'They'll be a very good opponent': Oilers ready for Blackhawks, won't take them lightly
EDMONTON -- The Chicago Blackhawks are the lowest-seeded team in the Western Conference's play-in series, but the Edmonton Oilers say they are not taking the veteran team lightly.
The Oilers finished 11 points ahead of the Blackhawks in the regular season and are the favourites in the best-of-5 series, but they are treating their champion opponents with respect.
"I'm a big believer that we have to have our team ready or it doesn't matter what the other team does," Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "They'll be a very good opponent but we have to make sure we're ready to play."
"There's no reason to take those guys lightly," Oilers defenceman Adam Larsson added. "They have high-end skill, veterans that have been winning before so it's a tough challenge."
Both teams are coming off comfortable wins in their lone exhibition games at Rogers Place this week, where Edmonton defeated Calgary 4-1 and Chicago took down St. Louis 4-0.
The Blackhawks are coming off a bumpy season where they finished last in the Central Division after 70 games, but the team still has the same nucleus that has won three Stanley Cups in the past decade.
Other than the team's best players in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers will rely on their playoff veterans to go toe to toe with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
"Guys like [James Neal], he's been in the Stanley Cup Finals a few times, so we have a lot of veteran guys that I think guys are able to look up to and ask questions," Oilers defenceman Kris Russell said.
Puck drops Saturday at 1 p.m. Games 2 and 3 are scheduled for Monday and Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.