What the Vancouver Canucks can expect from the Edmonton Oilers in round two

Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
1 month ago
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It’s official The Vancouver Canucks have advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and are set to dance with the Edmonton Oilers, with the winner advancing to the Western Conference Final.
The chirps have already started to fly between the two fanbases online, but what should the Canucks be ready for when they match up against the Oilers? I reached out to baggedmilk, the managing editor over at OilersNation.com, a sister site of CanucksArmy!
DQ: What do you think went wrong for Edmonton in the season series against the Canucks, and what are you anticipating in this series?
BM: It’s almost funny to remember that three of the four matchups between the Oilers and Canucks happened by November 6th. At that time, this team was a complete disaster from the crease outward, and their inability to play with structure of any kind ultimately led to the coaching change we saw on November 12th. From that point on, the Oilers looked a whole lot more like the team you’re going to see in Round 2, and I think that will present an entirely different challenge for the Canucks.
In terms of expectations, I think both sides have all kinds of skill littered throughout the lineup that will be a handful for the opposition to handle. I think there will be lead changes, I think there will be high-scoring nights, and I also believe that this series is way more likely to run long rather than having either side get the job done early.
DQ: What led to the Oilers taking down the Kings and that godawful 1-3-1 that they play? 
BM: The first reason is that the Kings really aren’t that good. Edmonton basically sat back, watched them set up their trap in the neutral zone, and attacked the 1-3-1 with speed while all of the Kings players were standing still. It’s one thing to block Connor McDavid in the neutral zone when you’re matching his speed, but it’s nearly impossible to do when you’re sitting back and waiting for him to show up. Running through the 1-3-1 with speed caused the Kings to take all kinds of undisciplined penalties, and it was a bold strategy to deploy when up against a power play unit as lethal as Edmonton’s.
Through five games, the Oilers’ PP was basically a coin flip, and the Kings couldn’t really do anything to stop it. If the Canucks are going to win this series, a big part of making that happen will be by staying disciplined and not giving Edmonton too many chances with the man advantage. If they can’t stay out of the box, then I hope the Canucks’ PK gets its rest over the next couple of days because they’re going to need it.
DQ: We saw how lethal the power play was in round one for Edmonton. What’s led to that success?
When people think of the Oilers’ power play, the most common play that comes to mind is the cross-seam pass from McDavid to Draisaitl to set up the one-timer. When those two connect on that play, the likelihood of success is about as high as it gets when it comes to cashing in power play goals. Even reading this, I bet you can picture the exact setup I’m talking about. The problem the Kings had, however, was that they were really only prepared to defend that one specific play. They couldn’t handle Edmonton’s Plan B, C, D, and E.
What makes the Oilers’ power play so effective is that they have a handful of set plays in the offensive zone they can turn to if the McDavid to Draisaitl finisher doesn’t work. They can go upstairs to Bouchard for a blast from the point. They can go down low to Hyman at the doorstep. They can sneak Ryan Nugent-Hopkins behind the coverage for a backdoor tap-in. They cycle McDavid and Draisaitl into the bumper position in the slot to confuse the coverage. The point I’m getting at is that they have so many options and looks on that power play that it really gave the Kings issues that they were not prepared to handle or defend. If anything, the only way to really contain the Oilers’ power play is to stay out of the box entirely. Outside of that, the best you can do is limit the damage.
I mean, what else can you say when they finished just shy of 50% on the PP in the five games against L.A.? They were unstoppable.
DQ: Nashville nearly stymied the Canucks enough by playing a collapsing system in the defensive end. The Canucks seem to match up well with the Oilers because Edmonton plays more run-and-gun. This seems to have led to issues for the Oilers in the past. How would you describe their defensive play down the stretch under Knoblauch? 
Kris Knoblauch is more of a tactician than Jay Woodcroft was, and I think we’re going to see him move the Oilers’ defensive plans to be more in line with what Nashville was trying to do. Against the Kings, the Oilers really crowded the middle of the ice and limited L.A.’s ability to generate much from the high danger areas. Sure, there were a lot of shots on goal — I guess — but most of them came from the perimeter, and I think the Oilers were quite happy with that. The real challenge Edmonton will have against Vancouver is limiting their ability to generate speed through the neutral zone. While the defensive coverage has certainly improved since Knoblauch took over, they still struggle at times to defend zone entries effectively.
How do you think this series will go Canucks fans? Let us know in the comments section below!
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