Oilers vs Kings Playoff Preview
Hockey is always better when the best players are in the playoffs. Luckily this year we get the opportunity to watch Connor McDavid take another crack at the Stanley Cup. Standing in the way is an interesting LA Kings team caught in a transition somewhere between the old guard that won multiple cups and a young rebuilding team. These teams have met four times this season with Edmonton winning three of those games: Oilers 3-1-0; Kings 1-2-1.
The Oilers have been one of the NHL’s hottest teams throughout the last couple months heading into the playoffs. Obviously Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl played a huge role in the success of the Oilers this year with both easily clearing the 100 point mark once again. Although Draisaitl narrowly missed out on the Rocket Richard trophy this year, Connor McDavid was able to secure another Art Ross trophy with 123 points in 80 games.
Edmonton will be hoping Mike Smith can keep up his stellar goaltending he has provided the team since returning from injury. He seems like a completely different goaltender which will give hope to Edmonton fans as his early struggles may have simply been a result of a nagging issue. Smith will play a key role in this series behind an unconvincing defensive unit.
Los Angeles (44-27-11)
The Kings were dealt a tough hand when Drew Doughty announced he would need season ending wrist surgery that would also see him miss the entire 2022 playoffs. This leaves a hole on the right side of the defence that is almost impossible to fill however rookie Sean Durzi has had quite the promising year on the King’s right side.
Two key players to watch for the Kings in this series will be Phillip Danault and Jonathan Quick. The Kings will be hopeful Danault can replicate some of the defensive dominance he displayed in the playoffs last season when he shut down Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and Mark Stone on his way to making the Stanley Cup Finals with the Montreal Canadiens. If he can shut down McDavid in a similar way, the Kings have a much better chance. Additionally, you never quite know what you’ll get from him but don’t be surprised if Jonathan Quick decides to have one of his stretches of brilliance.
Keys To The Series
Both of these teams come into this series with some question marks on defence and two veteran goaltenders that have shown flashes of both great and poor play this season. If the LA Kings want a chance to win this series they will absolutely need to make sure they minimize the amount of time they spend on the penalty kill. Any time you find yourself down a player against McDavid and Draisaitl, you’re asking for problems.