The Anaheim Ducks look to slow down speedy Oilers

The second round of the NHL playoffs begin tonight with the two Western Conference series starting it off. The Nashville Predators will take on the St. Louis Blues and the Pacific Division champion Anaheim Ducks will take on the young Edmonton Oilers. Both of these series will be tight, but the series between the Ducks and the Oilers should be the most exciting series of the second round.

One of the biggest reasons that the Ducks-Oilers series will be exciting is the difference in playing styles. The Oilers rely on their speed while the Ducks rely on their size. These two opposite play styles could result in the series going either way. For the Ducks, success will come from shutting down the speed of the Oilers and keeping a tight defense on the Oilers’ young star Connor McDavid.

What may be worrying for the Ducks is that the San Jose Sharks play a somewhat similar style of hockey but could not get past the Oilers. Even though the Sharks managed to keep McDavid in check for the most part and the Oilers’ offense to a minimum, the Oilers still won in six games. The biggest issue for the Sharks was that they could not put up enough goals on Cam Talbot while shutting down the Oilers.

This should be less of a problem for the Ducks as their offense has been red hot since the trade deadline. Ryan Getzlaf and Patrick Eaves, who was picked up at the deadline from the Dallas Stars, have connected offensively and Rickard Rakell has carried over his breakout season into the playoffs. On top of that the Ducks have great depth, something the Oilers team is severely lacking. Six time 30 goal scorer Corey Perry has been relegated to the third line but is still producing.

A great bonus for finishing their series in four games, the Ducks will also get their three best defensemen healthy for Game 1 tonight. Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen both played some of the series sweep against the Calgary Flames but were not completely healthy. Cam Fowler was injured in the late days of the regular season in a game against the Calgary Flames and was expected to be out long-term. Now it seems he will suit up for game one. Not only do these three increase the defensive ability of the team, they will also help boost the offensive play as well.

As with any team in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Ducks will need their depth to step up. All three of their top lines need to be producing if they want to get past the Oilers. They also need to focus on stopping McDavid. At this point, the Oilers are a team based entirely around McDavid and Talbot. If the Ducks can shut down McDavid and get pucks past Talbot, they should be able to handle the Oilers readily.

Yardbarker: NHL

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