It’s the Western Conference’s version of the young stars against the (literal) grizzled veterans. One team is two years removed from drafting Connor McDavid with the first overall pick, while the other was in the Stanley Cup final ten months ago. The two teams may have finished the season with similar records, but the predicted winner of this series is a no-brainer.
2. EDMONTON OILERS vs. 3. SAN JOSE SHARKS
47-26-9 103 PTS (7th Overall in NHL)
Goals For: 247 (8th)
Goals Against: 212 (9th)
Last 10: 8-2-0 (3 Game Winning Streak)
46-29-7 99 PTS (11th Overall in NHL)
Goals For: 221 (19th)
Goals Against: 201 (5th)
Last 10: 4-6-0
These two teams are close in the standings, but trending in opposite directions. The Oilers finished with 12 wins in their last 14 games (including two straight against the Vancouver Canucks!), while the Sharks won 4 of their last 13 (including two straight against the Vancouver Canucks!), which cost them home ice in this series. The two teams played each other twice in the last week and a half of the season, with the Oilers winning both games.
Power Play – 22.86% (5th)
Penalty Kill – 80.7% (17th)
Power Play – 16.7% (25th)
Penalty Kill – 80.6% (18th)
Just by looking at the numbers, there doesn’t seem to be much of a special teams battle here. The key to success for the Sharks is to stay out of the box, which goes against the suspected game plan of “slash and wack McDavid. If they do that, the Oilers are going to get more power plays, and the Oilers are going to score more goals than the Sharks, which is the name of the game.
GETTING THE PUCK ON NET:
Shots For – 31.1/game (8th)
Shots Against – 29.4/game (9th)
Shooting % – 9.5% (11th)
Shots For – 29.9/game (19th)
Shots Against – 27.7/game (3rd)
Shooting % – 8.9% (18th)
It is a high shooting team against one of the best in shot compression, and one is going to have to give. The Oilers shoot more and make more of their shots count, and are still in the top ten in the NHL in shots and shots against. This may be a tough matchup for the Sharks.
Dec. 23rd – 3-2 SJ (OT)
Jan. 10th – 5-3 SJ
Jan. 26th – 4-1 EDM
Mar. 30th – 3-2 EDM
Apr. 6th – 4-2 EDM
No major injuries
Joe Thornton – Day-to-Day, is skating and should be okay for Game 1, but how will his knee hold up?
Logan Couture – Still not skating after taking a puck in the face a few weeks ago, his status is still unclear.
SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES PST):
Game 1: Wednesday, April 12th: 7:00 PM (Sportsnet, USA)
Game 2: Friday, April 14th: 7:30 PM (Sportsnet, NBCSN)
Game 3: Sunday, April 16th: 7:00 PM (Sportsnet, NBCSN)
Game 4: Tuesday, April 18th: 7:00 PM (Sportsnet, NBCSN)
Game 5: Thursday, April 20th: TBD*
Game 6: Saturday, April 22nd: TBD*
Game 7: Monday, April 24th: TBD*
What a difference a season makes. Sure, the Sharks still hold some fire power, with the likes of Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski, but they aren’t getting any younger. Will their leadership and experience be enough to knock off an Oilers team who haven’t been to the playoffs since they lost in the Stanley Cup finals 11 years ago? It’s quite possible, but with franchise guys Joe Thornton and Logan Couture banged up, even if they get past the Oilers, it will be near impossible to get through the Ducks (or…Flames) in the next round. Cam Talbot, who posted the winningest season by an Oilers goaltender, seems to have the advantage over Martin Jones in net and although the Sharks allowed the 5th-least goals against this season, the Oilers were not far behind in that category. The Oilers scored 26 more goals than the Sharks and are flying high right now, completely healthy and a confident bunch. The games may be close, but this series ends early. Edmonton wins in 5 games.
*All stats courtesy of http://www.hockey-reference.com