Buckle Up: Huge Week for the Oilers, Kings and Golden Knights

Photo credit:Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
By this time next week, the Edmonton Oilers will know if home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs is possible. Starting tomorrow they play Vegas twice and Los Angeles once in a six-day span. Games versus San Jose and Arizona were like the appetizer — important, but salad and soup are never as filling as the main course. This coming week will offer choices of prime rib, filet mignon, and sea bass for Oilers fans.
The Oilers need at least two wins in their three meetings v. Vegas and LA, on top of defeating Arizona next Monday, if they want to finish in the top two in the Pacific Division. Vegas has 96 points; Los Angeles has 92 and Edmonton has 90. The Oilers and Golden Knights have 10 games remaining while LA has 11.
If the Oilers go 8-2 then Vegas has to go 5-5, or worse, and the Kings need to go 7-4, or worse, for the Oilers to catch them. It won’t be easy for Edmonton to make up ground as these three teams have been the hottest teams in the NHL since March 1st.
The Kings haven’t lost in regulation all month and have only allowed 16 goals in nine games.
Vegas is 10-2 while using four different goalies: Jonathan Quick (5-1), Aidan Hill (2-1), Jiri Patera (2-0), and Logan Thompson (1-0). Thompson made his first start since February 9th last night in Calgary, but he left the game with six minutes remaining. He won’t play tomorrow v. the Oilers and after the game head coach Bruce Cassidy said, “Right now I’m obviously concerned about Logan. He missed a lot of time.” Vegas will also be without Reilly Smith who suffered a lower-body injury.
Vegas has been rolling with wins over Carolina (2x) Tampa, New Jersey, and non-playoff teams like Calgary, Columbus, Montreal, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Vancouver. However, the Oilers have dominated the Golden Knights the past two seasons. They are 2-0 this season and were 3-1 last year. That is good news for the Oilers, but the bad news is they are 0-2 v. the Kings this season after going 3-1 last year and defeating them in seven games in round one of the 2022 playoffs.
The Kings are rolling, especially defensively. In their first 40 games from October to December they had a 3.43 GAA.
In 13 games in January, it was 3.46 GAA.
In 11 games in February, it dropped to 3.11.
Thru nine games in March, it is down to 1.78.
Are they just getting better goaltending or playing better defensively? A combination of both. They’ve only allowed 24.7 shots/against per game in March. They averaged 29.2 from Oct-Dec, then 28.2 in January and 26.1 in February. I should point out that seven of their nine games in March have been against non-playoff teams. They did defeat Colorado and the New York Islanders as well.
I’d argue the Oilers would rather play Vegas than LA in the first round. They likely will have to face both of them in the playoffs, unless the Oilers manage to finish first in the Pacific, but I think LA is better defensively right now. To finish first in the Pacific the Oilers likely have to sweep all four games v. the Kings and Golden Knights. To catch one of them, they have to win sweep the series and then split the other two-game series v. the other team. It won’t be easy, but it is possible.
Here’s a look at their remaining schedules.
27that ARI
28thEDMat CGYat LVK
30that SJat EDMLA
2ndat VAN
3rdat MIN
4that NSHEDMat LA
5that ANA
6thLAat LVK
8that DALCOLat SJ
10thVANat COL
13that SEAat ANASJ
Vegas has seven road games remaining, while LA and Edmonton have six.
Edmonton has five games v. playoffs teams and five v. non-playoff teams.
LA has seven games v. playoff teams and four v. non-playoff squads.
Vegas has eight games v. playoff teams and two v. non-playoff teams and one of those is in Nashville on the second half of a back-to-back. The Predators are five points out of the second wildcard but have three games in hand on Winnipeg. They will be desperate for wins.
Edmonton has the most favourable schedule overall, but the four games head-to-head vs. LA and Vegas will likely decide their fate in the Pacific. You can completely replicate playoff intensity or excitement, but the three games this week will be a close facsimile.
It will be a tune-up for Oilersnation.
A playoff appetizer of sorts.


I love sports, and I love watching great plays. I’ve watched Leon Draisaitl’s backhand pass to spring Connor McDavid at least 30 times. It was one of the best passes I’ve seen in years.
The entire sequence was amazing. Draisaitl starts the play by intercepting Valamaki’s pass, and then he spins and fires a backhand laser to hit McDavid in flight. It was right on his tape, and he never broke stride.
After McDavid hits the post on the breakaway, Draisaitl steals the puck from Boyd, and from his knee puts another pass right on McDavid’s tape and he goes in and buries his 60th goal of the season. It was a total of 14 seconds from Draisaitl intercepting the pass to McDavid scoring the game winner. That might have been the most electrifying and dominant 14-second span of Draisaitl’s career.
Draisaitl finished with four assists, and three of them were elite. His blind pass from behind the net to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the slot was great, and then in the third period, he fires a perfect 100-foot stretch pass (maybe longer) to RNH for a breakaway. It was fitting he did it on the day when his NHL peers voted him best passer in the NHL.
And to no one’s surprise, the NHLPA voted McDavid the best player in the league.
McDavid became the 22nd player in NHL history to score 60 goals. He is on pace for 68 goals a feat nine other players have achieved. Only four players in NHL history had more points than McDavid when he reached the 60-goal plateau.
1986-87Wayne Gretzky696010916962-121-183
1984-85Wayne Gretzky606010716773-135-208
1982-83Wayne Gretzky706210616871-125-196
1983-84Wayne Gretzky50609215287-118-205
1988-89Mario Lemieux55619215385-114-199
1987-88Mario Lemieux70608714770-98-168
1992-93Mario Lemieux55618614769-91-160
1995-96Mario Lemieux62638314669-92-161
1995-96Jaromir Jagr74608014062-87-149
1981-82Mike Bossy74627914164-83-147
2022-23Connor McDavid72607813868-89-157**
1988-89Steve Yzerman66607413465-90-155
1981-82Wayne Gretzky49607113192-120-212
1970-71Phil Esposito67606812876-76-152
1988-89Bernie Nicholls69607013070-80-150
**McDavid’s projected pace at this juncture of the season.**
Steve Yzerman, Phil Esposito and Bernie Nicholls reached the 60-point plateau in fewer games than McDavid, but they had fewer points. And McDavid is on pace to pass to surpass their season-ending point totals. The one total that stands out was Gretzky reaching 60 goals in 49 games. That record is slightly below his 50 goals in 39 games pace. Unreal.
The Oilers team has much to play for over the final 10 games, but so do many individuals.
McDavid needs 12 points in 10 games to reach 150, and 18 points to join Gretzky and Lemieux as the only players with 156 points in a season.
Draisaitl needs six goals for his third 50-goal season and his third 50 goals, 50 assist season and his third 50-goals, 100-point season. His next point will also set a new career high.
Nugent-Hopkins needs 12 points to reach 100 for the first time in his career. He’s averaged 1.22 points/game through 72 games and needs 1.2 points/game over the final 10 to reach 100.
Darnell Nurse needs four points to set a new career high.
Warren Foegele needs two goals to set a new best for goals.
Matthias Ekholm is three goals shy of a new career high.
Ryan McLeod needs two assists to set a new standard in assists.
A few other Oilers have already set new career highs:
RNH, Zach Hyman, and Klim Kostin have new standards for goals, assists and points.
Brett Kulak’s 17 assists and 19 points are the most in his career.
McLeod’s 11 goals and 22 points are new highs.
Enjoy the next week and the final 10 games. There is a lot on the line for the team and individuals.

The Mc60 Tee!

Oilersnation and Nation Gear are celebrating the Mc60-goal mark by dropping this exclusive design. Get it now while supplies last!

Check out these posts...