NHL SECOND ROUND PREVIEW WESTERN CONFERENCE
2023-05-02 · 2 min read · NHL/Hockey
The Canadian Press | Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images
Vegas Golden Knights vs Edmonton Oilers
The Golden Knights finished two points ahead of the Oilers in what was a season-long battle for the Pacific Division title. Despite the Knights winning out, the Oilers closed the regular season with a nine-game winning streak and have won 13 of their past 15 games, including the playoffs. Also, they took seven of a possible eight points (3-0-1) in the four games they played against Vegas during the regular season. There's a very high level of talent in this series as it features the game's best player in Connor McDavid, two other bona fide game-breakers in Leon Draisaitl and Jack Eichel and the return of one of the game's premiere two-way forces in Mark Stone. Expect an offensively focused series and likely the highest-scoring of this round. A major element due to the quality of offence is the ability of the netminders to weather storms. Knights goalie Laurent Brossoit performed admirably against the Winnipeg Jets (4-1 2.42 GAA, .915 save percentage) but the Oilers are a wholly different beast. Overall in his career, the 30-year-old has never played more than 24 games and only had ten starts this year pre-playoffs. The deciding factor in this series may be the man advantage as the Oilers powerplay is particularly potent. Going 9/16 in the first round for a 56.3% success rate and led the regular season with a 32.4%; Draisaitl and McDavid combined for 53 powerplay goals this year, Vegas as a team had 42.
My pick - Oilers in 6
Dallas Stars vs Seattle Kraken
The Seattle Kraken had a fairly remarkable first playoff round. They defeated the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche in seven games. The Kraken scored first in each of the seven games, won three of the four games on the road and never panicked in a tough back-and-forth series. Dallas meanwhile looked very complete handling a tough Minnesota Wild team in six games. Dallas took a tough first-round loss last year but went to the Stanley Cup Final the year before, we know they are capable of a run. Dallas is deeply disciplined and likely has the edge in key areas such as special teams and the crease. Despite some good play from Philip Grubauer in the first round, it feels like the Stars' Jake Oettinger is easily the better goalie in this matchup. The Kraken had 15 players score without getting a goal from forward Jared McCann who led them with 40 in the regular season and went down in game four or Andre Burakovsky who has been out since February. Even though I could see and would kind of like the Kraken to pull off another one, I think Dallas has the edge. Possible key element Dallas leads the playoffs with a 56.3-win percentage on the dot. Seattle, meanwhile, sits second last at 45 percent.
My pick - Stars in 5
By: Chase Howard