|2019-20 Regular Season Record||% Games Won of Total GP||Exhibition Game Results|
|Edmonton Oilers||37-25-9 (71 GP)||.585||4-1 vs Flames (Win)|
|Chicago Blackhawks||32-30-8 (70 GP)||.514||4-0 vs Blues (Win)|
The Edmonton Oilers are back in the playoffs… sort of. After finishing 2nd in the Pacific division and 4th in the Western Conference, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid are poised to take on the Blackhawks in the first game of a best-of-five qualifying series. Conversely, the Blackhawks bottomed out at 7th in the Central and 12th in the Conference, only making the playoffs thanks to the expanded format. Both the Oilers and the Blackhawks won their exhibition games last week, with Edmonton defeating the Flames 4-1 in the Battle of Alberta, and the Hawks blanking the reigning cup champion St. Louis Blues, 4-0.
The last time these two teams met, back on March 5th, the Blackhawks defeated the Oilers 4-3. Chicago has won 16 of their last 24 meetings with Edmonton, dating back to 2013, which includes five overtime wins, and one coming by way of shootout (mcubed).
The Oilers have appeared in the playoffs just once since the 2006-07 season, as they defeated the Sharks 4-2 but lost to the Ducks 3 games to 4 in 2016-17. The Oilers boasted the best power play and the 2nd best penalty kill in the league, converting on 29.5% of power play opportunities, and killing off 84.4% of penalties taken (TheScore). Just 64 seconds into the first period, Kailer Yamamoto gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead. Yamamoto tallied 11 goals and 15 assists in 27 games played with Edmonton last season. At the 7:44 mark, Connor McDavid made it 2-0 with Sean Monahan of the Flames in the penalty box for tripping. Elias Lindholm scored the Flames only goal of the game, on the power play, with four seconds remaining in the second period, as Adam Larsson was in the box for holding. Although Leon Draisaitl did not score in this exhibition game, the German centerman is certainly the one to watch in this series.
Draisaitl potted 43 goals and tallied 67 assists for 110 points in 71 games with the Oilers this season. Sixteen of his goals came on the Oilers top-ranked power play, and versus Nashville on March 2nd, Leon potted four goals in an 8-3 victory. Goaltenders Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith split the game, playing just about 30 minutes each, and Smith allowed just one goal on 20 shots. Smith is the anticipated started for the Oilers. Both Edmonton and Calgary ended their evening 1-for-4 on the man advantage.
The Blackhawks on the other hand, were bad this year, even with players like Patrick Kane (led the team in goals, assists), Jonathan Toews (42A), and Alex DeBrincat (10 PPG). The Hawks ended their season 6-4-0. Versus the Blues, it wasn’t until the second period that Chicago began to score, but at the 7:40 mark, Brandon Saad gave his team a 1-0 lead. Less than two minutes later, Dylan Strome made it 2-0. Dominik Kubalik tallied two goals in the third period, his second goal coming seven minutes after his first. Both goals came on the Hawks power play, and Chicago ended the night 2-for-4 on the man-advantage. Kubalik also tallied a secondary assist on Saad’s goal, earning the Calder Trophy finalist a three-point night. Although the Blackhawks successfully killed off all four Blues’ power plays, versus the Oilers, Chicago was unable to convert on any of their eight opportunities with the man-advantage in three games during the regular season (ESPN). Chicago recently acquired goaltender Malcom Subban from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Robin Lehner, and Subban stopped all ten shots faced, adding to the perfect game Corey Crawford ended the night with. Crawford is expected to be the starter for the Blackhawks versus the Oilers.
The Edmonton Oilers and the Chicago Blackhawks will play a best-of-five elimination series to determine who qualifies for the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Oilers and the Hawks will faceoff at 3pm EST on August 1st, from Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
ESPN.com. (2020). 2019-20 NHL Hockey Stats and League Leaders – Special Teams Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/nhl/statistics/team/_/stat/special-teams/sort/penaltyKillPct/split/4.
Mcubed. (2020). NHL: Series records: Chicago Blackhawks against Edmonton Oilers. Retrieved from http://mcubed.net/nhl/chi/edm.shtml.
Osborn, J. (July 15, 2020). Blackhawks’ Dominik Kubalik named Calder Trophy Finalist. Retrieved from https://www.the-rink.com/blackhawks-dominik-kubalik-named-calder-trophy-finalist/.
TheScore. (2020). Edmonton Oilers News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/28.