2020 NHL Playoffs – Qualifying Round – EDM vs. CHI

Updated: July 24, 2020 at 12:43 pm by Brock Seguin

The Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks will face off in the qualifying round for the chance to get back into the playoffs, something neither team has done in the last two years.

The two storied franchises have a combined 11 Stanley Cups between them but have won just one combined playoff round in the last four seasons.

There is no shortage of offensive game-breakers in this series and it could end up being one of the more exciting qualifying round series as a result. During the regular season, the Blackhawks won the season series 2-1, outscoring the Oilers 10-to-9.

Schedule

Game 1: Saturday, August 1st @ 3 PM ET
Game 2: Monday, August 3rd @ 10:30 PM ET
Game 3: Wednesday, August 5th @ 10:30 PM ET

if necessary:
Game 4: Friday, August 7th
Game 5: Saturday, August 8th


Record

37-25-9 (12th)

32-30-8 (23rd)

GF/PG

3.14 (t-14th)

2.97 (18th)

GA/PG

3.03 (15th)

3.06 (t-16th)

5v5 SV%

.912 (25th)

.925 (8th)

PP%

29.5% (1st)

15.2% (28th)

PK%

84.4% (2nd)

82.1% (t-8th)

CF%

47.87 (27th)

48.45 (22nd)

5v5

Projected Lineups

Nugent-Hopkins – McDavid – Kassian

Ennis – Draisaitl – Yamamoto

Athanasiou – Sheahan – Archibald

Neal – Khaira – Chiasson

Klefbom – Larsson

Nurse – Bear

Russell – Benning

DeBrincat – Toews – Saad

Nylander – Strome – Kane

Caggiula – Dach – Kubalik

Highmore – Carpenter – Kampf

Keith – Boqvist

de Haan – Murphy

Maatta – Koekkoek

Neither team was very good at 5v5 throughout the regular season with both teams ranking in the bottom third of the league in CorsiFor%, ScoringChances% and ExpectedGoalsFor%.

Even though the Oilers weren’t great at even-strength they should have an advantage in this series. After all, they do have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. What will help the Oilers the most is how bad the Blackhawks are defensively. This season they ranked last in the NHL in ScoringChancesAgainst/60 (30.22) and gave up the most HighDangerChancesAgainst/60 (12.91) as well.

Giving up that many chances and that many quality chances against a team that has McDavid and Draisasitl playing great on separate lines, is not a recipe for success. To make matters worse, Corey Crawford’s status for the series remains up in the air. Crawford was able to mask some of Chicago’s defensive issues this season by posting the fourth-best HighDangerSV% (.864) in the NHL. If he’s not available, the Blackhawks will have to turn to Malcolm Subban, who had a .806 HDSV%.

Advantage: Oilers

Special Teams

Projected PP Units

PP1: Draisaitl – Nugent-Hopkins – Chiasson

McDavid – Klefbom

PP2: Ennis – Athanasiou – Yamamoto

Nurse – Bear

PP1: Kubalik – Loews – Dach

Keith – Kane

PP2: Saad – Strome – Nylander

Boqvist – DeBrincat

If the 5v5 battle ends up being close, the Oilers have a clear advantage on special teams. Edmonton had the NHL’s best power-play while also ranking second on the penalty-kill, giving them the best combined special teams that the NHL has to offer.

Draisaitl led the league in power-play points (44) while also ranking second in PP goals (16). McDavid was right behind him with 43 PPP (2nd). Those two will obviously lead the way for Edmonton but they also have three defensemen (Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear) capable of chipping in with the man advantage.

Chicago has a pretty decent penalty-kill of their own but their power-play ranked third-worst at 15.2 percent in 2020. The one silver lining for Chicago is they drew penalties at a much higher rate than Edmonton this season–3.1 PP/gm for Chicago versus 2.8 for Edmonton. They need to stay disciplined and force the Oilers shorthanded more often. That’s their only path to winning the special teams battle, which is often key to winning a playoff series.

Advantage: Oilers

Goaltending

As previously mentioned, Crawford remains questionable as the start of the qualifying round draws nearer.

There is some optimism in the Blackhawks camp that he will be available but he has been “unfit to play” since Day 1 of Training Camp, so will he be 100 percent? If Crawford can’t play, the Blackhawks’ chances of an upset seriously diminish. However, if he’s available, this is one spot that Chicago actually has an advantage.

2018-19 was a down year for the veteran but he has been extremely consistent otherwise. Crawford has posted a SV% of at least .917 in seven of the last eight seasons. In 2020 he had a 2.77 GAA and .917 SV% while ranking 10th in the NHL in GoalsSavedAboveAverage (7.52). He also has much more Playoff experience than Oilers’ projected No.1 Mikko Koskinen. In 85 career playoff starts, Crawford has a 48-37 record with a sparkling 2.28 GAA and .919 SV%.

If he isn’t available and the Blackhawks have to go with Subban, they are as good as swept. No offence to Subban but he has a career 2.97 GAA and .899 SSV%, which will not be good enough behind a group that is a leaky as Chicago was in the regular season.

The Oilers have two goalies they can go to but Mike Smith was awful in 2020. He had the second-worst GoalsSavedAboveAverage (-16.26) in the NHL compared to Koskinen’s +4.53 which was good for 19th-best.

Koskinen has his moments where he looks terrific but can look equally as bad other times. It’s all about which Koskinen shows up but Smith isn’t a terrible fall-back option.

Advantage: Blackhawks (if Crawford  plays)

Prediction: Oilers in 4

Even with Crawford between the pipes, the Blackhawks are going to have a difficult time containing McDavid and Draisaitl. The power-play advantage will likely be too much to overcome but I think they can steal one game if they stay out of the sin bin.



Chicago Blackhawks, Connor McDavid, Corey Crawford, Edmonton Oilers, jonathan toews, Leon Draisaitl, Mikko Koskinen, NHL Playoffs, patrick kane