Captain Connor McDavid won the opening face-off, then scored 19 seconds later. It set the tone for the Oilers. They weren’t going to fight their way into Game 2.
They have to play exactly the same mentality tonight.
1. The Oilers, both McDavid, scored on their first shot in each of the first two games of the series. Corey Crawford didn’t look as sharp as many expected. If I’m Dave Tippett, I would do McDavid’s line over again. Try to set the tone early. The captain is in such a rush that he thinks throwing hats on the ice for his hat trick, “was not necessary. Let’s just play. ” I agree. Even though the idea was nice, some things are not the same during manufacture.
2. The odd statistic of the game was that despite having scored six goals, only six players scored a point for the Oilers on Monday. McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had three, Alex Chiasson had two, while Tyler Ennis, James Neal, and Darnell Nurse had one. The Oilers scored three unassisted goals (although I thought Neal had an assist on Chiasson’s goal).
3. The Oilers were much more physically engaged in Game 2. They outscored the Hawks 27-10, although they had more of the puck. They just worked a lot harder than in the first game. The Hawks aren’t a physical team, they’re not very big with Brandon Saad their only 200+ pound forward at 206, while Olli Maatta and Connor Murphy are 200+ on the backend. Oilers are much heavier and can wear them down.
Six Oilers forwards weigh over 208 pounds, with Leon Draisaitl and Alex Chiasson (208), Zack Kassian (211), James Neal, Jujhar Khaira (212) and Riley Sheahan (214). Add in Matt Benning (203), Adam Larsson (208), Oscar Klefbom (212) and Darnell Nurse (221), and the Oilers have a nice combination of size, speed and skill. They have to keep relying on the Hawks, especially the cycle, and that’s why I think the fourth row is so successful at the bottom. The Hawks just don’t have a lot of strong D-men or big enough to fight on the boards with this line.
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4. McDavid scored his first career playoff hat trick on Monday. It was the 28th playoff hat-trick in Oilers history – the league’s biggest trick since the Oilers joined. Philadelphia is second at 18, followed by Pittsburgh and Detroit at 17. Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri have seven playoff hat tricks, Mark Messier and Esa Tikkanen have three, Glenn Anderson have two while McDavid, Draisaitl, Bill Guerin, Doug Weight, Joe Murphy and Petr Klima have one.
5. The Montreal Canadiens have the most playoff hat-tricks of all time at 32, but only six have come since the league grew to 21 teams in 1979/80. The Oilers are second with 28 followed by Detroit (26), Boston and Philly (24), Chicago (20) and Pittsburgh and Toronto are 18. Oilers fans were fortunate to see so many top elite forwards range over the years.
6. The funniest playoff quote yet came from Andreas Athanasiou when he was asked about the 50/50 draws and how it differs from being in Detroit. “It would never be like that ($ 1.6 million for winner),” he said. “When we could come to Canadian cities, guys would sometimes put money together for 50/50 (laughs).
7. Darnell Nurse was the Oilers’ leading defenseman in two games. It’s not close. He played 49:40 in two games, and 38:01 in 5 × 5 and 8:10 on the PK. He was a workaholic recording five minutes longer than Oscar Klefbom and 11 longer than Adam Larsson. He doesn’t have much fanfare, but in the opener where the team were terribly defensive, Nurse was one of the few not. He continued his good game on Monday. His partner Ethan Bear, after an ascending and descending first match, was equally strong on Monday and the two of them were the best out passers on the blue line by far. Right now, they’re clearly the best pair for the Oilers, and their ice time reflects that. Bear played 35 minutes at 5 × 5 and exactly the same 8:10 on the PK as Nurse.
8. The Oilers’ third and fourth row weren’t scored by a two-game goal. Khaira’s line has scored twice, while Sheahan’s line doesn’t have a goal, but it had some really solid possession numbers and outshines the opponent. You should win a streak when your last six are this effective.
9. Very Random Thinking: I’m sure Oilers fans are tired of hearing it, but without a doubt the Hawks goal song is a lot more catchy than the Oilers. Maybe just me, but I’ll be looking for a better track next year than Rev Theory’s “Hell Yeah”.
dix. Yesterday Jordan Eberle scored his fifth and sixth goals in 10 playoff games since the Oilers traded him because he had below-average playoffs in 2017. It wasn’t just Peter Chiarelli who felt that – many at Oilernation felt he didn’t show up in big games. He has six goals and 11 points in 10 playoff games with the Islanders. He’s another great example of not rushing to judge after a playoff season for players with a proven track record in scoring. It was no different from those who didn’t want to play James Neal in the playoffs because he was supposed to be ‘too slow’, despite reports that he played with a broken toe in November and December and then had a severe sprained ankle. Scoring goals is tough, and those who do it regularly will figure it out more often in the playoffs.
11. Neal (6), Chiasson (5) and Khaira (4) have 15 shots in two games. That’s nine more than Draisaitl’s line which has six, including four from Draisaitl. When the Oilers play a heavier team, I won’t be surprised if we see Dave Tippett split Ennis and Yamamoto. Both can be effective on their own, but having two such small wingers on the same line will be a challenge against heavier teams like St. Louis, Dallas, or Vegas.