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Round 2

Ducks vs. Oilers playoff preview

Play of goalies, Ryan Kesler-Connor McDavid matchup among storylines in second-round series

by Lisa Dillman / NHL.com Staff Writer

Anaheim Ducks (P1) vs. Edmonton Oilers (P2) 

Season series: Edmonton 3-2-0 (Anaheim 2-1-2) 

Last playoff meeting: 2006 Western Conference Final; Oilers won series 4-1

All-time playoff series: Oilers lead 1-0

 

How they got here

The Anaheim Ducks, who won the Pacific Division by going 46-23-13 (105 points), swept the Calgary Flames in four games in the Western Conference First Round. The Edmonton Oilers finished second in the Pacific (47-26-9) and eliminated the San Jose Sharks in six games.

The best-of-7 second-round series begins at Honda Center on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports). 

Three of the four first-round games for the Ducks were decided by one goal, including a 5-4 overtime win in Game 3.

The Oilers went from 70 points in 2015-16 to 103 this season. They had not surpassed 100 points in a season since 1986-87, when they won the Stanley Cup.

Edmonton is in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006. The Ducks are 18-9 in playoff games over the past three years.

Video: Hradek previews Ducks vs. Oilers second round series

 

5 storylines

Ryan Getzlaf leads way: Getzlaf, the captain, looked rejuvenated after the Ducks' five-day break ended in early March, and it continued through the series against the Flames. His five points (three goals, two assists) were tied for the Anaheim lead in the first round, and he looked like he had been playing with linemate Patrick Eaves for years, not weeks. Forward Rickard Rakell and defenseman Shea Theodore each also had five points. Getzlaf led the Ducks in average ice time in the first round (22:18) and imposed his will from the start with a goal, an assist and a message-sending hit against Flames defenseman Mark Giordano in Game 1.

Video: CGY@ANA, Gm2: Getzlaf nets go-ahead PPG off Bouma

Connor McDavid's game-breaking ability: The generational talent can produce something out of nothing whenever he steps onto the ice. McDavid, who had four points (two goals, two assists) in six games against San Jose, was held in check by the Sharks; he didn't get his second goal of the series until he scored into an empty net in the last second of Game 6. McDavid, who won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL regular-season scoring leader with 100 points, will test the shut-down abilities of the Ducks' best checking line, center Ryan Kesler, a Selke Trophy nominee, and wings Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg. Oilers coach Todd McLellan said McDavid's line eventually had an impact against the Sharks, in less obvious ways. "It's not about winning a scoring title in the playoffs," McLellan said. "Connor was tremendous. His line was excellent. They played with tenacity and wore the other team down so the other lines could go out and create some offense." 

Video: SJS@EDM, Gm5: McDavid delivers a huge hit on Sorensen

Health of Ducks defense: Theodore, a rookie defenseman, was a revelation in the first round, but the Ducks will need No. 1 defenseman Cam Fowler and top-four defenseman Sami Vatanen to return if they want to go on a long playoff run. Fowler, who missed the first round with a knee injury sustained April 4 against the Flames, has resumed practicing. Vatanen (upper body) was limited to one game against the Flames but practiced Monday.

Cam Talbot: So much for those late-season fears about Talbot's heavy workload. Talbot, who set an Oilers record with 42 victories in the regular season, had a 2.03 goals-against average, a .927 save percentage and two shutouts against the Sharks. He has plenty of help in front of him. Defenseman Kris Russell had a series-high 27 blocked shots, including five in Game 6, after leading the League during the regular season (213). 

Video: EDM@SJS, Gm6: Talbot denies Karlsson with blocker
 
Ryan Kesler plays the heavy: Kesler doesn't run from the role of the villain, rather he embraces it. The more booing, the better. When the series shifts to Edmonton for Games 3 and 4, there will be plenty of it, based on the previous reception given to Kesler in Canadian cities. He'll have his hands full trying to contain McDavid. Kesler won the Selke Trophy as the League's top defensive forward when he was with the Vancouver Canucks in 2011. He is a Selke finalist for the fifth time after another strong two-way performance this season (22 goals, 36 assists, plus-8 rating). 

 

By the numbers

18: The Ducks haven't lost in regulation since March 10 at the St. Louis Blues (4-3), going 11-0-3 in the regular season and 4-0 in the playoffs.

2: The number of game-winning goals by Oilers forward Zack Kassian in the series against the Sharks. In 79 regular-season games, he had seven goals, none of them a game-winner. Kassian has six game-winners in 313 NHL regular-season games.

53.4: The percentage of faceoffs won by the Ducks against the Flames. Anaheim was third in the League in the first round, trailing the Minnesota Wild (57.4) and Toronto Maple Leafs (54.0).

 

In the spotlight

Ducks: John Gibson, goaltender -- Gibson, 23, has been dubbed the Ducks goaltender of the future for years. His play finally caught up with the hype when he won his first playoff series, starting all four games. Gibson had some help from backup Jonathan Bernier in Game 3, when he was pulled after allowing four goals on 16 shots, but responded with a strong bounce-back performance in Game 4 by making 36 saves. He went 25-16-9 with a 2.22 GAA, .924 save percentage and six shutouts, which ranked sixth in the League, in the regular season

Oilers: Leon Draisaitl, forward -- The biggest impact player against Anaheim in the regular season was not McDavid or even former Ducks forward Patrick Maroon. It was Draisaitl, 21, who seems to love playing against the Ducks. He had eight points (six goals, two assists) in five games, including two goals in overtime. Against the Sharks, he wasn't much of a factor until Game 5, when he set up the game-winner in overtime with a brilliant pass, and Game 6, when he scored the first goal on a breakaway. Draisaitl had the flu during the series.

 

Keys to victory

Ducks: Their ability to contain McDavid at 5-on-5, their veteran leadership and Gibson. One of the keys to their first-round victory was their ability to control play at even strength. The Ducks have plenty of veteran leadership with Getzlaf, Kesler and Corey Perry. They will need to get the same consistent goaltending they received from Gibson in the first round.

Oilers: Talbot, speed and physical play. Talbot likely will be tested more than he was against the Sharks, who were ailing at center. The Ducks are deep down the middle with Getzlaf, Kesler, Antoine Vermette and Nate Thompson. McDavid and Draisaitl want to play a fast game. Milan Lucic, Maroon and Kassian all played a role in the Oilers advancing to the second round, and they give Edmonton three big, physical bodies to push back physically against Anaheim, something you probably wouldn't have said before this season.

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