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5 Keys: Oilers at Ducks, Game 1

Anaheim's faceoff advantage, matchup of Ryan Kesler-Connor McDavid highlight second-round series opener

by Dan Arritt / NHL.com Correspondent

OILERS at DUCKS

10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports

Western Conference Second Round, Game 1

 

ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks haven't lost in regulation in their past 18 games heading into Game 1 of their Western Conference Second Round series against the Edmonton Oilers at Honda Center on Wednesday.

Anaheim went 11-0-3 in its final 14 regular-season games to win its fifth straight Pacific Division title, then swept the Calgary Flames in their best-of-7 series in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Edmonton went 12-2-0 in the final four weeks of the regular season to finish two points behind the Ducks in the division, then won its first-round series against the San Jose Sharks in six games.

Here are 5 keys for Game 1:

 

1. Quality wins

While both the Ducks and Oilers performed exceptionally well over the final two months of the regular season and into the playoffs, Anaheim has played better against stronger opponents in more meaningful games.

Including the first-round sweep, the Ducks are 17-1-1 since Feb. 14 against teams that qualified for the playoffs. They were 4-4-2 against non-playoff teams in that span.

Edmonton, meanwhile, is 6-4-1 against playoff teams since Feb. 14, and 12-3-0 against non-playoff teams. Half of the wins against non-playoff teams came against the Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche, the bottom three teams in the Western Conference.

"Everything is going to get harder from here on out," Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said.

 

2. Ryan Kesler vs. Connor McDavid

Anaheim forward Ryan Kesler and Edmonton forward Connor McDavid are expected to spend considerable time within arm's reach during the series.

McDavid, 20, led the NHL with 100 points (30 goals, 70 assists) during the regular season and had seven points (two goals, five assists) in five games against the Ducks. Kesler, 32, is one of three finalists for the Selke Trophy, awarded annually to the League's best defensive forward.

"It's not about me versus McDavid," Kesler said. "It's about the Anaheim Ducks and the Edmonton Oilers. It's bigger than one matchup."

Video: SJS@EDM, Gm2: McDavid steals puck, nets SHG

 

3. Faceoff disparity

The Ducks were the top faceoff team in the NHL during the regular season at 54.7 percent and the Oilers were last at 47 percent.

Anaheim continued to thrive on faceoffs in the first round against the Flames, winning 53.4 percent of draws (148-of-277). Edmonton struggled against San Jose, winning 47.2 percent of faceoffs (150-of-318).

 

4. Leaning on Leon Draisaitl

Edmonton forward Leon Draisaitl had eight points (six goals, two assists) in five games against the Ducks in the regular season, more points and twice as many goals as he had against any other NHL opponent. All of his goals were scored 5-on-5 and three were game-winners.

Draisaitl plays on the same line as McDavid, and Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg should spend considerable time defending Draisaitl.

Draisaitl scored two goals while Silfverberg was out with an upper-body injury in a 4-0 victory on Jan. 25, and had a goal and an assist in each of the past two games against Anaheim with Silfverberg in the lineup, a 4-3 loss on March 22 and a 3-2 overtime victory on April 1.

"I think every guy has a team that they like to play against," Draisaitl said. "I couldn't tell you why I like playing against them. It seems to work out."

Video: SJS@EDM, Gm5: Letestu, Draisaitl combine for PPG

 

5. Captain clutch

Getzlaf's seven points (one goal, six assists) in five games against the Oilers during the regular season were the most points he scored against any NHL opponent.

The Ducks captain has been hot since exiting a six-day break in early March, scoring 27 points (four goals, 23 assists) in the final 18 games of the regular season and five points (three goals, two assists) in the four-game sweep of Calgary.

"He's their heart and he's the head of their snake and he comes to play," McLellan said. "That's why they are where they're at."

Video: CGY@ANA, Gm1: Getzlaf rips PPG in game's first minute

 

Oilers projected lineup

Drake Caggiula -- Connor McDavid -- Leon Draisaitl

Milan Lucic -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Jordan Eberle

Patrick Maroon -- Mark Letestu -- Zack Kassian

Benoit Pouliot -- David Desharnais -- Anton Slepyshev

Matthew Benning -- Oscar Klefbom

Adam Larsson -- Andrej Sekera

Darnell Nurse -- Kris Russell

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Scratched: Mark Fayne, Griffin Reinhart, Anton Lander, Iiro Pakarinen, Nick Ellis, Jordan Oesterle, Eric Gryba, Matt Hendricks

Injured: None

 

Ducks projected lineup

Nick Ritchie -- Ryan Getzlaf -- Patrick Eaves

Andrew Cogliano -- Ryan Kesler -- Jakob Silfverberg

Rickard Rakell -- Nate Thompson -- Corey Perry

Chris Wagner -- Antoine Vermette -- Logan Shaw

Cam Fowler -- Brandon Montour

Hampus Lindholm -- Josh Manson

Shea Theodore -- Kevin Bieksa

John Gibson

Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Jared Boll, Clayton Stoner, Korbinian Holzer, Sami Vatanen

Injured: None

 

Status Report

Vatanen stayed on the ice for extra work along with Holzer and Stoner following the morning skate Wednesday, indicating they will be the healthy scratches among Anaheim defensemen in Game 1. Vatanen missed the final three games of the first round because of an upper-body injury, but practiced Tuesday. Carlyle said all of his defensemen are available for the series opener. He said he will make a decision on the lineup following warmups.

 

Who's hot

Rakell has five points (two goals, three assists) and is plus-6 in four playoff games. Theodore has five points (two goals, three assists) in four games. Bieksa has four assists in four games. ... McDavid has four points (two goals, two assists) in six playoff games. Draisaitl has three points (one goal, two assists) and is plus-4 in the playoffs. 

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