The best time of the year is finally upon us. With seeding settled, and positions finalized, post-season play is officially here. The Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers will face off starting on Monday. This will be the first meeting in the post-season between the clubs since the 1991-92 season. The first two games will be hosted in Edmonton as the Oilers have attained the two-seed following a 49-27-6 regular-season record. Knowing the fireworks that players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl can provide, hockey fans are eager to see what this series will bring. Expect the unexpected, as playoff hockey can bring about the most unlikely outcomes.
Make sure to check out all of our other Playoff Previews.
Jonathan Quick has been the backbone of the Los Angeles Kings for over a decade. Being solid between the pipes for that long is not very common in the league, and Quick has given Kings faithful his best years of hockey. Expect him to make a final push for another cup victory in 2022. The 36-year-old has won six of his last seven starts with a .918 save percentage. Now is the best time to be playing at a high caliber, and Quick seems to be ready for another push.
Mike Smith for the Edmonton Oilers has been great. Posting a .966 save percentage since April 12, Smith is looking to maintain the pace. In two seasons with the Oilers, Smith has recorded a 0-5-0 record with a save percentage of .893 in the playoffs. Look for Smith to make a statement in this year’s post-season play. With a more developed roster in front of him and experience to match, Smith could help Edmonton push forward this year.
The Kings will depend on young defensemen in this year’s playoffs. Drew Doughty‘s injury has opened up minutes for younger players to thrive on this Kings roster. Sean Durzi and Jordan Spence have stepped up in their new roles and look to get Los Angeles on a roll. Although they have done well with more minutes, playoff hockey is a different animal. Look for the unseasoned players to get exposed in a matchup they may not be suited for.
Markus Niemelainen has given Edmonton the boost it needed on the defensive end of the ice in 2022. As a physical player, Niemelainen has established himself as more of an enforcer-type, filling a crucial need on a playoff-contending roster. Look for the 23-year-old to make a statement in this series with his overpowering approach.
The Kings have tallied some abysmal stats as a power-play unit in 2022. Posting only a 16.1% efficiency rating on the man advantage, the Kings will do their best to turn their fortunes around in this series. Look for Los Angeles to try and slow things down and take advantage of any power-play opportunities presented to them this week.
Although the Oilers have had droughts on the powerplay throughout this season, they have the firepower to bounce back quickly. Any team that has names like Draisaitl and McDavid is capable of putting up high numbers. Expect the young guns to explode in the first round.
Los Angeles doesn’t stand out in many offensive categories. However, what they lack in glamourous highlight material, they make up for in fundamental execution. Though the Kings are a familiar team to see in May, 15 players on the roster have never seen playoff hockey in the NHL. The chances are high that this inexperienced group will be pushed to their limits in this first-round matchup.
Edmonton will be the early favorites in this series as their top-line offensive production has been dominant since McDavid touched the ice. In addition, his pairing with Draisaitl has proven to be one of the more elite duos in the NHL.
Killer Edge/ Game Breakers
McDavid will be the centerpiece in this matchup. Any hockey fan knows the electricity he can produce on any given night. Expect a show from the 2015 first overall pick. Playing 80 games in the 2021-22 season, McDavid posted a league-high 123 points, including 79 assists. The man is a playmaker, and the playoffs are the perfect stage for him to shine.
Los Angeles has been struggling on special teams this year, and if this series comes down to power play or penalty kill units, Edmonton will be in the driver’s seat. “We believe in our group, and we believe in each other,” Durzi said of his squad. Look for the Kings to do all they can to lock down two of the highest-scoring players in the league.
Jay Woodcroft is looking to make a splash in his first post-season appearance behind the bench. Woodcroft was appointed to the assistant coaching position in April of 2018 after an impressive stint as the head coach of Edmonton’s AHL affiliate. Following Dave Tippett’s departure from the organization, the Oilers announced Woodcroft would take the reigns in early 2022.
Todd Mclellan was named head coach of the Kings on April 16, 2019. With a resume including three-plus seasons with Edmonton and seven with the San Jose, Mclellan proved to be the right candidate for the Kings. In addition, winning a Stanley Cup as an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008 gave him the experience necessary to go on a post-season run. Look for the Kings to put up a valiant effort against an overpowered Oilers squad.
It will be an exciting match for sure. With the offense the Oilers have against the Kings’ defense, it is hard to predict what will happen. The Kings will need Quick to be at his best if the players in front of him fail. The track record for playoffs favors the Kings, as the Oilers have not done well in the past postseasons. However, it will still come down to the end, but the Oilers’ offense is making people believe they have a chance this year.
Series Prediction: Edmonton 4-2
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