GDB 55: Old Friends Who Need To Lose Tonight

Greene & Stoll

Remember the Los Angeles Kings? Here in Edmonton, we complain (rightly) about a team that’s only made the playoffs three times during Kevin Lowe’s tenure, but things could have been much, much worse. Here is a season-by-season comparison of the two teams since 2000:

2000-01: EDM – 39-28-12-3 (93 PTS) > LA – 38-28-13-3 (92 PTS)
2001-02: LA – 40-27-11-4 (95 PTS) > EDM – 38-28-12-4 (92 PTS)
2002-03: EDM – 36-26-11-9 (92 PTS) > LA – 33-37-6-6 (78 PTS)
2003-04: EDM – 36-29-12-5 (89 PTS) > LA – 28-29-16-9 (81 PTS)
2005-06: EDM – 41-28-13 (95 PTS) > LA – 42-35-5 (89 PTS)
2006-07: EDM – 32-43-7 (71 PTS) > LA – 27-41-14 (68 PTS)
2007-08: EDM – 41-35-6 (88 PTS) > LA – 32-43-7 (71 PTS)

Only once during Kevin Lowe’s tenure as General Manager have the L.A. Kings managed to outperform the Edmonton Oilers over the course of a full season.

One of the quirky side effects of this perpetual ineptitude is that the Kings have gotten a lot of young hockey players very quickly. They have a very robust group of forwards and defensemen; only four players on the team are over the age of 30, and of that group the only really significant piece of the roster is 31-year old Michal Handzus.

The scary thing, for the Oilers, is that they’re very much in danger of being passed by this group not only over the next five years, but right now. A quick look at the Western Conference standings tells us that:

5. Dallas 54GP – 61 PTS
6. Anaheim 57GP – 61 PTS
7. Vancouver 55GP – 60 PTS
8. Minnesota 54GP – 59 PTS
9. Columbus 55GP – 59 PTS
10. Edmonton 54GP – 58 PTS
11. Los Angeles 53 GP – 55 PTS
12. Nashville 55GP – 55 PTS
13. Phoenix 56GP – 55 PTS

The Kings have the most games remaining, and a win tonight would put them within one point of the Oilers, and in legitimate contention for a playoff spot. An Oilers win tonight would keep them on pace with the Canucks and in the thick of the hunt, and help keep the Kings back.

Tonight’s game is the first of a four game road trip through the Pacific Division, a road trip that looks to be essential to the Oilers’ playoff hopes. They need to bank some points tonight against the Kings and Monday against Phoenix, because the tail end of this trip is ugly. They play San Jose on Tuesday in their second game in two nights, and then close out the trip Thursday in Dallas, and they aren’t likely to pick up wins in either of those cities.

They need to win this afternoon.

And another thing

Nationeers are invited — no, scratch that: required — to join Twitter and listen to @WanyeGretz rant all game long. And don’t forget to enter Jason Gregor’s promotions contest for your chance to win tickets to the Oilers v. the Flames next Saturday!