NHL Qualifying Round Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Chicago Blackhawks

While we’re still a ways off from the restart of the NHL season, we do know who will face off in the qualifying round of the playoffs. Those series are a best of five series with the winners advancing to the normal field of 16 teams for the start of what most people consider the actual postseason. With that in mind, we’ll take a look at each series in the qualifying round and give our thoughts on the matter, along with the best options when it comes to placing bets on each series. After taking a look at the Pittsburgh/Montreal, Carolina/New York Rangers, New York Islanders/Florida and the Toronto/Columbus series. we now shift to the Western Conference and take a look at the 5/12 matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and the Chicago Blackhawks.

#5 Edmonton Oilers (37-25-9, 83 points) vs. #12 Chicago Blackhawks (32-30-8, 72 points)

Head to Head Matchups:

October 14. 2019: Chicago 3, Edmonton 1

February 11, 2020: Edmonton 5, Chicago 3

March 4, 2020: Chicago 4, Edmonton 3

Series Odds According to VegasInsider.com:

Odds to Win the Series: Edmonton -164, Chicago +134

Odds For Total Games in the Series: 3 Games (+250), 4 Games (+150), 5 Games (+155)

Odds for Actual Series Result: Edmonton 3-0 (+440), Edmonton 3-1 (+300), Edmonton 3-2 (+340), Chicago 3-0 (+850), Chicago 3-1 (+490), Chicago 3-2 (+440)

Team Statistics:

Edmonton: 3.39 goals per game for (Tied for 14th), 3.14 goals per game against (15th), 29.5% power play percentage (1st), 84.4% penalty killing (2nd)

Chicago: 2.97 goals per game for (18th), 3.06 goals per game against (tied for 16th), 15.2% power play percentage (28th), 82.1% penalty killing (Tied for 8th)

Team Leaders:


Points: Leon Draisaitl 110, Goals: Draisaitl 43, Assists: Draisaitl 67

Goalie Wins: Mike Smith 19, GAA: Mikko Koskinen 2.75, Shutouts: Koskinen/Smith 1, Save %: Koskinen .917


Points: Patrick Kane 84, Goals: Kane 33, Assists: Kane 51

Goalie Wins: Corey Crawford/Robin Lehner 16, GAA: Crawford 2.77, Shutouts: Crawford 1 Save %: Lehner .918


Edmonton was an up and down team this season but when the regular season was paused before its inevitable cancellation, they were second in the Pacific Division standings. The Oilers are led by the extremely dangerous duo of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. Draisaitl led the league in scoring with 110 points to claim the Art Ross Trophy for the first time in his career. McDavid can generate scoring chances seemingly at will and makes anyone on the ice with him a weapon. He put up 34 goals and 63 assists on the year. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins potted 22 goals and James Neal added 19. The Oilers also got a boost from Kailer Yamamoto, who posted 11 goals and 15 assists with a +17 in 27 games this season.

How Edmonton handles the goaltending situation is going to be a challenge for coach Dave Tippett. The Oilers were a near 50/50 split in net this season with Mike Smith playing in 39 games and Mikko Koskinen logging action in 38. Smith won 19 games and Koskinen had 18 victories with each posting one shutout. Koskinen had the upper hand in GAA (2.75 to 2.95) and save percentage (.917 to .902) during the regular season. The big difference between the duo is experience: Smith has played in 610 regular season games and 24 postseason contests (22 starts) in his career. Meanwhile, Koskinen has played in 97 career regular season games in the NHL and has yet to see the ice in the postseason. Both goaltenders are on the wrong side of 30 as Smith is 38, while Koskinen turns 32 in July.

Much like the Oilers with their duo of McDavid and Draisaitl, the Blackhawks have their own prominent duo offensively. Kane piled up 84 points to lead the team while Jonathan Toews contributed 18 goals and 42 assists for 60 points on the year. The Blackhawks got a big boost from rookie Dominik Kubalik, who racked up 30 goals in 67 games. His production will be helpful to take pressure off Alex DeBrincat (18 goals, 27 assists) and Brandon Saad (21 goals) on the offensive end. Getting some more scoring punch from Dylan Strome and Alex Nylander would help ease the strain on Kane and Toews to provide the lion’s share of the production.

The Blackhawks have a pair of capable goaltenders to work with when it comes to their depth chart. Crawford saw the most work, appearing in 40 games with a 16-20-3 record with a 2.77 GAA and a .917 save percentage. Malcolm Subban logged just 1:10 in ice time after being picked up in a trade with Vegas on February 24, right before the trade deadline. The Blackhawks sent Robin Lehner to Vegas in the deal as they were a seller at the deadline as a last-place team in the Central Division. They may end up lamenting that deal should Crawford struggle and Subban unable to answer the bell in the series. Subban has yet to play in a postseason game while Crawford has played in 87 playoff games, starting 85, and owns a pair of Stanley Cup rings. Lehner, had he still be with Chicago, didn’t have a ton of playoff experience but he had 10 appearances under his belt.

Chicago is happy that the field was not only expanded, but that the decision to go with the top 12 teams in each conference as opposed to the top six teams in each division, was made. That at least got them in the postseason field but it might be tough sledding for them against a dangerous Edmonton team with the weapons in McDavid and Draisaitl. It’s going to be an interesting series as the Blackhawks made a run over the final couple months of the season to push back to the fringes of the playoff picture. Now that they’ll be here, they’ll put up a game fight but the shakiness of Crawford, coupled with McDavid, Draisaitl, Neal and company firing rubber at the Chicago net, gives the Oilers the edge to punch their ticket to the actual field of 16.


Edmonton to Win Series -164

Edmonton to Win Series in 5 Games +340

Series to Go 5 Games +155

Author Profile
Chris King

Chris King has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO. If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well, as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career. Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.