The Los Angeles Kings haven’t played since February 2nd. They haven’t played a home game since January 20th.
Two weeks in the middle of an NHL season without playing a game feels like an eternity for players and the Edmonton Oilers must take advantage of a rusty Kings team.
@Drew Doughty played his 1,000th game on January 27th in New York and he played games 1,001-1,003 in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Detroit before the All-Star break. He will be honoured prior to tonight’s game and presented with a silver stick (all players who play 1,000 games receive one). Doughty is a beloved figure by Kings fans and rightfully so. He was a key ingredient in their two Stanley Cup victories in 2012 and 2014 and the crowd will be amped up to see him honoured.
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The Kings could have a lot of adrenaline early in the game as San Jose had in the first five minutes last night, but the rust from two weeks without games will eventually start to show. Passes will be off just a bit, and the Oilers need to take advantage of it.
Edmonton did a great job of shutting down the Sharks after Stuart Skinner made some key saves early in the game, and then the Oilers took the game over. They dominated territorially, on the shot clock and on the scoresheet. Jay Woodcroft has been steadfast from his opening press conference that nothing is about him, but he’s coaching against Todd McLellan — the man who gave him his first opportunity to be an assistant head coach in the league. Most of us want to beat our brothers, sisters and friends more than anyone else. You love and respect them, but you want bragging rights.
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Woodcroft won’t say it, but the players know, and they could give their head coach his first three-game winning streak and move the Oilers into third place in the Pacific Division with a victory.

LINEUP…

Oilers

Hyman– McDavid – Puljujarvi
Kane – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Foegele – RNH – Ryan
Benson – McLeod
Nurse – Barrie
Lagesson – Ceci
Niemelainen – Bouchard
Broberg
Smith
@Mike Smith will start and he’s looking to build off his solid game against the Islanders. Will Woodcroft stick with the same lineup or insert one of @Devin Shore or @Brendan Perlini? Most coaches don’t like having players sit out too long, if they can avoid it, so we’ll see if one, or both, get a look tonight.
On Friday @Jesse Puljujarvi scored his first goal in 15 games, and last night @Warren Foegele scored his first in 17 games. Suddenly only @Kailer Yamamoto (11 games) and Tyler Benson (looking for first career goal) are the only forwards who haven’t scored in the past eight games. When more individuals have confidence the overall confidence of the team rises.
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Edmonton is 7-2-1 in its last 10 games and 2-0 under Woodcroft. The biggest gain under Woodcroft has been limiting goals against. They’ve had great goaltending in both games, which is a huge help, but outside of the first period against the Islanders Edmonton has done a better job defensively. The Kings won’t scare you offensively, but they defend very well and the Oilers will need to remain patient like they did last night. They didn’t take many unnecessary risks, instead they controlled the puck very well and most importantly checked as a five-man unit.
I outlined here, with some video, how the Oilers’ staunch defensive game last night often started with good decisions in the offensive zone. If they continue that tonight they will have a great chance of pushing their win streak to three.
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Kings

Iafallo – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Arvidsson
Athanasiou – Byfield – Brown
Lemieux – Lizotte – Kaliyev
Anderson – Doughty
Maatta – Roy
Bjornfot – Durzi
Petersen
After a sizzling start Jonathon Quick has slowed down. He started 12 of the Kings’ previous 20 games and went 5-5-2 with a .884Sv% and 3.31 GAA. Cal Petersen is 6-1 in his seven starts in that time with a .914Sv% and 2.01 GAA, and for the second time this season the Oilers will face Petersen.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton takes advantage of a rusty Kings team and wins 4-1.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: LA becomes the seventh team McDavid has scored 10+ goals against. He notches his 10th against them tonight. Adds an assist as well.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Another goal-scoring drought ends. Tyson Barrie scores his first in 24 games.

LISTEN TO THE LATEST EPISODE OF REAL LIFE

On the Monday episode of Real Life, the guys looked at everything from potential trade targets to the all-star game.
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