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10* Edmonton (3:05 ET): While no fans will be in attendance and travel is not an issue, the Oilers still have an edge with the Western Conference “bubble” being in Edmonton. The players know the rink well (Rogers Place). While the Oilers are in the qualification round, their first round opponent is the Chicago Blackhawks, who are - objectively speaking - the weakest team remaining in the 24-team field. At least in the West, they are. At the time of the stoppage, the Blackhawks were last in the Central Division with only 72 points.
Now the Oilers play in the Pacific, which was the weaker of the West’s two divisions. The only three teams not invited to Edmonton all hailed from the Pacific. The Oilers were in 2nd place at the stoppage, with 83 points, and curiously had a losing record in regulation here at home. However, while they were 1-2 vs. Chicago in the regular season, both losses were on the road. They won the only home game. Edmonton clearly will have the two best players on the ice in this series - Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
The Blackhawks should feel fortunate to even be in a playoff scenario. Clearly they were not preparing for a postseason run when they were sellers back at the league’s trade deadline. Furthermore, this is a team that was 26th in expected goal differential. Quite frankly, the ‘Hawks just aren’t very good. 10* Edmonton
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