Here lies the battered corpse of the Anaheim Ducks, swept out of the first round of the playoffs at the hands of the San Jose Sharks.
Six seasons removed from making history as the first #8 seed to win the Stanley Cup, the L.A. Kings are in the record books once again. However, this year it’s for their unfortunate demise at the hands of the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights, as the Kings failed to pick up a single win in their first-round series and become the first team to be swept by an expansion franchise. While only allowing seven goals all series, the squad from Los Angeles only found the scoresheet three times in the four-game sweep. Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was made to look like the second coming of a sturdily-built brick wall or a Shooter Tutor with no holes; he was simply unbeatable. The Kings popgun offence looked atrocious throughout the series, with only four forwards able to scratch the scoresheet.
The Edmonton Oilers have dropped three in a row in the last week, losing to the Islanders and Canadiens in regulation and to Pittsburgh in a shootout. Furthermore, the Oilers’ record in their last 10 games (4-5-1) is not helping their cause in securing a playoff spot. Is it time to hit the panic button?
The NHL’s Pacific Division has had an extreme makeover since February 15th. The Flames have won 10 straight and currently find themselves in 2nd place in the Pacific. Furthermore, Calgary is riding a red-hot point streak, collecting points in each of their last 12 games (11-0-1).
- Brian Elliott has ramped up his play, going 10-0-0 with a sparkling GAA (1.70) and Sv% (.943) over that span. This is the goaltender Calgary traded for this past summer.
- Johnny Gaudreau seems to have found his scoring touch once again, scoring 14 PTS (4G, 10A) in his last 12 games. Number 13 scored a magnificent goal last night against the Penguins as well.
Anaheim has been able to play above .500 hockey, going 6-4-0 in their last 10. However, John Gibson is currently out of the lineup with a Day-to-Day lower body injury. Backup Jonathan Bernier is expected to carry the load for the short-term.
- Bernier has filled in nicely in his 7 games since February 22nd. Anaheim’s back-up has gone 5-2-0 with a .933 Sv% and 2.14 GAA. Anaheim should not have a problem in net while Gibson takes the time to recover. Note: Jonas Enroth was called up after Gibson’s injury.
- Ryan Getzlaf (11 Points) and Rickard Rakell (8 Points) have led the way for the Ducks in scoring during their last 8 games. However, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf have only scored 14 and 13 goals, respectively, this season. If Anaheim wants to secure their position in the standings, Getzlaf and Perry have to be more consistent.
Oil Country currently holds the first Wild Card spot, just ahead of St. Louis by a margin of two points. The Blues are riding a 5-game winning streak and look to catch up to the Oilers by the weekend. STL has three games (ANA on Wed, SJS on Thurs & ARI on Sat) remaining this week.
- Jake Allen has been tremendous since February 1st. The Canadian goaltender has gone 9-5-0 with a fantastic .941 Sv% and 1.80 GAA.
- Vladimir Taransenko, in the same time frame, has recorded 10 goals in the 18 games played, putting his goal total to 32 on the season. Brad Marchand and Sidney Crosby lead the league in goals with 35, putting “Tara” just 3 back of Rocket Richard contention.
The Los Angeles Kings find themselves on the outside, looking in. Currently, they are five points back of St. Louis for the final playoff spot in the West (seven points behind the Oilers). The Kings suffered a crushing blow yesterday night, losing 3-1 to the aforementioned Blues at the Staples Center.
- LA is slated to play in Edmonton three more times before the regular season’s conclusion. Two of them will be played in Rogers Place, which doesn’t bode well for the Kings. They are currently 14-16-5 on the road this season; a number that needs to improve should they want to earn a post-season berth.
- These games are considered “must-wins” for both clubs. “4-point games” have become ever-so-crucial in the final stages of the season; they can really “make-or-break” a hockey team’s playoff hopes.
Is it time to push the panic button in Edmonton? Not quite!
The Oilers are just learning how to become a winning hockey team. One word: patience.
I know, I know. We Oiler fans have been more-than-patient with our struggling hockey team for over a decade. We’ve continued to fill our arena with passionate and loyal fans, game-after-game and year-after-year. So, why a little bit more patience?
It’s simple: we’re still seven points ahead of the team trying to chase us down, so we’ve created a little breathing room for ourselves. Let’s look at that breathing room as a reward for our hard efforts so far this season. A losing hockey team doesn’t turn into a contender overnight; there will be a few hiccups along the way. And that’s what we’re going through right now: a hiccup!
Beginning with the amazing luck we had, landing some guy named Connor McDavid in April 2015, we’ve seen significant changes.
Oilers Entertainment Group saw a new boss in town in Bob Nicholson. Significant additions to the organization came shortly after in Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan. Over time, we saw the small moves return big dividends (see Patrick Maroon). We’ve seen the make-up of this team change completely with additions of Milan Lucic and Adam Larsson. Things are coming together and the organization has seen light for the first time in 11 years.
The players are just learning how to win at the NHL-level. Players like Connor McDavid and Jordan Eberle are understanding the importance of the “little things” during gameplay. Even for the players and management that have found success elsewhere, they are learning to win as the Edmonton Oilers.
Having suffered through the last 10 years, I understand why our threshold for panic is so low. It’s easy to doubt the team that hasn’t seen postseason action since I was in Grade 8.
But I urge you, don’t press that button just yet! We’ve worked for that seven-point separation. We should be happy with such a gap!
Believe in what is happening and understand there will be a few hiccups. We’re going to be okay!
With the stretch drive of the NHL season upon us, Tony Brar and Brenden Escott discuss where the Oilers stack up against the rest of the Pacific Division.
BTI back at it again, this time predicting round two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Washington Capitals (1) vs Pittsburgh Penguins (2)
Tyler Yaremchuk: This one is going to be so tight. It’ll go the distance (6-7 games) and I really like both of these teams, whoever can escape here is my pick to win the cup. Holtby has been a monster in the playoffs and the Capitals have better offense in my mind. This Caps team also plays much better when the games get close, their Goals For % is 57.1% when the games are close. Ill take the Capitals in 7.
Taylor Paniccia: Sit back and sort of relax? This series is going deep. Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, hell even depth players for Pittsburgh are chipping in. Pittsburgh’s offense can’t be tamed and it won’t slow down this series. Washington had troubles against a weak Philadelphia offence and the Pittsburgh Penguins will now expose Washington’s lack of scoring from round 1. You can argue goaltending for the Washington Capitals but it doesn’t seem like Pittsburgh’s goaltending has blemished. Pittsburgh in 7!
Josh Goodings: This series is very hard to predict, but I’m confident that it very well might be the best series of the playoffs. I agree with Tyler, whoever takes this series will be my pick to take it all. The Pens have been on another level for months now, and looked amazing taking out the Rangers in 5, but the Caps have been at the top of the standings all year long for a reason. Each team has plenty of stars up front, Crosby-Malkin-Kessel, Ovi-Backstrom-Kuznetsov, but in terms of overall forward depth I like the Caps. Kris Letang is the best defenceman in the series, but once again I think the Caps take the edge in overall defence depth. Although they’re facing some of the best offensive players in the game, I think both Murray and Holtby will be impressive in this series, but I don’t think the rookie will outshine the soon to be Vezina winner. I’d love to see the Pens move on, but this is the Caps year, it’s their time. Capitals in 7.
Niti Krasniqi: It’s safe to predict it’ll be a long series (Can you imagine a sweep? That would be something). Even with Crosby, Malkin and Kessel I can see Holbty standing his ground. Over the past 2 playoff campaigns Holbty is sporting a .950 SV%. We did see that Washington had some trouble scoring against the Flyers, but, I think that will turn around. They’re facing Matt Murray, and Washington has enough fire power to rattle the rookie. Though, even if it was Fleury in net, I don’t think I would feel any different given Fleury’s history. I have Capitals in 7.
Consensus Pick: Capitals
Tampa Bay Lightning (6) vs New York Islanders (5)
Tyler Yaremchuk: On paper, this should be the Lightning easily. If Ben Bishop can play like the Vezina Finalist he is then Tampa should be going to their second straight Conference Finals. But it’s never that simple. Tavares and Greiss are giving the Islanders a lot of hope. If they can get a few players to contribute some secondary scoring (Lee, Nelson, Nielsen) then they could take this series. Although the Islanders finished higher in the standings, it will still be an upset if they win and I like upsets. Islanders in 6.
Taylor Paniccia: Tampa Bay’s roster is deeper and more experienced and you can’t leave out the fact that Greiss is going up against a Vezina finalist in Ben Bishop. While the Islanders did prove me wrong in round 1 it was a very tight series not very many mistakes were made. Look for this series to be a little more offensively open than the Islanders 1st round and Tampa will run away with their better transition game and high powered scoring offense. Tampa in 7.
Josh Goodings: This series shouldn’t be a problem for the Lighting, they have better forward depth, better defence, and a Vezina candidate between the pipes. Even without Steven Stamkos they’re the better team. But not so fast, John Tavares and Thomas Greiss were amazing in the first round and carried that over into Game 1 of this series, giving the Isles a 1-0 series lead and taking away home ice advantage from the Lightning. I still think the Bolts are the better team and will win this series but don’t count the Isles out. Tampa in 7.
Niti Krasniqi: Tampa Bay may be missing their best player, but, they’re still a deeper team with Vezina candidate goaltending, backed up by a very solid Vasilevskiy. The Islanders deserve more credit than they’re getting from the hockey world, but, they were outplayed a lot of the time during their first round match-up against the Panthers. However, John Tavares was outstanding for them in the first round and if he can keep it up this could be a long series. I’ll take Lightning in 6.
Consensus pick: Tampa
Dallas Stars (1) vs St. Louis Blues (2)
Tyler Yaremchuk: Dallas proved me wrong in round one, I dont think they can do it again against a much better St. Louis team. Elliot is too hot and they’re getting contributions from all parts of their lineup. A Seguin return may spark something but I don’t think it will be enough. Blues in 6.
Taylor Paniccia: Dallas simply can not fall asleep like they did at times against the Minnesota Wild. They are going up against a much better St. Louis team. Based on goaltending and how good Elliot has been I have the Blues taking this one quickly. Blues in 5.
Josh Goodings: The Blues biggest challenge in the west were the Chicago Blackhawks, and they conquered them. I think by beating the Hawks they proved they’re the top team in the Western conference, and I think it’s easy sailing to the west finals. Dallas did look impressive against Minnesota… at times, but that just won’t be enough to beat the Blues. Throw in a Tyler Seguin injury and a very hot Brian Elliot and I think this is an easy series for St.Louis. Blues in 5.
Niti Krasniqi: One of these teams is better all around than the other. Though, 3 of their 5 regular season matchup’s needed OT. The other 2 were 3-0 victories for each side. I can see the Dallas Stars putting up a fight and dragging this one out longer than they probably should. Stars obviously miss Tyler Seguin but his production in the post season is pretty poor in comparison to his regular season stats. (0.83 PPG vs. 0.42 PPG) – almost slashed in half. At the end of the day I don’t think Seguin’s absence will be the deciding factor in this series. Blues have the better team. Blues in 7.
Consensus pick: Blues
San Jose Sharks (6) vs Nashville Predators (7)
Tyler Yaremchuk: A battle of two strong possesion teams (both top 10 in CF%) and whoever can take this series is who I will be rooting for to win the Cup. Nashville played very well against Anaheim in round one, but I still look at that series as Anaheim loosing not Nashville winning. Rinne has been spectacular and Smashville’s defense is the best in the league, but this is San Jose’s year, I think beating the Kings gives this team so much confidence/momentum. Sharks in 5.
Taylor Paniccia: Wow did Nashville shock me. While they played well and shut down the Anaheim ducks they will not do that against a way heavier offense in the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are high as ever coming off that big series win against the LA Kings and will take this series because Nashville will not be able to keep up with their scoring. Sharks in 6.
Josh Goodings: This will be an interesting series, both teams coming off of first round upsets looking to prove they’re not a one and done team. The Sharks finally got their redemption with the Kings, looking dominant and finishing them in 5 games. The Preds were up and down in their series with the Ducks, losing games 3, 4, and 5 in a row, but still taking the series in 7. I think these two teams match up quite evenly, but the likes of Pavelski, Thornton, Couture, and Marleau, will be too much for the Preds to handle. Sharks in 6.
Niti Krasniqi: Sharks have more ability on the offensive side of the game and I think they’re good enough defensively to top the Predators. Although Pekka Rinne had a very good first round, he’s been very unlike himself this season so it’s tough to predict which Pekka we will see this series. These two teams are Corsi Kings, but, the Sharks’ goal differential was +31, whereas the Preds was only +13. I think Jones is good enough to help them win this series, if not, they’ve got Reimer waiting. I have the Sharks in 6.
Consensus pick: Sharks