Edmonton Oilers cannot afford to underestimate the Los Angeles Kings

The Oilers are understandably favourites in their first round matchup with the Kings, but you can never take anything for granted in the playoffs.
San Jose Sharks v Edmonton Oilers
San Jose Sharks v Edmonton Oilers / Leila Devlin/GettyImages

The Edmonton Oilers are big favourites to beat the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of this season's NHL playoffs. As per FanDuel, the Oilers are -170 and the Kings are +140, while DraftKings have Edmonton at -190 and Los Angeles at +160.

This is the third consecutive season the Oilers have faced the Kings in the playoffs -- all in the first round incidentally -- winning on both previous occasions. In terms of the regular season, Edmonton went 3-1-0 versus Los Angeles in 2023-24.

If you compare the two sides statistically, the Oilers again come out on top in a lot of categories. This includes ranking fourth versus 17th in goals scored, fourth versus 12th on the power play and fifth versus 14th when it comes to face-off win percentage.

On an individual level the Oilers clear have the star attractions, specifically the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. If those two in particular are in a zone, it will be tough for the Kings to contain them.

Not so fast about the Oilers

However, before any overconfident Oilers fans go getting themselves all revved up for the second round of the playoffs, they are best advised to step back and take a moment. Yes, the Oilers are favourites to advance with good reason, but they are never any guarantees when it comes to NHL playoff hockey.

Starting with the recent playoff history between the two sides, consider that the Oilers were actually down 3-2 in their 2021-22 series with the Kings, before coming back to win in game seven. In last season's playoff rematch, three of the games went to overtime, while the Oilers' clinching game six win was a close and enthralling 5-4 encounter.

In respect of the regular season advantage this season, yes the Oilers won three of the four games. However, the Kings' one win was a 4-0 shutout, which was the most one-sided final scoreline between the two teams in 2023-24; and just last season, the Kings split the regular season series 2-2 with their Pacific Division rivals.

In the statistical sense, the Oilers may have the more potent attack, but the Kings have been excellent defensively this season. They rank third-best in the NHL for fewest goals allowed versus 10th by the Oilers, and second-best on the penalty kill versus 15th.

In a similar vein, the Oilers finished the regular season with a superior 28-9-4 home record. Meanwhile, the Kings were slightly better on their travels, with a record of 22-15-4.

Next. How to watch the Oilers in Round 1 of the 2024 NHL Playoffs. How to watch the Oilers in Round 1 of the 2024 NHL Playoffs. dark

As per David Staples of the Edmonton Journal, there is an apparent feeling of dread in Los Angeles, with fears the series won't even be that close. However, there is more than enough evidence to the contrary, to suggest that the Kings can give the Oilers more of a fight than the majority of people believe.

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