The times they are a changin. Kings lose, Oilers win. Final Score: 3-1 Oilers
Coming into tonight’s game, the Kings have absolutely owned the Oilers over the past four years. As Gregor taught us this morning, the Kings are 17-1-2 against the Oilers since March of 2012 and that record is just about as ugly as the one Edmonton snapped against the Coyotes last Wednesday. The only difference, of course, is that LA has been a much better team than the Coyotes so that their record of Oiler-dominance makes a little more sense. Who the Oilers have sucked more against aside, the Kings are a depleted hockey team with some injuries to some key players (Quick, Toffoli) and, on top of that, they played (and lost) last night in Vancouver.
One thing the Oilers have struggled with this season is the ability to put away tired teams, and tonight’s tussle with the Kings afforded them another opportunity do that. But it wasn’t going to be easy. Even though the Kings played last night, this was the Oilers’ first game back after the Christmas break and you never know which team you’re going to get after the boys take a quick vacay. Fortunately, our heroes in blue looked like they had enough time to shake off the turkey coma and get themselves ready to work. After playing a fairly even first period with the Kings, Edmonton scored a power-play goal early in the second that gave them a one-goal lead that they would carry into the final frame.
Closing out games when they have a chance hasn’t always been easy for the Oilers. I couldn’t tell you how many times that we’ve watched games where Edmonton has missed out on points rather than putting them up in the standings. The same can be said about taking advantage of teams that were playing the second game of a back-to-back set. The Oilers were able to accomplish both of those tasks tonight. After trading goals with LA in the third period, the home side was able to bend but not break as the Kings poured on the pressure in the final minutes of the game. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added an empty net goal with under a minute to play and the Oilers come out of the Christmas break with a big divisional win against a team that hasn’t been that generous over the years.
For the second last time in 2016, we wrap.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Connor McDavid played his 82nd career NHL game tonight. In that time, he has 90 points. Think about that a minute. Beautiful, right? He may not have put anything up tonight but look at those numbers. *whistles*
- Pat Maroon scored a big power play goal at the start of the second period that gave the Oilers a lead. Maroon threw his big carcass in front of the Kings net and smashed the puck past Budaj for his 11th goal of the year.
- Eric Gryba hasn’t scored all year so it was only natural that he would come flying towards the crease and smashed the puck out of mid-air like he was mid-90s Ken Griffey Jr. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t quite that sexy but why can’t we spice it up a little bit? Gryba goals roll around about as often as Halley’s comet.
- Nuge has missed a few chances to get easy goals in an open net earlier in the year but he drained his shot tonight. Nuge took a nice feed from Draisaitl down the net and pumped it into the net from centre ice for his 7th goal of the year.
- I really dig the Draisaitl/Nuge pairing. Regardless of who takes the faceoff, those two are weaving back and forth after the puck drops and it’s neat to watch. Nuge and Draisaitl combined for points on the empty netter. I like McLellan doubling up the centres on one line, and I can’t help but wonder what Nuge and McDavid would look like together?
- Cam Talbot has been a huge pickup for the Oilers in his two seasons here. Outside of a few rough stretches (including the start of last season), Talbot has been sensational and tonight was no different. Dadbot was a man-wall back there and finished the night with 28 saves and a .966 save.
- The Oilers power play was the difference maker tonight. Edmonton was able to give themselves an advantage with their special teams and that included scoring with the man advantage. The home side finished the night at 50% (1/2) with the man advantage.
- Equally as impressive is the fact that they killed off both Kings power play attempts. The PK was perfect again tonight.
- Matt Benning has been a great story so far this year. Who would have ever expected him to crack the NHL roster? Not only did he do that but he’s doing it with style. Benning, although still raw at times, has been playing important minutes and finding a way to learn on the job. Benning played a steady 19:58 tonight.
- The Oilers went 60% in the faceoff circle. Very impressive against the Kings. (Hendricks 83%, Nuge 70%, Draisaitl 60%, McDavid 50%, Letestu 46%)
- I can’t get enough Pat Maroon interviews. He talked to Gene for two minutes in the first-period intermission and it was amazing despite the fact that he didn’t really say much of anything. I love that man.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Brandon Davidson was a giveaway machine early in the first period. I guess he was still feeling the Christmas spirit. I understand. Fortunately, he didn’t get caught for it and he made the correction, but in the first 20 minutes, young Davidson had happy feet.
- Really ugly sequence on the Nick Score’s tying goal in the third period. Klefbom whiffed on a pass that should have got the puck out of the zone and then Letestu did the exact same thing seconds later. The second giveaway wound up in the back of the net. Gross play.
- Benoit Pouliot played just over 13 minutes tonight. I’m not saying that he played poorly but at $4 million/yr you’d have to think that he’s not in the long term plans.
- Sick Sekera. Feel better, Reggie.
- No McPoints.
|02:32||Edmonton||PPG – Patrick Maroon (11) ASST: Jordan Eberle (16), Matthew Benning (5)||0-1|
|03:05||Los Angeles||Nick Shore (3)||1-1|
|06:58||Edmonton||Eric Gryba (1) ASST: Jordan Eberle (17), Milan Lucic (15)||1-2|
|19:46||Edmonton||EN – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (7) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (18)||1-3|
BEST OF THE TWEETS
— Ryan ? (@IAmByks) December 30, 2016
@OilersNation Ryan Smyth-esque level of cliches
— David Smitten (@DavidSmitten) December 30, 2016
— NHL Insider Dinger (@atf13atf) December 30, 2016
@OilersNation Looked like Crosby knocking it out of the air!!!
— Wade Poloway (@munch34m) December 30, 2016
Gryba with his first goal since February 2 against Columbus.
— Reid Wilkins (@ReidWilkins) December 30, 2016
— Maysy Man (@MaysyMan) December 30, 2016
@OilersNation How do you confuse a fully grown adult man for our precious man-child?
— David Smitten (@DavidSmitten) December 30, 2016
@OilersNation Gryba > Doughty
— Lindsay (@Steele131) December 30, 2016
NATIONGEAR BOXING WEEK SALE
If you missed out on scoring some NationGear for Christmas then this is the week to get what you wanted. All week long, every item at NationGear.ca are available at 15% off. Supplies are limited so you’re going to want to head over there soon and see what we have left because this sale ends on December 31st at 11:59pm (MST).