Game Notes Kings @ Oilers: Playoff Preview?

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
2 years ago
It has been 30 years since the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings met in the playoffs, but with 15 games remaining in the season, a first-round matchup between Wayne Gretzky’s first two NHL teams is possible. They’ve only made the playoffs in the same year three times — 1997, 1999, and 2000 — since their Smythe division semi-final matchup in 1992, which explains the 30-year gap.
Both teams are in a good position to make the playoffs entering tonight’s tilt.
— Right now 95 points should be enough to finish third in the Pacific Division. The Kings need to go 7-7 in their final 14 games, and the Oilers only need a record of 8-7. That would force Vegas to go 9-4-1 down the stretch to match. The Oilers and Kings aren’t just looking to make the playoffs, they are focused on second place in the Pacific and earning home ice advantage in the first round.
— Here is a look at the remaining schedule of the Kings, Oilers, and Golden Knights.
Mar 30 @ EDMMar 30 v. LAMar 30 @ SEA
Mar 31 @ CGYApr 1st v. STLApr 01 @ SEA
Apr 2nd @ WPG3rd @ ANA3rd @ VAN
4th v. CGY5th @ SJ6th v. VAN
7th v. EDM7th @ LA9th v. ARI
10th @ MIN9th v. COL12th @ VAN
12th @ CHI12th @ MIN14th @ CGY
13th @ COL14th @ NSH16th @ EDM
16th v. CBJ16th v. VGK18th v. NJ
19th @ ANA20th v. DAL20th v. WSH
21st v. CHI22nd v. COL24th v. SJ
23rd v. ANA24th @ CBJ26th @ DAL
27th @ SEA26th @ PIT28th @ CHI
28th @ VAN28th v. SJ29th @ STL
29th v. VAN
— Edmonton plays 15 more games, while the Kings and Golden Knights play 14. Edmonton has eight at home and seven on the road. Vegas and LA each have nine games on the road and five at home. Edmonton and LA play each other twice, and the Oilers and Golden Knights meet in Edmonton on April 16th. Vegas plays nine non-playoff teams, LA plays eight and Edmonton plays five. By the quality of competition, Edmonton has the more challenging schedule, although the Kings have three sets of back-to-backs and the Oilers and Knights each have one set, and both occur in their final two games of the season.
— Since the Oilers hired Jay Woodcroft they are 14-7-2 and have the seventh best points% at .652. LA is 11th at .619 (12-7-2), while Vegas is tied for 25th at .452 (8-11-1). Vegas has an easier remaining schedule, but they have many key players injured in @Robin Lehner, @Mark Stone, @Max Pacioretty, Reilly Smith and Nicolas Hague, and Brayden McNabb is in COVID protocol.
— The Kings are also getting crushed with injuries. Defencemen @Drew Doughty, @Sean Walker, Matt Roy and Mikey Anderson didn’t play last night and head coach Todd McLellan said none of their injured players will be going on this three-game road trip through Western Canada. Forwards @Dustin Brown, @Andreas Athanasiou, Blake Lizotte and Brendan Lemieux won’t be playing either.
— The Kings have improved all season. They went 9-8-4 in their first 21 games, then 12-8-1 in the next 21, followed by 12-5-3 in their last 20. They started their final 20 games going 3-2-1. They got crushed 6-1 at home to Seattle on Monday night, and come to Edmonton with a depleted defensive group, but looking for a bounce back effort. In their loss to Seattle they had four D-men dressed with limited experience. Tobias Bjornfot played his 99th game, Sean Durzi his 50th, Jacob Moverare his 13th and Jordan Spence his 10th. I’m told Alex Edler could draw in tonight in place of Moverare or Spence (likely Moverare), but that still leaves three rather young D-men in the lineup and the Kings won’t have any proven top-pairing defenders dressed.
— Against Seattle, the Kings rolled their three D pairs equally as there were only two minor penalties in the game. The Kings scored on their lone power play and killed off Seattle’s one man advantage. The TOI among the six D was incredibly balanced:
Durzi (20:24) and Bjornfot (20:16).
Maatta (19:58) and Stetcher (18:59).
Moverare (19:30) and Spence (20:01)
— The Oilers need to take advantage of the inexperienced blue line. Injuries, especially at this time of the season, can be devastating for teams. The Kings have used 14 different D-men this season. Unreal. Edler will give them more experience, but he’s more of a #5 at this stage of his career.
— On Monday, McLellan became the 31st head coach to coach 1,000 NHL games. He is one of eight active coaches in the top-31 and another three, Paul Maurice, Alain Vigneault and Dave Tippett, also coached this season. McLellan and Woodcroft coached together for 13 seasons. McLellan was the assistant coach and Woodcroft the video coach for three years in Detroit. Then for seven years in San Jose and three in Edmonton McLellan was head coach with Woodcroft as his assistant. McLellan was one of the first people Woodcroft called to say thank you when he was hired as the Oilers head coach. Tonight is their first meeting in Edmonton as rival head coaches.
— @Mikko Koskinen will start tonight. That is three consecutive starts, and for now, it looks like he is the #1 goalie for head coach Jay Woodcroft. Koskinen was quite solid against the Coyotes on Monday. He doesn’t need to be outstanding, just solid, and the Oilers should be fine. The Oilers are more committed defensively, and in most games (excluding Calgary) they have reduced the number of quality chances their goalies face.
— Admittedly, I started to chuckle when Evander Kane was whistled for his third consecutive minor penalty early in the third period on Monday. But then he came out of the penalty box and got another tripping call a mere 15 seconds later. It was crazy. I reached out to the NHL to ask if that was an NHL record for the quickest time between four separate minor penalties. Turns out it was.
This is the NHL record since 1967-68 expansion and is from the start of the first penalty to the start of the fourth. A unique mix of physical and non-physical players on the list.
— @Connor McDavid needs two points to reach 100 for the fifth time in his career. He will become only the 19th player in NHL history to register five 100-point seasons.
— @Leon Draisaitl needs two goals to reach 50 for the second time in his career. He’ll become the 47th player to do it twice, and if he does it again in the future he will be only the 21st player to do it three times. When Draisaitl reaches 50 goals it will be the NHL-leading 17th time a member of the Oilers has scored 50 goals. Wayne Gretzky scored 50 eight times, Jari Kurri four, Glenn Anderson twice and Mark Messier and Draisaitl once (so far). The Pittsburgh Penguins had some player score 50+ goals 16 times and LA and Washington are third with 14 occasions.

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