After losing to the Kraken in Seattle, the Oilers will begin a six-game homestand when they host the Los Angeles Kings in Edmonton.
1. The Oilers have done a very admirable job with almost their entire blueline on the shelf at the same time. Despite not having Darnell Nurse, Duncan Keith, Slater Koekkoek, Edmonton beat the Golden Knights in Vegas, and then, without Cody Ceci, they beat the Penguins in Edmonton. The surprising and impressive three-game winning streak came to an end in Seattle on Friday night when the Oilers lost to the Kraken, an opponent they seemed to take lightly. The Oilers came out slowly in that game and found themselves in a hole early on as Seattle scored in the first minute of play. Let’s hope for a better start at home against the Kings.
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2. The goal is to avoid losing back-to-back games. The Oilers haven’t had any kind of losing streak this season as they’ve followed up each of their losses so far with a win. The team also did a good job of limiting losing skids during the 2021 season. If you take away the four-game losing streak the Oilers had in the playoffs, there were only four instances in which Edmonton dropped consecutive games in 2021. Their biggest losing streak in 2021 was the three-game sweep to the Maple Leafs in March.
3. Edmonton’s defence will get a big boost today as Darnell Nurse returns to the lineup after missing six games due to a broken finger. Having Nurse back means the Oilers can operate with the top pairing of Nurse and Bouchard, which would bump Kris Russell and Tyson Barrie down to the second unit. The Russell and Barrie duo had a rough one on Friday night as they were on the ice for three of Seattle’s four goals.
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4. The one interesting thing with all of the injuries to Edmonton’s blueline is getting a chance to see some young players get a chance to show what they can do at the big-league level. Most notably here is Philip Broberg, the team’s top pick from the 2019 draft. Broberg was thrown into the deep end much sooner than expected (he only had 13 professional games in North America under his belt when he was recalled) but he’s done quite well.
5. Broberg has logged 96:01 at even strength over his six games with the Oilers. He started off playing alongside Ceci but was moved to his off-side to play with fellow rookie Markus Niemelainen when Ceci went into COVID protocol. Though he has a negative on-ice goal differential of 7-to-2, Broberg is in the green in terms of shot attempt and scoring chance differential. When Edmonton is healthy we’ll see him sent back down to play major minutes in the AHL, but this debut stint has been encouraging.
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6. Speaking of defencemen coming back from injuries, the Kings just got Drew Doughty back from a knee injury that he suffered back in late October. Doughty wasn’t at all eased back into action as he played 27:55 in his first game back, an overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks, and 26:45 in another loss to the Calgary Flames.
7. This will be the first time the Oilers have faced the Kings since February 23, 2020, just a couple of weeks before the league was paused due to the pandemic. Edmonton went 3-1-0 against L.A. that season, unsurprising given they finished fourth-last in the league. The main faces from that Kings team are still the same (Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown) but the Kings have added some quality depth in Phillip Danualt, Viktor Arvidsson, and Alex Edler since.
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8. The Kings have spent the past few years picking near the top of the draft and stockpiling young talent. The expectation for the team this year was that they could take a step forward in the standings with their blend of young skill and veteran experience. The Kings are 9-9-4, an improvement on their last few years, but it hasn’t been due to breakout play from young players. The highest-scoring player the team has under the age of 24 is Arthus Kaliyev, who has six points in 21 games. Gabe Vilardi and Alex Turcotte are in the AHL while Quinton Byfield is going to miss multiple months due to an ankle fracture.
9.  We have ourselves a special teams mismatch on Sunday night so the Kings are going to have to stay out of the box if they want to win this game. The Oilers, as we know, have the league’s best power-play. On the other side, the Kings have a 74.5 percent penalty kill which ranks 27th in the league. L.A.’s power-play is also middle-of-the-pack, scoring on 7.81 percent of chances.
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10. It’s great to see the Oilers have an extended homestand. The team has been dominant at Rogers Place in 2021-22, as their only loss at home came in late October to the Philadelphia Flyers. Since then, it’s been six wins in a row at home.