The Edmonton Oilers successfully defeated the Los Angeles Kings in six games to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Vegas Golden Knights. The Oilers did well against the Golden Knights during the regular season going 3-0-1 in four matchups, but the playoffs are an entirely different season for every team, and nothing is guaranteed.
The Oilers had some holes in Round 1 but were ultimately the better team and earned the right to be named one of the top eight teams of the season, but now they’ll play the kings of the Pacific Division in Vegas, who they’ve never seen outside of the regular season.
This is going to be one of, if not the best series of Round 2, as both teams are electric to watch for different reasons. It’s a battle of the 2015 first and second overall picks and both teams have tons to prove, so a lot of eyes will be on this series.
Notes/Keys to the Game
The Oilers will have to continue the strong physical dominating play we saw against the Kings. The Golden Knights may not have faired well against the Oilers all season, but they are still a really good team with almost no holes and lots of offensive weapons. The Oilers will need to focus on their defensive play if they hope to steal a Game 1 win in Vegas, where the fans will be jumping.
The Oilers’ depth stood out in the first round, with Nick Bjugstad and Klim Kostin being strong performers in the matchup against the Kings. Both Bjugstad and Kostin, as well as the rest of the bottom six, will need to continue playing well if the team wants to blow by the Golden Knights as many fans around the league expect them to.
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The Golden Knights have been dealing with injuries so they aren’t at 100 percent, but they still have depth that can help put them in the win column. They have never been the fastest team, but their series win against the Winnipeg Jets in Round 1 showed they are able to slow the game down to their pace and play their own way.
The Oilers need to try and get to Laurent Brossoit as quickly as they can. The Golden Knights’ goaltending hasn’t been the strongest or most consistent all season, so if the Oilers can get up in the game fast, it will put the Golden Knights on their heels for the rest of the series.
Expected Gameday Lineups/Goalie Matchups
While the Oilers have been able to remain pretty secretive in the playoffs when it comes to their lineups, they are still expected to run 11 forwards, and seven defensemen with Stuart Skinner between the pipes. I would expect Kailer Yamamoto and Kostin to run the 10th and 11th forward slots and move into the top three lines as the game goes on and head coach Jay Woodcroft makes changes.
The Golden Knights will likely run 12 forwards, and six defensemen and have Brossoit between the pipes. He has been their guy in these playoffs so far, so it’s no surprise he’s expected to be in the starter’s net for the foreseeable future.
The Oilers need to come out flying with physicality, shots, and sound defensive play. They haven’t had many problems so far, so working on the small issues in practice should be more than enough to help them gain confidence and pick up a Game 1 victory over the Golden Knights.
It’ll be the small things that help the Oilers win. They can’t come in sloppy because they’ll get taken advantage of quickly. They can win this series pretty handily if they stick to their game.