Now just 15 days away from the beginning of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Western Conference playoff picture is starting to shape up. The Vegas Golden Knights and the Edmonton Oilers are the only two teams to clinch a playoff berth in the Western Conference at this time.
The Eastern Conference is moving much quicker as six teams have already punched their tickets into the Stanley Cup Playoffs: the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lighting, and New Jersey Devils. But, as for the Los Angeles Kings: their pathway to the playoffs is still up in the air.
If the season ended today, the Western Conference Playoffs would look something like this:
The Vegas Golden Knights remain at the top of the Pacific Division and the Winnipeg Jets are in the second Wild Card position. So, the Golden Knights and the Jets would meet up in the first round and could make for some entertaining hockey games.
Winnipeg has had a resurgence year after missing the playoffs last season, and there were a lot of questions surrounding the team this past off-season. Some of the rumors included a potential roster blow-up and full rebuild, but that didn’t happen and now they are nearly in the postseason.
The Seattle Kraken would make it into the playoffs for the first time in their short two seasons of existence. The Kraken did not have nearly the same immediate success that the Vegas Golden Knights did coming out of the expansion draft on July 21, 2021.
But, general manager Ron Francis made some key offseason additions in forward Andre Burakovsky and goaltender Martin Jones that has helped propel them into playoff contention. Now, they could face off against the Minnesota Wild who have had an incredible season without forward Kevin Fiala, who was traded to the Kings in the offseason.
The defending champion Colorado Avalanche haven’t had the same success they had last season, largely due to a plethora of injuries. But, the depth on their talented roster has allowed them to remain at the top of the Western Conference for the season’s duration.
On the other hand, the Dallas Stars have had an impressive season led by forward Jason Robertson and goaltender Jake Oettinger. Robertson is only 23 years old, but that did not hold him back this season as he has recorded 95 points already.
As of now, the first-round matchup for the Kings would be the Edmonton Oilers for the second year in a row. Last year, these two teams went to seven games with Edmonton coming out on top and moving on to the second round. But, now the Kings are more balanced, and adding a scoring winger in Kevin Fiala this past offseason has really helped bring their offense to life.
In recent memory, the Kings have been notorious for not being able to score many goals. But, this year the whole team is having one of the best offensive years all the way up and down the lineup. Los Angeles has 15 players with 20 or more points this season and has received great goaltending from Pheonix Copley and Joonas Korpisalo.
On the other hand, the Edmonton Oilers got better as well by adding defenseman Mattias Ekholm at the deadline and what they hoped would be a good addition in netminder Jack Campbell. But, Stuart Skinner has proved himself as the worthy starter for the Oilers and they have been on a heater in their last 10 games with a record of 9-0-1.
Watching these two teams play each other again would make for must-see television.
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