For the first time in nearly two years, the Edmonton Oilers will faceoff against the Los Angeles Kings and this here GDB is all set and ready to help us prepare for what could be another four-point game. There’s nothing better than a little Sunday Funday action between two Pacific Division opponents, amirite?
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As much as last year’s all-Canadian division was fun to a point, I have to admit how much I love that we’ve gotten back to a normal NHL schedule that sees the Oilers playing against every team in the league. Not only is it way more fun to watch but we also get a better idea of how good the Oilers actually are relative to their peers, making tonight’s matchup against the Kings another important hurdle to clear. I know I’ve been saying this a lot this season, but the Kings are another struggling team that the Oilers should beat more often than not and that brings a certain level of expectation even though our boys are still battling some injuries right now. Of course, I said the exact same thing on Friday night before the boys sputtered and lost to the Kraken, so I hope they learned a lesson about what can happen when you play down to your opponent because that can’t happen again. If you don’t play a full 60 minutes, you’re setting the table to get beaten and that simply cannot keep happening, especially against teams that won’t be anywhere close to making the playoffs by the time April rolls around. 
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A far cry from the team that won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, the Los Angeles Kings look like they’re in that in-between stage where they’re still trying to compete but should probably fold the cards on a full-on rebuild, and that presents the Oilers with an opportunity to get back in the win column. That said, this game also presents our boys with another chance to embarrass themselves and piss off the fanbase if they can’t figure out how to get themselves going right from the opening faceoff. Now, if the boys can truly let it sink in that the game starts at 6 PM MT and not in the third period, we should be in line for a good night. Edmonton has more horsepower, better special teams, and a laundry list of ways they can beat LA, but that will only happen if the effort matches the talent. It’s one thing to outscore teams and punish them on the power play, but it’s another story entirely when you get outworked all over the ice. You can have all the talent in the world in your lineup, but when you get outworked then all of a sudden the playing field can look a lot more even.
Let’s see what the numbers say.

THE NUMBERS

OILERS
KINGS
RECORD
16-6-0
9-9-4
WIN/LOSS STREAK
L1
L2
LAST 10 GAMES
6-4-0
3-4-3
GOALS FOR
85
59
GOALS AGAINST
65
62
POWER PLAY%
35.3
17.8
PENALTY KILL%
88.4
74.6
AVG. SHOTS/FOR
32.2
35.2
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST
34.0
30.6
TEAM SAVE%
.911
.929
CORSI FOR%
49.92
51.93
PDO
1.000
0.998
TEAM SHOOTING%
8.91
6.81
EXPECTED GOALS FOR%
49.79
49.25
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Hyman – McDavid – Yamamoto
RNH – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi
Foegele – McLeod – Kassian
Perlini – Ryan – Sceviour
Nurse – Barrie
Russell – Bouchard
Lagesson – Broberg
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Koskinen
After the way things went against Seattle, I was very interested to see what Dave Tippett was going to do with his line combos and defensive pairings. The Oilers got some good this morning, however, when it was announced that Darnell Nurse will be back in the lineup after missing the last few weeks with a broken finger. It goes without saying that the backend looks much different when he’s playing, but I’m hoping that the time off was enough for him to heal up properly because we desperately need him to be at his best.
Note: These line combos aren’t accurate. I copied and pasted over the lineups from Friday and took a swing on what the d-pairings will look like with Nurse back in. I will jump back in and update things as news comes out.
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Kings

Kempe – Kopitar – Brown
Iafallo – Danault – Arvidsson
Andersson – Kupari – Moore
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Kaliyev
Anderson – Doughty
Edler – Roy
Bjornfot – Durzi
Petersen
I know it’s been a minute since the Oilers and Kings have played against each other — the last meeting was a 5-3 loss in LA on February 23rd, 2020 — but I barely recognize any of the names in the lineup above. Some of the staples like Kopitar, Brown, and Doughty are all still there, but they’ve had some major roster turnover over the last few seasons and it will be interesting to see how this group matchups up against ours.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

“It’s a tough time right now, because if you’re bad, you’re really bad, you can go after the group and fix things, but we’re so close,” Todd McLellan said, after yesterday’s game. “As Alex Edler said, I think he probably put it best, it’s just one small mistake that costs you. We’ve got to get on the other side of that small mistake.”
It wasn’t long ago that the Kings were on the right side of that small mistake. When they were on their seven-game winning streak, the puck was hitting the right post, not the wrong post. The right team wasn’t hitting an open net. The timely goal came for one power play and not the other. Seemingly, right now, that’s all going the other direction, and you’re seeing it in the results.
McLellan has said it several times before – The Kings can win games 3-2. It’s a 3-2 league, right? Post your Darryl Sutter memes in the comment section. You can’t win games 3-2 though if you don’t score three goals, and all too often lately, the Kings are that one goal short.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
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Game Day Prediction: The Kings suck and the big boys come to play, powering the Oilers to a huge 4-2 Pacific Division win. 
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each get a point. 
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Philip Broberg gets his first NHL goal. 

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