NHL Playoffs 2023 Series Preview: Oilers vs. Kings

This should be a pretty fun series to open the playoffs in the Pacific Division between the #2 seed Edmonton Oilers and the #3 seed Los Angeles Kings. This will be a rematch of their series in the first round last year where the Oilers won in seven games before advancing to the Western Conference Finals, where they went on to lose to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Avalanche. These teams split their four regular season games, with the Kings winning the first two games, 3-1 in Edmonton on November 16th, and 6-3 at home on January 16th, and then the Oilers answering back with a 2-0 shutout win at home on March 30th and then 3-1 in LA on April 4th.

The Oilers finished the regular season in second place in the Pacific with a 50-23-9 record, just two points back from the Golden Knights for first place in the Western Conference. Edmonton has the best record in the NHL in the second half of the season and they were the hottest team in the league going into the playoffs, on a nine-game win streak and 15-game point streak with a 14-0-1 record in that span.

They are led by two of the best offensive players in the NHL, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. McDavid is a generational player and the best in the NHL, leading the league by an insane margin with 153 points, 64 goals, and 89 assists this season. The Oilers lead the NHL in scoring this season, averaging 3.96 goals per game on an average of 33.6 shots per game. They’ve generated the second-most expected goals (3.76 per game) in the NHL and the fifth-most high-danger shots. They have the best power play in the league by a significant margin, scoring on 32.4% of their opportunities. The depth behind McDavid and Draisaitl has been very good this season. Edmonton is the only team in the league with two 50+ goal scorers, and four 35+ goal scorers and eleven of their twelve forwards have at least ten goals on the season (Janmark has eight and plays on the penalty kill). 

Edmonton’s been inconsistent at best defensively. They’ve allowed an average of 3.12 goals per game, the 16th-most in the NHL, on an average of 31.4 shots allowed per game. They’ve given up the eleventh-fewest expected goals (2.94 per game) and the fifth-fewest high-danger shots. The Oilers have struggled on the penalty kill, ranking 13th-worst in the NHL at 77%. Starting goaltender Stuart Skinner has a 29-14-4 record, a 2.87 GAA, and a .915 save percentage. Their backup goaltender Jack Campbell has really struggled this year, around 20 goals saved below expected, with a 21-9-4 record, a 3.41 GAA, and a .888 save percentage.

The Los Angeles Kings finished the regular season in third place in the Pacific Division with a 47-25-10 record and ended their regular season in a bit of a slump with four wins in their last nine games.

LA’s been good offensively this season, scoring an average of 3.34 goals per game, the tenth-most in the NHL, on an average of 32.4 shots per game. They’ve generated the 14th-most expected goals (3.22 per game) and the 16th-fewest high-danger shots in the league. The Kings’ power play has been very good, the fourth-best in the league, scoring on 25.3% of their opportunities. Anze Kopitar (74 points), Kevin Fiala (49 assists), and Adrian Kempe (41 goals) lead the Kings in scoring this season.

Similar to Edmonton, although their offense has been good, the Kings have been inconsistent defensively this year. They’ve allowed the 16th-fewest goals in the NHL, an average of 3.1 goals per game on an average of 27.9 shots allowed per game. They’ve given up the fourth-fewest expected goals (2.84 per game) and the fourth-fewest high-danger shots. LA’s struggled a bit on the penalty kill, killing off 75.8% of their penalties, ranking ninth-worst in the league. Joonas Korpisalo, traded from the Blue Jackets at the deadline, is projected to start in goal for this season. This season (on the Kings and the much inferior Jackets) he has an 18-14-4 record, a 2.87 GAA, a .915 save percentage, and a shutout.

I think the Oilers are the superior team in this series and I actually see them being the team to win the Western Conference after they came up short on that last season. I will add a 2 unit future on them to raise Lord Stanley. Of course with that, I expect them to beat the Kings in likely six games in the first round. I think the series price at -225 is a bit steep but will take the Oilers to win the series in six games or less for 1.5 units. I’d also lean the series to go over 5.5 games, but not enough to bet it.

Expecting Edmonton to win the series, I’ll take the Oilers to win Game 1 at home for a unit, with a majority of teams that win Game 1 going on to win the series. Edmonton was the hottest team going into the playoffs in the league and I expect that to continue.

I’d lean the games in this series trend over with two very good offenses and inconsistent defensive play but with three of the four games between these teams in the regular season hitting the under, I’ll stay off it Game 1 and re-evaluate the total in Game 2.


2u Edmonton Oilers – Stanley Cup Champions (+800)

Series Bets

1.5u Oilers in six games or less (-112)

Game 1 Bets

1u Oilers ML (-186)

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