Edmonton v. Vegas: Who is Better?

Photo credit:© Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
11 months ago
In the playoffs, matchups matter. And for the past two seasons, Vegas has been a great matchup for Edmonton.
Oilersnation isn’t used to its team being favoured, but that’s the reality heading into the Pacific Division Final, which begins Wednesday in Vegas.
Being favoured doesn’t guarantee victory — just ask Boston and Colorado. The series will be decided on the ice, not on paper, but I view Edmonton as the better team, and I see this as an easier matchup than the Los Angeles Kings.
Edmonton is 6-1-1 vs. Vegas the past two seasons and went 3-0-1 this year.
The biggest advantage Edmonton has in the series is its power play.
The Oilers’ PP set an NHL record in the first round with a 56.3% scoring rate. They had nine goals on 16 chances. They became only the sixth team in NHL history to have a PP% of 50% and broke the 2012 Flyers’ mark of 52.2%. Meanwhile, Vegas defeated Winnipeg in five games, despite a brutal penalty kill. The Jets had the second best PP% (41.7) in the first round, scoring five goals on 12 chances.
Vegas has struggled all season on the PK. They were 19th at 77.4% and an ugly 44.4% head-to-head versus Edmonton in the regular season. The Oilers scored five PP goals on nine chances. The one benefit Vegas has is they don’t take many penalties. They were the least-penalized team in the regular season at 2.38 times shorthanded/game. They were 2.4 TS/game v. Winnipeg in round one.
Vegas had the fewest total penalties in their games during the regular season, with a total of 4.90. They were 32nd in PP opportunities/game at 2.52 while only taking 2.38. Edmonton’s game had the fourth most combined powerplays at 6.74. They had 3.35 PPO/game and 3.39 TS/game.
The Oilers need to use their speed and force Vegas to take more than 2.4 minors per game. If they do, their PP could be an even larger factor.


Vegas won’t sit back like the Kings did. They attack and can transition the puck very well with a solid blue line. While the Oilers have a big advantage on the power play, at 5×5 things are much closer.
In the regular season, the Oilers’ blueline combined for 27-95-125 at 5×5, while the Vegas blueliners produced 24-97-121.
Edmonton’s forwards scored 164-214-378 while Vegas’ forwards produced 161-213-374. Again, very close.
The Oilers scored 191 goals to Vegas’ 185. The Oilers allowed 168 to Vegas’ 159.
I’m more of a believer in looking at a team’s second half production and results, more than the first half. Games in October and November matter for points in the standings, but the personnel and style of play can change between early and late in the year.
In the final 41 games of the season, the Oilers outscored teams 114-84 at 5×5, while Vegas led opponents 99-76.
In the final quarter of the season (March 1st to April 14th) Edmonton was 57-40 at 5×5 while Vegas was 53-38.
The teams were fairly even all season, regardless of first or second half, at 5×5.


Mar 25, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Laurent Brossoit (39) makes a save on Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (29) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
The Oilers were a league-best 18-2-1 down the stretch while Vegas had the third-best record at 15-3-3. Vegas led the Western Conference with 111 points and Edmonton was second with 109. The Oilers had 45 regulation wins (second to Boston), while Vegas was seventh with 38.
Edmonton hasn’t lost a game in regulation since March 11th. Both losses to the Kings in round one came in overtime.
In the regular season, at 5×5, the Oilers had a GF% of 53.20% and an xGF% of 53.59%. Vegas had a 53.78GF% and 50.87xGF%.
In the opening round, the Oilers posted a 57.7GF% (15-11) and 54.35 xGF%, while Vegas had a 71.43 GF% (15-6) and a 54.83xGF%.
Vegas dispatched the injury-riddled Winnipeg Jets in five games, and while the Jets were banged up, Vegas still lit up Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck didn’t play great, but Vegas averaged 3.00 goals/game at 5×5, which is very impressive.
The Oilers figured out Joonas Korpisalo as the series went along, and got huge goals from depth players including Nick Bjugstad, Klim Kostin and Kailer Yamamoto.
Dustin Schwartz worked with Laurent Brossoit for years and knows his tendencies very well. Edmonton will have a good scouting report on the Vegas netminder. Brossoit has only started 15 games this season with 10 in the regular season and five in the playoffs, but since returning from injury he’s been very good. He posted a .915Sv% and 2.42 GAA, while Stuart Skinner had an .890Sv% and 3.43 GAA. He allowed three goals on 11 shots in the first period of game four, and then was pulled, and that period makes his overall numbers look worse.
Skinner and Brossoit each won their first playoff series. There is no significant experience or skill advantage in goal.


The Oilers rolled with 11 forwards for much of the series v. LA. Mattias Janmark is close to returning from his broken foot, so he could be an option. The Oilers practiced today and Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were together. Here’s a breakdown of McDavid and Draisaitl together and apart in round one.
McDavid and Draisaitl together: Outscored LA 5-3. Outshot them 25-24 and had a 44.95xGF%.
McDavid without Draisaitl: Was outscored 3-1, outshot LA 39-34 and a 56.28xGF%.
Draisaitl without McDavid: Outscored LA 5-2, outshot LA 45-35 and posted a 59.7xGF%.
Draisaitl was the Oilers’ best player in round one. He scored seven goals and he was on the ice for 19 of the Oilers’ 25 goals. I’d start them on their own lines. Vegas doesn’t have a two-way centre like Anze Kopitar or Philip Danault, and the Oilers will generate more chances against Vegas. But, Vegas will also pressure the Oilers much more. They often won’t sit back with a 1-3-1 in the neutral zone or a passive 1-2-2 forecheck.
If Woodcroft opts to keep them together, will he stick with 11-7 or will he re-insert Janmark into the lineup? If Janmark returns, then I’d assume we’ll see Ryan McLeod and Nick Bjugstad as the other centres. This means Kailer Yamamoto, or Mattias Janmark could start in the top six.
Vegas has spread out its top six across three lines.
Jack Eichel centres Jonathon Marchessault and Ivan Barbashev.
Chandler Stephenson is between Mark Stone and Brett Howden.
William Karlsson centres Reilly Smith and Mike Amadio.
William Carrier returned in game five v. LA and he was second on the Knights with 16 goals 5×5 in the regular season. He gives them another top-nine option.
Warren Foegele, Ryan McLeod and Derek Ryan matched up very well v. Kevin Fiala and Gabriel Vilardi in round one, and Woodcroft often put their line or the Kostin-Yamamoto combination out after LA scored goals. He empowered his players and they responded.
It will be interesting to see which matchup Cassidy wants on home ice. I assume it will be more defence related. Alex Pietrangelo and Alec Martinez are their top pair, while Shea Theodore plays mainly with Brayden McNabb. I suspect both of them will see a lot of McDavid and Draisaitl.
Meanwhile, Woodcroft could want Darnell Nurse/Cody Ceci v. the Stephenson line and Mattias Ekholm/Evan Bouchard v. the Eichel line. Woodcroft and Manson rarely chase matchups that hard, so those pairings, along with Brett Kulak and Vincent Desharnais, will likely see all the lines at some point.
Unlike previous years, the Oilers’ depth doesn’t mean they have to rely on Draisaitl/McDavid to carry them. They had 11 and 10 points respectively, but Bjugstad, Yamamoto, Klim Kostin and Zach Hyman scored the game winning goals in round one.
Both teams get contributions from all four lines at 5×5, and with Vegas (10) and Edmonton (9) having limited PP chances in four regular season meetings, most of this series will be played 5×5. Whichever coach gets the matchups he wants, or can control the matchups they encounter, will win.
On paper, Edmonton is faster and more skilled, and now they have to show it.


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