The Oilers started 2019 with a big win in Arizona on Wednesday, and they’ll be looking repeat the result tonight at 8pm MST in a Hockey Night in Canada matchup with the Los Angeles Kings.
Like the Oilers, the Kings are far too reliant on a few of their players to produce most of the offence, though, the difference is that LA has some proven scorers that are having terrible years. Players like Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Ilya Kovalchuk and Tyler Toffoli are all having horrible seasons, which has certainly contributed to where the Kings are in the standing, but in terms of today’s game, those guys are still offensive weapons that can burn you if given the chance. Considering the Oilers have struggled to keep the puck out of their own net over the past few weeks or so, the concern is that the Kings have some high skill players that are gagging for goals and our boys are known for being generous in the slump busting department. The pessimist in me is worried that we could be walking into a perfect storm where Edmonton brings with them the rain that washes away all of the Kings’ scoring droughts, but I’m choosing to ignore those dark feelings.. for now. Besides, after finally snapping their six-game losing streak against the Coyotes on Wednesday night, the Oilers have a mighty fine opportunity to turn that win into another against an LA Kings team that’s ranked dead last in the NHL.
Needless to say, the Kings have been absolutely terrible in 2017-18 and I’m hoping that we’re in line to watch the boys take advantage of those struggles in front of a Hockey Night in Canada audience. Yeah, I know that the Oilers got pumped by LA for five goals in their first meeting of the season, but they won the rematch and there’s no reason that shouldn’t happen again. In that second game, the Oilers got timely goal scoring, excellent goaltending, and looked more like a team that should be beating basement dwellers like the Kings. Can that happen again tonight? Maybe all the Oilers needed was a win to gain some confidence and get themselves back on track? Sure, Mikko Koskinen had to stand on his head more than you’d like and Connor and Leon had to score all of the goals again, but outside of that, everything was fine and we got the result we wanted. That’s cool, right? Anyone? Don’t leave me hanging here. Alright, if I’m being honest, I really have no idea what to expect from this hockey game given how inconsistent both teams have been and how they’ve both spent the first three months of the season finding new and interesting ways to lose.
If the Oilers get the goaltending they need and their stars are up for the challenge then we should see two more points coming our way, but if not then all bets are off. Then again, maybe today is the day that the secondary scoring takes over and helps alleviate some of the pressure on Koski McDraiNuge? It could happen. So far, the Oilers and Kings have split the first two games of the season series with the home side winning both games. Will the Oilers be able to buck the trend and pull out a win on the road? We shall see.
Numbers courtesy of Corsica (fancies at 5×5)
Draisaitl – McDavid – Kassian
Rieder – Nuge – Chiasson
Lucic – Khaira – Puljujarvi
Spooner – Brodziak – Rattie
Nurse – Larsson
Jones – Petrovic
Manning – Gravel
Never would I have expected to be as pumped to get Alex Chiasson back in the lineup as I am right now. The guy, arguably one of the greatest PTOs of all time, is one of the few players on this roster that has been able to consistently produce and losing him in addition to the guys on the back end was a swift kick to the pills that the Oilers just didn’t need. According to Jason Gregor from yesterday’s practice, Chiasson will be slotting in alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and it will be Ryan Spooner that gets the short straw in favour of Bakersfield call-up Joseph Gambardella. Unless Spooner was sick or injured and missed practice, having Gambardella play in his spot would not exactly be a glowing review of Chiarelli’s latest forward pickup so I’ll be interested to see what happens when the line combos come out.
***UPDATE**** Stauffer just tweeted out that Spooner will be in on the fourth line rather than Gambardella. Not sure that he was intended to be a fourth liner when acquired in exchange for Ryan Strome, but that’s where we’re at right now.
Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown
Kovalchuk – Carter – Toffoli
Leipsic – Kempe – Luff
Clifford – Amadio – Wagner
Forbort – Doughty
Muzzin – Walker
Phaneuf – Fantenberg
Isn’t it wild that the Kings have only one player (Dustin Brown) on their roster with more than 10 goals on the season? Anze Kopitar (9), Jeff Carter (7), Ilya Kovalchuk (7) and Tyler Toffoli (6) are all players that you would expect to score, but not one of them is on pace to even hit 20 goals this season and that blows my mind. Is age finally catching up (outside of Toffoli)? Is something else going on? For as much as the Oilers are looking for secondary scoring, the Kings are just looking for anyone to step up and get the job done.
Willie Desjardins, on whether there was “something to be learned” from Thursday’s loss:
I think there are lots whenever you play good teams. You always should be learning every night, anyways when you watch teams. But they certainly had a certain style. Right now, they’re on a roll, too. We caught a team when they’re on a roll. Yeah, so we went through films, and we did talk about them and things we can get out of it.
Desjardins, on trying to contain Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and the efforts to “make someone else beat you” when facing Edmonton:
They’re such good players. … They’re just such high-end guys that you can cover them well all the time, and then one shift they get away on you, and they’re gone. Draisaitl’s a bigger, powerful guy, McDavid has such unbelievable speed. Like, you think you have McDavid, and you don’t. He’s just that quick. They’re that good that they just create with their [inaudible].
Game Day Prediction: Thanks to the efforts of the Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers grab a second straight road win with a 3-1 score.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: One of Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will score tonight.
Not So Obvious Game Day Prediction: Intrigued by the way the Kings have plummeted to the bottom of the Western Conference standings, Peter Chiarelli sends a wonderful trade proposal over to Rob Blake for one of their third pairing defencemen.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 1/05/2019 – 9:00 am MST