First round playoff predictions

Who doesn't like a good playoff prediction blog? I don't have a crystal ball or the ability to see into the future so this is my best educated guess as to who will advance to the second round and who won't. But then again, even the professionals who get paid big $$ to make these predictions are in the same boat, so whether it's me or, say, Craig Button who makes the predictions, we're both in the same boat. Neither of us can predict the future, these are simply our best guesses. We'll see who's right.
San Jose Sharks v Edmonton Oilers
San Jose Sharks v Edmonton Oilers / Leila Devlin/GettyImages
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You know you can never get enough of Connor McDavid, so why not make that my cover pic for this blog? Instead of an in-depth analysis, I'll just be giving hot takes and predictions. What do I have to say? See what it is and let's find out together.

Western Conference

Oilers vs. Kings

Save the best for first, right? :D

We're going to see the third edition of this first round matchup as we have the last two seasons running. The Oilers know exactly what to expect from the Kings and I have to believe the Kings know exactly what to expect from us.

Like every other team, the Kings will never be able to stop Leon Draisaitl or Connor McDavid forever up front, they're just that good. But now due to the fact that the Oilers have the best depth they've ever had, even if they do stop the McDrai duo they'll have to contend with the threat of Zach Hyman, Nuge, Evander Kane (when he gets healthy), Warren Foegele, or Adam Henrique to score (and Henrique produced offence on a lousy Anaheim team, imagine how much he'll clean up on this team) - and that's just in the top six forward group.

In the bottom six, we have a rejuvenated Connor Brown, Dylan Holloway, Ryan Mcleod, and Corey Perry - who will also get in the Kings' faces and draw many penalties - not to mention Sam Carrick has shown an ability to provide secondary offence and light the lamp once in a while, and if he doesn't then Derek Ryan will. The Kings can counter with a decent forward group but is it as good as the Oilers? Not IMO.

On D it's a similar story. Drew Doughty is the best puck mover the Kings have but still the Oilers counter with Evan Bouchard, who finished the regular season on a role with a mind-boggling 82 points - and only two goals away from the 20-goal mark, something very hard for most puck moving d-men to crack. Doughty's 52 points are of course solid but not as good. Let's call Ekholm and Gavrikov the same player and a subsequent wash.

It's in goal where the Oilers have a clear advantage. Kings starter Cam Talbot put up decent enough numbers, but at 36 it's fair to ask how much he really has left in the tank - especially since he hasn't played in the playoffs for two seasons now and even then it was only one game which he didn't do so well in.

Backing him up is David Rittich, a guy who has been a career backup most of his career except for two seasons with the Flames when he was a 1A. Regardless Rittich only has two playoff games to his name and has performed horribly in both of them. I said it when it happened and I'm going to say it again - just like the Leafs with John Tavares, the Kings will forever regret the sign and trade they pulled off with the Jets for Pierre-Luc Dubois (who by the way was playing on the fourth line at season's end). Right now PLD is an $8.5 million boat anchor on the Kings - why they thought he deserved Leon Draisaitl money I'll never any rate, because of that deal they have so little cap space left they had to let Joonas Korpisalo walk in free agency in 2023 and go bargain bin shopping for goalies last season, which they'll have to do again after this season. If the Kings have any hope of winning they better hope Talbot stays healthy. Goaltending is the crux of their team right now, and IMO they don't have the horses between the pipes to win the series.

Meanwhile, the Oilers will counter with Stuart Skinner, who many are foolishly counting out already despite the fact he rebounded nicely and was one of the NHL's best goalies down the stretch. His regular season numbers don't look like much, but in his case, the numbers don't tell the whole story.

Backing up Skinner will be Calvin Pickard, who at this point the Oilers have no choice but to roll with seeing as how Jack Campbell just got injured in Bakersfield on Friday. That guy's had the worst luck this season.....Don't get me wrong, Pickard is a guy who had a fine regular season and stepped up when Jack Campbell faltered, to his credit. The problem is, that Pickard has literally no playoff games on his resume. NONE. I'm already getting feelings of deja vu of 2006 as I already wrote here. The Oilers better hope that Skinner stays healthy throughout the playoffs, otherwise there's a good chance their playoff hopes will be dashed.

For the record, many Kings blogs are resigned to call this one for the Oilers as well.

My winner - Oilers win 4-2