The matchups for the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs are set, and the Anaheim Ducks are set to clash with the upstart Edmonton Oilers in what has the makings of a classic series. The Ducks beat the Calgary Flames in four straight, and the Oilers grinded-out a six-game series victory over the defending Western Conference Champions, the San Jose Sharks.
Both teams have a 25% chance of being finalists this year. The last time these two teams met, the stakes were high. Edmonton defeated Anaheim in five games in the 2006 Western Conference Finals to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are the only remaining members of that Ducks team. Fast forward 11 years and Edmonton will have an opportunity to do it again.
|46-23-13 (105 PTS)||SEASON RECORD||47-26-9 (103 PTS)|
|23.1% (4th)||POWER PLAY (PP)||12.5% (14th)|
|62.5% (16th)||PENALTY KILL (PK)||80.8% (10th)|
|3.50 (2nd)||GF/GP||2.00 (13th)|
|2.25 (7th)||GA/GP||2.33 (9th)|
|30.5 (11th)||SHOTS/GP||28.2 (14th)|
|Ryan Getzlaf (3)||GOALS||Connor McDavid (2)|
|Kevin Bieksa (4)||ASSISTS||Connor McDavid (2)|
|Ryan Getzlaf (5)||POINTS||Connor McDavid (4)|
|Ryan Getzlaf (22:18)||TOI||Adam Larsson (23:20)|
|Antoine Vermette (62.3%)||FO%||Leon Draisaitl (59.4%)|
|John Gibson (2.56 GAA)||GAA||Cam Talbot (2.03 GAA)|
|John Gibson (0.926 SV%)||SV%||Cam Talbot (0.927%)|
How They Got Here: Ducks
The quick synopsis on the Ducks’ victory over the Flames in round one is just that, quick. The Flames hadn’t won a game in Anaheim in 29 visits dating back to January 19, 2004. Anaheim was 4-1-0 against Calgary in the regular season and came into the series 11-0-3 in their last 14 regular season games. The Flames put up a good fight, and three of the four games were determined by one goal. If a bounce or two went Calgary’s way, it likely wouldn’t have been a sweep.
John Gibson emerged to show he can be a reliable playoff goalie after some disappointing performances in his last two appearances. Ryan Getzlaf was an absolute beast and grabbed the Ducks by the skate blades with five points in the series and leading his team in ice-time. The Ducks won this series without Cam Fowler and lost another key defender in Sami Vatanen, but their experience and the fact they’ve won 25 of 49 playoff games since 2010 carried them through.
How They Got Here: Oilers
Edmonton’s series against San Jose was a lot closer to call. The Sharks took the wind out of the young Oilers’ sails winning Game 1 in overtime, but the Oilers bounced back, and that became the theme of the series, resilience. The turning point was a 7-0 shellacking in Game 4 by the Sharks who looked to have taken control of the series. Edmonton regrouped and found a new gear, winning Game 5 at home in overtime, followed by another stellar performance by Talbot in Game 6 that sealed the series for the Oilers.
The Sharks showed plenty of veteran savvy drawing a young, inexperienced Edmonton team into 22 penalties, mostly lazy stick infractions. San Jose couldn’t capitalize and it ended up costing them the series. The Oilers’ penalty kill (PK) was better, and if you throw away Game 4, Edmonton’s PK killed off 17 of 18 penalties (94.5%) and would’ve been the best among playoff teams. The biggest surprise was that Edmonton won this series by committee and without an explosive offensive night from Connor McDavid.
There’s going to be an interesting crease battle between Gibson and Talbot. Both were yanked once in the previous round, but have otherwise been very solid. Gibson has a former starter behind him in Jonathan Bernier, while Talbot has an unproven rookie in Laurent Brossoit. If injuries factor into either side at least the Ducks have an insurance policy in net.
REGULAR SEASON STATS
|John Gibson (ANA)||52||25||16||9||2.22||0.924||6|
|Cam Talbot (EDM)||73||42||22||8||2.39||0.919||7|
During the regular season, Gibson produced better numbers, but Talbot was an absolute workhorse and set a new single-season franchise record for wins (42) in Edmonton. Talbot has allowed just two third period goals in the playoffs, while Gibson hasn’t allowed any. If you’re going to get to either of these guys, get to them early otherwise you likely won’t get anything past them late.
Talbot’s playoff numbers don’t show how good he’s been, if you factor out the blunder in Game 4, he would have stopped 134 of 141 shots and had a 1.40 goals against average (GAA) and a 0.950 save percentage (SV%). This guy’s in the zone and could be the breakout goaltender of the year.
Shea Theodore had a relatively quiet regular season, but he’s been a welcome surprise for the Ducks as he’s third in scoring among playoff defensemen with five points. Hampus Lindholm was the Ducks’ workhorse in the series against the Flames playing 21:57.
Sami Vatanen was injured in Game 1 and didn’t play the rest of the series, and Cam Fowler missed the entire series. Both are question marks for Game 1 against Edmonton but would be welcome additions. Anaheim relied on a five-man rotation for much of the series with Korbinian Holzer playing just 14:39.
Aside from Theodore and Kevin Bieksa’s four assists, the Ducks’ defense didn’t provide much offensive jump, but none of them are minus players entering the second-round. If Vatanen and Fowler return, this is an entirely different defense, but without them, they are not overly mobile and susceptible to some aggressive forechecking.
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
|ANAHEIM DUCKS DEFENSE||EDMONTON OILERS DEFENSE|
|Hampus Lindholm||Brandon Montour||Oscar Klefbom||Adam Larsson|
|Shea Theodore||Kevin Bieksa||Andrej Sekera||Kris Russell|
|Korbinian Holzer||Josh Manson||Darnell Nurse||Matt Benning|
Oscar Klefbom has emerged as a bonafide No. 1 defenseman, and along with his partner Adam Larsson, they’ve given Edmonton a true top pairing. The duo was dominant in shutting down the Sharks’ top line and found a way to contribute on the scoresheet as well.
Klefbom scored two big goals in the series and will factor into the next one against the Ducks. Edmonton relies on its top four defenders with Andrej Sekera and Kris Russell also playing north of 21:39 per night.
Say what you will about the Taylor Hall trade, but Larsson has been the team’s top shutdown defenseman and limited opportunities to Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski in round one. He’ll likely see plenty of Getzlaf or Perry in the second round.
Edmonton’s defense is healthy and even their bottom-pairing of Darnell Nurse and Matt Benning isn’t bad. As the series against the Sharks got longer, the Oilers’ defense got better at distributing the puck and making smarter decisions. If they get time and space, they’ll do a number on the Ducks.
The Ducks had four players that scored more than 20 goals this season in their lineup. Ricard Rakell (33), Patrick Eaves (32), Jakob Silfverberg (23) and Ryan Kesler (22) combined for 50% of the Ducks’ total offense (220 goals).
Not to be outdone, Getzlaf has been one of the hottest players in the league since March 1, scoring 32 points in 22 games including the playoffs. The Ducks’ top line of Rakell, Getzlaf, and Eaves have scored 24 goals since March 1 as well.
|ANAHEIM DUCKS FORWARD LINES|
|Rickard Rakell||Ryan Getzlaf||Patrick Eaves|
|Andrew Cogliano||Ryan Kesler||Jakob Silfverberg|
|Nick Ritchie||Antoine Vermette||Corey Perry|
|Chris Wagner||Nate Thompson||Logan Shaw|
Anaheim is getting timely scoring from their bottom-six as well, as Nate Thompson is ranked third with four points in the playoffs. Perry, who had a bit of a down year, came on strong to end the year with 11 points in 18 games.
Perry had 3 points in the series against Calgary and was an absolute pain to deal with, giving the Ducks four lines they can roll on any given night.
Edmonton had five players that scored more than 20 goals this season and can boast that they had the only 100-point player in the NHL. McDavid led the offense with 30 goals and 100 points, but Leon Draisaitl was no slouch with 29 goals and 77 points.
Patrick Maroon (27), Milan Lucic (23) and Jordan Eberle (20) gave Edmonton a dynamic group of scorers, but since the playoffs, it’s been guys like Zack Kassian (2), David Desharnais (1) and Anton Slepyshev (1) that’s been the difference-makers.
|EDMONTON OILERS FORWARD LINES|
|Drake Caggiula||Connor McDavid||Leon Draisaitl|
|Milan Lucic||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins||Jordan Eberle|
|Patrick Maroon||Mark Letestu||Zack Kassian|
|Benoit Pouliot||David Desharnais||Anton Slepyshev|
You couldn’t say it a few years ago, but this Oilers team has depth. It’s going to make for an interesting matchup because if these teams find a way to break loose, it could be a high scoring series.
Edmonton had the fifth-best power play in the regular season, but it’s fallen to just 12.5% in the playoffs. Luckily for them, the Ducks’ penalty kill hasn’t been much better (62.5%), so it’s a perfect time to end that PP slump.
The Ducks and Oilers are evenly matched in most categories, but one of the biggest intangibles is how quite McDavid has been in the playoffs despite leading the Oilers in scoring with four points. The 20-year-old hasn’t had a dominating offensive game yet like Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. McDavid’s well overdue.
This is the second time in four years that the Ducks have made the second round, and some of that might have to do with Randy Carlyle coming back. In Carlyle’s first stint with the Ducks, they advanced to the Western Conference Finals twice and won the Stanley Cup 10 years ago.
The time they lost was to the Oilers in 2006. Todd McLellan has been behind the Oilers’ bench for two seasons now, before that he coached the Sharks to two Conference Final appearances. He just knocked off an excellent tactician in Peter DeBoer, and if he can find a way around Carlyle’s strategy of clogging up the ice, he can win this chess match.
If the Ducks are going to win, they’ll need to hope their defense can get Fowler and Vatanen back. They might’ve swept the Flames, but Calgary didn’t have the depth or ability to throw out wave after wave of offense like the Oilers can.
If Anaheim can patch up their defense and their forwards keep playing defensively aware hockey, they could suck the life out of the Oilers and get a few goals in the process. The Sharks found a weakness in the Oilers’ game, that they are undisciplined and take unnecessary penalties. San Jose’s power play isn’t as good as the Ducks, so Edmonton will need to stay out of the box.
If the Oilers are going to win this series they need that second line of Lucic, Nugent-Hopkins, and Eberle to get a goal or two finally. They had plenty of chances, but eventually, something has to go in.
Prediction: Oilers in six. Talbot might be one of the hottest goaltenders in the league right now, and it’s just a matter of time before McDavid takes off. Edmonton has nothing to lose, and they weren’t even supposed to be a playoff team this year. Teams with nothing to lose can sometimes be the most dangerous.