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BLOG: New series, new challenge

Oilers look ahead to their next opponent, Anaheim

by Ryan Frankson / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers took Saturday night in San Jose to enjoy their first-round victory over the Sharks, but the focus quickly shifted to their second-round opponent as the team spoke to the media Sunday morning before flying home.

Thanks to their first-round sweep of the Calgary Flames, the Anaheim Ducks awaited the winner of the Oilers-Sharks series. The top two Pacific Division squads from the regular season will now square off for a berth in the Western Conference Final against either the St. Louis Blues or Nashville Predators.

"Last night we enjoyed it, we deserved it, we beat a good San Jose team," said Zack Kassian, who scored two game-winning goals in the opening series. "But it doesn't get any easier with the Anaheim Ducks. We're looking forward to the challenge and I know everyone is excited."

The Oilers and Ducks got to know each other quite well during the regular season, squaring off five times, with Edmonton winning three of the divisional matchups and outscoring Anaheim 14-12.

Despite the season series victory, the Oilers know they have their hands full against a well-rested, physical Ducks squad that has won eight consecutive games including the sweep of the Flames. Their last loss came on April 1 in Edmonton as the Oilers won 3-2 in overtime.

"They're rested, so that certainly works in their favour," said Head Coach Todd McLellan. "They're an experienced team. They've got a tremendous amount of confidence… They're certainly playing at their peak. They have players that have gone through it, and as good as they are offensively, they check just as well… Our task will be tough, but that's what happens when you get down to eight teams."

"We have to take our game to a new level," echoed defenceman Darnell Nurse. "That's definitely going to be the main focus. It's going to be a different series… Anaheim is a big, strong team that's going to try to engage and get us off our game."

The Oilers will not have home-ice advantage this series, playing the first two games in Orange County before returning to the friendly confines of Rogers Place.

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