When you lose as often as the Oilers did during the Decade of Darkness, it is difficult to find a team that didn’t dominate them. But last season the Oilers ended many droughts against teams who used to beat them for fun. They were competitive and were no longer the free space on the bingo card.
However, they didn’t exorcise all their demons. The Oilers have lost eleven straight games in Los Angeles and tonight they will try again to end their longest active road losing streak versus one team.
The closest they came to winning was on October 27th, 2013, when Richard Bachman almost stole them a game. The Kings out shot the Oilers 48-18, but Bachman kept it a 1-1 game after overtime. The Kings won in a SO on goals by Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar, with Jordan Eberle scoring the lone shootout goal for the Oilers.
Last April the Oilers took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, but couldn’t hold on. The Kings scored three goals in the second before Ryan Nugent-Hopkins buried his second of the game to tie it after 40 minutes. But the Kings outscored the Oilers 3-1 in the third to keep the streak alive.
Mike Cammalleri is the one of the few Oilers veterans who has had success in LA. His teams are 8-2 in LA, and he has 6-3-9 in ten career games in LA.
Kris Russell has eight wins in 15 trips.
Patrick Maroon’s team are 5-5.
Milan Lucic has two wins in eight trips to LA.
Mark Letestu has one win in ten trips, and the victory came in his first game in LA.
Andrej Sekera has one win in nine game in LA.
Zack Kassian has no wins in nine games.
Maybe Cammalleri, who admittedly is a chatty guy, has some witty, excitable pre-game speech planned to fire up his teammates. At this point they could use anything to get them ready.
The good news for the Oilers is the Kings haven’t been killing it lately. Since December 1st they have picked up 28 points, tied with the Oilers for 20th most in the NHL. The Oilers have played one fewer game in that time, but basically the Oilers and Kings have been equal for the past two months.
Kassian missed Monday’s game with the flu and is unsure if he’ll play. No reason to switch the top three lines — they all played well versus Tampa Bay. Ryan Strome has really picked up his play recently, and is looking more comfortable playing centre.
Jonathan Quick is 21-3-5 in his career versus the Oilers, but he’s in a bit of a funk now, losing four of his last five, and the Kings are going with Darcy Kuemper tonight. He’s posted back-to-back shutouts. Even though the Oilers haven’t had much success against backups this year, not seeing Quick should be a positive.
Alec Martinez is out again. He’s averaging 23:23/game and his absence has forced them to play Ladue in their second pair. The Oilers need to pressure Ladue, who is playing his 26th NHL game.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid is rolling, Kuemper is rolling. The reigning Hart Trophy winner continues to light it up and leads the Oilers to a rare road win in LA.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers don’t allow a PP goal. In the last nine road games they have killed off 26 of 27 powerplays. This will allow some to keep asking why the PK is so much different at home and on the road, even though it really isn’t. They allow the same amount of high quality scoring chances, but on the road the pucks don’t go in. The system is the same, and maybe the players have a bit more confidence on the road, but from what I’ve watched and tracked it seems like a statistical anomaly that they can be the best in the NHL on the road, 86.6%, and the worst in NHL history at home, at 56.3%. Oilers fans are hoping the road success continues.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid has scored a goal in three consecutive games only once in his career. March 28th versus LA, March 30th versus San Jose and April 1st versus Anaheim. He had one goal in each game. McDavid scores in his third consecutive game, but also has his third consecutive multi-goal game for the first time in his career.
Take home a growler, a crowler, a sixer, a mixer, whatever. Sherbrooke Liquor. Where’s Your Beer?
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Source: Jason Gregor, Verified Twitter Account, 02/07/2018 – 2:15pm MST