Round One fun facts and more

Apr 19, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN;Edmonton Oilers forward Klim Kostin (21) celebrates scoring a goal. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 19, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN;Edmonton Oilers forward Klim Kostin (21) celebrates scoring a goal. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /
  • The pictured man, Jack Eichel, appears to be learning how to play in the playoffs very quickly, as he had 3-2-5 in their round one series against the Jets, although the -2 is a slight blemish on his record. The Oilers will have to play him very smartly in order to neutralize him in round two, just as the GKs are no doubt doing with Mcdavid and Draisaitl. Only time will tell whether the Knights will learn from LA’s mistake and key in on both Mcdavid and Draisaitl instead of just one of them.
  • The media is making a big deal of Mcdavid vs. Eichel, although the individual players are likely downplaying that. But hey, if that’s a storyline that gets the NHL ratings during the playoffs that’s only good for the league, so why not?
  • Vegas will be a very different challenge from LA. Vegas plays a very similar style to the Oilers – they’re aggressive and capitalize on mistakes, as opposed to the Kings whose bread and butter is defensive play and physicality.
  • Vegas doesn’t have game-breaking forwards on their roster – arguably outside of Jack Eichel – but their depth is what might fool you. They’ve had to deal a lot of it away over the years but there are still some quality guys around, even if they’re not name players. While the Oilers have three players in the top 10 in playoff scoring, the Knights don’t have anyone of note until you get to the 18th spot in the league – where Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson are tied with 8 points apiece. On the Oilers that would land you in fourth spot.
  • It’s also interesting to note that in round one, the Golden Knights have eight players who didn’t register a point.
  • The Oilers may be able to take advantage of some of the Knights injuries in this series. Mark Stone was seen gingerly coming off the ice in the last Knights mandatory practice, believed to have back problems, but head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed Stone will be in the lineup for Vegas tonight. Of course that doesn’t mean he’s at 100% – lots of players play at less than optimal conditions during the playoffs. Even if Stone is playing, he may not be at 100% which is only good for the Oilers as it takes away even more of Vegas’s attack.
  • The Knights have a fairly comparable top-six forward group and defence corps to the Oilers, but between the pipes is where the Oilers might actually have a clear advantage. Skinner got chased from the nets after a three-goal outburst once but otherwise has been mostly solid. Even when he got chased from the nets, Campbell came in and played fantastically. Laurent Brossoit is starting in goal for the Knights these days, and while he is a hot goaltender if he goes down or struggles the Knights have a huge problem as their alternatives are a struggling and sulking Jonathan Quick – who has been a healthy scratch for the team for weeks now – or Adin Hill who has not a single playoff game on his resume. That’s a pretty big dropoff from Brossoit, whereas if Skinner goes down the Oilers won’t miss a beat if Campbell has to come in.
  • The GKs and the Oilers have never played each other in the playoffs so there won’t be a book to draw from for the Oilers this time around. Hopefully, the video guy Jeremy Coupal is up to the task.
  • Vegas’s playoff PP is very middle of the road at 18.8%, good enough for 10th in the league amongst all the playoff teams. What’s actually a bit surprising, though, is that Vegas’s PK is actually even worse than the Oilers in round one – only 58.3%, just over 8% worse than Edmonton’s. That’s good enough for 15th out of 16 playoff teams. This means one of the Oilers strategies is clear – goad the GKs into as many penalties as you can, which is a harder task than you might think because Vegas is a team that is actually pretty good at staying out of the penalty box which will no doubt neutralize the Oiler’s lethal PP to an extent. It will be essential for the Oilers to cash in when they are on the man advantage.
  • Just as the Eastern Conference third round ultimately determined who won the Stanley Cup in 1994, I believe this round could easily determine who wins the Stanley Cup this season as Vegas and the Oilers were the two best teams in the Western Conference this season. Both teams will play up to the opposition and your blood pressure might go up quite a few notches as a fan all through the series. It certainly helps that Seattle upset one of the Oilers biggest threats in the first round in Colorado and Toronto eliminated the other big one in Tampa Bay.
  • That being said, don’t put too much stock in the regular season as ultimately it doesn’t matter. The Oilers were undefeated against Vegas in the regular season but I don’t care. This is a new season and the past determines nothing.
  • The Oilers committed some big defensive lapses against LA. They’ll need to clean that up against Vegas.
  • Don’t be surprised if this series goes to seven games – I certainly won’t. Vegas matches up against the Oilers better than LA does at this point in time. I’m still picking the Oilers to win, but Vegas certainly won’t go down without a fight.