NHL Playoffs 2022 Series Preview: Oilers vs. Kings

I don’t expect a whole lot out of this Pacific Division first round series between the #2 seed Edmonton Oilers and the #3 seed LA Kings. They’ve both played good hockey in the closing stretch of the season though, coming in the playoffs hot. 

The Oilers finished the regular season in second place in the Pacific with a 49-27-6 record. They had lots of swings throughout the season, going on runs where they looked fantastic and others where they looked like shit, even firing head coach Dave Tippett in February. Under new interim head coach Jay Woodcroft, they’ve played much better and improved in every facet of the game. Edmonton’s been playing great heading into the postseason with a 19-4-2 record in their last 25 games of the regular season.  They are lead by two of the best offense players in the NHL, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. McDavid is a generational player and the best in the NHL, leading with 123 points and second in assists with 79 (behind Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau). Draisaitl’s right behind him scoring a fourth most in the NHL 110 points and he was second in goals behind Toronto’s Auston Matthews (60) with 55 goals this season. They haven’t gotten a ton of production out of the depth in their lineup behind those two besides Evander Kane, who’s had almost a point per game (39 points, 22 goals in 43 games) since being traded to the Oilers. Despite that lack of depth, the Oilers offense is still one of the best in the NHL. They’re scoring an average of 3.48 goals per game, seventh most in the NHL. They’ve generated the tenth most shots per game, an average of 24 per game and have the 11th highest shooting percentage in the NHL, scoring on 10.2% of their shots. The Oilers power play is very good, third best in the NHL, scoring on 26% of those opportunities. Defensively, Edmonton has struggled pretty bad at points this season and on the year they’ve allowed an average of 3.06 goals per game, 14th most in the NHL. They’ve cleaned a lot of those issues up in the second half of the season though, especially goaltending which was awful early in the year. They have allowed the twelfth most shots against them in the league, an average of 32.3 per game. Mike Smith is confirmed in goal tonight and has a 2.81 GAA, .915 save percentage, 2 shutouts this season. That doesn’t show how high of a level he’s playing at right now though, coming into the playoffs with a NHL leading eight wins in a row, allowing only 1.25 goals per game in those eight starts. He’s been incredible and has the best form for a goalie going into the postseason. The Oilers penalty kill hasn’t been great at 79.4%, ranking 17th in the NHL. They did score eleven short handed goals though, third most in the NHL.

The LA Kings had a nice closing run of the season with a 5-0-1 record in their last six games to finish the year with a 44-27-11 record, in third place in the pretty weak Pacific Division. The Kings weren’t great offensively this season, averaging just 2.84 goals per game. They generated a lot of shots, a sixth most in the NHL average of 34.9 per game but couldn’t convert on many of those with just an 8.1% shooting percentage, dead last in the NHL. Their power play struggled mightily as well, scoring on just 16.1% of those opportunities, sixth fewest in the NHL. LA made up for their lack of offense, playing very strong on the back end and allowing only a seventh fewest in the NHL average of 2.79 goals per game. They’ve allowed the second fewest shots in hockey, an average of only 28.5 per game. They will likely go with their veteran goaltender Jonathan Quick tonight who’s been pretty good this season with a 2.59 GAA, .910 save percentage and 2 shutouts. The Kings took the sixth fewest penalty minutes in the NHL but still weren’t great on the penalty kill where they were 77.1%. Like the Oilers, they did have a third most in the NHL, eleven short handed goals.

In their three games against the Kings this year, the Oilers went 3-1. They lost 5-1 at home on December 5th but then won 5-2 in LA on February 15th, 4-3 in a shootout at home on March 30th and 3-2 in LA on April 7th.

I can’t see the Oilers winning the Stanley Cup. I think their lack of offensive depth and their lousy defense catches up to them later in the playoffs. They should get past the Kings pretty easily though. I think the series price for the Oilers at -250 is ridiculous here though. Especially for a team who hasn’t gotten out of the first round of the playoffs since drafting McDavid and has been so inconsistent at times this season. This is the perfect matchup for them in the first round and I will go with 2 units on the Oilers to win this series in six games or less.

For Game 1, the Oilers should win this game at home and I will take them for a unit.

Series Bets

2u Oilers in six games or less (-114)

Game 1 Bets

1u Oilers ML (-195)

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