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GDB 71.0: Oilers get another playoff test in matchup against the Kings (7pm MT, SNW)

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Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
20 days ago
The Edmonton Oilers have 12 games remaining. Six will be against playoff-bound teams. Edmonton won’t play great in each of their remaining 12 games. Games against Arizona (2x), San Jose, Anaheim and Calgary won’t have the same focus as we should see tonight v. LA or in April against Colorado (2x), Dallas and Vancouver.
Tonight presents the Oilers another opportunity to sharpen their playoff readiness.
Be sure to check out the latest NHL playoff odds with online sportsbook Betway.
On Tuesday in Winnipeg the Oilers and Jets played a fast, physical game. It isn’t surprising to me the four games where the Oilers have had the most hits this season came against Florida, Vancouver, Colorado and Winnipeg, and two of those occurred in their past six games. The playoffs are right around the corner, and I expect to see the intensity in some games increase.
The Oilers and Kings both want to send a message tonight. There is a good chance they could meet up in the playoffs for the third consecutive year starting on April 21st or 22nd. Then you toss in the home ice factor, and we should see two hungry teams tonight. These are the games you want to cover as a reporter and watch as a fan. There is a different energy in the building.
My 10-year-old son asked me two weeks ago if he could go to tonight’s game instead of Saturday’s matinee v. the Ducks. “The Oilers always win against Anaheim, and the games aren’t close. The LA game should be more fun,” he said. He’s on spring break, so staying up late for a weeknight game is a treat. But his reasoning illustrates that even young fans want to see the heightened intensity.
And the players love it as well.
“I think with the history, especially against this group, there is always a little more juice against them,” said Leon Draisaitl. “It (intensity) amps up knowing there is a good chance you will be facing a certain team.”
The challenge in facing the Kings is the style they play. Their 1-3-1 defence is boring. I loved Nikita Zadorov’s quote earlier this week about the Kings. “It’s their goal to don’t play hockey and don’t let the other team play hockey.” I completely agree, however, the Kings won’t change their style and the Oilers have figured out how to play a patient game and beat them.
The Oilers are 7-4 v. LA in the regular season the past three years, and they are 8-5 in their two playoff series wins. It isn’t pretty at times, and it tests their patience, but they’ve managed to come out ahead most games
“They are good at it. They are stingy, and that is their DNA right there is the neutral zone and breaking the puck out,” said Draisaitl. “It is more of a mindset for us. We know how this game is going to go, we’ve done it so many times the past three years and we’ll be ready for it.”
He laughed after that a small piece of him dies when he has to dump the puck in. That is not Draisaitl’s style. He loves to carry the puck in the zone and create offence, but to beat the Kings you need to be prepared to chip and chase and retrieve pucks.
Tonight’s game likely won’t be as fast paced or as physical as Tuesday’s game in Winnipeg, but it will be a grind. It is a different type of intensity, and if the Oilers want to go deep in the playoffs, they need to be comfortable playing multiple ways.
Facing LA will be very different than playing Vancouver, which is different than playing Dallas and different than facing Colorado. Playoffs are much more about matchups, and individual battles.
Tonight presents another opportunity for the Oilers to plant some doubt in the mind of the Kings. The Kings will try to do the same, and that’s why tonight’s game, which might be a slog at times, should still be very intense and entertaining.

GAME DAY ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Hyman
Henrique – Draisaitl – Foegele
Kane – McLeod – Perry
Janmark – Ryan – Brown
Ekholm – Bouchard
Nurse – Ceci
Kulak – Desharnais
Skinner
No lineup changes for Kris Knoblauch, which makes sense after the Oilers played a solid game in Winnipeg. I’d expect Sam Carrick to be in the lineup Saturday, when the Oilers host his former team the Anaheim Ducks.

Kings

>Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Fiala – Danault – Moore
Arvidsson – Dubois – Laferriere
Kaliyev –Lizotte – Lewis
Anderson– Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence
Talbot
Quinton Byfield leads the season series with five points in three games. The 21-year-old behemoth is just finding his stride, and he is going to be a force in the future. He’s a load at 6’5″, 225 pounds and as he grows into his massive frame, it will become more difficult to slow him down.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers unofficially wrap up home ice advantage with a 3-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid extends his point streak to six games. He is halfway to having four point streaks of 12+ games in one season. Crazy.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers don’t allow a power play goal. It is only the third time in their last 25 games they’ve had consecutive games without allowing a PP goal.

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