The Edmonton Oilers are in Los Angeles tonight and based on the previous results (Edmonton is 0-4 against LAK this year, being outscored 15-8 in those four games) OilersNation should not enter the evening confident. One thing we can look for tonight? LAK are probably closer to Peter Chiarelli’s vision of the Oilers than the current Oilers.
The Kings send giants in waves, their forwards are barely contained by boards and glass and opposition defenders are merely shrapnel. Even their skill guys—Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty—are damned difficult to play against. The Oilers, in their current incarnation, also have a difficult time playing against the Kings (record above is proof) because of their lack of experience. Young players, especially defensemen, often make poor decisions with Milan Lucic bearing down on them like a runaway train.

CHIARELLI’S PLAN

Peter Chiarelli’s plan is to make the Oilers more like the Kings, and his old Bruins. Those teams have plenty of skill, but they are also:
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  • Big and aggressive in all areas (forecheck, backcheck, PK, hitting, and they are a little filthy)
  • Agitating
  • Punishing
  • Strong, strong, strong up the middle
We can see it in the additions of Eric Gryba, Zack Kassian and Patrick Maroon—but we have not yet seen it at center, which is about the summer. We can see it in the addition of Griffin Reinhart last summer, the elevation of Darnell Nurse to the NHL and his being kept despite struggles over much of the season.
We can also see it in the new rivalry with the San Jose Sharks. The last time I remember San Jose and Edmonton having bad blood, Raffi Torres was looking innocent and Milan Michalek was not doing well. Before that? Dougie Weight was heading off the ice and Bryan Marchment was swearing—and that folks was around the turn of the century.
What does that mean for this summer? Well, tonight the Kings will ice Milan Lucic, and the former Bruins winger is a free agent this summer. If he comes available, I think it is reasonable to suggest Peter Chiarelli will pursue him with extreme prejudice. In fact, even a player like Kris Versteeg—who has missed the last three games—offers the kind of grit/skill package Chiarelli valued highly in Boston (and is procuring for Edmonton).
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Bottom line: When you are watching the Kings tonight, imagine that style with men like McDavid, Hall, Draisaitl, Klefbom and Sekera driving the offense. That’s the template, I believe.
I am putting this here, so Wanye doesn’t have to.
Along with all of the other terrific things about this young man, he is a hockey fan and hung around on day two of the draft to see where his friends went in the selection. I wonder if Dylan Strome, Nick Betz and Alex Debrincat end up as Oilers down the line.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

QUICK HITS

  • How on earth are the Oilers going to employ all of these left-handed defensemen next season? We assume that Oscar Klefbom, Brandon Davidson, Darnell Nurse and Griffin Reinhart will play next year, and with Andrej Sekera, that’s a lot of lefties! Suspect we will see some trade movement among these names.
  • How much of this summer will be spent addressing defense? Well, I think the Oilers could go into next season with this forward group, Talbot and a substantial backup, and be considered a strong playoff contender IF the defense is sound. Big if, but that will be the summer—along with that big center I suspect Peter Chiarelli has in mind to replace the Nuge.
  • I will be doing some draft work in April for ON, interested to know if you prefer spotlights (entire article on one player) or overviews? Let me know.
  • If the Oilers can win tonight or on Monday, they will have their second .500 month of the year.
  • Edmonton’s goal differential (-37) is no longer league worst. The Vancouver Canucks have passed them with a steaming pile of bad in recent games.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

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  • Jewels From the Crown: The Kings’ coaching and dedication to system has certainly yielded
    results. They’ve been the top Corsi For percentage team in the NHL four
    years running. In the 2011-2012 season, they were second only to
    Detroit, and only by a tenth of a percent. Source

GAME DAY PREDICTION

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Kings—who have lost three in a row—come out firing in the first period and take a 1-0 lead. A chippy game turns ugly with some vicious hits and stick retaliations.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Kings pop two more early in the second period and the game settles in to a typical NHL ‘running out the clock’ game by midway through the second. A late goal by Nail Yakupov on the power play gives the visitors some hope.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:
The Oilers shock the Kings (and the world) by scoring twice in a very physical third period, with Taylor Hall scoring the tying goal just before getting leveled by Drew Doughty. The Kings win it in overtime on a Tyler Toffoli snipe. It is a helluva game, and postgame comments are somewhat similar to recent San Jose Sharks’ players comments—indicating the battle has been joined, if not in the standings, then in the games at least.