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GDB 48.0: Oilers look to turn one win into two against struggling LA Kings (8pm MT, HNIC)

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Photo credit:Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
baggedmilk
4 months ago
A lot has changed since the Edmonton Oilers last faced the Los Angeles Kings, as both clubs have literally moved in opposite directions. That change of fortunes makes this second meeting in the season series all the more interesting, and I cannot wait to see how the evening plays out in the late slot on Hockey Night in Canada.
Be sure to check out the latest NHL odds with online sportsbook Betway.
If we rewind to December 30th, when the Oilers defeated LA 3-2 in the shootout, Edmonton was just starting to gain traction in the Pacific Division, while the Kings were firmly rooted in 3rd place. In the six weeks that followed, however, our team embarked on a 16-game winning streak, while the Kings went 3-7-2 and fired Todd McLellan as a result.
It was almost as if the Hockey Gods decided that the Kings needed to face the same kind of adversity the Oilers experienced early in the season, but not until they felt they were on top of the world. Frankly, if it were up to me, I’d much rather endure a tough start and relish the journey upward rather than experience it the other way around.
However, what transpired over the last month has no bearing on tonight’s game at Crypto.com Arena. If the Oilers intend to turn last night’s victory into another, they must be prepared to perform from the opening faceoff. Despite the Kings’ recent struggles — they enter this game with a 3-5-2 record in their last 10 games — the reality is that they could easily win this matchup if our attention to detail isn’t dialled in.
The good news is that Kris Knoblauch has instilled a much tighter style of play, reducing the number of glaring Grade-A scoring chances against. However, it only takes a few mistakes to find ourselves trailing. Playing a disciplined game will be crucial for the Oilers to secure a second consecutive victory, and accomplishing that becomes more challenging in the second half of back-to-back matchups.
It’s also noteworthy that this will be LA’s first game back after their bye week, which could mean they may not be operating at full speed. While preparing for this article, I noticed that the Kings utilized an emergency backup goalie during practice yesterday while Talbot was still away, suggesting an opportunity to capitalize on a team potentially not yet in game shape.
Nevertheless, the Oilers must perform better than they did yesterday if they wish to exploit any potential rust on LA’s part. Regardless of the length of time since the Kings last played or the difficulties they’ve encountered, that team is simply too good to allow for a period or more for our side to get their legs going.
Let’s see what the numbers say…

THE NUMBERS

OILERSKINGS
RECORD30-16-123-15-10
WIN/LOSS STREAKW1W1
LAST 10 GAMES9-1-03-5-2
GOALS FOR166152
GOALS AGAINST130132
POWER PLAY%27.121.2
PENALTY KILL%82.287.3
AVG. SHOTS/FOR33.733.7
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST28.028.3
TEAM SAVE%.913.908
CORSI FOR%55.5455.57
PDO0.9960.984
TEAM SHOOTING%8.317.63
EXPECTED GOALS FOR%55.5757.57
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)
  • Tonight’s game marks the second meeting between the Oilers and Kings this season. The Oilers took a 3-2 win via the shootout in Los Angeles back on December 30th, and these clubs will face off two more times this season with both games coming at Rogers Place on February 26th and March 28th respectively.
  • With last night’s win, the Oilers reached the 30-win plateau in 47 games or fewer for the 5th time in franchise history: 1983-84 (41 GP), 1985-86 (43 GP), 1984-85 (43 GP) and 1986-87 (45 GP).
  • Kris Knoblauch has compiled a 27-7 record since being named head coach on November 12th, including a remarkable 25-4 run since November 24. In January, Knoblauch became the 1st head coach in NHL history to record two winning streaks of at least eight games before the 25-game mark of his coaching career. Since Knobby took over, Edmonton’s 27 wins ranks 1st in the NHL despite playing the fewest number of games (34 – TOR & LA) in that span. Additionally, the Oilers rank 2nd in penalty killing (87.9%), 2nd in GA per-game (2.32), 3rd in power play (28.6%) and 3rd in GF per-game (3.79).
  • Leon Draisaitl has amassed 10 points (2G, 8A) during his five-game point streak after scoring the game-winning goal (PP) and picking up an assist on Friday in Anaheim. His power play goal added to his already franchise record for career power play goals which now sits at 136. The goal also stood as his 59th career game-winning goal which puts him just one back of Jari Kurri for the fourth most in franchise history.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Hyman
Kane – Draisaitl – Perry
Holloway – McLeod – Foegele
Janmark – Ryan – Brown
Nurse – Desharnais
Ekholm – Ceci
Kulak – Bouchard
Skinner
The Oilers test drove some new line combos last night in Anaheim, and while I wouldn’t say everything went smoothly, what I can say for sure is that the second line of Draisaitl, Kane, and Perry certainly made an impact. Those three were giving the Ducks fits all night, and the result was some timely goals that helped the Oilers complete the comeback victory.

Kings

Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Fiala
Laferriere – Dubois – Anderson-Dolan
Grundstrom – Turcotte – Lewis
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence
Rittich
Tonight’s matchup marks the first game the Kings will play under interim head coach Jim Hiller after Todd McLellan got gassed during the all-star break, and I’m expecting the usual dead cat bounce that normally accompanies a move like this. Our boys should expect that the Kings will come out flying, and it will be interesting to watch how they weather any early storm that comes their way as LA tries to impress the new boss.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From LA Kings Insider:
Day 2 under Jim Hiller’s direction had the Kings on the ice for nearly an hour.
That’s been a theme over the last two days, coming out of the NHL All-Star break. The Kings skated for close to an hour yesterday and went perhaps a few minutes longer today. Part of that is getting the group back in shape coming off the break, which saw the team off for seven days. Part of that is learning new drills and new concepts, with Hiller running a new practice approach than Todd McLellan did, or any other coach for that matter. Don’t expect to see the longer practices continue as the Kings get back into the grind of the season, but on the first two days, the Kings had a pair of really strong practices to get back into it.
“Normally we’re going to be short, we’ll be intense,” Hiller said today. “I think why some of these are taking longer is we’re going to the board every time, we’re spending time on the board, we’re explaining the drills, the concepts within the drills. Once they understand the drills, we’ll know we’re doing this and that’ll shave off I don’t know how many minutes just in and of itself, but these are longer by design. We had the time off and I wanted to re-emphasize and get some intensity down low. Today you saw some battling and stuff like that and that’s the reasoning for the length.”
Energy has been a constant word that’s come up amongst the players, both when describing practices over the lasts two days, as well as Hiller as a coach and as a person within the locker room. Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty both spoke yesterday, unprompted, about the energy they felt during practice. Mikey Anderson echoed similar thoughts, feeling some “really good energy” during practices yesterday and today. He’s hopeful that carries over into tomorrow’s game, which seemed to be another consistent theme.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Kings will look more like Court Jesters, and the Edmonton Oilers will win 4-2 as a result.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Mikey Anderson will pull off some kind of dirty maneuver during a post-whistle scrum, reaffirming his status on Tyler Yaremchuk’s rat list.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: I have called this for a good long while, but tonight is the night when Connor Brown finally gets his goal. I really mean it this time. Gord speed, sir.

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