Who were the Oilers three stars from their first round series?

Zach Hyman Connor McDavid
Photo credit:Yannick Peterhans-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
3 hours ago
The first round of the playoffs was nothing but a formality for the Edmonton Oilers, bringing regicide to the L.A. Kings.
The Oilers showed little stutter in the series. They opened Game 1 with a 4-0 lead, but more than a few weird bounces favouring the Kings got them on the board. By the end, it was a 7-4 win for the Oilers.
Game 2 had its struggles. Edmonton came out flat on home ice as the desperate Kings worked their way to a 5-4 OT win. The Kings’ strong start gave them a 3-1 lead after the first period, and even though the Oilers would eventually work their way into the game in thanks to a pair of goals from Dylan Holloway and one from Zach Hyman, Anze Kopitar would win it in overtime.
Edmonton ran the Kings out of their own barn as the series shifted to L.A. for Game 3, racking up a lopsided 6-1 win in a game that got ugly with extracurricular activities. In Game 4, Stuart Skinner slammed the door for the Oilers, shutting the Kings out as they brought wave after wave to the Edmonton end, never being able to find the back of the net.
The series was finalized on Wednesday in Game 5, where the Oilers were flat-out the better team, leaving little room for the Kings to be in it.
Let’s dive into who the three stars of the series were for the Oilers:

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl

This one is almost automatic, and it’s almost cheating to pick these two. But the truth of the matter is they’re the best players in the world for a reason, and they brought it in this series. McDavid continued his regular season ways scoring just one goal in the series while racking up 11 assists. In doing so, he became the first player since Wayne Gretzky to notch 10 assists in a series twice. That’s some crazy company and speaks to how incredible he’s been.
Draisaitl was dynamic, too, scoring huge goals in the series for the OIlers. He racked up five goals and 10 points, with three of his markers coming on the power play. In that area, Edmonton absolutely dominated the Kings, as the special teams battle, in the world of head coach Kris Knoblauch, were the series difference maker.
The series as a whole was a continuation of the Dynamic Duo’s dominance against the L.A. Kings. Over the last three playoff series between the two teams, McDavid has now accumulated eight goals and 36 points in 18 games, while Draisaitl has amassed 17 goals and 30 points in as many games.
Kings fans must see these two in their nightmares.

Stuart Skinner

Rumours of Stuart Skinner’s demise were greatly exaggerated. While his struggles early in the season mirrored those of the whole team, he turned his season around in a big way under Knoblauch and co. His first round against the Kings was much of the same.
He struggled in game one, allowing nine goals against on 63 shots for a .857 save percentage. While only four of those were what I would call “clean goals,” the numbers bare out an ugly picture. Skinner talked about rebounding from it after Game 2, and he followed up his words with action.
Between Games 3 and 5, Skinner allowed just four goals against on 82 shots faced, posting a .951 save percentage. In L.A. for Games 3 and 4 alone, Skinner turned aside 60 of 61 and saved 4.06 goals above expected, according to Evolving Hockey.
He dialed things in a big way for the Oilers, and they’ll need more of that if they wish for a deep run in the playoffs.

Honourable mentions

Zach Hyman

Hyman had a great series, scoring seven goals and eight points in five games, including a Game 1 hat trick. He built off his 54-goal regular season in a big way for the Oilers, scoring as many goals in Round 1 as the entire Washington Capitals team.

Evander Kane

Kane was all over the place in the first round, laying hits, fighting dudes and helping get the Kings off their game. He played smart hockey, though, taking his lumps as the Kings hacked and slashed. He had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick in Game 3, and scored another big goal to open the scoring in Game 5.

Ryan McLeod

His boxscores were pale, with just a few shots on goal and no points in the series, but I thought Ryan McLeod quietly had a strong series, despite getting outscored 2-0 on the ice at 5v5. One of them was on Anze Kopitar’s game-winner in Game 2, a goal where the puck took a weird bounce at centre ice right to a streaking Kopitar, while the other was on Blake Lizotte’s goal in Game 5. That one he narrowly missed getting a stick on.
Even still, I liked his work defensively and thought he did a great job limiting the Kings scoring chances when he was on the ice.

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.

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