NHL Playoff Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Dallas Stars | Round 3, Game 2 | 05/25/2024

That was Eventful.” It sure was, Connor. It sure was. A funny soundbite as his team was heading back to the locker room after Game 1 ended.

When sitting through Overtime, whether you’re an Edmonton Oilers fan or a Dallas Stars fan, how many people would’ve imagined Connor McDavid failing to score on the chance he had late in the first OT period? Credit to Jake Oettinger for making a great save at that time, though. It was like watching Curtis Joseph’s safe against Joe Nieuwendyk in the 1997 Playoffs, only the highlight is reversed for both teams. A series opener that initially had nothing to do with the Oilers captain ended with the Oilers captain being the biggest story of the game. Just 17 seconds into the first OT period, he was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking Matt Duchene off the face-off. Connor’s argument against the call was that Duchene held his stick before making contact. Otherwise, it may’ve still been just a 2 minute penalty instead. I remember seeing McDavid get away with high-sticking Quinn Hughes in the Vancouver series, so I’m not going to have a blind bias and say that the referees were out to lunch. As Derek Ryan told the media after the game, Connor said it was the longest 4 minutes of his life. But the Oilers once again killed off the 4 minute penalty and relieved McDavid of his anxiety. I praised Edmonton’s penalty kill in my Game 1 preview, but I never expected them to kill off three consecutive double-minors. It’s amazing just how in sync these PK units have been on the ice. 97 would eventually get his revenge in the first 32 seconds of double OT, deflecting a shot pass from Evan Bouchard to seal it and take the 1-0 series lead.

I didn’t yet follow hockey when the Oilers and Stars had their postseason rivalry. But I have seen highlights, and I think there is a bit of a correlation. Those late ’90s/early 2000s rosters that Edmonton had didn’t have as much talent as other Playoff teams, but they worked just as hard. Today’s Oilers roster obviously has more talent, but the hard work was also on display. Shot blocks, active sticks. Zach Hyman’s goal was scored after all five Oilers on the ice-covered Stuart Skinner and then went on a rush. However this series ends, one thing is certain; this is not the same Conference Final team we watched two years ago. They’ve become more comfortable playing a tight defensive game rather than just a high goal-scoring game all the time. It’s what the majority of Playoff games are like as you get further in. At this time of the year, scoring 3 goals feels like scoring 5 goals. The Stars have had 6 instances in these Playoffs where they held their opponents without a shot on net for 10+ minutes. The Oilers have had 7 of those instances, and it’ll only get tighter from there. Edmonton already did one job on Thursday night, securing home ice for themselves before Games 3 and 4. Dallas will look to get a tie and not go down 2-0 before flying to Edmonton; don’t let up. The keys to the game are…

Clean Up: On the Oilers+ program, there was a moment in the locker room where McDavid and Ken Holland comforted Ryan McLeod for his third period misplay in Game 7 against the Canucks after they hung on and won. Shortly after, Leon Draisaitl said to everyone, “It’s happened so many times. Let’s f***ing learn from it, okay?” Brett Kulak had a misplay of his own in Game 1 on Thursday, and it led to the Stars cutting Edmonton’s 2-0 lead in half. 2 of the last 4 goals the Oilers have allowed came off mistakes on basic plays. It’s great that they’ve learned how to move on and just keep going, but Leon took the words right out of my mouth.

Coverage: On the second Stars goal, late in the third period, a shot went off of Darnell Nurse’s skate and created a wide-open rebound for Tyler Seguin to score his second of the night. Desharnais needed to cover his man on this play, you could instead drive a train through the gap between him and Seguin. If you’re only a couple of inches shorter than Zdeno Chara, don’t be afraid to act as a bodyguard. Since being put together, I think Nurse/Desharnais have the potential to be a really mean pairing. Learn how to not be polite without taking a bad penalty. And from Dallas’s perspective, how did they leave the best player in the world all by himself in front of the net in OT twice?

Hint(z) Of A Comeback: Roope Hintz, a key forward for the Stars, has missed 3 games since Game 4 of Round 2 against Colorado. As I’m typing this, Elliotte Friedman tweeted that he might be available for tonight’s game. He had a 5 point resurgence in the second round after getting only 1 point against Vegas in Round 1. Kris Knoblauch called Adam Henrique “98% ready” to come back from injury himself. I lean towards giving him one more game off. If Hintz is indeed back in Dallas’s line-up, look for him to try and regain the offensive consistency he was starting before his injury.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Stephen Vani

Oilers fan in Toronto. Staying up past my bedtime for Western games since the mid 2000s.

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