2022–23 Stanley Cup Playoff previews: Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings

The Pacific Divison matchup is a repeat from last season as the Edmonton Oilers take on the Los Angeles Kings. Last year’s series was a sight to behold of playoff hockey as the high-powered Oilers were able to take the Kings out in seven games. For two consecutive seasons now these two teams have played a game late in the regular season which had a playoff atmosphere and they have ended up playing each other in the first round.

With the rise of the Oilers and Kings at about the same time in their divisions, and the head-to-head matchups in quick succession, this is bound to be a key rivalry for each team over the next decade.

That leads us to the key questions for this round-one matchup. Did the Oilers improve their defense and goaltending enough to settle down in the playoffs this season? And do the Kings have the goaltending to stifle the Oilers’ high-powered offense?

Season stats and head-to-head matchup

Edmonton Oilers5023910932556.1%25652.1%32.4%77.0%2–2–0
Los Angeles Kings47251010427453.2%25451.5%25.3%75.8%2–2–0

Expected goals for percentage (xGF%) and Corsi for % (CF%) stats are in all situations from moneypuck.com.

Edmonton Oilers storyline to follow

After a run last season that led to a disappointing exit from the Western Conference Finals, the Oilers are looking to improve on their postseason performance.

Last playoffs, the elite offensive talent all gelled at the right time and powered the Oilers through. Until the defense and goaltending could not keep up against a similarly built, but better overall, Colorado Avalanche squad.

The two key holes the Oilers needed to address were defense and goaltending. And both have been taken care of.

The trade deadline acquisition of Mattias Ekholm could go down as one of the best trades in team history simply for what he provides to the lineup and to his defensive partner, Evan Bouchard.

According to Natural Stat Trick, Ekholm leads the team in expected goals for percentage at 61.6%, as well as in actual goals for percentage at an astonishing 75.6% at 5v5 play. He also leads the team in just about any possession and scoring chance metric.

And for the pairing with Bouchard, it seems to be one of those duos that just clicks. They are fourth in the league in goals for percentage of defensive pairings with over 200 minutes of TOI and sixth in expected goals for percentage. By far the best defensive pairing on the team and one that is more than capable of taking the pressure off of Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci.

Although it is a bit concerning heading into the playoffs with a rookie as a starting goalie, Stuart Skinner has more than earned this chance. He took over the crease from a struggling Jack Campbell and made a solid case for himself for the Calder Trophy. After the votes are tallied, he has a real shot at finishing second, if not winning, the Rookie of the Year award.

Factoring in the defensive and goaltending disaster that was the 2022 postseason, will the changes made be enough to ice a solid, well-rounded team for the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Los Angeles Kings storyline to follow

Heading into the 2022–23 season, the Los Angeles Kings had shown they were ready to compete. After a surprise playoff appearance last season, the Kings kept the same roster intact and simply added more from their bountiful prospect pool.

As the first couple of months of the season came and passed, however, the Kings clearly had a glaring hole in their roster that was impacting their ability to compete. Goaltending. Los Angeles was getting some of the worst goaltending in the league from their previous tandem of Calvin Petersen and Jonathan Quick.

Despite the Kings being a decent team offensively, they were not able to take advantage of that as they gave up a ton of goals they did not need to. At the end of November, the Kings were sixth in goals for but third worst in goals against. According to Natural Stat Trick, in all situations at this point of the season, the Los Angeles Kings had the worst save percentage in the league, a .876 SV%.

It was around then that Pheonix Copley came in and started to turn things around. He helped the Kings find a bit of stability in net, and eventually the team even returned to a positive goal differential, which they’ve slowly grown since.

And at the trade deadline, the Kings shook things up in net and acquired Joonas Korpisalo, who has since been the best goalie Los Angeles has had this season. In his first nine games as a King, he has a 2.27 GAA and .919 SV%.

That was the most glaring hole in the Kings’ lineup. With it seemingly filled at this point, the Los Angeles Kings are now clearly ready to compete and make waves in the playoffs.

Matchup overview

Any team will be hard-pressed to contain the offense that the Edmonton Oilers possess. Especially this season as Connor McDavid sets salary cap era offensive records while Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hit 100 points each as they led the Oilers to be the highest scoring team in the league during the regular season. They have become the first team since the 1995–96 Pittsburgh Penguins to feature three teammates scoring 100 points.

The Los Angeles Kings may not have the high-end offense, but they do have the depth to match up against Edmonton. The real question is whether or not the Kings’ defense and goaltending will be able to hold up against the Oilers.

As mentioned before, the Kings had goaltending troubles earlier in the season. Korpisalo and Copley have given the team confidence and stability in their netminders. And having one of the more underrated defensive defenders in the league in Michael Anderson can help. A little bit.

The Kings are a high-event, quick team who will be looking to take advantage of an Oilers team that often has issues early in games. If the Kings can get a bunch of chances or a goal early on, it will sap the momentum from the Oilers and give Los Angeles control of the game.

Though, this may be playing right into the Oilers game plan. Edmonton is a quick attack team that gets a lot of offence off the rush and on the powerplay. The Kings have a bottom-ten penalty kill and have given up the seventh most powerplay chances against. If the speed of the Oilers can make the Kings take unnecessary penalties, Edmonton should be able to dominate with their record-setting power play, should they get the chances to utilize it.

Regardless, the Oilers have been unreal since the New Year. A 30–7–7 record since January 1 has them second in the league over that stretch. And their 4.3 goals per game is a full half of a goal more than the next highest scoring team. It will take a gargantuan effort from the defence of the Kings to stifle this. Something they may be up to the task of as they possess two Selke Trophy calibre forwards in Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault.


As of right now, the Oilers are firing on all cylinders. They have been the second-best team in the league since Christmas, and the Kings are heading into the playoffs after a stretch of average hockey. It will be a tough battle, but Edmonton should prevail.

4–3 Oilers

How do you think this series will go? Check out The Oil Rig on Twitter and drop a like and comment with your predictions.

Sean Laycock

Sean is a stubborn, lifelong Oilers fan who lives by the motto "There is always next year".


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