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The Day After 71.0: Edmonton Oilers set the temperature for another likely playoff meeting against Kings

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
20 days ago
Ask any Oilers fan these days who their most hated rivals are, and you might be surprised at the answer.
Gone are the days where the first mention would be the Calgary Flames, or the Vancouver Canucks. Now, you’re more likely to hear it’s the LA Kings or the Vegas Golden Knights. The disdain for the Knights stems right back to the playoffs last season, where they eliminated the Oilers in six games.
In the case of the Kings, the Oilers have a long history against them. Across Edmonton’s first 13 years in the league, they met LA seven times in the playoffs, winning four of those series.
Now fast-forward a few decades, and once again, this oft-playoff rivalry has resurfaced, with both teams going head to head in the opening round of the 2022 and 2023 playoffs—both series won by Connor McDavid and company, where the elevation of his performance has become front and centre.
And Wednesday night’s 4-1 win for the Oilers was the latest chapter in what’s been domination from the Oilers.
The temperature of the game was set early by Evander Kane, taking a long, healthy run at Drew Doughty. While he got rung up for tripping, the Oilers killed off the penalty and utilized that momentum as McDavid opened the scoring at the 5:37 mark cleaning up a rebound from a Mattias Ekholm point shot.
From there, the Oilers were off, showing they knew how to play against that boring 1-3-1 the Kings employ. Adam Henrique would score with 16 seconds left in the second, as a puck bounced off him and in for his third goal and fourth point in 11 games with the Oilers, as Evan Bouchard would extend the lead to 3-0 early in the third, and the rest is history.
Through whichever lens you’d like to look, that was a game Edmonton was firmly in control of. Despite getting outshot due to score effects, it never felt like this one was at risk of slipping away from them, largely in thanks to an excellent performance from Stuart Skinner, saving 2.03 goals above expected, according to Evolving Hockey.
They won the special teams battle, going 1/2 on their own power play while killing off each of the Kings’. They also dominated the physical play in this one, outhitting LA by a staggering 52-34. Darnell Nurse led the charge with eight hits, as Henrique and Kane each had six. McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins laid five a piece, while nearly everybody got into the mix.
All in all this was an excellent rebound game for the Oilers, continuing to dig up from a rough weekend in Ontario.
It’s also a good sign for what’s to come, as these two teams appear destined to meet again in the playoffs this season. The Athletic gives a 46 percent chance of the Oilers and Kings meeting in the first round of the playoffs as each teams most likely opponent, while HockeyViz has a similar 47 percent chance at happening.
The Oilers will host the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday afternoon, before a two game road trip to  visit the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars on Monday and Wednesday of next week.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

THE DAY AFTER PRESENTED BY BETWAY

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