Ahead of Game 3 vs. the Los Angeles Kings, the Edmonton Oilers have evened up the best-of-seven series at 1-1. The NHL’s highest-scoring team hasn’t exploded for offense yet — outside of Leon Draisaitl who has five points in two games — and there are questions about whether the Oilers will be able to break through the Kings’ stingy defense and have a game where five or six goals get past goaltender Joonas Korpisalo.
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Connor McDavid was asked about his lack of offense, the Oilers are switching up their lines a bit, and there is a new hero in Edmonton where Klim Kostin has become an immediate fan favorite.
The Oilers Need The First Road Win
Game 3 isn’t do or die for Edmonton, but a win would put the momentum of the series back on their side and give them home-ice advantage again. As such, going into Los Angeles, putting up a strong effort, and securing a win to take the lead in the series is important.
The Oilers have out-played the Kings for most of the series but Los Angeles is a team that hangs around. Edmonton has given up leads in both games and the Kings have already proven they can come back and win a game. The Oilers need a contest where they control the play from the outset, go up early, and keep putting pressure on the Kings and expanding their lead. That means the potent offense of the team will need to show up.
Power Plays Have Been Decisively in the Kings’ Favor
To date, the power plays in this series have heavily favored the Kings. Some are wondering if NHL referees are conscious of how deadly Edmonton’s power play is and that subconsciously they’re not giving the Oilers a chance to capitalize. That seems unlikely, thus fans should expect that, at some point, the Oilers will get a game where they have four or five chances on the man advantage. If that happens, it could lead to a highly-offensive game the team needs to know they can run up the score on a Kings’ squad that has effectively limited the Oilers’ offense.
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Edmonton has gotten four power plays through two games and scored at a 50% clip. It should be a priority to try and get the Kings to take a penalty and let that weapon go to work, which will, by association, get players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zach Hyman and others going. Those players have been relatively quiet in this series.
McDavid Comments on Lack of Scoring
When asked about how he feels having produced only one assist in the series so far, McDavid said he couldn’t care less about points and was only worried about wins. To a degree, that’s probably true. At the same time, you know McDavid wants to get on the scoresheet and pot a couple of goals.
He did say, “It’s only a matter of time,” before he feels he’ll break out and that’s probably true. First, the Kings can only shut him down for so long. Second, he’s been dangerous throughout the series, even if it’s not paid off in a goal yet.
In an effort to spark some offense and maybe get McDavid going, head coach, Jay Woodcroft has shuffled up the top lines a little bit. McDavid will start the game on a line with Evander Kane and the Oilers’ captain says he’s excited about the opportunities it might present for him as Kane gets in heavy on the forecheck.
Klim Kostin Earning Love from the Oilers Fan Base
Kostin scored his first career NHL playoff goal in Game 2, which turned out to be the winner. He was interviewed after the game and told the fans how much he loves being on this team and playing with the Oilers. He’s proving to be a useful depth player for the team and Elliotte Friedman labeled him the second-best trade that Ken Holland made (behind Mattias Ekholm).
Kostin has become an immediate fan favorite and it will be intriguing to see how the Oilers approach his contract negotiations in the offseason. He’s a pending RFA and if he continues to be productive in the playoffs, the Oilers will certainly want to consider their options with him.