Nashville Predators: Ranking the Western Qualifying Round Matchups

EDMONTON, AB - FEBRUARY 8: Viktor Arvidsson #33 of the Nashville Predators skates with the puck while being pursued by Jujhar Khaira #16 of the Edmonton Oilers on February 8, 2020, at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - FEBRUARY 8: Viktor Arvidsson #33 of the Nashville Predators skates with the puck while being pursued by Jujhar Khaira #16 of the Edmonton Oilers on February 8, 2020, at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Edmonton Oilers vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Game 1: Saturday, August 1st, 2:00 P.M. CDT (NBC)

This series is going to be the crown jewel of all of the Western Conference qualifying games. This series has an old school hockey feel to it, while also boasting some of the NHL’s biggest stars on both sides.

This matchup pits some powerhouse players against one another. The Oilers’ dynamic duo of  Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl against the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup winners Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

The Blackhawks are the last seed and barely skated into the playoffs. They will be looking to Kane and Toews to match the intensity of the Oilers’ superstar forwards.

Goaltending may be handled by committee for the Blackhawks in this qualifier. Corey Crawford missed all but one day of training camp. The Blackhawks brought three other goalies to the bubble, including Malcolm Subban, who was acquired at the trade deadline.

Draisaitl is the NHL points leader with 110 for the season. McDavid is second with 97. Both of these guys can score at will. Add in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and James Neal, and you have a team that’s potent and has the potential to go very far in the playoffs.

Mikko Koskinen split the season with Mike Smith in goal for the Oilers. Both have had similar seasons. I would expect Koskinen to be the starter for the Oilers.

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This should be an exciting and high-scoring series. Even though the Oilers hold the advantage in every category, you can never count out the Blackhawks. This series will be appointment viewing for every hockey fan with plenty of flashy offense featuring the game’s biggest superstars.