Edmonton Oilers vs Chicago Blackhawks Preview
Updated: Oct 4, 2020
Tale Of The Tape
PP% 29.5 (1st) | 3.14 GF/G (15th)
PK% 84.4 (2nd) | 3.03 GA/G (15th)
PP% 15.2 (28th) | 2.97 GF/G (18th)
PK% 82.1 (9th) | 3.06 GA/G (16th)
Season Series: 2-1-0 Chicago
It seems almost too early to be making predictions. It's the middle of summer, everyone is hot and relaxing in the park on picnic blankets. Nobody is thinking about hockey right now, are they!?
But they sure are in Edmonton! The Oiler faithful have a lot to be excited about going into this tournament and for the foreseeable future. Like wandering years in the desert, finally an oasis has been reached.
The Edmonton Chicago Rivalry is always fun: Two high-scoring, smooth-skating, top-heavy clubs with a proud history. The Edmonton Oilers hope to prove they are for real, the Chicago Blackhawks will try to dig down to find some of that Playoff magic which made them a near dynasty for many years.
Players To Watch
The first player most people think of when they think of the Oilers is the ubiquitous Connor McJesus. But this season they might want to consider watching for the “German Gretzky”. How do you count to three in German? Eins, Zwei und Draisaitl!
Leon Draisaitl has been on a tear since the beginning of the year. 43 Goals, 67 Assists in 71 Games, Drai even had a shot at eclipsing 130 points this year, something which hasn’t happened since Super Mario Lemieux in 1995-96. It would be hard not to name him as this year’s Hart Trophy Winner.
For the Hawks, Patrick Kane continues to produce at a point-a-game pace. Meanwhile the veteran core of Keith, Toews, and Crawford continues to frustrate opponents. One real under-the-radar candidate in this series will be Corey Crawford. “Crow” has taken over the #1 in Chicago, and has been very solid in 2020.
The Oilers Power Play is #1 in the League with a bullet. They are carrying a Power Play of 29.5% into the Playoffs, which is truly unheard of. To put this into perspective, usually a team with the best Power Play in the League will have a 22-25%. 29.5% is the highest season-ending total in history from what I can tell. The 84-85 Oilers featuring a 216-point Gretzky had a Power Play of “only” 25.7%.
This will mean Hawks Captain Jonathan Toews, and their 9th ranked Penalty Kill will have his work cut out for them.
The Chicago Power Play has been strangely very quiet this season ranked 28th in the League. Hard to believe with all that talent on the ice, but the stats don’t lie. Edmonton also has “Killer Specialists” in Riley Sheahan and Josh Archibald, two truly unheralded but extremely valuable players on the PK. The Oiler PK is ranked 2nd in the League.
Advantage: Distinctly Oilers
Contrary to what we might normally expect from the three-time Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks, they have a ton of inexperience in their lineup. Dach, Boqvist, Nylander, DeBrincat, and Strome are all under 22. The “core” of Kane, Toews and Crow is still around. But with even Brent Seabrooke now taking a backseat, this is starting to look like a much different team than the Cup Winning Dynasty of five years ago.
All eyes will be on Alex DeBrincat who went from 41 to 18 Goals this season. He will need to be better for the Hawks to have any chance.
X-Factor | Yamamoto San
Little known in Japanese “Yamamoto” actually means “More Mountain”. If the Oilers were looking for “more mountain” they certainly found it with this little spark. Kailer has paced The Oilers since his call-up on December 31. His presence in the lineup has completely changed the outlook of this team. It has given Tippett plenty of flexibility by being able to play McDavid and Drai on separate lines. The Oilers are 5th in the entire league since Yamamoto was called up.
The Blackhawks had a really up and down season this year. Consistency seems to have hurt them while their team seems to be going a veritable “changing of the guard”.
Edmonton is definitely a team on the ascendancy. We’re talking about arguably the two best players in the world sporting the strongest Power Play the League has ever seen. With the addition of Yamamoto, the team’s secondary scoring problem seems to have been solved. Great depth players like Archibald, Kassian, Khaira, Benning and Sheahan. We haven’t even mentioned Nugent-Hopkins who is developing very nicely in his own right.
The Oilers are definitely a team on the up, and this is their Series to lose. Chicago is a great team, but they will really need to pick up their game against this deceptively strong Oiler squad.
Crow might steal a game, and we might see some vintage Hawks in at least one game. But overall:
Oilers in 4.
Mike Smith 19-12-1, .903, 2.95
Mikko Koskinen 18-13-1, .917, 2.75
Corey Crawford 16-20-1, .917, 2.77
Malcolm Subban (Didn’t play)
Leon Draisaitl: 110 Points
Connor McDavid: 97 Points
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: 61 Points
Patrick Kane: 84 Points
Jonathan Toews: 60 Points
Kailer Yamamoto: Oilers were 17-13-5 for 5th best in the League with Yamamoto in the lineup.
Alex DeBrincat went from 41 Goals to 18 this Season.