The Oilers flew into Los Angeles yesterday afternoon for a crucial three-game road trip versus three Pacific Division rivals. It starts tonight against the Kings, Friday in Anaheim, and Saturday in San Jose. The Oilers will look to continue their dominance over the Pacific division.
1. The Oilers are 10-2 versus the Pacific division this season, but one of those losses was a 5-0 spanking by the Kings. Over the past two seasons, the Oilers are 29-8-3 versus the Pacific, but they are only 3-3 versus the Kings. LA is still a divisional foe who gives the Oilers fits. Edmonton is 25-5-3 against the rest of the division. They will need to be ready and committed like they were versus Tampa Bay to skate away with a win.
2. The Oilers have lost 11 straight in LA. Their last win was on November 3rd, 2011 with Nikolai Khabibulin picking up the win in a 3-0 shutout. Ryan Smyth, Lennart Pettrell and Corey Potter scored the goals. In the eleven games since, the Oilers have been outscored 46-19 and outshot 372-285. They’ve allowed 4+ goals seven times. The Kings have crushed them early in games.
3. The Oilers scored two powerplay goals versus Tampa Bay on four chances. They had two powerplay goals in their previous fifteen home games, for 4.9% (2 of 41). They had only scored three PP goals over their previous 19 games (3 of 50 for 6%). It was only one game, but on Monday the powerplay actually looked good. They created many good chances. I will need to see a solid ten-game stretch before I’m prepared to call their PP good, but at least they showed a pulse with the man advantage. Having Strome on the left boards has helped, no question, but the players had much more movement. They weren’t standing still like we’ve seen for most of the year. And the early PP goal was a huge boost. All the players admitted it, and even Steven Stamkos said he felt the early PP goal really gave Edmonton a boost. Now let’s see if they PP can maintain some success.
4. Leon Draisaitl is tied for eighth overall in EV points with 38. Connor McDavid leads the league with 45, while Nikita Kucherov is second with 44. I’ve read many comments to my show, on Twitter and in the comments sections regarding Draisaitl having a tough year. I just don’t see it. His PP production is way down, and he has to own that, but at even strength, he’s been quite productive. And I’d keep him with McDavid. They give you the best chance to produce. When RNH returns he can slot in with Lucic/Puljujarvi and Khaira can slide down to 4C or 3LW. Either way, I’m keeping Draisaitl with McDavid. I haven’t looked up the numbers, but I’d make an educated guess the Oilers expected 5×5 goals are higher for a game where McDavid plays with Draisaitl compared to when they are separate.
5. On December 1st, after 26 games, the Los Angeles Kings had a record of 15-8-3 and were tied for fifth in the NHL with 33 points, third in the west and only three points back of Tampa Bay for most in the NHL. However, since December 2nd the Kings have the 21st most points. The Oilers are 20th with 28 points in 25 games while the Kings have 28 points in 21 games. After a great start, the Kings have fallen down the standings and this morning find themselves in 11th place in the Western Conference, but only one point behind Calgary for third in the Pacific and two behind Minnesota for the second wildcard spot. They are still in the race, but they are not the dominant team they were early in the season.
6. Evgeni Malkin scored his 30th goal last night. He now has hit the 30-goal mark six times in his 12 NHL seasons. He is only the fourth active player to have six 30-goal seasons. Corey Perry has six, Sidney Crosby has seven and Alex Ovechkin has 13. Ovechkin has scored at least 30 in every season he’s played, including the lockout shortened 2013 season. After his four-goal outburst versus Tampa Bay, McDavid is on pace for his second 30-goal season. Being a consistent 30-goal scorer has become difficult in today’s NHL. It’s kind of depressing.
7. In the past 12 seasons, we have seen 38 different players score 40 goals. Ovechkin did it eight times, seven of them going over 50, while Ilya Kovalchuk reached 40 five times, Steven Stamkos four and Marian Gaborik and Dany Heatley had three. Ovechkin should reach 40 again this year, while Malkin could reach it for the third time in his career.
8. The Oilers haven’t had a 40-goal scorer since Petr Klima scored 40 in 1991. Ryan Smyth had 35 in 1992, 36 in 2006 and 39 in 1997, while Vincent Damphousse had 38 in 1992. So since 1993, the Oilers have had one player score 35 goals, with Smyth doing it twice.
9. The Kings 40-goal men since 1991 look like this: Luc Robitaille did it four times, while Wayne Gretzky and Tomas Sandstrom did it once. Robitaille was the last Kings player to score 40 when he potted 44 in 1994. Their last 35-goal scorer was Alex Frolov in 2007 and he scored 35. Ziggy Palffy had 37 in 2003 and 38 in 2001. It’s been a long time since either team saw someone score 35 goals.
10. Tonight’s Oilers lineup has combined to score 36 goals in their careers against the Kings. Mike Cammalleri has 10 goals in 22 games, while Patrick Maroon has seven in 20 games. The other 16 skaters have produced 19 goals in a combined 184 games. Draisaitl has nine points in 12 games, one goal, while McDavid has two goals and seven points in nine games. The Kings have allowed the fewest goals in the NHL over the past seven seasons, so it shouldn’t be a major surprise very few players have decent offensive numbers against them. The Kings have allowed only 1,168 goals since the 2011/2012 season. That is 100 fewer than every team except St. Louis (1207), Boston (1235) and the Rangers (1256). In case you’re wondering the Oilers have allowed the second most in that span, 1517, with only Toronto allowing more at 1523.
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Source: Jason Gregor, Verified Twitter Account, 02/07/2018 – 10:00am MST