Game centers

3 Keys Kings at Oilers, Game 1 of the Western First Round

Edmonton Oilers Centers Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and Los Angeles Kings Centers Anze Kopitar and Philippe Danault will be seen a lot when the Western Conference’s first round, best-of-seven, begins at Rogers Place on Monday.

McDavid won his fourth NHL scoring title with a career-high 123 points (44 goals, 79 assists) in 80 games this season, and Draisaitl finished fourth with 110 points (55 goals, 55 assists) in 80 games. . Each centered their own line for the majority of the second half of the season.

Kopitar, who led the Kings with 67 points (19 goals, 48 ​​assists) in 81 games, and Danault, who scored 51 points (27 goals, 24 assists) in 79 games, were less prolific offensively but are fine considered for their two-way play.

Draisaitl said he and McDavid will be aware of the matchups they face in Game 1 and throughout the series, but don’t want it to become a distraction.

“You focus on the guys you’re up against, of course, but I don’t think you want to overdo it either,” he said on Monday. “You want to stick to what you’re good at, no matter what Connor and I are good at.”

Danault said the Kings are well aware of how explosive McDavid and Draisaitl can be and defending them effectively often means sacrificing offensive opportunities.

“When McDavid is on the ice, or Draisaitl, we have to stop them as a unit,” Danault said. “Obviously you don’t want to change your game too much. There’s a little sacrifice [offensively], that’s for sure. You need to be smarter, more alert. I’m not the only one. Everyone needs to be a little sharper on the ice when [McDavid] is there, which is normal.”

This is the eighth playoff series between the teams, but the first since the best-of-seven Smythe Division semifinals in 1992, which the Oilers won in six games. Edmonton has won five of the previous seven series.

The Oilers went 3-1-0 against the Kings this season; the Kings were 1-2-1.

The teams that win Game 1 are 499-228 (68.8%) winning an NHL best-of-7 playoff series, including 6-2 in the first round last season.

Here are 3 keys for game 1:

1. mike smith vs. Quick Jonathan

Oilers goaltender Mike Smith, 40, and Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, 36, face off for the first time since Smith and the Phoenix Coyotes faced Quick and the Kings in the Conference Finals of West 2012. The Kings won that series in five games and won the Stanley Cup. Quick also helped the Kings win the Cup in 2014.

“[Quick] had an amazing career and I have a lot of respect for what he’s done,” Smith said. “There’s a fire burning that I don’t have what he has yet. [a Stanley Cup championship]so it’s something that drives me to improve every day and keep working and hopefully this year will be the year.”

Quick is expected to start his 86th straight playoff game, the longest active streak among NHL goaltenders. He is 46-39 with a 2.23 GAA, .922 save percentage and nine shutouts in 85 playoff games. He was 23-13-9 with a 2.59 goals-against average, .910 save percentage and two shutouts in 46 games this season.

Smith has won his last nine regular season starts and is 16-9-2 with a 2.81 GAA, .915 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games this season. In 29 playoff games, he is 11-17 with a 2.34 GAA, .931 save percentage and four shutouts.

2. Oilers power play vs. Kings shorthanded

The Oilers had the third-best powerplay in the NHL this season at 26.0%, behind the Toronto Maple Leafs (27.3%) and St. Louis Blues (27.0%).

Neutralizing it will be a challenge for the Kings’ penalty, which was 22nd at 76.7%. Los Angeles’ top penalty killers, including the defender matt roywho led the Kings with an average of 2:04 of shorthanded ice time per game, and Kopitar (1:42) and Danault (1:42), will need their anticipatory skills at their best to prevent the Oilers to dominate the special -team battle.

3. Availability of Nurse Darnell, Viktor Arvidson

Darnell Nurse, the Oilers’ No. 1 defenseman, missed the final four games of the regular season with a lower-body injury suffered against the Colorado Avalanche on April 22. Nurse practiced Sunday and Monday and coach Jay Woodcroft said he would be a game-time decision.

Nurse led the Oilers in the regular season with an average ice time of 25:03 per game and hits all areas of their game. He was one of three NHL defensemen this season to average at least 20 minutes per game at even strength (21:08), 1 minute per game on the power play (1:09) and 2 minutes 30 per game on the shorthanded (2:45); Devon Toews of the Avalanche and Brent burns of the San Jose Sharks were the others.

“You don’t want to put your team in a position where you’re not going there near 100 [percent]”, Nurse said Monday. “So those factors all come into play, so we’ll see.”

Viktor Arvidsson, who finished fourth for the Kings with 49 points (20 goals, 29 assists) in 66 games, left practice early Saturday for personal reasons and did not skate Sunday or Monday. His absence could leave a hole in Los Angeles’ top six forwards.

“Arvidsson is on a trip, yes,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “Good luck [he’ll play].”

Projected lineup of the Kings

Andreas Athanasiou — Anze Kopitar — Adrian Kempe

Trevor Moore — Phillip Danault — Viktor Arvidsson

Alex IafalloBlake LizotteDustin Brown

Carl GrundstromQuinton ByfieldArthur Kaliev

Alexander Edler –Matt Roy

Mikey AndersonSean Durzi

Olli MaattaJordan Spence

Quick Jonathan

Cal Peterson

Striped: Brendan Lemieux, Tobias Bjornfot, Gabriel Vilardi, lias andersson, Troy Stecher, Jacob Moverare, Austin Beach, Rasmus Kupari

Injured: Drew Doughty (wrist), Sean Walker (knee)

Oilers projected roster

Evander Kane — Connor McDavid — Jesse Puljujarvi

Zach Hyman — Leon Draisaitl — Kailer Yamamoto

Warren FoegeleRyan Nugent HopkinsDerek Ryan

Ryan McLeodZack Kassian

Nurse Darnell — Cody Ceci

Duncan KeithEvan Bouchard

Kris RussellTyson Barrie

Brett Kulak

mike smith

Mikko Koskinen

Striped: Philip Broberg, Josh Archibald, Devin Shore, Derick Brassard, Olivier Rodrigue

Injured: Nothing

Status report

Doughty, a defender who underwent wrist surgery on April 11, is not expected to play again until next season. … If Nurse plays, the Oilers should use seven defensemen and 11 forwards. … Rodrigue, a goaltender, was recalled from Wichita of the ECHL.