Quick victory over the Kings shows the progress the Oilers have made over the years

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
2 days ago
That felt like a formality.
For the first time in three first-round meetings between the Edmonton Oilers and L.A. Kings, there was never really any doubt about who was going to win.
The most anxious part of this year’s series probably came when the Kings took home-ice advantage from the Oilers with an overtime victory in Game 2. But whatever momentum the Kings had going was stomped out quickly, as the Oilers cruised to a commanding victory in Los Angeles in Game 3 before finishing off a gentleman’s sweep in five games.
Now, this isn’t to say that the Kings just rolled over and surrendered this series. They earned their win in Game 2 and they gave the Oilers a very good fight in Games 4 and 5. What this series ultimately showed was how far the Oilers have come as a playoff team over the last three years.
In 2022, the Kings were a young team that had just put together a breakout season after going through a few years of rebuilding through the draft. The Oilers were a group that had been knocked off in the first round of the playoffs by weaker opponents in back-to-back years.
After losing Game 1 at home, the Oilers hammered the Kings 6-0 and 8-2 and appeared to be in control of the series. They took their foot off the gas in Game 4 and lost 4-0, and then the Kings were suddenly one win away from advancing after an overtime victory in Game 5 in Edmonton.
The Oilers went back to Los Angeles for Game 6 with their backs against the wall and edged out a win thanks to a late go-ahead goal from Tyson Barrie. Back in Edmonton for Game 7, the Oilers won the deciding game by a score of 2-0 behind a 29-save shutout from Mike Smith.
In 2023, the Kings had established themselves as a playoff team with aspirations of going on a deep run. They acquired a high-level scorer in Kevin Fiala in the off-season and solidified their back-end before the deadline with a trade for Vladislav Gavrikov and Joonas Korpisalo. The Oilers also made major changes to their roster, highlighted by the addition of Mattias Ekholm.
The Kings won Game 1 in Edmonton in overtime and the Oilers battled back with a 4-2 victory in Game 2 to even the series. In Los Angeles, the Kings won Game 3 in overtime and appeared to be on their way to a 3-1 series lead in Game 4.
Los Angeles jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, Jack Campbell came into the game in relief of Stuart Skinner and stopped 27 of 28 shots, and the Oilers won 5-4 in overtime. That come-from-behind win was a momentum changer for the Oilers. They came back home in Game 5 and picked up a commanding 6-3 win and then finished the series off with a 5-4 win in Los Angeles in Game 6.
In 2024, there weren’t any wild comeback victories, shocking goaltending performances off the bench, or season-saving third-period goals. There was no luck or randomness. The Oilers had a game plan for beating Los Angeles and the Kings didn’t have an answer when it was executed.
The plan involved beating the Kings at their own game at even-strength: come out hard, score first, plug it up, shut things down. It also involved beating the Kings at something they simply can’t keep up with. Edmonton’s power play had 20 opportunities, and they scored on nine of them. Los Angeles’ power play had 12 opportunities, but they didn’t score once. Keep things even at even-strength and win the games on special teams.
Scoring goals on the power play has been a significant part of Edmonton’s game for a few years now, but it was the penalty killing that really stood out in this series. That rock-solid defence along with the ability to grab and hold a lead is what made the Oilers look so different in 2024 than they did against the Kings in 2023 and 2022.
Things are going to get more difficult for the Oilers as the playoffs go along and they go up against teams like the Colorado Avalanche or Dallas Stars. Though the path isn’t easy, this version of the Oilers is the strongest we’ve seen in the Connor McDavid era. They look like a team that can get the job done.

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