Los Angeles Kings vs. Edmonton Oilers Prediction: Can the Kings Close Out the Series at Home?

NHL handicapper Jason Yamaguchi offers his prediction for Thursday's playoff game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Edmonton Oilers. The Kings lead the series 3-2.
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Los Angeles Kings vs. Edmonton Oilers Prediction: Can the Kings Close Out the Series at Home?

When Edmonton took a 2-1 series lead with a dominant, 8-2 victory over the Kings in Game 3, it seemed as though the series was all but over. The Oilers were cruising, having won two straight by a combined score of 14-2. Since then, however, LA has flipped the script by winning the next two, grabbing a 4-0 victory in Game 4 and following it up with a key overtime win in Game 5 to give them a 3-2 series lead.

Now, the series shifts back to Los Angeles, giving the Kings a chance to clinch a second-round birth on home ice. They are underdogs in spite of the game's location; should they be? Let's take a closer look at my prediction and the odds for the Los Angeles Kings vs Edmonton Oilers game.

Kings vs. Oilers Start Time and Where to Watch

  • Date: May 12, 2022
  • Game Time: 10:00 pm ET
  • Where to Watch: TBS

Click here for Kings vs Oilers Odds

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Los Angeles Kings vs. Edmonton Oilers Prediction

This series has been largely characterized by wild swings from game to game—three of the five games have been decided by four or more goals. As such, it has been difficult to predict the outcome of any given game based solely on the scorelines of the prior ones. Still, there are some trends that can help us pick out the value for Game 6.

For starters, the Kings outplayed the Oilers in Game 5 by a much greater margin than the final score indicates. LA produced a whopping 7.66 expected goals (5 actual goals) while conceding 2.75 xG (4 real ones). This means that the Kings generated more offense than their final goal total implies, while the Oilers generated less than their goal total does. Given that Game 5 was in Edmonton — a place where the Oilers are thought to hold a major home-ice advantage — this result does not bode well for their chances in Game 6.

Goaltending regression is a factor that may work against the Oilers from both sides. Mike Smith has received criticism for his performance in the series, but that criticism is, for the most part, unwarranted. Smith has allowed 14 goals on 21.67 expected goals, meaning that he has saved 7.67 goals above expected, a tally that leads all goaltenders in the playoffs. He also has a .930 save percentage, which ranks sixth among all starters. Both of those numbers are significantly higher than Smith's corresponding ones from the regular season — the Oilers can expect to receive worse goaltending moving forward than they have through five games.

On the other side of the coin, the Kings will likely see an improvement from their starting goaltender. Jonathan Quick has been somewhat underwhelming — he has a .887 save percentage (bad) despite allowing just 0.6 goals over expected (much less bad). The discrepancy between these two figures is probably due to the Oilers' propensity to generate disproportionately high-quality shots, especially on the power play. Whether or not you agree with that theory, there's a good chance that Quick will improve his game across all metrics. He saved 17.8 goals above expected in the regular season to go along with a .920 save percentage — that is closer to his true, natural ability than what we've seen from him in this series.

A major concern for the Oilers is that star defenseman Darnell Nurse has been suspended for head-butting Phillip Danault. The suspension is one game long, meaning that Nurse would be available for a potential Game 7. The Oilers have to get there first, though, and Nurse's absence from Game 6 will make this game a much steeper hill to climb. He leads all Oilers in ice-time in the playoffs, and also did so in the regular season. This means that there is now a gaping hole on Edmonton's top defensive pairing, a hole that the Oilers will be hard-pressed to fill ahead of the biggest and most stressful game of their season.

Despite all of this, there is a semi-valid explanation as to why the Oilers are favored in this spot. Their power play is scoring at a 41.2% clip, due in large part to the outstanding play of Connor McDavid (2G, 7A in 5 games) and Leon Draisaitl (5G, 2A). The Kings' special teams' woes are well-documented — they cannot stop Edmonton's power play, and their own has been ice-cold, converting on just 10% of its chances. However, that alone is not enough to offset everything else that I've laid out. The Oilers, facing elimination, won't be lacking in desperation, but that will only go so far, especially in a hostile environment. Take the value on the Kings at plus-money.

Los Angeles Kings vs. Edmonton Oilers Prediction

Pick: Kings ML (+126) (Bet $100 to win $126)

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Jason Yamaguchi is an avid New York sports fan. He has a proven record of providing +EV bets by combining traditional handicapping tactics with advanced statistics. You can follow him on Twitter @TopMoneyPicks to view all of his bets, including NFL, NHL, and MLB picks.

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