Setup for Super Seven Saturday

by | May 13, 2022

Someone had to lose, and really who lost with the  Kings going down  to  defeat on Thursday  night? Not the  fans of the  game, who get a game seven. That Kings’ fans would probably rather not enjoy that distinction is perhaps to be considered. But look at it this way: they can go  up to Edmonton, win game seven, and all’s good. From the Oilers’ fans’ POV, they get to welcome their team home and cheer them on to their best effort on Saturday night. Win-win! Or win-lose. Or lose-win. Well, you get the  idea. Viva Super Seven Saturday!

So how’d it happen? Well,  cliché  alert number one: the Oilers’ best players were their best players. Connor McDavid wasted no time, getting Edmonton on the board at 1:40 of period one. The assists? Kane and Cody Ceci. Kane and McDavid would end the night with three points each.

The Oilers also got fast starts in both periods one and two.  The second period was 1:50 old when Evander Kane scored to make the game 2-0 for Edmonton.

They  also avoided a bad-luck break. After the second Edmonton goal, what would have been the Oilers’ third goal was disallowed. This was four minutes after Kane’s 2-0 goal. That  might  have figured big  had they not been able to go ahead late in period three after two Kings’ goals tied the game.

They also overcame the lack of towering defenseman Darnell Nurse, suspended for a game for a head butt in the prior contest. In his place, a team effort kept the Kings’ best players from dominating. Their points (LA’s), came from Sean Durzi and Carl Grundstrom getting the goals and Kempe, Kopitar, Roy, and Anderson supplying assists.

The Oilers also made up for a relative lack of discipline, the team having taken four penalties over the course of the night to LA’s single minor. One of the Kings’ goals, the first, was scored on the power play.  Not that four minor penalties is a tragedy, the point is to note that the Kings were, by contrast, hardly penalized at all.

They outshot the Kings. It was not a huge disparity, 37-32 in Edmonton’s favor, but the  Kings often outshoot their opponents, so having outdone the home team is perhaps more significant than it might otherwise be, and perhaps plays into the earlier point about the relative success the Oilers had on defense.

They won the faceoff battle, hard to do with Phillip Danault on the  other side. The percentage was 54-46%, which doesn’t sound like much, but in real terms, it turned into six more wins, or, in territorial terms, six times when Edmonton started out with the  puck, and  thus six times that the  Kings were chasing.

So  that  formula having worked, a disappointed LA crowd saw the Oilers salt it  away with an empty net goal with  a minute to play, and  then it was plans for a trip North happening on both sides.

Tod McLellan said after, “Well, they’re a pretty good hockey club. . . . I  thought they got to a level that they weren’t at in Edmonton. I thought we responded during the night; this reminded me of Game One, pretty even throughout the night. There wasn’t anything lopsided.”

Then he went metaphorical: “Our quarterback-receiver connection wasn’t where it needed to  be. It was erratic. Obviously when we went to pass the pass wasn’t real clean, and the  receiver wasn’t handling the  puck real well.” You might recall that the coach said a couple of games ago (the 8-2 loss) that the whole thing was predicated on the Kings’ lack of execution in the passing game. He mentioned that in his comments on Thursday again, telling the gathered group of reporters that when the  team does not pass the puck well, their offense is not strong.

Both McLellan and team captain Anze Kopitar trotted out  the old  saw to say a version of, “If you would’ve told us  we’d be in this position with a one-game play-in, we’d have taken it.” The  Coach did add, “We’re not particularly happy how we got to [that one game] tonight, but there’s nothing we can do about that now, so let’s look  ahead. We’ve won there before, and we can win there again.”

It  remains to see which  Kings team, and which  Oilers team for that  matter, shows up on the day of the three great game sevens, Super Seven Saturday, May 14th. That’s tomorrow, so only one  sleep away.

 

Notes

Connor  McDavid played 24:02, leading everyone on his team, including all the defensemen. Three Oilers played under five minutes, so it was full speed ahead and use the talent up if you had to. Obviously, it worked.

Neither Mike Smith for Edmonton nor  Jonathan Quick for  LA looked particularly stellar in the nets. Quick seemed disappointed with the second goal, a Kane deflection. Smith allowed goals one and two to go right past him, though with a fair screen on the first, by  Durzi from up high.

To be fair, each goalie made a great save in turn with the score tied 2-2 in the third period. But then Quick let in a long shot to the far side of the net that would stand as the winner. He looked to be a little bit off his angle, though he was out to challenge.

Brian Kennedy is a member of  the  Professional Hockey Writers Association. He wrote Growing Up Hockey and several other hockey-related titles.  Follow him on twitter @growinguphockey.

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