Welcome, friends, to a Sunday Funday edition of the GDB as we all get ourselves set for tonight’s contest between our beloved Edmonton Oilers and the lowly Los Angeles Kings.
As we inch our way towards the end of the season, games like tonight’s against teams that are way behind you in the standings become that much more important to win. I’m not saying that a date with the Kings is a guaranteed win night by any means, but the best teams in this league find ways to kick others while they’re down and out and that’s exactly what the Oilers need to do in LA. For the past week and change, this club has been playing some very good hockey despite the absence of key players throughout their lineup and I’m expecting that trend to continue against the Kings. At this point, even with all of the missing pieces, the Oilers are setting the standard pretty high for themselves in terms of how they compete and it will be incredibly important to keep that level of effort going.
I don’t know what’s been the Oilers’ deal with playing down to their competition this season, the losses against Detroit, Minnesota (x3), and LA come to mind, but I’m hoping that those days are behind us now that the team has seemingly turned a corner. Since the calendar flipped over to 2020, the Oilers are playing with a sense of resiliency that we haven’t seen in a while, meaning that even when they’re down by a goal or two, I don’t have the same feelings of dread like the game is over even if there are still periods to play. That ‘no quit’ attitude has been a nice change. Now, I recognize how that might seem like a weird thing to say considering the Oilers dropped the ball against the Wild on Friday night, but I’m hoping that it was only a one-off disaster rather than reverting to earlier trends of sadness. And seeing as the Kings played last night, I can’t see any reason why our boys shouldn’t walk away from this thing with two points in tow.
In the three games played against the Kings so far this season, the Oilers are 2-1-0 despite being outscored 11-9 over those three evenings. Back in November, the Kings roasted the Oilers by a 5-1 score which accounts for the difference in goals, and I think we can all agree that this simply cannot happen again.
|LAST 10 GAMES||5-4-1||3-6-1|
|EXPECTED GOALS FOR%||48.75||52.97|
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)
RNH – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Gagner – McDavid – Chiasson
Benson – Sheahan – Archibald
Khaira – Haas – P. Russell
Nurse – Bear
Jones – Larsson
Lagesson – Benning
At the time of posting, the Oilers haven’t released any news on whether or not Connor McDavid is playing tonight but I’m going to assume that he is seeing as they haven’t recalled a forward to replace Colby Cave. Along those same lines, I’m 100% guessing on what the line combinations might look like so I wouldn’t put too much stock into what I have listed above. Are the Oilers going to do that thing where they don’t announce that he’s back in the lineup until right before puck drop? I hope not, but we’ll see. As soon news comes out, I’ll jump back in here to update everything.
***UPDATE*** CONNOR IS IN!
Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown
Kempe – Vilardi – Frk
Moore – Lizotte – Wagner
Prokhorkin – Amadio – Lewis
Forbort – Doughty
Roy – Hutton
Ryan – Walker
Sitting dead last in the Western Conference, the Kings have been selling off assets leading up to the trade deadline which gives the Oilers a huge opportunity to take advantage of a team that is nowhere close to the level it once was. I mean, looking at the lineup, how many names do you actually recognize anymore? Not only that, the Kings played (and lost) last night which means a quick start could do wonders while they try to get their legs back under them.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
Todd McLellan, on the “detail and effort” in the shootout loss:
It was a tough game to play. They really did a good job of checking. They got their sticks in lanes, deflected a lot of our shots, blocked a lot of our shots. It ended up being a bit of a frustrating night for us offensively. Defensively, I thought we were OK. Just not enough offensive chances or time sustained in their end. It wasn’t because we didn’t have the puck, we just didn’t do smart things with it offensively tonight, so we’ll have to improve that tomorrow and go from there.
McLellan, on whether early good looks followed by another stalemate indicated a “bad match-up”:
No, it’s not a bad match-up for us, we’ve got three of four points [versus Colorado]. I think the expectations are just to dominate and run over them. They’re a pretty damn good team. Some are picking them to win it. Of course, they didn’t have players involved, but good teams do that to you, and we have to learn how to play in those games and be effective. They’re a bad match-up for just about every team in the league when they’re motoring. We checked our way to a win in the outdoor game. Tonight, we were checked into a loss, I think – a shootout loss, mind you – but it’s not a bad match-up for us. We just didn’t do really smart things with the puck and I thought we missed the net a ton. I thought we deflected pucks or blocked pucks that never got to the goaltender’s pads. If you want to sustain any type of offensive zone time, you better be playing off the goalie’s pads and recovering loose pucks, and we didn’t do a good job of that.
Game Day Prediction: Sunday Funday win for the boys! Make it a 5-2 finish for the good guys.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Oilers and Kings fans in attendance will bond over their hatred of Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Alright, enough is enough, TONIGHT will be the night that Patrick Russell scores his first NHL goal. Not only will I cheer for him loudly, but I will also text Gregor as soon as it happens to establish my prediction dominance.
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