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Date: 05/18/2022
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The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs has officially concluded, which, as it so often unfortunately does, that the Vancouver Canucks are in full swing on their offseason.

They’ve already locked down head coach Bruce Boudreau for next season, and while we’re slightly bitter about that because the first draft of this piece featured “Canucks extend Boudreau” as one of the more surefire predictions, we’ve still got plenty of projections for what moves the club may execute this offseason.

So without further ado, here are seven predictions for the Vancouver Canucks’ offseason.

Canucks navigate Boeser’s qualifying offer by extending him for three years

First up, what many believe to be the Canucks’ most pressing order of business: Brock Boeser’s contract.

In a recent interview on the DFO Rundown Podcast, president Jim Rutherford made it clear that the Canucks certainly haven’t closed the door on issuing Brock Boeser his qualifying offer if an extension can’t be reached beforehand.

“Yeah, there’s that possibility,” said Rutherford when asked if the club would consider extending Boeser a $7.5 million qualifying offer. “That will be step one, we can fit his qualifying offer in next year, it’s not like we’re squeezed, that we can’t fit this $7.5 million in on a one-year deal. It would seem to me that it would make sense with him being as young as he is at 25 to do a deal with a little bit of term on it, but maybe not that big long-term deal because if you get a two or three year deal, he’s still pretty young to get his long term deal.”

“From our point of view, he’s still team-controlled following that,” added Rutherford about the idea of Boeser accepting the qualifying offer and returning on a one-year deal. “We’re pretty open to anything at this point in time.”

As we broke down about a month ago, club-elected arbitration is an option the Canucks may explore in lieu of issuing Boeser his hefty qualifying offer, but its not believed that they’re considering that route at this time.

As such, for our first prediction, we’re saying that while the Canucks may issue Boeser a qualifying offer first, they’ll eventually come to an agreement on a two or three-year deal with him.

More specifically, we’re predicting Boeser’s contract comes in at three years, $6 million annually.

Canucks extend Bo Horvat this offseason

Speaking of extensions, here’s one that many think the Canucks would like to get done this offseason. Rumours towards the end of the season suggested that the Canucks would be prioritizing getting at least one of Miller or Horvat signed.

And as you’ll read in a later prediction, we’re predicting Horvat is the player the club chooses to extend, if they extend one of these players this offseason.

Centres who can score 30 goals while facing tough matchups are tough to find, and what Horvat brings to this organization off the ice is certainly valued by the organization as well.

Quite simply, he’s not going anywhere.

The organization could choose to wait until next season to get Horvat’s contract done, but if their captain hits 30 again next season or raises his overall point total by tallying a few more assists, his next contract could get ugly.

As for a projection on the exact contract, market comparables for the 30-goal scorer Horvat likely start around $7 million and only go up from there.

We assume the Canucks go long-term in locking up their captain, and that Horvat’s next deal comes in at six years at $7 million.

Canucks lose out on Kuzemnko sweepstakes

Despite being among the final teams vying for KHL free agent Andrei Kuzmenko’s services, we don’t love the Canucks chances.

Allow us to explain.

At the age of 26, Kuzmenko is only eligible to sign a one-year entry-level contract, meaning his maximum cap hit is $925,000.

That means that Kuzmenko is going to select a team almost solely based on the opportunity he has with that club.

More specifically, on the opportunity he has to put up a ton of points and cash in on his second NHL contract, not dissimilar to how Artemi Panarin broke into the league with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Which leads to our main point, and that’s the opportunity Kuzmenko will get if he signs with another team who are among the finalists to land him: The Edmonton Oilers.

Edmonton has the luxury of essentially guaranteeing to Kuzmenko and his camp that he’ll get the opportunity to play on a line with either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, not to mention log loads of first power play unit time.

The Canucks have a bit more of a complicated situation, and can’t really guarantee Kuzmenko top six time in the same way Edmonton can.

But hey, who knows? Maybe the prospect of playing with Vasily Podkolzin once again is appealing enough for Kuzmenko to sign with Vancouver.

After all, there are whispers around the industry that the Canucks are currently viewed by many as the favourite to land Kuzmenko’s services.

Canucks recoup a second-round pick

If there’s one thing this new management regime has made clear — and there are many to choose from — it’s that they’d like to have more draft picks.

The Benning-led Canucks dealt their second-round pick in this year’s draft, along with Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, the ninth overall pick in the 2021 Draft, and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft, in exchange for Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland.

That means the Canucks don’t currently have a second-round pick, and we’re predicting that they’d like to change that. But we’re about to take this next prediction to a whole new level of spice.

Canucks don’t select 15th overall

Whether they trade up (New Jersey’s second overall pick is reportedly in play) or down, we’re predicting the Canucks make some sort of move that results in them not taking the stage in Montreal to select 15th overall on July 7th.

If the Canucks trade down, it’s almost a guarantee that the club would be acquiring another pick as a result, perhaps even a second-round pick depending on how far down they trade.

The Canucks feel confident in their scouting staff and with a rather bare prospect pool, adding two prospects instead of one may be what the club views as their best course of action.

If the Canucks don’t draft at 15th, it’s likely because they’ve moved down, not up, but could you imagine the draft day chaos?

In this week’s Monday Mailbag, Faber broke down some options of who the Canucks could be interested in selecting if they did choose to trade down.

Canucks reunite with an old friend to add RD depth

If we’re being honest, the Canucks likely never should have gotten rid of Troy Stecher in the first place, but his play in the playoffs with the L.A. Kings has made that even more apparent than ever.

If Stecher, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, wants to come back to his hometown team and reunite with his old Canucks teammates — who he’s still very close with — then the Canucks would be downright foolish not to at least entertain the idea.

For a team that wants to play with more structure and improve their breakouts, Stecher makes a ton of sense when it comes to adding some depth to the right side of the Canucks’ blue line, an area where they’re a bit weak at the moment.

With Tucker Poolman’s future still a bit up in the air — remember, he was on LTIR when the season concluded with recurring mysterious migraines and headaches — the Canucks would certainly like to shore up their depth on right defence, and with a new management regime who he’s never felt wronged by in power now, Stecher may be looking for a reunion at a low — perhaps even buriable — contract that just makes sense for both parties.

That is, of course, if the Kings don’t try to re-sign their leading playoff point-producing defenceman this offseason.

Canucks trade J.T. Miller at the draft, or sometime this offseason

Just three years after they traded for him at the draft, we’re predicting that the Canucks will move on from J.T. Miller at the draft in Montreal come July, or shortly thereafter.

The Canucks can’t officially start negotiating a contract extension with Miller until July 13th, but they’ve likely already a got a pretty good idea of where Miller’s camp will be coming in at, as Mika Zibanejad and even Tomas Hertl to some extent serve as somewhat obvious comparables that will be used at the negotiating table.

The Canucks may choose to wait until after the draft to deal Miller for that very reason, but a draft-day deal is certainly still a possibility.

Among the things the Canucks’ new regime has made clear is that they will exercise a similar process with Miller as they did with Tyler Motte at this year’s Trade Deadline.

If the two sides are going to be too far apart to come to terms on a contract, the Canucks are going to make the non-emotional decision to move on from an expiring asset and get what they can for him.

In an interview earlier this month, Rutherford joined Canucks Central on Sportsnet 650 and spoke about Miller and the contract negotiations that would take place.

“When you sign a player in their 30s, and you’re put in a position where you have to sign them long term, what you have to weigh in that decision is how much that player is going to give you in the first three years compared to the last three years,” Rutherford said. “You know at some point in time there’s going to be a decline in the player’s play. But does he give you that much more in the first three years that offsets the last three years?”

“Players like [Miller] are hard to find, that can put up points, and they’re strong and they’re physical, and things like that. But we’re going to negotiate with his agent this offseason and we’re going to negotiate in a way that works for the Canucks not only for now, but long term, and if both sides can come to an agreement, then J.T. Miller will be here long term. If the numbers get out of whack, then we have to make a non-emotional decision and make a tough decision that won’t be popular with anybody, and try to get assets that are going to help this franchise long term.”

Further to this, Rutherford added in his interview on the DFO Rundown Podcast that the club would “have a pretty good idea” of where things stand in their efforts to get Miller extended.

If talks don’t go particularly well, expect to see Miller moved on draft day or in the weeks that follow.

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We’re only one day away from the first playoff Battle of Alberta this province has seen in 20 years.

But today, we’re going to take a look at some underlying numbers from both teams, and how it could impact the series.

The Edmonton Oilers have been a completely different team under Jay Woodcroft, so what we’re going to do is look at regular season underlying numbers for both teams between Feb. 10 and the end of the season. While we could get a larger sample size dating back to the beginning of the year, the numbers would be heavily skewed.

Under Woodcroft, the Oilers saw massive improvements in their game in all three areas of the ice and it came out in the Oilers’ underlying numbers, too. The numbers as follows all come at 5×5, where the majority of the game is played.

W-L, points% (rank) CF% GF-GA, GF% xGF% Scoring chances % High danger scoring chances% PDO
Oilers 26-9-3, .724 (3rd) 52.63 (8th) 93-73, 56.02 (5th) 54.17 (6th) 50.64 (14th) 55.79 (6th) 101.1 (7th)
Flames 26-8-5, .731 (2nd) 55.64 (3rd) 99-68, 59.28 (2nd) 52.60 (10th) 54.29 (6th) 54.22 (8th) 1.015 (6ht)

It’s hard to find a true edge, analytically speaking, in the Oilers’ favour. That doesn’t mean the Oilers are a bad team — far from it, actually. The Oilers have had a massive turnaround in their season under Woodcroft, especially at 5×5.

That’s played a big part in their late-season success, as well as their ability to get out of their seven-game set against the LA Kings. Come this round, it’s going to be tight. And I mean really tight.

During the season at 5×5 when adjusting for score and venue, the Oilers controlled just 42.6 percent of the shot attempts, 41.31 percent of the scoring chances, 36.86 percent of the goals scored, and just 42.3 percent of the expected goals. Things are… not looking great in that aspect. But when we look at larger sample sizes over the last few years, the Oilers have shown they can handle this Calgary Flames team that largely looks the same, coaching change notwithstanding.

The truth of the matter is, however, the playoffs are totally different. Edmonton didn’t struggle as much against LA as they did Calgary in the regular season, but you were able to see how the Oilers elevated their game in the playoffs, and I would expect nothing less than them elevating their game in a big way against Calgary.

At the end of the day, this is a series in my eyes that could very well be determined by the goaltending. Tomorrow, we’ll dive into how each teams’ lines and pairings have performed.


Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.


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We had our first taste of second round action, so who got the start they wanted?

Missed anything? Here’s a recap of the night’s action.

Lightning power play proves to be the difference

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up right where they left off, both in terms of the playoffs, as well as their playoff rivalry against the Florida Panthers, and reminded the Cats who are the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup champs.

It didn’t come without hiccups, as the Panthers opened the scoring in the first with a goal from Anthony Duclair, but Tampa’s depth rallied the Bolts to a 2-1 lead with goals in the second and third.

Then the Panthers had a couple calls that didn’t go their way. The first one was a power play goal that not only would have tied the game, it would have ended their power play drought since the start of the playoffs, but was (deservedly) waived off because it hit the netting above the glass. The second one was a power play goal from Nikita Kucherov with 4:06 left in the game that got looked at for goaltender interference from Anthony Cirelli, but it was still a good goal, giving the Lightning a 3-1 lead. Did Cirelli knock Sergei Bobrovsky’s head enough to call it back, or was it a good goal?

To make matters worse for the Panthers, the failed challenge gave the Lightning another power play, which Ross Colton scored on to make it 4-1, and the Lightning take Game 1.

Manson’s overtime winner gives Avs Game 1 win

The Colorado Avalanche also picked up right where they left off with the St. Louis Blues in the playoffs, dominating them just like they did in 2021. But, the Blues are a much better team now, so while the Avs overwhelmed them, they used opportunistic scoring and goaltending to make it a much closer battle. In fact, they opened the scoring, as Ryan O’Reilly scored on his old team just 6:25 in to give the Blues the 1-0 lead.

After that, it was pretty much all Avs. They were relentless with the puck, throwing everything at Jordan Binnington, getting two goals past him in the second period from Valeri Nichushkin and Samuel Girard to give the Avs the lead.

But, the opportunistic scoring came in handy again for the Blues in the third period, as Jordan Kyrou scored with 3:14 in the game to tie it and send it to overtime.

If you thought the Avs were dominating in regulation, they took it to another level in overtime, outshooting the Blues 13-0 in just over eight minutes before Josh Manson scored the game-winning goal. The officials looked at it for goaltender interference, but Manson scored long enough after the infraction for it to count, and the Avs win Game 1. Binnington finished the game with 51 saves, but it wasn’t enough for the win.

The post Stanley Cup Playoffs Day 15: Tampa Bay Lightning power play dominates, Colorado Avalanche need overtime to take Game 1 appeared first on Daily Faceoff.

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The clock may have finally stopped on Jason Spezza’s playing career, but there might be room for another battery in what would be one final spin.

As the Maple Leafs went through locker cleanout day, each of them shared the massive disappointment, and the thought that this team was different heading into this year’s playoffs.

“The group has lofty goals and when it ends in the first round like that, it’s jarring as an athlete because you want better results.” Said a distraught Spezza to the media on Tuesday.

A number of players have big decisions to make in the off-season. Jack Campbell needs to think about whether he wants to test the open market, Mark Giordano the same, and a few others have that decision too. Do they want to come back and push for a Stanley Cup with this group or try it with another team?

Spezza gave the same message he has in previous seasons. He wants to be a Maple Leafs until his time runs out.

“This is the only place I would play.” Spezza said.

The 38-year-old finished off the regular season with 12 goals and 13 assists over a 71-game span. While Spezza spent every minute of ice-time on the fourth line, his contributions in the locker room were second-to-none. Although he only had one point through five games in the playoffs, his leadership was felt throughout the entire dressing room.

“I don’t know if I can measure and even have the words to say how important he’s been for our team, and I know, specifically for myself as the captain,” said Maple Leafs captain John Tavares to the media on Tuesday. “Obviously, what he can do as a hockey player and how he’s just accepted the role that he has because he truly believes in this group here and what we can do and the opportunity we have.

“And it’s not even just that, it’s the fun and the joy he brings every day at his age and how long he’s been around, so he’s been an extremely important player and person for us.”

Now comes the biggest decision of Spezza’s career — does he retire from hockey or will he see if Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas will have him back for one final hurrah? If it is in fact one final year, it might be one where he finds himself in and out of the lineup a lot.

“That’ll be a conversation that I’ll have with Jason here in the coming days and weeks and then we’ll report back.” said Dubas on Tuesday regarding whether or not Spezza will return.

Spezza has remained neutral on the matter, though. The 38-year-old wants to be able to contribute in important ways and if he can’t do that, this might just be the end of him in the NHL as a player.

“I love the game. I’ve always maintained that if I can provide significance to the group, if I’m a contributor every night, then I want to play.”

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The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs has officially concluded, which, as it so often unfortunately does, that the Vancouver Canucks are in full swing on their offseason.

They’ve already locked down head coach Bruce Boudreau for next season, and while we’re slightly bitter about that because the first draft of this piece featured “Canucks extend Boudreau” as one of the more surefire predictions, we’ve still got plenty of projections for what moves the club may execute this offseason.

So without further ado, here are seven predictions for the Vancouver Canucks’ offseason.

Canucks navigate Boeser’s qualifying offer by extending him for three years

First up, what many believe to be the Canucks’ most pressing order of business: Brock Boeser’s contract.

In a recent interview on the DFO Rundown Podcast, president Jim Rutherford made it clear that the Canucks certainly haven’t closed the door on issuing Brock Boeser his qualifying offer if an extension can’t be reached beforehand.

“Yeah, there’s that possibility,” said Rutherford when asked if the club would consider extending Boeser a $7.5 million qualifying offer. “That will be step one, we can fit his qualifying offer in next year, it’s not like we’re squeezed, that we can’t fit this $7.5 million in on a one-year deal. It would seem to me that it would make sense with him being as young as he is at 25 to do a deal with a little bit of term on it, but maybe not that big long-term deal because if you get a two or three year deal, he’s still pretty young to get his long term deal.”

“From our point of view, he’s still team-controlled following that,” added Rutherford about the idea of Boeser accepting the qualifying offer and returning on a one-year deal. “We’re pretty open to anything at this point in time.”

As we broke down about a month ago, club-elected arbitration is an option the Canucks may explore in lieu of issuing Boeser his hefty qualifying offer, but its not believed that they’re considering that route at this time.

As such, for our first prediction, we’re saying that while the Canucks may issue Boeser a qualifying offer first, they’ll eventually come to an agreement on a two or three-year deal with him.

More specifically, we’re predicting Boeser’s contract comes in at three years, $6 million annually.

Canucks extend Bo Horvat this offseason

Speaking of extensions, here’s one that many think the Canucks would like to get done this offseason. Rumours towards the end of the season suggested that the Canucks would be prioritizing getting at least one of Miller or Horvat signed.

And as you’ll read in a later prediction, we’re predicting Horvat is the player the club chooses to extend, if they extend one of these players this offseason.

Centres who can score 30 goals while facing tough matchups are tough to find, and what Horvat brings to this organization off the ice is certainly valued by the organization as well.

Quite simply, he’s not going anywhere.

The organization could choose to wait until next season to get Horvat’s contract done, but if their captain hits 30 again next season or raises his overall point total by tallying a few more assists, his next contract could get ugly.

As for a projection on the exact contract, market comparables for the 30-goal scorer Horvat likely start around $7 million and only go up from there.

We assume the Canucks go long-term in locking up their captain, and that Horvat’s next deal comes in at six years at $7 million.

Canucks lose out on Kuzemnko sweepstakes

Despite being among the final teams vying for KHL free agent Andrei Kuzmenko’s services, we don’t love the Canucks chances.

Allow us to explain.

At the age of 26, Kuzmenko is only eligible to sign a one-year entry-level contract, meaning his maximum cap hit is $925,000.

That means that Kuzmenko is going to select a team almost solely based on the opportunity he has with that club.

More specifically, on the opportunity he has to put up a ton of points and cash in on his second NHL contract, not dissimilar to how Artemi Panarin broke into the league with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Which leads to our main point, and that’s the opportunity Kuzmenko will get if he signs with another team who are among the finalists to land him: The Edmonton Oilers.

Edmonton has the luxury of essentially guaranteeing to Kuzmenko and his camp that he’ll get the opportunity to play on a line with either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, not to mention log loads of first power play unit time.

The Canucks have a bit more of a complicated situation, and can’t really guarantee Kuzmenko top six time in the same way Edmonton can.

But hey, who knows? Maybe the prospect of playing with Vasily Podkolzin once again is appealing enough for Kuzmenko to sign with Vancouver.

After all, there are whispers around the industry that the Canucks are currently viewed by many as the favourite to land Kuzmenko’s services.

Canucks recoup a second-round pick

If there’s one thing this new management regime has made clear — and there are many to choose from — it’s that they’d like to have more draft picks.

The Benning-led Canucks dealt their second-round pick in this year’s draft, along with Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, the ninth overall pick in the 2021 Draft, and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft, in exchange for Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland.

That means the Canucks don’t currently have a second-round pick, and we’re predicting that they’d like to change that. But we’re about to take this next prediction to a whole new level of spice.

Canucks don’t select 15th overall

Whether they trade up (New Jersey’s second overall pick is reportedly in play) or down, we’re predicting the Canucks make some sort of move that results in them not taking the stage in Montreal to select 15th overall on July 7th.

If the Canucks trade down, it’s almost a guarantee that the club would be acquiring another pick as a result, perhaps even a second-round pick depending on how far down they trade.

The Canucks feel confident in their scouting staff and with a rather bare prospect pool, adding two prospects instead of one may be what the club views as their best course of action.

If the Canucks don’t draft at 15th, it’s likely because they’ve moved down, not up, but could you imagine the draft day chaos?

In this week’s Monday Mailbag, Faber broke down some options of who the Canucks could be interested in selecting if they did choose to trade down.

Canucks reunite with an old friend to add RD depth

If we’re being honest, the Canucks likely never should have gotten rid of Troy Stecher in the first place, but his play in the playoffs with the L.A. Kings has made that even more apparent than ever.

If Stecher, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, wants to come back to his hometown team and reunite with his old Canucks teammates — who he’s still very close with — then the Canucks would be downright foolish not to at least entertain the idea.

For a team that wants to play with more structure and improve their breakouts, Stecher makes a ton of sense when it comes to adding some depth to the right side of the Canucks’ blue line, an area where they’re a bit weak at the moment.

With Tucker Poolman’s future still a bit up in the air — remember, he was on LTIR when the season concluded with recurring mysterious migraines and headaches — the Canucks would certainly like to shore up their depth on right defence, and with a new management regime who he’s never felt wronged by in power now, Stecher may be looking for a reunion at a low — perhaps even buriable — contract that just makes sense for both parties.

That is, of course, if the Kings don’t try to re-sign their leading playoff point-producing defenceman this offseason.

Canucks trade J.T. Miller at the draft, or sometime this offseason

Just three years after they traded for him at the draft, we’re predicting that the Canucks will move on from J.T. Miller at the draft in Montreal come July, or shortly thereafter.

The Canucks can’t officially start negotiating a contract extension with Miller until July 13th, but they’ve likely already a got a pretty good idea of where Miller’s camp will be coming in at, as Mika Zibanejad and even Tomas Hertl to some extent serve as somewhat obvious comparables that will be used at the negotiating table.

The Canucks may choose to wait until after the draft to deal Miller for that very reason, but a draft-day deal is certainly still a possibility.

Among the things the Canucks’ new regime has made clear is that they will exercise a similar process with Miller as they did with Tyler Motte at this year’s Trade Deadline.

If the two sides are going to be too far apart to come to terms on a contract, the Canucks are going to make the non-emotional decision to move on from an expiring asset and get what they can for him.

In an interview earlier this month, Rutherford joined Canucks Central on Sportsnet 650 and spoke about Miller and the contract negotiations that would take place.

“When you sign a player in their 30s, and you’re put in a position where you have to sign them long term, what you have to weigh in that decision is how much that player is going to give you in the first three years compared to the last three years,” Rutherford said. “You know at some point in time there’s going to be a decline in the player’s play. But does he give you that much more in the first three years that offsets the last three years?”

“Players like [Miller] are hard to find, that can put up points, and they’re strong and they’re physical, and things like that. But we’re going to negotiate with his agent this offseason and we’re going to negotiate in a way that works for the Canucks not only for now, but long term, and if both sides can come to an agreement, then J.T. Miller will be here long term. If the numbers get out of whack, then we have to make a non-emotional decision and make a tough decision that won’t be popular with anybody, and try to get assets that are going to help this franchise long term.”

Further to this, Rutherford added in his interview on the DFO Rundown Podcast that the club would “have a pretty good idea” of where things stand in their efforts to get Miller extended.

If talks don’t go particularly well, expect to see Miller moved on draft day or in the weeks that follow.

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We’re only one day away from the first playoff Battle of Alberta this province has seen in 20 years.

But today, we’re going to take a look at some underlying numbers from both teams, and how it could impact the series.

The Edmonton Oilers have been a completely different team under Jay Woodcroft, so what we’re going to do is look at regular season underlying numbers for both teams between Feb. 10 and the end of the season. While we could get a larger sample size dating back to the beginning of the year, the numbers would be heavily skewed.

Under Woodcroft, the Oilers saw massive improvements in their game in all three areas of the ice and it came out in the Oilers’ underlying numbers, too. The numbers as follows all come at 5×5, where the majority of the game is played.

W-L, points% (rank) CF% GF-GA, GF% xGF% Scoring chances % High danger scoring chances% PDO
Oilers 26-9-3, .724 (3rd) 52.63 (8th) 93-73, 56.02 (5th) 54.17 (6th) 50.64 (14th) 55.79 (6th) 101.1 (7th)
Flames 26-8-5, .731 (2nd) 55.64 (3rd) 99-68, 59.28 (2nd) 52.60 (10th) 54.29 (6th) 54.22 (8th) 1.015 (6ht)

It’s hard to find a true edge, analytically speaking, in the Oilers’ favour. That doesn’t mean the Oilers are a bad team — far from it, actually. The Oilers have had a massive turnaround in their season under Woodcroft, especially at 5×5.

That’s played a big part in their late-season success, as well as their ability to get out of their seven-game set against the LA Kings. Come this round, it’s going to be tight. And I mean really tight.

During the season at 5×5 when adjusting for score and venue, the Oilers controlled just 42.6 percent of the shot attempts, 41.31 percent of the scoring chances, 36.86 percent of the goals scored, and just 42.3 percent of the expected goals. Things are… not looking great in that aspect. But when we look at larger sample sizes over the last few years, the Oilers have shown they can handle this Calgary Flames team that largely looks the same, coaching change notwithstanding.

The truth of the matter is, however, the playoffs are totally different. Edmonton didn’t struggle as much against LA as they did Calgary in the regular season, but you were able to see how the Oilers elevated their game in the playoffs, and I would expect nothing less than them elevating their game in a big way against Calgary.

At the end of the day, this is a series in my eyes that could very well be determined by the goaltending. Tomorrow, we’ll dive into how each teams’ lines and pairings have performed.


Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.


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We had our first taste of second round action, so who got the start they wanted?

Missed anything? Here’s a recap of the night’s action.

Lightning power play proves to be the difference

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up right where they left off, both in terms of the playoffs, as well as their playoff rivalry against the Florida Panthers, and reminded the Cats who are the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup champs.

It didn’t come without hiccups, as the Panthers opened the scoring in the first with a goal from Anthony Duclair, but Tampa’s depth rallied the Bolts to a 2-1 lead with goals in the second and third.

Then the Panthers had a couple calls that didn’t go their way. The first one was a power play goal that not only would have tied the game, it would have ended their power play drought since the start of the playoffs, but was (deservedly) waived off because it hit the netting above the glass. The second one was a power play goal from Nikita Kucherov with 4:06 left in the game that got looked at for goaltender interference from Anthony Cirelli, but it was still a good goal, giving the Lightning a 3-1 lead. Did Cirelli knock Sergei Bobrovsky’s head enough to call it back, or was it a good goal?

To make matters worse for the Panthers, the failed challenge gave the Lightning another power play, which Ross Colton scored on to make it 4-1, and the Lightning take Game 1.

Manson’s overtime winner gives Avs Game 1 win

The Colorado Avalanche also picked up right where they left off with the St. Louis Blues in the playoffs, dominating them just like they did in 2021. But, the Blues are a much better team now, so while the Avs overwhelmed them, they used opportunistic scoring and goaltending to make it a much closer battle. In fact, they opened the scoring, as Ryan O’Reilly scored on his old team just 6:25 in to give the Blues the 1-0 lead.

After that, it was pretty much all Avs. They were relentless with the puck, throwing everything at Jordan Binnington, getting two goals past him in the second period from Valeri Nichushkin and Samuel Girard to give the Avs the lead.

But, the opportunistic scoring came in handy again for the Blues in the third period, as Jordan Kyrou scored with 3:14 in the game to tie it and send it to overtime.

If you thought the Avs were dominating in regulation, they took it to another level in overtime, outshooting the Blues 13-0 in just over eight minutes before Josh Manson scored the game-winning goal. The officials looked at it for goaltender interference, but Manson scored long enough after the infraction for it to count, and the Avs win Game 1. Binnington finished the game with 51 saves, but it wasn’t enough for the win.

The post Stanley Cup Playoffs Day 15: Tampa Bay Lightning power play dominates, Colorado Avalanche need overtime to take Game 1 appeared first on Daily Faceoff.

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The clock may have finally stopped on Jason Spezza’s playing career, but there might be room for another battery in what would be one final spin.

As the Maple Leafs went through locker cleanout day, each of them shared the massive disappointment, and the thought that this team was different heading into this year’s playoffs.

“The group has lofty goals and when it ends in the first round like that, it’s jarring as an athlete because you want better results.” Said a distraught Spezza to the media on Tuesday.

A number of players have big decisions to make in the off-season. Jack Campbell needs to think about whether he wants to test the open market, Mark Giordano the same, and a few others have that decision too. Do they want to come back and push for a Stanley Cup with this group or try it with another team?

Spezza gave the same message he has in previous seasons. He wants to be a Maple Leafs until his time runs out.

“This is the only place I would play.” Spezza said.

The 38-year-old finished off the regular season with 12 goals and 13 assists over a 71-game span. While Spezza spent every minute of ice-time on the fourth line, his contributions in the locker room were second-to-none. Although he only had one point through five games in the playoffs, his leadership was felt throughout the entire dressing room.

“I don’t know if I can measure and even have the words to say how important he’s been for our team, and I know, specifically for myself as the captain,” said Maple Leafs captain John Tavares to the media on Tuesday. “Obviously, what he can do as a hockey player and how he’s just accepted the role that he has because he truly believes in this group here and what we can do and the opportunity we have.

“And it’s not even just that, it’s the fun and the joy he brings every day at his age and how long he’s been around, so he’s been an extremely important player and person for us.”

Now comes the biggest decision of Spezza’s career — does he retire from hockey or will he see if Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas will have him back for one final hurrah? If it is in fact one final year, it might be one where he finds himself in and out of the lineup a lot.

“That’ll be a conversation that I’ll have with Jason here in the coming days and weeks and then we’ll report back.” said Dubas on Tuesday regarding whether or not Spezza will return.

Spezza has remained neutral on the matter, though. The 38-year-old wants to be able to contribute in important ways and if he can’t do that, this might just be the end of him in the NHL as a player.

“I love the game. I’ve always maintained that if I can provide significance to the group, if I’m a contributor every night, then I want to play.”

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