the Oilers in this series is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Patrick Maroon, who have a combined two points.

 

For the Ducks, it’s their grittiness. Most of their goals in the Calgary series were, in the words of Head Coach Randy Carlyle, “dirty”. That’s what the Ducks do best. They crash the net and bury those ‘garbage goals’. Their ability to capitalize on those second chances could come back to bite the Oilers. Edmonton will need to keep them away from the goal crease.

The Ducks also have the experience behind them. Since 2005-2006, they’ve only missed the playoffs twice.

Weaknesses

This is hard for the Ducks. A team that is so solid, it’s hard to pick apart their weaknesses. One factor for Anaheim heading into round two, is that they’ve had a week to regroup since sweeping the Flames, and the whole ‘rest-vs-rust’ factor comes into play. Their last regulation loss was back on March 10th, so the down time could see a slow down in their momentum. The Ducks looked really solid in the first round, especially in Game 3 when they came back from a 4-1 deficit to win 5-4 in OT.

Inexperience on the blue line could be an issue, Shea Theodore, Brandon Montour, Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson have an average age of 23, but they looked pretty good against Calgary. Cam Fowler, who missed the first round with a knee injury he sustained on April 4th, could return in the second round. Fellow top four defenseman Sami Vatanen could also rejoin the team after being sidelined with an upper-body injury.

The Oilers lost Game 4, 7-0 to San Jose, it might be a good idea not to do that again. However, they recovered nicely winning the next two and the series. An area of concern for the Oilers in round one was their power-play. Edmonton were fifth best on the man advantage during the regular season, but only converted on three of 16 chances against the Sharks. Also, say what you want about Edmonton’s defense being their weakest point, they did a pretty good job of shutting down the Sharks (apart from the 7-0 loss obviously). Sure, there were lapses, but that’s bound to happen to everybody.

Predictions 

It’s going to be a battle of grit versus speed. Anaheim will look to wear the Oilers out, while the Oilers will look to use their speed to power past the Ducks. “San Jose was a team, they didn’t want to engage us physically (in the first round) and they didn’t want to get some of our big guys emotional and get that going,” McDavid told reporters. “I feel like Anaheim isn’t going to shy away from that kind of game.”

The Ducks have home-ice advantage, but the Oilers managed to close out their first round series on the road anyways. This is going to be an exciting, physical series. However, if the Oilers can continue to get contributions from their third and forth lines, and Cam Talbot can continue his solid play, the Oilers should be able to sneak by the Ducks. Oilers in 7. 

LWOH Predictions

Ben Kerr – Oilers in 6
Graham Anderson – Oilers in 5
Hunter Hodies – Ducks in 7
Matt Vocino – Oilers in 7
Markus Meyer – Ducks in 7
Brandon Piller – Oilers in 7
Kenneth Stapton – Oilers in 7
Noah Cirisoli – Oilers in 7
Spencer Lussier – Oilers in 7
David Elisio – Oilers in 7
Kyle Cushman – Oilers in 7
Patrick Alan Dejbjerg – Ducks in 5
Nic Henderson – Ducks in 7
Jake Howorth – Ducks in 6
Nicholas Di Giovanni – Oilers in 6
Nick Lariviere – Ducks in 7

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