Edmonton Oilers

How the Edmonton Oilers can score on the Los Angeles Kings’ goaltenders

The Edmonton Oilers began their first-round playoff series on Monday against the Los Angeles Kings. The Oilers played the Kings four times over the regular season, but the Kings are in a rare situation where they completely turned over their goaltending compared to the start of the season.

Rob Blake’s squad had Cal Petersen and Jonathan Quick at the start of the season, but their immense struggles led to moves. Petersen was waived then assigned to AHL Ontario on December 1, while Pheonix Copley was recalled in return. Then on trade deadline day, Blake sent long time King, Quick, to the Columbus Blue Jackets who then flipped him to Vegas as part of the package for defenceman Vladislav Gavrikov and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo.

Copley and Korpisalo make up the Kings current tandem and despite the late acquisitions of each goalie, the Oilers have a decent amount of games against each this season. Edmonton played Korpisalo twice while he was with Columbus and another game after he joined L.A., while Copley started against the Pacific’s second-seed twice after his recall. Here’s how Edmonton faired offensively in each of those games:

Korpisalo starts in Edmonton with Columbus

Goal 1: Ryan goes top shelf

Derek Ryan picked up the puck off the rush and cut to the middle before taking a shot from just above the hashmarks to the top glove corner. Korpisalo’s glove was tucked low, forcing him into a chicken wing shrug save but he could not extend far enough to make the save.

Goal 2: Hyman taps in a backdoor feed

Connor McDavid gets a seam pass from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the power play. McDavid then throws it back door to Zach Hyman, who’s able to tap it into the yawning cage. Korpisalo is moving before he fully rotates, and when he sets on McDavid, his feet are set wide and there’s a slight drift forward. As a result, Korpisalo has difficulty rotating to go back to the post where Hyman is, instead sliding straight acorss towards open space and reaching back with his leg.

Korpisalo starts against Edmonton in Columbus

Goal 1: Foegele scores from a sharp angle

Jesse Puljujarvi turns the puck over in the corner, leading to a Warren Foegele possession. He attacks the net from a dead angle and when some ice opens to the middle, he drags and shoots low on Korpisalo. The netminder is caught mid-adjustment as the shot squeaks in five-hole.

Goal 2: Draisaitl scores on the powerplay

McDavid fakes a shot on net through traffic before sliding a back door pass to Leon Draisaitl who buries the one-timer into the open cage. Korpisalo gets low and wide in his stance trying to looking through the traffic, eventually guessing that the shot went to his right before attempting to stretch out to his left and get a piece of the shot.

Goal 3: McDavid scores shorthanded

McDavid gets a partial break short handed after going around Adam Boqvist and Johnny Gaudreau. He has a lot of speed bearing down on Korpisalo and is able to beat him under his pad as Korpisalo has some drift back which makes it harder to drive his knees down along with a wide stance which makes the five-hole larger.

Goal 4: McDavid scores his second of the game

McDavid walks in during sustained pressure for Edmonton and wires it top glove on Korpisalo with some traffic in front. Korpisalo doesn’t get a clear sightline but his resting glove position has his glove tucked next to his hip which makes the extension to the shot that much harder.

Goal 5: McDavid uses Hyman as an extended back stop

As they’ve done many times this season, McDavid hits Hyman with a shot going wide while the latter is sitting right beside the far post. For the second time in as many games against Korpisalo, Hyman is able to tap in for the goal while Korpisalo is stretched out at the top of the crease.

Korpisalo starts in Edmonton with Los Angeles

Goal 1: Kane converts off a great feed from Draisaitl

Kailer Yamamoto drives to the middle before handing off to Draisaitl. The German forward makes a spinning pass to Evander Kane, who gets a one-timer off through the attempted block from Vladislav Gavrikov. Korpisalo is holding a narrow, elevated stance but ends up with an exaggerated c-cut on his rotation, leaving him slightly late on the play. As a result, he can’t set on the play and is forced to drop straight down while the shot beats him over the glove.

Goal 2: McDavid gets a shorthanded goal

McDavid ends up on a shorthanded breakaway with speed. He attacks from the middle with the puck in front of him before making a quick move to his forehand and shooting low far side in a really good attempt. There’s not much technically Korpisalo does wrong here except for possibly needing to project his blocker forward.

Copley starts in Los Angeles in January

Goal 1: Yamamoto tips it home as the powerplay expires

The Darnell Nurse shot gets partially tipped by the block then redirected once again by Yamamoto before it evades Copley. There’s not much to read into here.

Goal 2: McLeod pots the rebound

Anze Kopitar blocks the one-timer from Evan Bouchard that comes off the draw, but Ryan McLeod is able to get to the rebound and put it in. It’s a tough break for Copley for the rebound to sit there without ever getting to him, but there’s a lack of rotation which results in him chasing the play out instead of tracking back towards his post.

Goal 3: McDavid beats Copley glove side from distance

McDavid picks the puck up and attacks Drew Doughty through the zone where he fires a shot through the defender’s legs. Copley’s glove had sagged back a bit, but he stops tracking the puck and is trying to blindly chase it to the top corner.

Copley starts in L.A. in April

Goal 1: Nugent-Hopkins wrists one in

Nugent-Hopkins walks off the flank on the powerplay and fires a wrist shot. His typical shot location would be a pull-push to the blocker side but he drags and pulls it low glove. Copley reacts over and past the shot as it beats him under his glove.

Goal 2: Draisaitl bangs home the rebound

Copley makes the first save off of McDavid but the rebound leaks to the back door where Draisaitl can tap it in. Copley has a large counter rotation as he attempts to get back, holding him back from getting all the way back to the post.

A look at the numbers

Here’s how the numbers look for each of the Kings’ options.

Pheonix CopleyJoonas Korpisalo (LA)Joonas Korpisalo (LA)
Added to Win1564
Lost Game421
Took Away From Win503
Added to Loss307
Minimized Loss228
Stolen Win405
Standings Points Impact3-3+11
Positive Appearances21817
Negative Appearances12211
Cumulative GSAx+3.97+7.85+10.00
Percentile Performance89%97%88%

Korpisalo and Copley have both been excellent overall for the Kings. Until recently, Copley was the guy who would never lose you a game, although he might not be the one to steal it. Korpisalo has been outright elite for the Kings, although his performances have been backstopped by strong skater play while his rare missteps have cost the Kings points.

For added context for the duration of the season, here’s how Korpisalo did in Columbus. Simply put, since recovering from double hip surgery in the offseason, Korpisalo has been having a great season.

How the Oilers can outplay the Kings’ goalies

The Kings have two solid options in net heading into their series with Edmonton. However, based on recent deployment, Korpisalo got to start in Game 1.

The Oilers have seen Korpisalo three times this year and have exposed him a couple different ways. The Finnish goaltender can have a tendency to get wide in his stance during rush chances or when he loses a sightline, which can hamper his mobility moving laterally. Korpisalo can also have a tendency to tuck his glove into his left hip, which can leave him vulnerable high glove side. Lateral movement is generally a strong point, but he can also start to push flat across the crease when things get scrambly, leaving open back doors.

Copley doesn’t present the same upside that Korpisalo does in net, but he does bring a steadiness to his game. The Oilers targeted Copley’s glove side in the two appearances he made against the squad which had some success, but the key to beating the American netminder will be to create dynamic plays like the Oilers have all season.

The Kings play a very passive brand of hockey, attempting to shut down their opponents offence through their forecheck. Now, they not only have their structure, but good goaltending to backstop it. The Oilers dynamic offence will be put to the test during this series, but if there’s any offensive group that will be able to break through, it’s Edmonton’s.

Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire

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