G1+ Game Notes: Oilers and Kings meet in NHL playoffs with new coaches, but same players

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
14 days ago
For the second time in franchise history, the Edmonton Oilers and LA Kings will battle for a third consecutive season in the playoffs. The Oilers won all three meetings in 1990, 1991 and 1992 and are looking to do the same in 2024 after defeating the Kings in seven games in 2022 and six games in 2023.
— Outside of winning both playoff series the Oilers are also 8-4 in the regular season against the Kings the past three seasons. They were 3-1 this year, with all four games being played with Kris Knoblauch behind the bench. The final three games were played with Kings interim head coach, Jim Hiller, and the Oilers went 2-1. Edmonton is 16-9 in its last 25 meetings vs. the Kings. They’ve shown they are comfortable playing against the Kings’ 1-3-1 defensive and passive structure.
— It is a new season, so the past two playoff series ultimately mean nothing, but the Oilers should be confident that if they play to their strengths, they can win the series. On paper, Edmonton has the advantage in many areas.
— The Oilers’ forwards scored 244 goals and 584 points, while the Kings’ forwards produced 220 goals and 525 points. Edmonton’s forwards ranked fourth in goals and were tied with Colorado for fourth in points among forwards. The Kings’ forwards ranked 17th in goals and 15th in points.
The Oilers’ defence corps was tied for fourth in goals with 48 and second in points with 215. The Kings were tied for 18th in goals with 34 and 23rd in points with 157. As a team, Edmonton was fourth in goals with 292 and second in total points with 799, while the Kings ranked 23rd in goals and 17th in points.
— Edmonton’s powerplay was fourth at 26.3%, while LA ranked 12th at 22.6%. The one area LA had a distinct advantage in the regular season was on the penalty kill. LA ranked second at 84.6% and Edmonton was 15th at 79.5%. LA also had a better GA/GP at 2.56 to 2.88.
— Season-long stats for the Oilers look much different than the 69 games with Kris Knoblauch and Paul Coffey on the bench. Here are how those stats looked from November 12th to the end of the season.
Oilers had the best record in the NHL at 46-18-5. LA was 13th at 36-24-8.
Edmonton ranked second in GF/GA at 3.72. LA was 22nd at 2.91.
Oilers were fifth in GA/GP at 2.68 and LA was 4th at 2.50.
On the power play the Oilers were third at 26.9% while LA ranked 9th at 23.8%.
On the penalty kill Edmonton was seventh at 81.7% and the Kings were fourth at 84%. Special teams were very close and could have a huge outcome on the series.
At 5×5, Edmonton was third in GF/GP at 2.47 while the Kings were 23rd at 1.88.
Edmonton ranked seventh in GA/GP at 5×5 at 1.76 and the Kings were 3rd at 1.68.
— Some other areas to consider when comparing the full-season record with when Knoblauch arrived, and also for LA after Hiller took over.
Scoring first:
Edmonton is 31-9-3 with a .721 winning%. They are 28-5-2 with a .800W% since Knoblauch and 13-2-2 (.765w%) since Hiller was hired.
LA is 32-7-8 with a .681w%. They are 26-7-7 (.650w%) since Knoblauch and 15-4-1 (.750w%) since Hiller took over.
Leading after 1st period:
EDM is 27-3-3, they are 24-3-2 with Knoblauch and 11-1-2 since Hiller.
LA is 25-3-5, they are 20-3-4 since Knoblauch arrived and 9-1-1 with Hiller.
Trailing after 1st period:
EDM is 9-15-1, they are 9-10-1 with Knoblauch and 3-7-1 since Hiller. Edmonton hasn’t been as good down the stretch coming from behind after the first.
LA is 8-12-1, they are 7-9 since Knoblauch and 4-6 with Hiller.
Leading after 2nd period:
EDM is 29-3-1, they are 26-2-1 with Knoblauch and 12-0-1 since Hiller arrived.
LA is 35-0-3, they are 28-0-3 since Knoblauch took over and 16-0-0 with Hiller. The Kings haven’t lost in regulation all season when leading after 40 minutes.
Trailing after the second period:
EDM is 7-20-3 (7th best W%), they are 7-13-3 under Knoblauch and 1-9-3 since Hiller took over.
LA is 5-21-2, they are 4-18-1 since Knoblauch and 3-8 with Hiller.
Coming from behind after 40 minutes is difficult for any team.
— The Oilers have six players who haven’t faced LA in either of the last two playoff series in Corey Perry, Adam Henrique, Sam Carrick, Dylan Holloway, Troy Stecher and Calvin Pickard. Stecher did play four games for the Kings, so he’s aware of the rivalry.
— The Kings have Pierre-Luc Dubois, Alex Laferriere, Andreas Englund, Cam Talbot and David Rittich. Jonathon Quick was the starter in 2022, Joonas Korpisalo last year and either Talbot or Rittich will face the Oilers this season. Jim Hiller has yet to announce who will start in goal. Talbot has started 21 games with Hiller while Rittich has started 13. Talbot has a .917Sv% and 2.37 GAA, while Rittich has a .918Sv% and 2.21 GAA. Both have good numbers. Talbot started five of the Kings’ final six games. He allowed four goals in 13 shots in their season finale v. Chicago, and seven goals on 41 shots in their last two games, but I expect he starts game one. I won’t be surprised if we see both goalies start games this series.
— Yesterday, Evander Kane said he has been dealing with a sports hernia all season. I can’t recall the last time a player openly mentioned an injury before or during the playoffs. Why would Kane mention this now, especially if he plays tonight? I find it odd. All it does it create massive speculation online. He mentioned his injury in the same interview where he discussed his diminished ice time. Last year Kane was fifth among Oilers forwards in TOI/game. He was once again fifth this season, but he did average 1:55 less TOI/game. He also went 21 games without a goal. Was the injury part of that? Possibly, but if it was having that much of a negative impact in his game, why did he keep playing? And why mention the injury before the playoffs, rather than during the regular season?
On March 24th, Kris Knoblauch said Kane would miss the game in Ottawa due to a maintenance day, which, after hearing Kane’s comments yesterday, would make sense. However, the next day Kane came out and said he was ready to play and was a healthy scratch. So, in Kane’s words he was healthy to play on March 25th, but yesterday he said he has been dealing with a sports hernia all year. He did mention he felt bad after the Vancouver game, so maybe he re-aggravated it then, but one month ago he said he was healthy. It seems like an unnecessary distraction.
— Kane is a very unique player. He’s a rare combination of raw athleticism, speed, skill, toughness and physicality. There are very few players with his combination in the NHL. Over the past eight seasons Kane is tied with William Nylander for the 40th-most goals in the NHL with 217. And Kane played 34 fewer games. Kane has played 569 regular season games, while Johnny Gaudreau has played 682 and has 218 goals. Matthew Tkachuk played 590 and has 218.
Kane is also 16th in hits among forwards in that span. Alex Ovechkin (second in goals, 10th in hits) and Chris Kreider (16th in goals, 30th in hits), Jamie Benn (27th in goals, 34th in hits) and Anders Lee (33rd in goals, 38th in hits) are the only other players who are top-40 in both goals and hits. Kane is a legit top-line goal-scorer in the NHL, and he’s proven he can be a difference maker in the NHL. The Oilers need him to play well.
— Yesterday, Kane practiced with Sam Carrick and Mattias Janmark on the fourth line, while Dylan Holloway stayed on the third line with Ryan McLeod and Corey Perry. It looks like Connor Brown could be the odd man out for game one if Kane plays. Today at 2:40 p.m. on Sports 1440, Grant Fedoruk will join me to discuss what a sports hernia is, how it can impact performance and how long the recovery is for an elite level athlete.


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