With the Oilers preparing for round two against the Anaheim Ducks, it’s worth checking out how the two teams did against each other during the regular season, and focus on what the on-ice match-ups were like.
In their five games against the Ducks, the Oilers went 3-2, outscoring them 14-12, and 9-6 at even-strength. Neither team allowed a shorthanded goal against, but the Oilers did score three powerplay goals, while the Ducks scored four with the man advantage. The Oilers had the edge in goaltending, as their team save percentage against the Ducks at even-strength was 94.4%, while the Ducks' team save percentage was 92.9%.
Over those five games, the Oilers posted a better share of the total shot attempts with 54.2% (247-209). Heading into the playoffs, the Oilers struggled possession-wise as they had a 48.09% share of shot attempts over their final 25 games (one of the lowest in the league), while the Ducks posted a 49.85% share.
There’s going to be plenty of chatter about how each coach will deploy their personnel, so I thought it'd be interesting to break down how each of the Oilers regular centermen did against the Ducks centermen over the five regular season games. As we saw in the first round, there’s plenty of line-matching going on, not only in the past series but across the league, and it’ll likely continue against the Ducks.
Here’s how McDavid did against the three most common centers for Anaheim.
McDavid saw a lot of Kesler in those five games, and won the share of shot attempts (56.98%). What’s worth noting is that Draisaitl was with McDavid for 36 of the 50 minutes and posted a Corsi For% of 57%. Without Draisaitl with him, McDavid still posted a strong Corsi For%, 56.1%. And when Draisaitl was away from McDavid, or didn’t have him on the ice with him, the coaches tried not to send him out against Kesler at all (less than two minutes total). And in 20 minutes against Getlzaf and 10 minutes against Vermette, McDavid was pretty dominant. It’ll be interesting to see how the Ducks try to contain him over a seven-game series.
Below is how Nugent-Hopkins did against the same trio of Ducks. His most frequent opponent was Getzlaf, who he fared well against possession-wise, but the results (i.e., goals) weren’t there.
We saw how well Nugent-Hopkins did shutting down Pavelski and Thornton on a line with Lucic and Eberle in the previous series, so his performance will be something to watch. RNH struggled over the course of the regular season, but his results improved as the playoffs approached.
Below is how Mark Letestu did over the regular season against the Ducks. His most frequent opponent was Antoine Vermette, who he’ll likely see a lot of in the upcoming series.
Some decent results for Letestu against the Ducks over the year, which has me thinking the coaching staff will start the series keeping Draisaitl on the top line with McDavid to take on Kesler’s line, which include Silfverberg and Cogliano. Letestu should probably get more of the depth minutes than Desharnais, but I’d expect Draisaitl, or maybe even McDavid, get double-shifted to give the third line a boost. The problem for the Oilers is that Corey Perry has been moved around the roster, and has spent time alongside Vermette as well. So the Oilers really can’t take that line for granted. Letestu also struggled possession-wise against the Sharks depth players, so it’ll be imperative that the coaching staff make adjustments against a deep Ducks roster.