dmonton Oilers can’t count on future playoff opponents to make the same horrible mistake as the Los Angeles Kings

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When did you first get a good feeling that the Edmonton Oilers would beat the Los Angeles Kings?

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For me, it was the first time I saw the Kings form their small formation after the penalty kill. Yes, Los Angeles had had the second-best penalty kill in the entire NHL this regular season, a fact frequently trumpeted by commentators.

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Such a formation has great success against the vast majority of opponents taking away seam passes and inside slot shots, but it is passive, passive, passive, passive, passive.

And the Edmonton Oilers power play isn’t just any power play. It might be the best in NHL history.

And LA’s passive approach to killing penalties gives the offensive team all kinds of time and space to control and move the puck.

You give Connor McDavid the time and space to work in the offensive zone. What do you think will happen?

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Of course, such a strategy would have worked for the Kings in the regular season. They had shut down 84.6 percent of their opponent’s power plays, second only to Carolina’s 86.4 percent, and better than Edmonton’s 15th-ranked 82.2 percent.

That was bound to give them confidence that they had cracked the code to take out opponents’ best attackers.

But as it stands, the Edmonton Oilers just posted the best net power play performance in NHL history, or at least since the late 1970s when the NHL started measuring power play efficiency. Edmonton’s net rating of 45 percent was even better than their net rating of 43.6 in 12 games last year against Las Vegas and the same Los Angeles Kings.

Edmonton scored on nine of 20 power plays against the Kings in their five games, and that’s if you don’t count the two power play goals in Game Five that came just seconds after their power play ended and the penalized Kings player had just stepped . on the ice.

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If the Kings’ coaches hadn’t been so invested in the success of their passive approach, they might have dug into video of recent Oilers games and seen how Dallas effectively, even brutally, shut down the Oilers power play Game 74 of the regular season had been stopped. season. The Stars didn’t give the Oilers a second to breathe. They sat on it with sticks and bodies, never giving Edmonton a chance to straighten up.

It’s not just Dallas that uses a much more aggressive system on the PK. The Oilers faced more aggressive kills about half the time during the regular season. It always seemed to disrupt their flow and negatively impact their results.

When Edmonton goes up against Dallas or another team that is more aggressive on the kill, the Oilers won’t be able to execute their favorite plays as easily, constantly getting the puck to McDavid along the way so he can break the formation of the opposition can be analyzed. brilliant passes.

How is Edmonton going to combat that? They have perhaps the best combination of power play specialists in NHL history, players with great skills, but also great offensive skills, instincts and minds. They will come up with something, but probably not as often as against the passive, passive, passive, passive kings.

Steven Guilbeault has a good, old friend at the Pembina Institute in Alberta

Steven Guilbeault cartoon

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