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Western Conference Quarterfinal
Los Angeles +135 over Edmonton
10:00 PM EST. Overtime included. Get the streamers, plan the parade route and shine up the Conn Smythe trophy because Connor McDavid and the Oilers are your 2022 Stanley Cup champions! Congrats to the McDavids for waffling the Kings 6-0 on Wednesday night to secure their sixth Cup in franchise history and the first since the days of Gretzky and Messier. It was a long time coming for the Oilers, who struggled through the dark days of the 1990s, 2000s (save for their unexpected Finals appearance in 2006) and the 2010s (remember the Taylor Hall/Jordan Eberle years? Yuck).
It took seven seasons of Connor McDavid (a couple more than “Gretz,” but who’s counting?) before the Oilers were able to take advantage of the greatest draft day gift this side of Sidney Crosby, but that’s all water under the Walterdale Bridge now. Never again will we have to hear about the Oilers wasting a generational talent and a sure-fire Hall of Famer. No more will we have to listen to those talking heads that suggest McDavid would rather play for an organization that is “committed to winning.” Nor will we ever have to question the play of Mike Smith, who at 40, overcame his own self-inflicted wounds and roadblocks to backstop his team to a championship after turning away every one of the 30 shots fired at…sorry what? The Oilers haven’t won the Cup? Are you sure?
We’re in the heart of Oil Country and in these parts, it’s Oilers or bust. Sure, you’ll find a few Flames faithful around, but not many. Forgive us for the first two paragraphs, but the message boards, call-in shows, and the many, many car flags that went up after Edmonton’s 6-0 Game 2 win on home ice suggested to us that these playoffs were over. After all, how can the mighty McDavids be stopped? If it wasn’t clear, this saucy, cynical slant on the Kings/Oilers series was satirical and that last question, rhetorical.
The point is, that one cannot overreact to just one game. While the Oilers did smack the Kings around on the score sheet, it doesn’t take long for one to figure out why. Special teams. Edmonton has scored nine goals in this series and four of them have come on the power play. On the L.A. side, the Kings are 0-for-8 with the man advantage. By stark contrast, the Oilers are running at an unsustainable 50% clip (4-for-8). That Edmonton potted a +2 in the special teams department in Game 1 and still lost 4-3 says much more about them than their 6-0 win Wednesday night does. In that game, the Oilers scored two power-play markers and a shorty, there are not many teams in this league that can overcome those odds.
The Kings are no doubt disappointed that they lost Game 2, but they should also be ecstatic that they went into Edmonton and got the split. They dominated the play 5 on 5 in Game 1 and even outshot the Oilers in the first period of Game 2. Now, L.A. is back in SoCal with home-ice advantage. What else could you want?
We’ll leave the rest of the Xs and Os to the talking heads and get back to what matters most, the inflated price that Los Angeles is taking back here. For some perspective, if the Bruins are favored at home over Carolina, shouldn’t the Kings be close? The Kings trailed the Oilers by five points in the standings, the Bruins trailed Carolina by nine. Oh, by the way, Boston is a Wild Card team, the Kings, a #3 seed. The Hurricanes were arguably the best team top to bottom this season, with the analytics backing all that up. The Oilers were not. In fact, looking at the entire regular season, Edmonton was the ninth-best puck possession team 5-on-5. The Kings? Fifth. If there is a series in these playoffs where market perception and the oddsmakers are way off, it’s this one. The Kings carry a tremendous amount of value into Game 3 and we’re not letting up.
Los Angeles +135 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.70)