ANAHEIM, Calif. – Both the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks have different theories on why each team has shown major success on the road, but struggled at home in their second-round series.
The Ducks seem to think that both teams are so closely matched that all games have come down to one or two plays no matter the location.
“I just think it’s just two evenly balanced hockey clubs trying to get the same thing and impose their will on the team they’re playing against,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “Other than that it is something that … it is something that we would not say is ordinary in sports, but this is what we’re presented with.”
The Oilers pointed out that the road team maybe feels a little looser on the ice. There’s no stress about line match ups or worries about distractions.
“Maybe the pressure has been on the home teams to win and the road team hasn’t felt the pressure as much and just gone out there and played and sometimes that works to your advantage,” Oilers forward Milan Lucic said.
Added Edmonton defenseman Oscar Klefbom, “Obviously there’s a lot of pressure. You want to play good hockey in front of your fans.”
In Game 5 between the two teams Friday at Honda Center, the Oilers hope they can keep up their strong play away from Edmonton while the Ducks want to finally get that pivotal win in front of their home fans to go up 3-2
“You don’t want to see it as a Game 5. I think you want to see this as another game that you have to win,” Ducks forward Rickard Rakell said. “You just have to take one game at a time and not look back or look forward.”
Both teams were decent road groups this past season, but they weren’t exactly dominant. The Oilers were 22-14-5 while the Ducks were 17-15-9. Meanwhile Anaheim held the best Western Conference home record during the regular season, which made their struggles against the Oilers in Games 1 and 2 even more perplexing.
The Ducks outshot the Oilers 76-55 but were outscored 7-4. In Game 1 they blew an early lead to lose 5-3. In Game 2 Cam Talbot’s hot play silenced the Ducks’ offensive weapons in a 2-1 loss.
“I think in the playoffs both teams want to win as much and I honestly don’t have a good answer why in this series has been that they won two here and we won two in their building,” Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg said. “We’re going to make sure that we have to take care of our home ice advantage here tonight. This is a big game for us and we have to make sure we bring our ‘A’ game. “
In Game 3 in Edmonton, the Ducks pulled out to an early 3-0 lead, saw the Oilers come back to tie the game before Anaheim ended up pulling out the 6-3 victory. Game 4 was more back-and-forth and ended in overtime on a Silfverberg goal 45 seconds into the extra session to give the Ducks a 4-3 win.
“I think to answer your question you can win anywhere in this league now,” Oilers forward Patrick Maroon said. “I think as a visiting team if you go into Edmonton, I think you get hyped up just as much because of the atmosphere and everything else but I just think it’s even. I think anywhere you go now in the league you can win anywhere.”
What does this all mean for Game 5 at Honda Center? Maybe the Ducks will use the experience of their two losses to Edmonton here to finally pull out a victory. Or the Oilers could again just play loose and fast and free from any burdens like they did in Games 1 and 2.
Still, it feels like one team’s road success should come to an end at some point either in Game 5 or Game 6 at Edmonton.
“Every game seems to be tight and seems to come down to one play or one bounce and that’s just the case throughout the playoffs, so the night you’re going to get a bounce if the game is real tight you’re going to get the win,” Edmonton defenseman Darnell Nurse said. “But at the same time the better team for the most part has won most of these games so as the series goes on it’s going to get tighter and tighter and that’ll carry on.”
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