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GDB Game Day Notes: Oilers @ Kings

The Oilers are wrapping up their three-game trip through California with a stop in Los Angeles with the last-placed Kings. Here are your game day notes.

1. The Kings have had a horrendous, nightmare season thus far. At the time of me writing this on Saturday afternoon, they’re 7-13-1, and even a win Saturday night against the Canucks wouldn’t drag them out of dead last in the league. They’re on pace to put up 58 points in the standings this year and their current .357 points percentage is on pace to be their fourth-worst in franchise history.

2. It’s a bit surprising how bad the Kings have been this year given this exact group made it to the playoffs last season with 45 wins. They even added Ilya Kovalchuk to the mix to boost their offence and they have a healthy Jeff Carter in their lineup. It hasn’t helped at all though as the Kings sit dead last in the league with 44 goals for, which, through 21 games, is an average of just 2.1 goals-per-game. Not having any depth caught up to them. They leaned heavily on a small group of players last season and those guys haven’t been able to carry the load again this year.

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3. A huge key to L.A.’s success last year was the insanely good play of Anze Kopitar. If you look at how Kopitar has performed in recent years, there’s a direct correlation to how the Kings do in the standings. In 2016-17, Kopitar had a down year with 52 points in 76 games and Kings missed the playoffs. In 2017-18, he had probably the best year of his career, posting 92 points in 82 games while also winning the Selke Trophy and the Kings made the playoffs. This year, he has nine points in 20 games and has the worst underlying numbers of his career and the Kings are on pace to miss the playoffs.

4. Kopitar isn’t the only one who has taken a step back from last year to this year. The Kings got a shocking performance out of Dustin Brown who appeared to be washed up five years ago. In 2017-18, Brown managed to put up a career-high 61 points, which was massive in Jeff Carter’s absence. In the previous four seasons, Brown scored 15, 11, 11, and 14 goals, but then he exploded for 28 goals. This year, he has three goals.

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5. The Kings’ slow start resulted in John Stevens getting the boot. Stevens replaced Darryl Sutter after the 2016-17 season and led L.A. back to the playoffs in his only full season behind the Kings’ bench. Stevens’ situation was much like Todd McLellan’s here. Stevens was dealt a flawed roster and he ended up being the fall guy. Don’t get me wrong, I do think it was right for the Oilers to shake things up and hire a new head coach, but both McLellan and Stevens were in similar situations set up for failure with the cards they were dealt.

6. One thing the Kings have done well this year has been keeping the puck out of the net. Their blueline is still fairly solid, which is inevitable when you have Drew Doughty playing 28 minutes a game and Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez filling up your top-four. They rank 15th in the league in goals against despite having their top two goalies go down with an injury.

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7. Jonathan Quick got hurt after four games. Jack Campbell, a very good backup in his own right, got hurt a couple weeks later. Third-string Peter Budaj got recalled but was hot garbage so fourth-string Calvin Petersen has been given the net. Petersen has played in five games and he’s stopped 141 of 153 shots, which is incredibly impressive for a guy who nobody figured would be in the NHL this year.

8. Speaking of goalies, it looks like Mikko Koskinen is Edmonton’s guy right now. After not playing until Edmonton’s ninth game of the season, Koskinen has played in nine of the Oilers’ last 14 games overall. He’s posted a .914 save percentage for the season and was good enough for the Oilers to win in all three of their important games against the Pacific Division in the past week.

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9. Cam Talbot will be given the net Sunday in Los Angeles in what will be a massive game to prove that he can still be the team’s starter. Like I said, it looks like Koskinen is that guy right now, so Talbot needs to have himself a big game. Ken Hitchcock is giving him a chance to succeed, that’s for sure. As I mentioned earlier, there is no team worse team at scoring goals than L.A., so if Talbot lays an egg, Koskinen will likely have the net for the foreseeable future. Talbot has lost each of his last five outings, posting an .845 save percentage over that span. His last win came nearly a month ago with a 31-save performance in Chicago.

10. Jesse Puljujarvi is back with the Oilers after putting up two goals and four points in four games with AHL Bakersfield. I don’t know if this move is because he proved he was playing well enough in the AHL or because they need another body to flesh out their NHL roster. Cooper Marody went back down, which is good, given he was playing five minutes a night, but Puljujarvi is slotting in on the fourth line right now with Patrick Russell or Ty Rattie on the other wing. At a glance, that doesn’t look like a good thing, but this line, which is currently centred by JJ Khaira, will be the one Connor McDavid double shifts with throughout the game.

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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 11/25/2018 – 7:00 am MT


  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    This is a great chance for Talbot to get his confidence back. I have no doubts he’ll play an excellent game tonight. He’s still the teams starter in my mind and he’s going to do everything he can to prove it. Otherwise Ive got to trade in my Talbot jersey for something new 🙁

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Well lets hope the Oilers play a solid game and thos little blips like being caught out too long on a shift get cut out. LA played Vancouver last night and lost, so they may be a tad tired, but the Oil need to get those points.

    The rumour going around is that the Kings may be interested in TM but they have to get permission from the Oilers to have serious talks, not like the Kings are making the playoffs though, so really wouldnt matter if they change coaches.

    So Staples article in the EJ said Hitch asked for Jesse to be called up, I damn near fell off my chair when I read that. I would have rather seen Jesse stay in Bakersfield and get lots of minutes, but who knows maybe Hitch has a plan for him. I am a little suspicious of the timing, but guess we will see how that plays out. Go Oilers!

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        Chabot was fired during the 2014 season and Schwartz was promoted to the Oilers goaltending coach gig from his Oil Kings goaltending coach gig, but you have to remember Alex that Talbot came over from the rangers, He and Lundquvist were under Goaltending coach Benoit Allaire whos been with the Rangers since 2005, So Talbot really was under his wing and a lot of the success Talbot had stems from tutoring under him and it showed his first season for the Oilers, then Schwartz had him during and after the first season…. and look where we are at. Last time I checked Lundquist was no slouch

        • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

          That’s true. And if I’m correct in remembering, it was Allaire who told Cam “you’re a good goalie” in December of 2015, resulting in Cam’s turnaround that season.

  • Spydyr

    This has to be Talbot’s last chance to prove himself capable.Five straight loses and a .845 save percentage says it all. The team cannot keep giving points away because of weak goaltending if they want to challenge for a playoff spot.

        • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

          And all of that is a confidence issue. As a goalie myself, I know exactly what is happening with Cam. The biggest problem is that the team doesn’t feel like Cam has their back. We saw this with post Roloson goalies. The team has to try and play perfect so that their goalies don’t give up too much. With Koskinen, they can play with mistakes because they know Koskinen will bail them out.

          • Spydyr

            I said last year that Talbot hurts the team Immensely with his constant stream of early and weak goals. When a team starts behind the eight-ball every game or battles back to make a game close and the goalie lets in a soft goal it dejects the bench.

          • OilerForLife

            Talbot better watch it because Koskinen will push him, push him right out the door. Talbot needs to become that goaltender from two years ago, and fatigue can’t be the problem now. If he doesn’t play better then we still have the same problem as last year, no backup. Talbot should dig in because he’s playing for a contract, whether it be for the backup or the starter.

  • Talbs better kick it into high gear here before he rides the pine, because Koskinen is focused. You can tell by his interviews he’s all business. He didn’t come over here for no reason.

    Frankly, at this point I would be happy to just see the Oilers choose one solid goaltender and go with that. The defense looks like it is pretty much set now. So choose one good goaltender, let Hitch emphasize defensive play and go with that strategy. Enough screwing around already.

  • CMG30

    I hope Talbot is able to stand tall tonight. We all know he can do it, but no one has time to wait for him to get it together every year.

    Not sure the Oilers are doing JP any favours by bouncing him around like a Yo-Yo. Let him enjoy success for a while, especially if that means he’s playing big minutes…

    • Spydyr

      Along with his many other shortcomings Talbot IMO is horrendous with his anticipation, he does not read plays well. So no we all don’t know he can do in fact his record over the last calendar year strongly suggests that he cannot do it.

  • OldOilFan

    Cam “First Shot” Talbot:

    we might know [what kind of game he’s gonna have] after the Kings’ first shot… If Talbot has to dig it out of the net, then it could be dicey for him to even finish the game – let alone “regain” equal status with Kosk.

  • bcoil

    We have McDavid, Dri, the Nuge and Nurse and Peter hires a dump and chase Coach . I am soooooo Pissed that they allowed Peter to do this . OR was it the Red Wine Summit group that forced it on him .. This group is so frustrating .If Hitch and Peter ruin McDavid’s creativity the city should burn the place down .

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    This is a game between one of the oldest teams (Kings @ 28.7) and the one of the youngest (Oilers are 25.9). More specifically, the King’s Oiler killers in recent years (Carter and Quick) are having ineffective seasons to-date. The King’s 35 year old leading scorer is a -13 on the season and their 33 year D man, Phaneuf is playing close to 15 mins a game–I have a feeling we may hear the word “pylon” associated with Dion tonight (as well as cheap shot artist). They’ll need 28 flawless mins tonight from Doughty to make this competitive.

    TLDR: If they Oilers can put together 60 mins today like they played 59 mins against the Ducks, this should be a regicidal affair. I’ll put a dollar on a Gordie Howe hat trick for Lucic and Phaneuf getting a golden turtle award.

  • hagar

    I dont understand why they would put Talbot in. He is more likely to do crappy than good, and we are playing a team that should be easy to beat.
    This is the exact situation he ruins games for us.. This game is all going to come down to if Talbot causes the team a win or not. That isnt how goaltending should be.
    I would rather play him against a good team we would have a tough chance against anyways, why does it have to be against a poor team? Talbot either completely sucks, or has a decent game. No idea why they would risk what should be an easy two points, hoping we will get the 1/8 games version of Talbot that is solid.

  • hagar

    What a probable waste of two points playing talbot. Play kosk against the team we should beat easily, and play talbot if you have to, against a team that will be tough to beat.
    You will either get a steaming pile or a decent/good game from him, why risk the steaming pile coming against what should be easy points? Especially when the odds heavily favor the pile.

    • Leichs

      I agree as well but I understand both sides. I think that we need to win this game a lot more than the game against the Stars on tuesday. I would have gone Kosk tonight and Cam at home against the Stars. A loss against the worst team in the entire league would take a lot of wind and confidence out of the sails. I hope this isn’t another blunder that costs us more points.. Prove us wrong Cam.

  • OldOilFan

    McHitch:

    if the Oil come home with 5/6 pts, then I don’t think McD will be complaining about his game under Hitch. For the fans, ya, it sucks a little if McD doesn’t freewheel at least a couple of times per game… we’ll see tonight.

  • Serious Gord

    This will be a character game.

    The oil should stomp this team – one of the few that is slower (dramatically so) than they are.

    If they don’t then the jury will remain out as to whether this team’s core has what it takes to eventually get to the cup in the years to come.