Edmonton Oil Kings Head Coach Derek Laxdal spoke to the media on Monday, one day ahead of a pivotal game three in the WHL finals. Laxdal’s club is down 2-0 in their best-of-seven series against the Portland Winterhawks and the coach stressed the importance of Tuesday night’s game.
“Game three is always the biggest game in any series you play,” Laxdal said. “For us when we’re down 0-2 coming into our building we’ve got home ice and it’s a huge game for us. We have to come out and try to play that perfect game and we have to get out of the gates here solid. We’re not looking to score in the first minute, we’re not looking to score in the first ten, we want to get out and gain some traction and get back to the way we play. Hopefully there’s a big crowd in here tomorrow night to give the kids a little extra energy.”
The Oil Kings play game three tomorrow night and game four on Wednesday night at Rexall Place.
The Edmonton Oil Kings lost the first two games of the WHL finals in Portland. Now that series comes home to Edmonton where the club has not lost a game all playoffs. After going down to the Winterhawks twice to open the series, the Oil Kings believe they know exactly what they have to do to get two wins and tie the series up.
The mistakes were preventable says Curtis Lazar.
“The first two games, we beat ourselves in a way. The majority of the goals Portland scored were preventable. They were turnovers that really cost us, getting down early in the games and just playing catch-up hockey. From this point on it’s just a matter of laying it all on the line. We’re going to learn a lot about our team in the next 72 hours. But it’s a matter of just believing in each other. I know we do that and hopefully get some good support from our home crowd as well.”
The Edmonton Oil Kings were out-battled last night in a 5-2 loss to Portland in game one of the WHL finals. Head Coach Derek Laxdal said after the game that the coaching staff tallied 35 lost battles to 15 won. The Oil Kings need to swing that back to their advantage in order to take game two tonight and avoid digging themselves a 2-0 hole in the series.
“We have a group of kids that never played in this building before and I think it’s a great experience for them,” Laxdal said. “Game two, the intensity is going to pick up. Obviously, (Brendan) Leipsic is going to be back in the lineup, there will be a little bit more action after whistles and for us tonight, we’ve got to focus on our game. We talked about structure, we talked about giving an extra 5% for every player and we just talked about how we got to compete. We have to compete harder on our power play, our penalty kill and our 5-on-5. We have to raise the level of our intensity basically.”
Battling is not a system fix, it starts with the individual players taking on an attitude and playing with intensity.
“You’re exactly right, that’s an intensity,” the head coach said. “That’s an intensity that you have to have at the start of the game. That’s a mindset that you have to have in place, getting ready to battle in a playoff game. You can’t just go out in the game and feel out, just say okay I’m just going to go through, get my legs going and let the game come to me. You have to go to the game right off the hop and that’s that battle intensity that you have to have. We’re not talking about guys getting run over, we’re talking about stick battles in general and you’ve got to give Portland credit. They’re strong on their sticks, they have relentless back-pressure, they won a lot of one-on-one battles last night and if we can get that to 50% here tonight, we’ll be much better.”
Edmonton Oilers prospect Mitch Moroz left game one last night in the second period, appearing to have injured his left knee. After struggling to the bench, he was helped off to the locker room. Moroz tested the leg with a few laps following that period and did return to the game in the third.
Moroz said this morning that he should be ready to go tonight in game two.
“It was just a harmless looking play,” he said. “I just came down on my leg a little awkwardly but (the trainer) looked after me good and I was able to finish the game. I’m happy about that and I’ll be back in tonight.”
Oil Kings Head Coach Derek Laxdal also said he should be ready to go.
“He’s got a lower body injury and I think it’s something he can play through,” Laxdal said. “He’s getting treatment this morning and obviously, it wasn’t a dirty hit or anything like that. I think he just kind of fell wrong on the ice. It looks like he’ll be ready to go tonight.”
Moroz didn’t say whether or not there was still some discomfort but said it’s playoff time and time to push through.
“I should be alright here. It’s just playoff time and you’ve got to grind through some stuff.”
The power play is a focus of the team heading into tonight’s game two.
“We’re usually pretty good starters on the first shift and last night they exposed our first line there a little bit and they got a good opportunity, then they took a penalty off the play,” Head Coach Derek Laxdal said. “But we’ve got to score on our power play. We see some things on their penalty kill that we think we can exploit and our guys have to be able to put those plays in place on the ice. That’s something we’ll focus on tonight in our meeting and get ready for it.”
The players felt like their lack of power play production, especially in that first period, was a momentum killer. It was a big part of why the Oil Kings dug themselves a three-goal hole.
“Anytime you come out and you get power plays early in the game, you want to capitalize,” forward Mitch Moroz said. “It’s tough sometimes when you’re in the game, I think my first shift was a power play shift. That’s always tough but you’ve got to be ready to execute when given those opportunities. It’s definitely kind of a killer when you’re not sharp on your early power plays. That would have been huge and definitely a game changer and it swung in their favour. But if that happens again, we’ve got to be ready for it.”
Brett Pollock added, “It’s hard but that’s just the way the game goes sometimes and I guess we kind of learned from that and now we won’t take our power plays for (granted).”
Edmonton Oilers winger David Perron will not participate in the 2014 IIHF World Hockey Championhip in Minsk, Belarus in May.
#Oilers forward David Perron will be unable to participate in the 2014 World Hockey Championship due to a hip injury.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) May 4, 2014
Perron has a hip injury that will prevent him from playing for Team Canada.
Hockey Canada has named Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Read and Brayden Schenn to the squad as additions and to help replace Perron.
|Photo courtesy of Bakersfield Condors
The Bakersfield Condors defeated the Stockton Thunder in Game 2 of their second-round series by a score of 2-0 at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield on Saturday night.
Oilers prospect Laurent Brossoit stopped all 22 shots he faced for his 11th shutout, counting regular season and post season. It was also his third shutout of these playoffs.
Condors goals were scored by Nick MacNeil, with 1:25 to go in the first period, and Greg Miller, with 2:22 remaining in the game.
The series now shifts to Stockton for Game 3, 4 and 5 as the Condors look to adavance to the third round with two more victories.
The Edmonton Oil Kings square off against the Portland Winterhawks in game one of their WHL finals series tonight in Portland, OR. The Winterhawks boast one of the more electric buildings in the WHL (the Moda Center) and will most certainly look to capitalize on that home-ice advantage. On the other side of things, the Oil Kings will also look to harness that energy and take away that intimidation factor.
“Intimidation is a good word, from their point of view,” Edmonton Head Coach Derek Laxdal said. “But from our point of view, we want the energy, we want to be excited coming into this building and for some of our kids that have never played here, I think it’s going to be quite a treat for them tonight and probably to get by the first couple of shifts will be really tough for our group. There will be some butterflies but if you can’t get up for a game one in a league final in a building like this, then you have to ask the question. But I’m pretty confident our guys are ready to play tonight because our leadership group has done a really good job of just kind of talking with the young kids and letting them know what to expect.”
Portland beat the Oil Kings in last year’s WHL finals in six games. A fast start at home was a part of the problem.
“When you look at the way the Portland Winterhawks play in this building, it’s just that they really feed off the crowd and if you look at our first game last year in this series, we came off a seven-game series. I think we got caught off guard in that first period, we got outshot 16-6. They play to their advantage. They’re a great home team and obviously, you’ve got to be prepared. We’ve put a lot of focus this week on preparing for that first shift, that first period, that first game. If you watched our players over the last three days, you could see a lot of focus on their part and we feel pretty confident they’re ready to have a great start.”
The Edmonton Oil Kings are familiar with the Portland Winterhawks, having faced them the last three seasons in the WHL finals. They defeated their opponent in seven games in 2011-12 but lost last season in six.
The Oil Kings feel a sense of seeking redemption for the way things ended last year.
“If you look at the first year we won, that was part of their focus coming into the finals last year,” Edmonton Head Coach Derek Laxdal said. “Redemption and obviously they’d lost two years in a row coming in at that point. This year it’s a little bit of a rubber match kind of a mentality but we’re definitely a lot more hungry than we were last year. We’ve got a new group of kids here, we’ve got a different team and I know our guys are real focused and we’ve got different leadership. You can see from our leadership right now that there’s a hunger in this group and you can see it in the practices we’ve had in the last three days and you can just kind of feel the intensity in our room.”
|Photo courtesy of Bakersfield Condors
The Bakersfield Condors defeated the Stockton Thunder in Game 1 of their second-round series, coming from behind to overcome a two-goal deficit in a 3-2 victory at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield on Friday night.
After Stockton took a 2-0 lead early in the second, Ryan Watson scored at the 8:47 mark to make it a one-goal game. With 1:13 to go in the middle frame, Chase Schaber scored to tie the game at 2-2.
In the third, Joel Broda scored at the five-minute mark to make it 3-2. That goal ultimately held up as the winner.
Oilers prospect Laurent Brossoit stopped 24 of 26 shots in the victory.