Game Notes Edmonton Oilers @ LA Kings: Home Ice On The Line

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
The Edmonton Oilers and LA Kings meet for the second time in six days and the stakes are even higher tonight. If the Oilers want home ice advantage in the first round, they need to win tonight. There is a slim chance they could lose and still earn home ice, but it would require the Kings tanking. It is highly unlikely, so a win tonight is crucial if they want to open the 2023 playoffs on home ice.
— The Oilers and Kings each have five games remaining. LA has 100 points while the Oilers have 99. Edmonton owns the tiebreaker as they have six more regulation wins. An Oilers regulation loss would put them three back with four games to go. Edmonton would need to go 4-0 down the stretch while LA would have to go 2-1-1 or worse. If Edmonton managed to go 3-1 then the Kings would need to be 1-2-1 or worse. If Edmonton wants a realistic shot at home ice in the first round they must win tonight.
— And they have a very good chance, because they are the hottest team in the NHL. They are 13-2-1 since March 1st. They have the most points in the NHL (27) and the best points% at .844. The challenge is that LA has the second-best P% at .800 (11-2-2). They’ve gained three points on LA in the standings since the beginning of March.
— Both teams are playing very well. The Oilers are ranked #1 in goals scored since March 1st at 4.63/game (also best offence all season) and they are 14th in GA/game, while LA is seventh in GF/game and 1st in GA/game at 1.93. The Kings have the best GF-GA differential at +1.74. Edmonton is second at +1.50. The Rangers are third at +1.18.
— LA has allowed more than two goals in a game only once (93.3% of their games) since March 1st. The Oilers beat LA last Thursday, but it was only 2-0. It was the only game Edmonton didn’t score at least three goals. Edmonton has scored 4+ goals in 75% of its games (12 of 16).
— It was only 2-0 on the scoreboard, but both Stuart Skinner and Joonas Korpisalo made some key stops. Skinner stopped all 43 shots he faced, while Korpisalo stopped 35 of 37. Korpisalo has started eight of the Kings last 15 games, while Pheonix Copley started seven. They had rotated evenly, until Korpisalo went back to back for Calgary and Edmonton. Copley defeated Seattle on Saturday and Korpisalo won in Vancouver on Sunday. Will he go back to back and get a chance to defeat the Oilers, or will Todd McLellan go with Copley tonight? The numbers tell you it should be Korpisalo. He’s been better.
— Vegas was 35 seconds away from losing last night, but then they tied it late and defeated Minnesota in a shootout. Vegas has 103 points and are three up on LA and four ahead of Edmonton. LA plays Vegas on Thursday and if they win tonight and defeat Vegas in regulation, they’d be in first place. The Kings have just as much to play for tonight as the Oilers. It should be an equally intense, and well-played game as last Thursday.
— Currently 119 players in NHL history have scored 100 points in a season. Jason Robertson became the 199th last night for Dallas. Nathan MacKinnon and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have 97 points. Elias Pettersson has 96 and Mitch Marner and Erik Karlsson have 95. All are on pace to reach the 100-point plateau. If they achieve it, they’ll join this list of active players with 100 points.
If all five reach 100 points they will be among the 25 active players to have done it, but only nine have done it multiple times.
— The Oilers’ league-leading power play gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so, but the Oilers’ 5×5 play has been quite good in 2023. They have averaged the most goals 5×5 (2.72 G.GP) since January 1st, and they have the third best GF-GA differential at +22. Only Colorado (+26) and Boston (+47) are better.
Overall the Oilers are +46 GF-GA in that time, and only Boston (+60) is better. Edmonton is good. Very good.
— Last Thursday the Kings relied heavily on Anze Kopitar (32 faceoffs) and Phillip Danault (21). Blake Lizotte was third with seven. Leon Draisaitl took 30 draws, while Nick Bjugstad and McDavid each took 13. Bjugstad struggled (3-10), while McDavid won seven of 13 and Draisailt went 14-16. He was 50% v. Danault on 10 draws and was 8-9 v. Kopitar. If it is another tight game, I expect similar face off numbers, however, the Oilers will want fewer D-zone draws. They had 30 defensive zone faceoffs, while the Kings had 21.
— Some believe if you have more hits, it meant you didn’t have the puck. I don’t buy that. In some games, yes, but the Oilers out hit the Kings 34-18. LA only had one more minute of O-zone time the entire game. They had 19 minutes to the Oilers’ 18. Edmonton made a focus of being physical and I expect that will be the game plan again tonight. Edmonton is bigger, faster and more physical. The Kings forwards combined for 11 hits last Thursday. Evander Kane had eight himself. Early in the game the Oilers went with a dump and chase strategy. They usually don’t, but they did to counter the Kings 1-3-1 defensive posture through the neutral zone, and they were very physical on the Kings defenders.
— Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner posted back-to-back shutouts in the Oilers’ last two starts. The last time two different goalies posted BTB shutouts was Jussi Markanen (December 7th, 2002) in Florida and Tommy Salo (December 8th, 2002) in Atlanta. It has only happened twice in Oilers history, and this was the first time both games were on home ice. The Oilers have had consecutive shutouts with the same goalie five times.
2022:  Mike Smith on April 14th in Nashville and April 16th v. Vegas.
2017: Cam Talbot on March 18th and 20th in 2017.
2001: Tommy Salo on March 7th v. Toronto and March 9th in Buffalo.
1998: Curtis Joseph on March 11th and 13th in Tampa and Florida.
1997: Joseph again on November 20th and 22nd in St. Louis and Ottawa.
— The Oilers’ longest consecutive shutout streak is 192:53 owned by Tommy Salo from March 2nd to March 11th, 2001. He shutout Minnesota for the last 29:58 on March 2nd, then blanked Toronto and Buffalo and shutout Carolina for the first 42:55 of their game. That was during the Oilers’ franchise-best nine-game winning streak. Edmonton’s current streak is 121:32.
— Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will play his 797th career game as an Oiler tonight. That moves him into sole possession of fifth place, one ahead of Shawn Horcoff. He should pass Glenn Anderson (845) and Mark Messier (851) next season for third place. Then he will only trail Ryan Smyth (971) and Kevin Lowe (1,037).

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