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Edmonton Oilers Vs Anaheim Mighty Ducks

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

Edmonton Oilers (Seed 8)

Who would have thought that the Oilers would defeat the top seed Red Wings in round one and then take apart a tough Shark team after losing the first two? Can this team do the same to the Ducks?

Like Anaheim, Edmonton has a persistent, focused defense. Chris Pronger is just behind Anaheim’s Ruslan Salei (+9) at plus 8. Pronger also leads all post-season players in assists with 10 and all defensemen in points with 12. He’s the heart and soul of a defense that takes no prisoners. With Pronger, Jason Smith (+6) is another explosive scoring threat on “D.” Smith has 4 goals and 5 assists in 12 games.

On offense, center Shawn Horcoff is one of the most dangerous players in the post-season with a total of 14 points tallied from 5 goals and 9 assists. On left wing, Ryan Smith, another potent player, has earned 4 goals and 7 assists, while on right wing Fernando Pisani, with 7 goals, tops all Edmonton players.
Two players who came to the Oilers through regular season trades—Sergei Samsonov from Boston and Jaroslav Spacek from Chicago—have been instrumental in Edmonton’s playoff surge. Samsonov, a veteran left-winger, has contributed 3 goals and 7 assists, while Spacek, skating on defense, has scored 3 goals and made 5 assists. Together, they represent the two acquisitions that have made the biggest difference in this year’s post-season.

In goal, the well-traveled Dwayne Roloson has certainly been an important part of the Oiler’s success in the second season. In order for Edmonton to have a chance in this series, Roloson will have to be even better in net. If he can step his game up yet another notch or two, his defense and offense will have an opportunity to attack and break down the virtually impenetrable Bryzgalov. But they will need time to test the Russian net minder with their top-rated offense and Roloson will have to give them that time.

Anaheim Mighty Ducks (Seed 6)

After taking it to the Colorado Avalanche in four straight games, the tough Ducks from Anaheim have had some time to kick back and relax—refueling for the next series. It’s here and for sure this team is ready.

Along with having the hottest goalie in the playoffs (Ilya Bryzgalov 0.87 GAA. .967 SV%), Anaheim also features one of the most tenacious defenses in the NHL. In the plus/minus category, of two Western Conference teams remaining in the playoffs Anaheim has the leading player on defense—Ruslan Salei at +9. Other top defensive players include Sean O’Donnell at plus 6, Vitaly Vishnevski at plus 5 and Joe DiPenta at plus 4. There is no Anaheim defenseman in the minus category, which means the “D” of the Ducks is doing a superb job of creating goals while controlling rival offenses.

Anaheim also has a group of sound scoring threats, including winger Joffrey Lupul, tied for first in goals amongst remaining teams with Edmonton’s Fernando Pisani. The other top goal maker for the Ducks is Teemu Selane with 5. Although other teams have more players with 3 to 5 goals, the Ducks have spread the scoring around with player after player having contributed 2 goals in the first 11 games. They have averaged 3.00 goals per game, which is just below Edmonton’s 3.17 mark.

Although the Oilers may seem to have the upper hand in the Western Conference finals when it comes to scoring, that .17 goal edge disappears when you compare Bryzgalov’s 0.87 GAA to Edmonton’s Dwayne Roloson’s 2.16 GAA.

To win this series against the number eight seed Oilers, the six seed Ducks have to play a physical game dominated by their determined defense. If they keep the scoring spreads out, it will be difficult for the Oilers to shut them down. Bryzgalov could be the key to it all.

Second Round Playoff Series Prediction:

Edmonton over Anaheim in 7 games

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