Holland's Oilers coming together

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Give credit where credit is due. A lot of people criticized Oilers GM Ken Holland’s moves since the end of the 2021-22 campaign (and in the interest of full disclosure, I've certainly questioned some of them myself). He took heat for the Duncan Keith trade, sticking with goaltender Mike Smith despite his age, and his midseason signing of Evander Kane. Not everything Holland has done has paid off and there’s still plenty of room for valid criticism when it comes to his decisions, but certainly a lot of what he’s done has paid off in this postseason run.

Kane has been absolutely outstanding in the 2022 playoffs. Combined with the Oilers’ already established duo of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, Edmonton has made life miserable for opposing defenses. On top of that Zach Hyman, who was another Holland signing, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have helped provide the Oilers with arguably more offensive depth than they’ve had at any time since the start of the McDavid era.

Meanwhile the addition of Keith has given the Oilers some valuable veteran experience and he’s logged important minutes during the Oilers playoff run. Meanwhile, Smith has been far from perfect – he allowed one goal in particular on Tuesday that was pretty embarrassing – but he’s been good enough and has even made some key saves along the way.

The team Holland has assembled now holds a 3-1 series lead over the Flames. We can’t count Calgary out, but the Oilers have certainly surpassed a lot of people’s expectations and their general manager deserves credit for his part in that.

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NY RANGERS 4 CAROLINA 1 (Series tied at 2-2)

Igor Shesterkin was instrumental to the Rangers’ victory. He stopped 30 of 31 Hurricanes shots with his only goal surrendered coming in the third period after the Rangers already established a 3-0 lead. He’s now held Carolina to just a goal in each of his last three starts.

Teuvo Teravainen was the only one to score on Shesterkin last night. It was his third goal and 10th point in 11 playoff contests.

Andrew Copp found the back of the net and registered two assists. He’s up to five goals and 10 points in 11 postseason games.

Frank Vatrano and Adam Fox each contributed a goal and an assist. Ryan Lindgren assisted on two of the Rangers’ four goals.

Antti Raanta kicked out 24 of 28 Rangers shots. He had surrendered just five goals over his last four starts.

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EDMONTON 5 CALGARY 3 (Oilers lead series 3-1)

The Oilers had a 3-0 lead by the end of the first period, but the Flames did stage a comeback. Calgary’s Rasmus Andersson tied the game with a weird shorthanded goal at 10:56 of the third period. Andersson was just trying to clear the puck from his own zone, but Mike Smith lost sight of the puck and let it slip by him. It was a goal Smith obviously should have prevented, but in the end the Oilers were able to shake that off and still win the game.

That’s thanks in part to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who scored two goals including the game winner. He’s up to four goals and 10 points in 11 playoff contests.

Evander Kane also scored two goals for Edmonton, giving him 12 markers and 15 points in 11 postseason games. Zach Hyman accounted for the Oilers’ other goal.

Three of Edmonton’s five goals were assisted on by Leon Draisaitl. He’s recorded at least three points in four consecutive games, bringing him up to seven goals and 22 points in 11 games.

Connor McDavid continued his unreal playoff run with another two helpers. He has six goals and 25 points in 11 contests. He already ranks in the top-25 for points in a single playoff run during the salary cap era and we’re only in the second round.

As noted above, Mike Smith let in a bad goal, but he can take some positives from his performance to. In the end he got the win by saving 29 of 32 shots.

At the other end of the ice, Jacob Markstrom stopped 21 of 25 shots. He didn’t look great early in this contest and has really struggled against the Oilers in the second round.