Kings vs. Oilers preview: Who has the edge?


(best-of-seven, all times PT)

Game 1: Monday, April 17 at Edmonton, 7 p.m. (ESPN/Bally Sports West)

Game 2: Wednesday, April 19 at Edmonton, 7 p.m. (ESPN/Bally Sports West)

Game 3: Friday, April 21 at Kings, 7p.m. (TNT/Bally Sports West)

Game 4: Sunday April 23 at Kings, 6 p.m. (TBS/Bally Sports West)

*Game 5: Tuesday April 25 at Edmonton, April 25 time TBD (TBD/Bally Sports West)

*Game 6: Saturday April 29 at Kings, time TBD (TBD/Bally Sports West)

*Game 7: Monday May 1 at Edmonton, time TBD (TBD/Bally Sports West)

*If necessary


The Kings and Oilers split the regular-season series, 2-2-0

Nov 16: Kings 3, Edmonton 1, at Edmonton, Trevor Moore hat trick

Jan. 9: Kings 6, Edmonton 3, at Arena, four Kings power-play goals

March 30: Kings 0, Edmonton 2, at Edmonton, Stuart Skinner shutout

April 2: Kings 1, Edmonton 3, at Arena, Edmonton’s big three net the game-winner


Kings (regular-season rank) … category … Oilers (regular-season rank)

47-25-10 (104 points) … Season Record … 50-23-9 (109 points)

3.34 (10th) … GPG … 3.96 (1st)

3.10 (16th) … GAPG … 3.12 (17th)

25.3 (4th) … PP Pct. … 32.4 (1st)

75.8 (24th) … PK Pct. … 77.0 (20th)

53.3 (3rd) … FO Pct. … 50.8 (15th)

88.9 (27th) … SV Pct. 90.0 (15th)


Crazily enough and as a definite credit to Rob Blake, a healthy Kings team would have made this category a debate. While there may not be any 100-point producers on the Kings’ roster –– Edmonton has three –– their depth across lines and situations was unmatched this season in the NHL. Kevin Fiala’s arrival via trade from Minnesota and a rejuvenated Gabe Vilardi made the Kings a nightmare to match up with, but despite some progress toward a return for Vilardi both players will begin the series on the shelf. For Edmonton’s part, the numbers speak for themselves and they speak volumes. Connor McDavid’s Hockey DB page may have to start asking users if they are over 18 in order to grant access because his numbers are so obscene. Leon Draisaitl would be running away with almost every piece of hardware on awards night if not for his even greater teammate. Not only have they elevated their already soaring level of play, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has as well. Zach Hyman and Evander Kane add heft without subtracting skill. Meanwhile, Edmonton’s bottom six is deeper and bigger than ever with the likes of Klim Kostin and Nick Bjugstad in the mix. Edge: Oilers


Both teams underwent some reconfiguration on the back end since last year’s series with the Kings having a healthy Drew Doughty this time out and adding Vladislav Gavrikov at the trade deadline. Where just two years ago the Kings’ D corps were nothing short of dysfunctional, it’s deep, contemporarily styled and increasingly cohesive. The Oilers bring a bit of a throwback group, with tough customers like Darnell Nurse and deadline pickup Mattias Ekholm making life difficult in front of their net. Though both teams struggled defensively at times, their post-deadline iterations were quite capable, with the Oilers becoming more physical and the Kings reestablishing the effectiveness of their 1-3-1 trap in protecting leads. While they may not play on the blue line, centers Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault, a two-time Selke Trophy winner and a short-list candidate, add a dimension that swings a close comparison. Edge: Kings


Almost as unfathomable as the Kings having a potential edge in a forward matchup against a team with the two best scorers in the world would be the Oilers having a goaltending advantage against anyone, but here they and rookie Stuart Skinner are. It feels like the Oilers haven’t had anything resembling a star between the pipes since Kings goalie coach Bill Ranford was plying his trade with Edmonton in the early 90s. They sought help from former Kings and Toronto puck-stopper Jack Campbell, but mostly got a cumbersome contract back for their trouble. Skinner has been a key component in a strong finish that saw them earn nearly 90% of their possible points in the final month and a half of the season, which vaulted him into the Calder Trophy conversation. As for the Kings? No one can be entirely certain which goalie will start Game 1, as they weigh starting a 30-something goalie that was on a course to becoming a career minor-leaguer before fate intervened against rolling with a mercurial netminder whose spent much of the year backstopping a defense that bled goals, and profusely so. While both teams seem likely to win with their goalies rather than because of them, a little certainty can go a long way. Edge: Oilers


In a sliver of analysis that may be emblematic of the series as a whole, the Kings improved vastly on the power play, reaching the fourth overall position in the NHL after decades of futility with the man advantage. Against virtually any other opponent, the strength of their power play alone, not to mention the fact that both teams’ penalty kills have been largely unremarkable, would be enough to give them the nod on special teams. But Edmonton had the best power play in the league and one that wasn’t just a punishment but also a deterrent, affording their players a little extra leeway five-on-five as teams sought to avoid a skate to the penalty box. McDavid had 21 more power-play points than his next non-teammate, as he, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins combined for a staggering 186 power-play points, which isn’t far below the 213 scored by the Kings’ top three producers at any strength. Their top three scorers with the extra man came up with just 76 power-play points. Edge: Oilers


Kings Coach Todd McLellan stewarded the Oilers for three seasons and parts of a fourth, and his connection to Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft goes even further back than that. Woodcroft was an assistant under McLellan in Edmonton and previously in San Jose. Student bested teacher last spring, but overall McLellan’s body of work is more extensive than Woodcroft’s. While Woodcroft engineered a run to the conference finals in his first campaign as an NHL head coach, McLellan got an undermanned roster that was then ravaged by injuries to the playoffs inexplicably and saw progress rather than any regression from his group this year, and he’s been on multiple deep playoff runs in his career. Edge: Kings


The Kings were one of the better teams late in the season and nearly any other Western matchup would be a toss-up at worst for them. Unfortunately, they are facing down the hottest team in the NHL and the league’s best player, who displayed serious fire in last year’s series. While the Kings have contained McDavid and the Oilers’ attack as well or better than anyone, that hasn’t meant much in a threshold sense since the Oilers have been running roughshod over the league since March 1, including two victories over the Kings. Oilers in 7

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