After eliminating the Los Angeles Kings for the second straight year over the weekend, the Edmonton Oilers are moving down the royal hierarchy as they get set to play to Vegas Golden Knights in Round 2.
Vegas, who beat the Winnipeg Jets in five games in Round 1, finished their regular season with a 51-22-9 record, leading the Western Conference with 111 points.
Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft told reporters his team’s Round 1 celebrations didn’t last long, though, and that Edmonton is already preparing for their new opponent.
“You enjoy it for a little bit, and then your mind gets going towards the next series and preparing for a really good Vegas Golden Knights team that finished first in the conference for a reason. So, our preparations have already begun,” Woodcroft said Sunday before the Oilers left for Nevada.
The coach anticipates a bigger challenge in the second round, calling the upcoming Vegas series a “different animal.”
“I think they’ve got a back end that seems to be involved in all three zones, and they seem to have a deep forward grouping that plays a pressure-based game,” Woodcroft said. “They’re well-coached, and they finished at the top of the conference for a reason. They’ve had a pretty steady year, and they get contributions up and down the lineup.”
While there is a sense of respect for the new opponent, Woodcroft is confident his roster can rise to the occasion. “It’s going to be a tall task, but we’re up to it.”
Game 1 of the West second-round series between the Golden Knights and Oilers will be in Las Vegas on Wednesday night (7:30 pm MT; TBD).
The two teams have never met in the postseason before.