NHL Rink Wrap: Oilers win ‘Battle of Alberta,’ Hurricanes still perfect at home
• There was some controversy, but the Oilers eliminated the Flames in Game 5, thus winning “The Battle of Alberta.”
• Annoyed by so many mentions of the Hurricanes winning at home, but losing on the road? Oops. The Hurricanes won again at home, pushing the Rangers to the brink of elimination.
• Hard-hitting Capitals winger Tom Wilson recently underwent knee surgery, and is expected to need six-to-eight months to recover. If he falls in the low-end of that recovery window, he wouldn’t miss too much of next regular season.
For the first time in his career, Connor McDavid will appear in the Western Conference Final. While McDavid didn’t dominate Game 5 like he did most of the Oilers - Flames series (and playoffs), he scored the series-clinching goal in overtime.
It capped a wild game, and while many wanted more from “The Battle of Alberta,” they packed a lot of action into five games.
[More on McDavid’s unstoppable postseason]
During the first period, Game 5 of Oilers - Flames felt a bit like a replay of Hurricanes - Rangers. Both first periods were low on high-danger chances. With Andrew Mangiapane scoring the only goal of the opening frame, maybe that sort of pace was best for Calgary?
The second period seemed to argue that such a pace is almost certainly better for the Flames. Most stunningly, the Flames and Oilers combined for four goals (on four shots) in just 1:11 in game time. That’s the fastest four goals in NHL playoff history by 22 seconds.
As dizzying as those 71 seconds were, they don’t account for every second-period goal from Flames - Oilers Game 5.
Building on that Mangiapane goal from the first, Mikael Backlund made it 2-0 for Calgary. About two minutes later, a Jesse Puljujarvi goal made it 2-1. Following that, the two teams combined for those four goals.
During that span, the Oilers surged to a 3-2 lead, the Flames made it 4-3, and then Edmonton scored again to enter the third period with the game tied 4-4. Among the most staggering notes: Connor McDavid somehow didn’t collect a point during that frenetic frame.
[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 Second Round schedule, TV info]
Ultimately, there were no goals in the third period. Of course, someone would say, “Well, that’s just your opinion ...”
Read up here on the Blake Coleman disallowed goal controversy. If you’re not in the mood to click (tsk tsk), here’s the replay:
On the brink of elimination, the Flames showed fight, firing six shots on goal during the brief overtime stretch against the Oilers. Edmonton managed just two SOG, but that’s all they needed, as McDavid scored quickly from a high-danger area.
So, there you have it: McDavid and the Oilers await the winner of the Blues - Avalanche series. Not bad for a team that fired its coach mid-season.
Now, let’s take a breath and switch gears. (Yes, it’s a much lower gear; really, it’s a much slower car.)
As you can read more about here, some Hurricanes - Rangers patterns continued in Game 5. The Hurricanes have still won every home game, and lost every playoff road game during these playoffs. Carolina once again hogged the puck. That’s something that’s been more of a pattern lately, but still worth noting.
Either the Rangers need to break the pattern of getting dominated at even-strength, or they need heroics from Igor Shesterkin plus more from their power play. Granted, that unit scored in Game 5, but it wasn’t enough.
If that home/road pattern continues, then we’ll see both the Hurricanes and Rangers engage in another Game 7. Jon Cooper may resist this notion, but that would be a nice deal for the Lightning.
Three Stars in NHL Playoffs (Game 5 of Hurricanes-Rangers and Flames-Oilers)
1. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers
No doubt, Connor McDavid was the MVP of “The Battle of Alberta.” Leon Draisaitl might have been the greatest “battler,” though.
Draisaitl’s dealing with a lower-body injury (possibly injury-related), and there are moments where that shows. Yet, he keeps fighting through it. And, goodness, has he ever been producing.
To finish “The Battle of Alberta,” Leon Draisaitl collected four assists. That includes an assist on that overtime game-winner on that McDavid series-clincher. Through five games where he hasn’t been healthy, Draisaitl collected a ridiculous 17 points in the Flames - Oilers series.
Overall in the playoffs, Draisaitl’s collected 26 points in 17 games.
Via Sportsnet, Leon Draisaitl reached 50 career playoff points at the fourth-fastest rate in NHL history. Draisaitl needed just 33 games, behind only Wayne Gretzky (23), Barry Pederson (28), and Mario Lemieux (29).
In case you’re wondering, Connor McDavid won’t beat Draisaitl, but he’s not far behind. McDavid’s generated 48 points in 33 career playoff games. (Such a slacker!)
2. Zach Hyman, Edmonton Oilers
Personally, two strong playoff performers inspired similar reactions to their offseason signings. With both Zach Hyman and Phillip Danault, I thought “great players ... not sure how those contracts will age, but they should deliver early on.”
Maybe both will indeed slow over time. Yet, with the way they’ve performed during certain playoff stretches, they’re over-delivering.
In the case of Zach Hyman, he’s really heating up lately. Hyman scored a goal and two assists in Game 5, helping the Oilers surge back into Game 5 during that zany second period. He was everywhere, earning a +4 rating and firing a lofty seven shots on goal.
Remarkably, Hyman scored a goal in every game of the Flames - Oilers series (finishing with six goals and two assists for eight points in those five contests). Overall, he’s generated exactly a point-per-game (12 in 12) in his first Oilers playoff run.
No doubt, the Oilers are powered by McDavid and Draisaitl. Whether they face the star-studded Avalanche or the remarkably deep Blues, the Oilers may really lean on secondary scoring. Depending upon where Hyman lines up, a lot could fall to him.
3. Seth Jarvis, Carolina Hurricanes
Feels unfair to exclude Game 5 of Rangers - Hurricanes altogether, right? In proud Hurricanes tradition, this was something of a team effort, including strong depth work from unusual suspects like Ian Cole and Brendan Smith.
Seth Jarvis gets the slight not, but your mileage will vary.
- He did great full-ice work to eventually set up Teuvo Teravainen for the Hurricanes’ first power-play goal of this series against the Rangers.
- Jarvis showed toughness in coming back quickly after being bloodied.
- At 5-on-5, Seth Jarvis was on the ice for six high-danger chances for, and a mere two against.
Strong night of work, even if Jarvis wasn’t lighting up the scoreboard nearly as much.
FRIDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Game 5: St. Louis Blues vs. Colorado Avalanche (COL Leads Series 3-2), 8 p.m. ET -- (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
• Avalanche vs. Blues
• Makar, McDavid lead Conn Smythe watch after First Round
• NHL Second Round predictions
• Storylines for the NHL’s Second Round