The Anaheim Ducks showed the difference that an elite shut-down line can make during their Western Conference First Round series against the Calgary Flames. They'll play the Edmonton Oilers in the Second Round, who defeated the San Jose Sharks by proving that opponents have to focus on more than just shutting down top-line center Connor McDavid..
According to the numbers, Ducks center Ryan Kesler and McDavid could cancel each other out, leaving the series to be decided by a showdown on special teams.
Here are five interesting stats about this series:
1. Connor McDavid vs. Ryan Kesler
In terms of individual player matchups, the highlight of the second round will be McDavid, the NHL regular-season scoring leader with 100 points, against Kesler, who is a finalist for the Selke Trophy, given annually to the League's top defensive forward.
With an Oilers-best four points (two goals, two assists) against the Sharks, McDavid scored or assisted on 33.3 percent of the team's 12 goals. In the regular season, he scored or assisted on a League-high 41.2 percent of the Oilers' goals (100 of 243).
McDavid will spend a lot of time facing Kesler, who focused on shutting down Flames forwards Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau in the first round. Both players were kept scoreless at even-strength.
Video: CHI@ANA: Kesler nets Cogliano's spinning feed
2. Special teams showdown
The battle between McDavid and Kesler could spill into special teams, where they each play key roles.
McDavid and the Oilers were fifth in the NHL with a 22.9 power-play percentage during the regular season, but they were 2-for-16 against the Sharks.
Kesler and the Ducks had the worst penalty killing in the first round at 62.5 percent, but were fourth in the regular season with 84.7 percent.
Given that the Ducks were shorthanded a League-leading 281 times in the regular season and the Oilers were shorthanded an NHL-high 26 times in the first round, this could be a highly penalized series which is decided by the special teams.
[RELATED: Complete Ducks-Oilers series coverage]
3. Fighting for faceoffs
A series during the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be decided by a single puck battle, and one area where Anaheim has an advantage against Edmonton is in the faceoff circle.
The Ducks led the NHL during the regular season with a 54.7 percent faceoff winning percentage. Kesler won 57.4 percent of his faceoffs, and Antoine Vermette won 62.3 percent. In the first round, the Ducks won 53.4 percent of their faceoffs against the Flames.
Edmonton was 30th in the NHL with a 47.0 faceoff winning percentage during the regular season; they were slightly better against the Sharks, winning 47.2 percent.
4. Close sweep
The Ducks' four-game sweep of the Flames looked impressive, but it was the first sweep that was decided exclusively in one-goal games (not counting empty-net goals) since the Ducks swept the Detroit Red Wings in the 2003 Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Against the Flames, the Ducks were on the lower side of almost every metric. They outscored the Flames 14-9 but they were outshot 138-122, 68-64 in even-strength offensive-zone faceoffs, 128-107 in scoring chances according to Natural Stat Trick, and 14-9 in rebound shots and 18-12 in shots off the rush, according to Corsica.hockey.
5. Bolstered defense
Anaheim's defense will be improved with the return of Cam Fowler, who hasn't played since April 4 because of a knee injury, and Sami Vatanen, who sustained an upper-body injury in Game 1 against the Flames.
In the regular season, Fowler and Vatanen ranked first and fourth on the Ducks in total ice time at 1,987:51 and 1,538:09, respectively.
In their absence, the Ducks relied more on rookie defenseman Shea Theodore, who played with veteran Kevin Bieksa and ranked third on the team with 80:34 of ice time. Theodore tied forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell for the team scoring lead with five points (two goals, three assists) in four games.
Video: ANA@CGY, Gm3: Theodore ties it with his second goal