Perfect Lineups: Edmonton vs. Chicago (NHL Playoffs Preview)

Updated: July 20, 2020 at 10:18 am by Brock Seguin

The NHL is tentatively scheduled to return on August 1st with teams starting their post-COVID-19 training camps on July 13th.

With over four months off, the NHL has created a unique new playoff format that features 24 teams (12 in each Conference). The bottom eight teams in each Conference will go head-to-head in a best-of-5 series as a “play-in” round to give us the traditional playoff look in what can be considered “round 2.”

At DailyFaceoff we are used to updating the lineups every single day to give you the most accurate NHL Line Combinations available. With no practices since March, I have looked back at the 2020 season and put together each team’s “perfect” lineup based on their underlying numbers together. I used MoneyPuck’s Line Stats and NaturalStatTrick’s WOWY Tool to unearth the data.

I will be breaking down each of the Play-In Series with their “perfect” lineups and putting them through the NHL20 Simulator to project our eight winners. Let’s get started with the (No.5) Edmonton Oilers vs. the (No.12) Chicago Blackhawks.


Forwards

Edmonton Oilers

CF%

SCF/60

SCA/60

xGF%

L1: Ennis – McDavid – Athanasiou

50.82

39.17

25.46

62.88

L2: Nugent-Hopkins – Draisaitl – Yamamoto

52.13

30.41

25.5

55.26

L3: Archibald – Sheahan – Kassian

49.12

24.7

24.7

56.76

L4: Neal – Khaira – Chaisson

40.74

17.54

21.05

33.76

The Oilers went out and acquired Tyler Ennis and Andreas Athanasiou at the Trade Deadline but they only got to play nine games before the season was paused. With such a small sample size, it’s hard to find the perfect fit for them. With that said, they obviously had a lot of success with Connor McDavid. GM Ken Holland’s job was to get McDavid some wingers and that’s what he did, so it’s hard to imagine them not playing with him. McDavid had better numbers with Zack Kassian than without him, so he’s certainly an option to play up there as well. I have projected Kassian on that third line to start because that trio did a nice job as a “shutdown” line for Edmonton in their brief time together.

The best part about getting McDavid some wingers was it allows Leon Draisaitl to play with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto. Those three were spectacular together after Yamamoto was recalled from Bakersfield (AHL). From December 31st through the end of the season, Draisaitl led the NHL with 49 points (21G / 28A) in 30 games while Nugent-Hopkins wasn’t far behind, ranking fifth with 41 points (15G / 26A).

As a team this season, the Blackhawks gave up the most Scoring Chances Against/60 (30.22) in the NHL, so slowing down the Oilers’ top-6 will be extremely challenging for them.

Chicago Blackhawks

CF%

SCF/60

SCA/60

xGF%

L1: Saad – Toews – Kubalik

49.63

28.83

32.49

44.79

L2: Nylander – Strome – Kane

49.17

32.99

29.21

51.38

L3: DeBrincat – Dach – Caggiula

50.00

25.5

22.95

62.08

L4: Highmore – Kampf – Carpenter

54.55

20.33

15.81

50.47

The Blackhawks experimented with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together quite a bit this year (28.1% of Toews’ 5v5 ice-time) but they will likely start on separate lines to try and match the firepower of McDavid/Draisaitl on different lines. If Kane is on the second line, then Dominik Kubalik will be with Toews. Kubalik was among the hottest players in the NHL in the second half of the season, tying with David Pastrnak with 19 goals for seventh in the NHL in goals in their final 30 games. The left-winger one that line will be either Brandon Saad or Alex DeBrincat. DeBrincat is the better of the two options but he’s also had success on the third line with Kirby Dach and Drake Caggiula and that could give them an advantage over the Oilers’ third line. If Toews/Kane’s lines can’t keep pace with McDavid/Draisaitl, then they will need DeBrincat and the third line to make up some of the difference.

Defensemen

Edmonton Oilers

TOI/GM

CF%

xGF%

OZone%

D1: Klefbom – Larsson

25:25 | 19:50

47.50

50.35

46.20

D2: Nurse – Bear

23:27 | 21:58

49.32

49.06

53.93

D3: Russell – Green

16:47 | 16:15

The first two pairs for the Oilers are a given. They’ve been together for most of the season (when healthy). Adam Larsson has played 59.3 percent of his 5v5 ice-time with Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse has been with Ethan Bear for 84.0 percent.

The third pairing is more of a mystery with Kris Russell, Mike Green and Matt Benning in the mix. Green was acquired from the Detroit Red Wings at the Trade Deadline but suffered a sprained MCL in his second game in an Oilers uniform. It’s been four months since that injury, so he’ll be at 100 percent come August and he figures to skate with Russell on the third pairing–although they’ve not played together thus far.

In their matchups during the regular season, Nurse and Bear saw the most of the Kane line with Klefbom/Larsson and the Russell pairing taking on the Toews and Dach lines. Expect more of the same in the play-in round.

Chicago Blackhawks

TOI/GM

CF%

xGF%

OZone%

D1: Keith – Boqvist

24:23 | 16:13

46.90

55.88

57.71

D2: de Haan – Murphy

19:55 | 21:15

62.50

65.82

27.27

D3: Maatta – Koekkoek

18:25 | 16:45

53.04

56.76

43.01

When the season was paused, the Blackhawks’ blueline was extremely banged up. Four months later and they might be at 100 percent. Rookie Adam Boqvist was sidelined with a concussion at the time but will be reunited with veteran Duncan Keith and try and slow down McDavid. Calvin de Haan underwent shoulder surgery in December, which at the time ended his season. However, the expanded playoff format and four-month layoff will allow him to play again. When he was healthy, he spent most of his time alongside Brent Seabrook, who thought his season was over as well. Seabrook underwent three surgeries (right shoulder & both hips) early in the calendar year but may not be ready for August 1st. If he’s not, de Haan and Murphy will be the Blackhawks go-to shutdown pair. While many defensemen were sidelined, Slater Koekkoek filled-in admirably and paired with Olli Maatta they were an effective third pair. The Oilers have the more talented blueline but this is the best Chicago’s blueline has looked all season.


NHL 20 Simulation

  • Game 1: CHI [3] – [0] EDM

    Game 2: CHI [4] – [1] EDM

    Game 3: EDM [4] – [3] CHI (OT)

    Game 4: CHI [3] – [0] EDM

Scoring Leaders

Rank Player (Team)

Goals

Assists

Points

t-1 D. Strome (CHI)

3

1

4

t-1 K. Dach (CHI)

2

2

4

t-1 A. Nylander (CHI)

1

3

4

t-4 A. DeBrincat (CHI)

2

1

3

t-4 A. Boqvist (CHI)

1

2

3

t-4 Z. Kassian (EDM)

1

2

3

t-7 P. Kane (CHI)

2

0

2

t-7 C. McDavid (EDM)

1

1

2

t-7 B. Saad (CHI)

1

1

2

t-7 K. Russell (EDM)

1

1

2

t-7 D. Caggiula (CHI)

0

2

2

t-7 C. Murphy (CHI)

0

2

2

t-13 L. Draisaitl (EDM)

1

0

1

t-13 D. Kampf (CHI)

1

0

1

t-13 C. de Haan (CHI)

0

1

1

t-13 O. Maatta (CHI)

0

1

1

t-13 D. Kubalik (CHI)

0

1

1

t-13 J. Toews (CHI)

0

1

1

t-13 M. Highmore (CHI)

0

1

1

t-13 S. Koekkoek (CHI)

0

1

1

t-13 E. Bear (EDM)

0

1

1

t-13 R. Nugent-Hopkins (EDM)

0

1

1

t-13 T. Ennis (EDM)

0

1

1

Goalies

Player (Team)

Record

GAA

SV%

SO

C. Crawford (CHI)

3-0-1

1.24

0.946

2

M. Koskinen (EDM)

1-3

3.23

0.819

0



Adam Boqvist, Adam Larsson, Alex Chiasson, Alex DeBrincat, Alex Nylander, Andreas Athanasiou, Brandon Saad, Calvin de Haan, Chicago Blackhawks, Connor McDavid, Connor Murphy, Darnell Nurse, David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik, Drake Caggiula, Duncan Keith, Dylan Strome, Edmonton Oilers, Ethan Bear, James Neal, jonathan toews, Josh Archibald, Jujhar Khaira, Kailer Yamamoto, Kirby Dach, Kris Russell, Leon Draisaitl, Matthew Highmore, NHL Playoffss, Olli Maatta, Oscar Klefbom, patrick kane, Riley Sheahan, Ryan Carpenter, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Slater Koekkoek, Tyler Ennis, Zack Kassian