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Los Angeles Kings interim coach Jim Hiller didn’t offer any in-depth, detailed breakdown for why his team was eliminated by the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.

“It’s a pretty simple write-up on this one: You saw one team execute and one team not on special teams,” Hiller said after the Kings’ 4-3 loss in Game 5 that marked the third straight season Edmonton sent Los Angeles packing in the opening round. “That was the difference. If we had performed well, we’d still be playing.”

The Oilers scored nine times on 20 power-play opportunities.

“Special teams hurt us a lot in this series,” Kings center Anze Kopitar said. “There were parts of the games where we were good, but you have to do it more often.”

The Oilers’ power play was so potent that it would score at even strength, too: Twice in Game 5 the Oilers scored in the immediate aftermath of a successful Kings penalty kill. Leon Draisaitl scored four seconds after Pierre-Luc Dubois left the penalty box to give Edmonton a 3-2 lead in the second period. Zach Hyman scored the eventual winning goal three seconds after Drew Doughty‘s penalty expired near the end of the second.

Draisaitl also scored on the power play, as the puck traveled over the line inside of Kings goalie David Rittich‘s glove. Edmonton scored at least one power-play goal in each game against the Kings and in 15 of its past 17 playoff games overall.

“Yes, they have an amazing power play. They threw a lot of things against us,” Doughty said. “But I think a lot of those goals were preventable. With a better PK, I think the series could have been … we would have taken it deeper, for sure.”

Oilers star Connor McDavid, who had two assists in the win, said their power play wasn’t even the best part of their special teams against Los Angeles.

“The penalty kill not giving up a goal, that’s really impressive,” McDavid said. “I think of the penalty kill in the third period of Game 4. Everybody on the kill was moving their feet, doing their job and sacrificing their bodies, which is not the most fun thing to do.”

The Oilers were shorthanded 12 times and didn’t allow a Los Angeles power-play goal.

“When you evaluate the series, it was our inability to score on the power play and their ability to score on the power play,” Hiller said.

The defeat marked the first time a team had been eliminated by the same opponent in three straight playoff seasons since the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Minnesota Wild from 2013 to 2015.

“Definitely a disappointing feeling for the third year in a row. Just sucks right now,” Kopitar said. “Obviously not a great feeling getting the worst of it [against Edmonton] three years in a row.”

The Oilers will play the winner of the Vancouver Canucks‘ series against the Nashville Predators, which Vancouver leads 3-2 heading into Game 6 in Nashville.

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Projecting the X factors, tactics and key matchups that will swing Rangers-Panthers




Projecting the X factors, tactics and key matchups that will swing Rangers-Panthers

The NHL’s conference finals have arrived, and if you asked around in September, the four teams remaining were some of the most likely answers to the question, “Who will win the Stanley Cup?”

We didn’t get here the way many would have imagined, though. In the East, there can be no debate that the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers are the best teams, and were the best teams over the course of the season.

The West, however, was a little more surprising. The Dallas Stars battled the Colorado Avalanche and Winnipeg Jets all season for the No. 1 spot in the West, with all three teams having spells at the top. The Edmonton Oilers had times during the season when they were wholly unconvincing as playoff threats, including a dismal start that saw them nine points out of a playoff spot in November, leading to the dismissal of coach Jay Woodcroft.

In our series previews, we look at specific areas: key points of difference in the series, the X factor, which team my model favors and the reasons why, along with a projection on the series result.

The model is a neural network that accounts for player strength, offensive, defensive and special teams performance, goaltending, matchup ratings and rest. As the model ingests data, it improves, with the heaviest weights on recent play. The model allows for players to be added and removed, with their impact on the game results measured.

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M’s Rojas: Yankees’ Schmidt ‘was clearly tipping’




M's Rojas: Yankees' Schmidt 'was clearly tipping'

NEW YORK — With a little nod of his neck as he took his lead off second base, Josh Rojas seemed to signal Mariners teammate Dylan Moore that a cutter was coming from Yankees pitcher Clarke Schmidt.

Moore drove the 93.1 mph pitch 386 feet into the left-field seats for a 2-0 lead, helping Seattle to a 6-3 win over New York on Tuesday night.

“Everybody’s always trying to look for something,” Rojas said Wednesday. “We’re out there trying to find anything we can to gain an advantage.”

MLB Network showed a frame-by-frame comparison of Schmidt in the set position with Moore at the plate in the third inning. Rojas could see none of the ball before a sinker, a little of the ball ahead of a sweeper and a significant portion before a cutter.

Moore had fouled off Schmidt’s first full-count pitch, a sweeper, before the right-hander came back with a cutter.

“You can see in the video he was clearly tipping,” Rojas said.

Schmidt, 28, said after the game the Yankees were aware of the tipping and quickly worked to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.

“Obviously tipping is a part of this game and it’s a factor and it’s always in the back of our heads and something that we’re well aware of,” Schmidt said. “They got two runs on it. But I was able to make adjustments after we saw the video and just part of the game. Another factor in it.”

Schmidt said tipping had been an issue with him in the past.

“It’s just something that we’re constantly with all our guys paying attention to and working on,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

Mariners manager Scott Servais, a big league catcher from 1991 to 2001, said technology has forced teams to become more alert to tipping.

“You didn’t have all the cameras and all the people working in front offices. It was actually a learned skill,” Servais said. “The days that you weren’t playing, you’re just locked in on that pitcher. Where does he comes set? When does his hand go into his glove? Where’s his eyes? Does he bite his lip when he throws his slider? There’s all kinds of stuff that happens, and in our day, you would just sit and stare at the guy until you try to figure it out for yourself.”

Asked who was the best at picking up tips, Servais brought up his own experience.

“Veteran players that didn’t play much — like myself — knew what to look for,” he said. “I always thought catchers had a good sense for it because they all knew that pitchers all did something a little bit different.”

Rojas said figuring out pitch tips “is a pretty common thing.”

“Even if you have something, it’s still pretty hard to get a hit,” he said.

Major League Baseball’s approval in 2022 of the PitchCom device for communication between pitchers and catchers has largely eliminated catchers signaling pitchers — and the ability of runners at second to pick up those signs. That causes runners to focus on the pitchers.

“Now it’s strictly a game of trying to find little things like that that will give you a tell,” Rojas said.

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Padres’ Bogaerts broke shoulder diving for ball




Padres' Bogaerts broke shoulder diving for ball

CINCINNATI — San Diego Padres All-Star second baseman Xander Bogaerts broke his left shoulder attempting a diving pickup and was placed on the 10-day injured list Wednesday.

“I’m not a big timetable guy,” Padres manager Mike Shildt said. “Obviously he’ll be on the sidelines for a period of time. It’s really impossible to say how long. We’re still gathering information.”

Bogaerts injured his shoulder while diving for a ground ball in the first game of a doubleheader Monday against the Atlanta Braves. Bogaerts was escorted off the field after being evaluated by training staff.

Initial imaging of Bogaerts’ shoulder came back negative, but the fracture was revealed when further tests were done on Wednesday.

“Not as good (of news) as we clearly would have hoped, especially after the initial imaging,” Shildt said.

The Padres said Bogaerts, 31, did not suffer a labrum tear and does not require surgery at this time. The bone needs time to heal, but Bogaerts said he hopes to return to the lineup by late summer.(

Bogaerts, who was placed on the IL retroactive to May 21, is hitting .219 with four homers and 14 RBIs.

In related roster moves, the Padres selected the contract of outfielder David Peralta and transferred right-handed pitcher Luis Patiño to the 60-day IL.

Luis Arraez started at second base for the second straight game on Wednesday. Shildt said he will get creative in terms of replacing Bogaerts moving forward.

“The good news is, we have options between three or four different guys,” Shildt said. “We’re still in the process of figuring things out.”

The Associated Press and Field Level Media contributed to this report.

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