Oilersnation Roundtable: Who do you want to face in the first round of the playoffs?
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis7 months ago
Though they haven’t officially clinched a playoff spot yet, the Edmonton Oilers are headed to the big dance again this spring.
Last year, they edged out the Los Angeles Kings in seven games in the first round, plowed through the Calgary Flames in the Battle of Alberta in the second round, and then got swept by the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Final.
What about this year? There are just under two weeks left in the regular season and playoff seeding in the Western Conference is still up for grabs. Here’s who the writers at Oilersnation want to see the team line up against in the playoffs…
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
The top spot in the division isn’t totally out of reach so it’s worth starting this off by saying that the Seattle Kraken are by far my preferred first-round opponent for the Edmonton Oilers. Listen, I respect what they’ve done this season but they don’t have the high-end skill to compete with the Oilers over the course of a best-of-seven series. I like their depth, but it’s not like their bottom-six is miles better than the Oilers. I like their blueline but again, is it good enough to stop McDavid and Draisaitl? I don’t think so. Also, their goaltending is by far the worst out of all the teams in the playoff picture. The Kraken are my first choice. The second would be the Vegas Golden Knights. They’ve been winning a lot since the trade deadline but they’ve beaten up a lot of bad teams and they’ve been bleeding a lot of chances. Since the deadline, they’re bottom five in the NHL when it comes to scoring chances against at 5v5. They’re also very injured and going up against either Jonathan Quick or Laurent Brossoit in a series. I think the Oilers could actually make quick work of either one of the Kraken or Golden Knights.
The way the Oilers have played over the past few weeks, it looks like they’re the team to beat in the Western Conference. The presence of Mattias Ekholm has made their blueline significantly better and the addition of Nick Bjugstad to the bottom-six gives the Oilers the deepest forward group we’ve seen in the Connor McDavid era. My hope is that the Oilers continue to finish strong and that they grab the top spot in the Western Conference so that they can host each playoff series. They’ll have to beat some combination of the Kings, Golden Knights, and Avalanche to reach the Stanley Cup regardless, so my main concern is finishing at the top of the table. If I could pick a specific first-round matchup, I would go for another Battle of Alberta, this time with the Oilers as the No. 1 seed and the Flames at No. 8.
I mean, the obvious answer is the Seattle Kraken, right? Even though it’s not going to happen, Seattle’s goaltending is so bad that they would be my first pick if given the choice because I think they probably offer the easiest route to the second round. But since the Kraken aren’t like to be in the right spot to make it happen, my second choice would be the Vegas Golden Knights. In the four games played against Vegas this season, the Oilers finished at 3-1 and put home 18 goals past their goaltenders. The point here is that I’m not scared of Vegas at all, and I legitimately think they’re pretenders more than they are real contenders. Sure, they may have maintained first place in the division for most of the year, but I don’t necessarily think that means they’re the best or even the second-best team in the Pacific Division.
Is it lame of me to say that I don’t care who the Oilers play in the first round of the playoffs? As it stands heading into the weekend’s games, the Oilers have a 57 percent chance at a first-round rematch with the LA Kings, according to hockeyviz.com. They have a 17 percent chance of playing the Vegas Golden Knights, a 14 percent chance of playing the Seattle Kraken, and a five percent chance of playing the Winnipeg Jets. I think the reason I don’t care who the Oilers end up playing is that I’m not overly concerned about any of the teams in the Pacific Division. Truly, the Minnesota Wild are the only team I’d really be concerned with matching up against in the playoffs but that’s because they are one of the best defensive teams in the game and can absolutely choke you out. We saw the Oilers manhandle Vegas in the last week. We saw them play arguably their best game of the season last night against LA.
What say you, Nation? Who do you think would be the ideal matchup for the Oilers in the first round of the playoffs? Let us know!
Recent articles from Cam Lewis