There’s quite a contrast in playoff experience between the leading scorers on the Chicago Blackhawks and the Edmonton Oilers.
Chicago’s Patrick Kane has played 127 post-season games and won three Stanley Cups.
Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl has been in 13 playoff games and has never been past the second round.
Granted, Kane is seven years older, but one of the few advantages the Hawks have over the Oilers in their upcoming qualifying round is that their big guns have been through the playoff grind several times before.
Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and some of the other Oilers top dogs can draw on only 2017.
“Being the first time in the playoffs in 2017, you learn a lot. You take a lot of things out of it that work, that don’t work,” Draisaitl said. “At the end of the day, you still have to play your game.”
James Neal leads the Oilers with 104 playoff games. Defenceman Kris Russell sits at 49.
“I’ve been in some different situations so I can draw on those experiences. I think we have a good group though. We have some veteran guys, like Nealer, who has been in the Stanley Cup Final a few times,” Russell said.
“We have a lot of veteran guys that I think guys are able to look up to and ask questions. I think that’s a big part of our group. Guys aren’t shy to do that.”
As you look down the roster, the Blackhawks experience advantage starts to fade.
“There are nine players on that roster that have zero NHL playoff experience,” NBC analyst Pierre McGuire said.
“Nine. That’s a lot. It’s really incumbent upon Edmonton to get off to a really good start and make sure they take advantage of their experience, and also their speed and their skill. If they do that, it’s going to be a problem for Chicago,” he said.
Head coach Dave Tippett said all players were on the ice as the team practised Thursday afternoon.
Game One of the Oilers and Blackhawks series is Saturday at 1 p.m.
Coverage starts on 630 CHED with the Face-off Show at 11 a.m.
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