Los Angeles Kings vs Edmonton Oilers: Offense Preview

Don't look now, but the Kings can score goals. Can their offense compete against the Edmonton Oilers this time around?

Los Angeles Kings vs Edmonton Oilers: Offense Preview
Adrian Kempe / photo by Sarah Avampato

Los Angeles Kings: Offensive Dynamos is probably not a sentence you’re used to reading, especially if you’ve been a longtime fan. But it’s true. With the additions of Kevin Fiala, Viktor Arvidsson and Philip Danault over the last two seasons, the team has actually exploded offensively, racking up an impressive 274 goals-for  this season, good enough for 10th overall in the NHL.

Even more remarkable is that about 23% of those goals came on the power play. Yes, the same power play that has languished near the bottom of the standings over the last several years. Interestingly enough, this year, the Kings managed to score the third most 5v4 goals behind only the Edmonton Oilers and the Ottawa Senators. To boot, they even scored 7 shorthanded (4v5) goals. Sure they’re tied with other offensive upstarts such as the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens, but it still feels a little odd to say that the team actually has firepower and can and does score on the power play.

The caveat here, though, is that their even-strength offense may be their Achilles heel this postseason. Their 169 (nice) goals at 5v5 is only good enough for 19th overall, tying them with the unremarkable San Jose Sharks and flailing Vancouver Canucks. That’s not terrific company for a playoff team hoping to go the distance. Comparatively, their first round opponent Oilers scored 192 goals, good enough for fifth overall. Oddly, though, the Seattle Kraken managed to find even more shooting luck than the vaunted Boston Bruins. There was no sophomore slump for the newest expansion franchise who managed an astonishing 209 goals at 5v5, but slipped from first in the Pacific in January 2023 to Wild Card 1. Regardless, this isn’t an article about the squid.

As a team, the Oilers led the NHL with a best 32.4% power play success rate. Coming in fourth at 25.3% is the Kings. Where Los Angeles might have an ever-so-slight advantage is the penalty kill. Overall through the year, the Kings finished a measly 24th at 75.8% while their first-round opponent finished at 20th with a 77% kill. Sure the team play overall seems to have improved slightly since the deadline, but Pheonix Copley’s save percentage is an unimpressive .903 in 37 games played this season. The obvious is worth stating: stay out of the box and don’t give Edmonton’s potent power play a chance. After all, 21 of Connor McDavid’s 64 goals (yes, you read that right, he managed to somehow tally the twine an entire sixty four times!) this year came on the man advantage. Only five Kings managed to score more than 20 goals period and only Kempe managed to surpass the 30 mark. Conversely, the Oilers only had four players do better than 20. However, they all hit 35 or better.

Despite the Kings’ marked improvements in offense this season, it’s going to be hard to beat Oilers’ double dynamic duos of McDavid, Leon Draisaitl (who scored a cool 32 power play goals), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Zach Hyman. Sure, skating alongside McDavid, any average hockey player would probably see their statistics look outstanding. But it’s those sneaky side players (a la Trevor Moore) that get you when the focus is too narrow on one or two particular god-like entities on ice. Overlooking Hyman, Nugent-Hopkins, and even Evander Kane, who terrorized the Kings last season, is a recipe for disaster.

It’s not all bad news, though. If the Kings can stick to playing their game and not allow themselves to be goaded into taking bad* penalties, they may have an edge over Oilers. At 5v5, Los Angeles allowed 160 goals, 14th best in the NHL; Edmonton allowed 169 (nice), tied with the Calgary Flames at 17th overall. So once again, it’s worth repeating: stay out of the box and play your game; trying to beat Edmonton at their game will only see L.A. suffer another first round loss at the hands of their nemesis.

*Jim Fox has a theory that some penalties are absolute necessities to take. Working off that belief, a delay-of-game is probably a "bad" or unnecessary penalty to take. Likewise, all offensive zone and most stick penalties (hooking, high sticking, etc.) are ones to avoid where possible.

All stats come courtesy of NHL.com.