Who has the edge between the Oilers and Kings?

Edmonton Oilers LA Kings
Photo credit:Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Sunil Agnihotri
13 days ago
With the first round of the playoffs set to begin, I wanted to get a sense of how both teams finished the season, what their key drivers were and how individual players performed.
We know the Oilers had a great year, going 14-7-4 in their final 25 games of the regular season, a points percentage of 0.640 – eighth best in the league and fourth best in the west behind Dallas (0.740), Nashville (0.740) and Colorado (0.660). The Oilers’ goal-share in all situations over these last 25 games was fourth highest in the league (57.69 percent), posting a +24 goal-differential due in large part to their even-strength play. The powerplay and penalty kill slipped a bit in this last stretch, but was still around league average. More on that in a minute.
The Kings had similar results to the Oilers over their final 25 games, going 15-9-1 – which translates into a 0.620 points percentage that ranked tenth highest in the league. Similar to the Oilers, they posted an excellent all-situations goal share in this period (57.55 percent), with a +21 goal differential that was fourth highest in the league. A lot of their success was at even-strength, as well as on their penalty kill.
Even-strength (5v5)
Here’s how the two teams performed at even-strength (5v5) over their final twenty-five games. Both clubs ranked near the top of the league for the majority of the metrics.
Team (5v5, last 25 games)OilersKings
Corsi For%54.8251.06
Fenwick For%54.4752.45
xGoals For%56.3453.39
Goals For%60.6761.36
The two clubs are fairly evenly matched when it comes to shot-share metrics, with both teams ranking near the top of the league for most of the season. For example, the Oilers posted a Corsi For percentage of 55.52 percent over the course of the full season (third highest in the league), while the Kings ranked fourth with 54.68 percent. Where the Kings have excelled is on the defensive side of things, as their rate of shots and chances against have consistently been in the top five all season. Also worth noting is that while the Kings full-season shooting percentage of 7.82 percent ranked 26th in the league, they had the ninth-best shooting percentage over these last 25 games. Full details on how the Oilers and Kings rank within the western conference can be found here.
Goaltending (5v5)
Both teams received excellent goaltending to end the season, with the Kings ranking first with a save percentage of 93.40 percent, while the Oilers ranked sixth with 92.45 percent. Below are the Oilers and Kings goalies from the last 25 games, with their rankings for each metric among the 61 goaltenders who played at least 250 minutes.
Goalie (5v5), last 25 gamesGPTOISave%GSAAHigh-danger Save%
Cam Talbot1994292.4% (17th)4.88 (15th)79.1% (41st)
David Rittich628196.7% (1st)6.76 (8th)96.6% (1st)
Stuart Skinner1670391.7% (27th)1.31 (27th)88.1% (10th)
Calvin Pickard1254093.6% (10th)5.88 (11th)81.4% (38th)
Along with the strong numbers posted by Rittich in limited minutes, the other thing that stands out is the high workload for Talbot. He played the 11th-highest minutes in the league among goalies, and he didn’t get much of a break in this last stretch, playing over 77 percent of the team’s total ice time. Skinner, on the other hand, saw his workload reduced, playing 56 percent of his team’s total ice time and posting average numbers in this recent period. Considering that Skinner played the fifth-highest minutes in the league over the full season, he definitely needed the break. And hopefully he doesn’t burn out like he did last post-season.
Special Teams
While the Edmonton Oilers’ power play posted the second-highest rate of goals over the full season (10.53 goals per hour), supported by the fourth-highest rate of shots (62.33 shots per hour), their performance and results over the final 25 games of the season weren’t nearly as good. Over this recent period, the Oilers’ power play ranked 13th in the league, scoring 8.46 goals per hour. A big reason for this was their decline in rate of shots, which ranked 15th with 54.21 shots per hour.
The Kings’ powerplay was slightly better than Edmonton’s, scoring at a rate of 8.97 goals per hour in their last 25 games and ranking 11th. But this appears to be largely unsustainable as they consistently generated some of the lowest rates of shots in the league all season. It’s very similar to how they did at the end of last season, as well.
Powerplay (Last 25 games)OilersKings
Shots for/6054.21 (15th)43.72 (27th)
Goals for/608.46 (13th)8.97 (11th)
Team shooting%15.60% (13th)20.51% (2nd)
Both teams had decent results on the penalty kill to close the season, with the Kings allowing the tenth-lowest rate of goals against per hour (6.99) and the Oilers ranking 14th (7.65). The big issue for Edmonton was its goaltending, as it ranked 26th in the league with an 82.50 save percentage, while the Kings’ goaltending ranked 7th. These recent goaltending numbers for both teams are consistent with what they posted over the full season.
Penalty Kill (Last 25 games)OilersKings
Shots against/6043.70 (5th)56.38 (20th)
Goals against/607.65 (14th)6.99 (10th)
Team save%82.50% (26th)87.61% (7th)
Skaters (5v5)
Another thing I wanted to see ahead of the series was how the players on each team did in terms of on-ice shot and goal differentials at even-strength (5v5) over their teams’ final 25 games. I wanted to get a sense of which players are playing well but might not be getting the results and which players might be getting unsustainable results.
Below are all of the Oilers skaters, split by forwards and defencemen, and sorted by their total ice time.
The top end of the Oilers’ roster will drive results in the post-season, as they’ve consistently outshot and outchanced opponents, typically against the top players of other teams. It’s encouraging to see that McLeod was getting lots of opportunities, even though the results haven’t been there. He’s going to be critical for the team and should (hopefully) form an effective third line with Holloway and Perry.
I also wonder if the team is really losing anything if Kane and Janmark aren’t healthy and ready to go for game one of the series. Both players tend to be a drag on the team’s performance numbers at even strength, and their results haven’t been very good. It might be better to run with Holloway on the team. I also wouldn’t count on guys like Henrique, Brown, or Carrick, as the Oilers tend to play more often without the puck with them on the ice.
On the backend, there should be some concern with the Kulak-Desharnais partnership as they performed very poorly over the last stretch of the games. The coaching staff was trying them out against tougher competition, and giving Nurse/Ceci a break, so that could be what’s driving the numbers here. It’ll be very interesting to see how the coaching staff manages the minutes among defencemen, as it appears as though the Oilers really only have one reliable pairing in Ekholm and Bouchard.
And here’s a quick glance at the Kings skaters, again split by position and sorted by ice time over the final 25 games of the season.
Danault is the player to watch on the Kings, as he played the most against elite competition among Kings forwards and posted excellent shot-share numbers against this group. If the Kings have any chance of winning, he’ll need to play a lot against the Oilers’ top lines. Kempe is another one to watch and it’ll be interesting to see how often the Kings target Nurse and Ceci with his line. I do feel like there are some Kings players to target here, as a few of them are great at generating shots but not really good at generating scoring threats consistently, as reflected by their expected goal numbers. Specifically, Dubois and Arvidsson – both of which were brought in to solve the Kings’ goal-scoring issues but have bounced around the lineup.
While the Oilers should win this series, I think it’ll be a lot closer than people expect. The Kings were very good defensively this season, and have two capable goaltenders. The Oilers do have the higher-end talent, but I’d still have concerns with the defence core, which tends to struggle to play with the bottom six forwards and could be targeted by the Kings’ coaching staff. I’d also be concerned with Skinner’s performance, as he had one of the highest workloads in the league this season and could potentially start to fade as the series goes on.
Whatever happens, the Oilers have put themselves in an excellent spot and have a real chance of winning a few rounds because of their top-end talent. If the coaching staff gets their line match-ups right and addresses their weaknesses as quickly as possible, they should remain competitive.
Data: Natural Stat Trick, Puck IQ


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