The Oilers are back in Los Angeles seeking their first win against the Kings this season.
1. The Oilers and Kings have met twice this season and it’s been extremely one-sided. The first meeting came back on Jan. 2 in which the Oilers were pounded 5-0 at home by the Kings to extend their losing streak to four games at the time. Then, on Feb. 7, just a couple days after a big win over Tampa Bay, the Oilers lost 5-2 to the Kings on the road. Edmonton battled back from 2-0 down but got slammed in the third period, allowing three unanswered goals. This trip, L.A., Anaheim, then San Jose, is the exact same as the California swing the Oilers made a couple weeks ago that officially put the nail in the coffin for their season.
2. The Kings are jammed right in the middle of a playoff race logjam. They’re tied with Calgary at 71 points and are two points behind Anaheim and three points behind San Jose for third and second in the Pacific Division. They’re also just one point behind St. Louis for the final wild card spot, but Calgary and Colorado are right behind them.
3. L.A. returned home from a seven-game road trip on Thursday with a loss to the Dallas Stars. They’ll play nine of their next 11 games on home ice, which bodes well for their playoff race. That said, do we care to play spoiler for the Kings? To be honest, I would rather L.A. make the playoffs than Calgary or Anaheim.
4. Most of Los Angeles’ success this season has come from their ability to keep the puck out of the net. They’ve allowed 151 goals, which is the second fewest in the league. The team does a good job at limiting chances against as they rank right in the middle of the league in Expected Goals against percentage per Corsica. A lot of the credit should go to their goaltending, though. Jonathan Quick has been excellent, as he owns a .922 save percentage in 47 games. Backup goalie Darcy Kuemper was also playing very well, posting a .932 save percentage in 19 games, but the Kings ultimately chose to sell high and move in him in a deal for Tobias Rieder and Scott Wedgewood.
5. Picking up Rieder was ultimately an attempt to boost the team’s offensive depth on the wings. The team badly misses Jeff Carter, who’s been out of the lineup since mid-October with a leg injury. They rank 19th in the league in goals for and Anze Kopitar, who has 64 points in 61 games, is the only guy on the team scoring at anywhere near a point-per-game pace.
6. Speaking of trades, the Kings also pulled the trigger on what would have been a wild blockbuster back in 2009. They sent Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore to Ottawa for Dion Phaneuf and Nate Thompson. This will be our first opportunity to see Phaneuf rock a Kings jersey. It’ll be a weird sight. Through five games, he already has three goals, which is as many as he had in 53 games in Ottawa this season.
7. How are the Oilers going to navigate the trade deadline? All signs point to selling the unrestricted free agents on the roster. There’s a very good chance these next two games will be the last time we see Patrick Maroon, Mark Letestu, and Mike Cammalleri in Oilers jerseys. Peter Chiarelli got the ball rolling today by dealing Brandon Davidson to the Islanders. It’s a somewhat puzzling deal as Davidson is a solid player and has one more year of team control.
8. The Penguins, Senators, and Golden Knights pulled off an interesting deal yesterday that involved Vegas sliding in and taking on Ryan Reaves’ contract and retaining 40 per cent of Derick Brassard’s salary. Essentially, Vegas took on a bunch of money and got themselves a draft pick out of it. It seems like a lot of hassle for Vegas, but I wonder if there’s a way the Oilers can utilize their cap room to help another team pull the trigger on a big deal.
9. Do you have any memory of Jarome Iginla playing for the Kings? I vaguely remember him being dealt there from Colorado last year but I honestly have no visual in my head of him wearing Kings gear. Anyways, here he is practicing with the Bruins wearing Kings pants and an Avs helmet.
10. I haven’t done one in a while, so let’s do a McDavid Art Ross race look. He has 71 points in 60 games, tied for sixth in the league with Blake Wheeler. Nikita Kucherov seems to be running away with it as he has 80 points in 61 games.
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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 02/24/2018 – 1:00pm MST