Barring a preposterous collapse, the Edmonton Oilers are headed for the playoffs again this season. Though things haven’t been as smooth as many had hoped compared to last season, they currently sit third in the Pacific Division and have a cozy lead over the Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames, two teams looking to crawl back into a wild-card position.
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Who the Oilers will play remains a mystery as the Pacific race is tight. In fact, only seven points separate the first-place Vegas Golden Knights from the fourth-place Seattle Kraken.
Despite the many possibilities, Edmonton will most likely face off against a divisional opponent in the first round, whether it be the Golden Knights, LA Kings, or Kraken. Here’s a look at each potential matchup from the Oilers’ perspective, starting with the team they are least likely to face to their most favourable matchup.
Kings Present a Great Challenge
Based on the current standings, the Oilers would take on the Kings in the first round for a second straight season, though they would not have home-ice advantage this time around. In last year’s playoffs, the Oilers were able to fend off the Kings in a series that went the distance.
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While the Oilers were considered heavy favourites against the Kings a year ago, this should be a more even series. Kings general manager Rob Blake has done a terrific job of building this roster, especially with the acquisition of Kevin Fiala in the offseason. The 26-year-old Swiss forward has been fantastic, registering 68 points through 66 games with his new team.
Along with Fiala up front, the Kings continue to get production from the never aging Anze Kopitar, while Adrian Kempe is also having another strong season with 32 goals so far. They also have four players with north of twenty goals (Fiala, Kopitar, Kempe and Gabriel Vilardi), while Philipp Danault and Viktor Arvidsson are closing in on that number with 18 apiece.
On the back end, Drew Doughty, who missed last year’s series, is having another impressive campaign, as are Sean Durzi and Mikey Anderson – who recently earned himself a new eight-year contract extension. New into the fold is Vladislav Gavrikov, a solid shutdown defenseman who the Oilers were rumoured to be in on earlier in the season.
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