NHL Second Round Playoff Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Anaheim Ducks

Curtis LeBlanc
April 25 2017 11:33AM

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© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Anaheim Ducks steamrolled the Calgary Flames in Round One with a clean 4-0 sweep that included a high-flying 5-4 comeback OT win after being down 4-1 in Game 3.

The Edmonton Oilers, meanwhile, took down the San Jose Sharks, who were Stanley Cup Finalists just one year ago. They did it in slightly less spectacular fashion, taking six games to sink the Sharks, but for a team that hardly anyone had making the playoffs—never mind winning a series—the Oilers have already exceeded expectations.

Season Series

Not only did the Oilers rack up more wins overall in the regular season — they also beat the Ducks three games to two in their season series. The Oilers outscored the Ducks 14-12 over the course of those five games and won their most recent meeting on April 1st 3-2 in overtime.

While the Ducks outshot the Oilers in three of the five games they played, their most recent matchup saw Edmonton stomp the squad from Orange County 34-18 on the shot clock.

What the Numbers Say

Anaheim: 53.0 5v5 GF%,  49.7 5v5 CF%,  50.1 5v5 FF%, 9.1 SH%, .919 SV%,18.7 PP%, 84.7 PK% 

Edmonton: 54.3 5v5 GF%, 49.9 5v5 CF%, 50.9 5v5 FF% 9.5 SH%, 91.5 SV%, 22.8 PP%, 80.7 PK%

This series could end up being a special teams battle, with Edmonton's vaunted powerplay going up against Anaheim's fourth-best penalty kill. That said, the Ducks' penalty kill clicked at just 62.5% in the first round against the Flames, while the Oilers played with fire all series long against the Sharks, being penalized 26 times in the first round — the most by any team in the playoffs thus far.

Why You Should Cheer for the Oilers

Connor McDavid was limited to just four points (2-2) in six games against the Sharks in the first round. Leon Draisaitl had only three (1-2). Unlike the regular season when McDavid was the only player in the league to hit 100 points and Leon Draisaitl managed 77, Edmonton had to win their first round series by committee, getting depth scoring from players like David Desharnais, Oscar Klefbom, and Zack Kassian.

Over five games against the Ducks in the regular season, McDavid managed 7 points while Leon actually surpassed him with eight. If this pair can reach anywhere near the level they did in the regular season—and it's only a matter of time—then the Ducks will have a hard time shutting down an Oilers team that is scoring at all levels. Shutdown-centre Ryan Kesler and the depleted Ducks blue line have a difficult task ahead.

Why You Should Cheer for the Ducks

You shouldn't.

But really, the Ducks have a clear edge in playoff experience given they're going up against a team that hadn't made the post season in a decade before 2017. They've also won the Pacific Division five years in a row and made it as far as the Conference Finals in 2014-2015, when they lost to the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks in seven games. John Gibson had a stellar .924 save percentage during the regular season.

The Ducks haven't lost in regulation since March 10 against the Blues, going 11-0-3 since then during the regular season and 4-0 in the playoffs. They're coming into this series red hot.

Schedule

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Prediction

The Oilers take it in six games, thanks to the reawakening of Connor McDavid and the rest of Edmonton's top line. Ryan Kesler and Hampus Lindholm aren't the shutdown duo that Joe Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are, and the McDavid-Draisaitl combo will skate all over them. That, combined with the emergence of the Oilers' depth scoring in the post-season, will make Edmonton a lethal opponent in the Western Conference.

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Curtis LeBlanc is a writer, poet and hockey person living on the west coast. You can follow him on Twitter @curtiswleblanc and check out his website at www.cwleblanc.com.
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