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NHL: Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings game day preview

Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers, 7 p.m. at Rogers Place, TV: Sportsnet, radio: 630 CHED

Five keys for the Oilers

Hand-cuff Kopitar

Kings captain Anze Kopitar had a fantastic game on Sunday in Los Angeles with a goal and two helpers, including                                                 the breakaway winner on Oilers goalie Cam Talbot.

He followed that up with two assists in their 2-1 overtime victory over the Canucks in Vancouver on Tuesday, so five points in his last two games after a very slow start.

Kopitar has 15 points in 23 games, still well below the norm for the L.A. captain, but he is showing signs of being the old offensive force.

Who is Cal Petersen?

There’s a possibility Jonathan Quick might start in net because he’s off injured reserve after missing a month with torn meniscus in his knee, but if L.A. waits until Friday in Calgary to get Quick into the lineup, Petersen is more than holding his own after a call-up from the AHL with Kings backup Jack Campbell hurt along with Quick.

Petersen, a Buffalo draft pick in 2013 who attended Notre Dame, has played seven games with a .927 save percentage and 2.49 goal average.

Edmonton Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins during NHL action on Nov. 6, 2018, against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Mike Ehrmann /

Getty Images

Secondary scoring

We’ve been banging this drum most of the year, but if the No. 1 lines (Connor McDavid vs. Kopitar) on both sides negate one another, then it’s up to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to out-play or at least hold his own against Jeff Carter, the Kings’ No. 2 centre.

Going farther down the Oilers lineup, we know Milan Lucic, Kyle Brodziak and Zack Kassian have the identity as a hard-checking group, but a goal would help.

By now, it’s becoming painful to recite Lucic’s struggles to score. He has just two goals in his last 70 games.

Capitalizing on Kings’ special teams

They’re the worst in the league, 29th on the power play and 29th on the penalty-kill.

Five-on-five, they tend to hold their own, but if, say, 15 minutes of the game are special teams, the Oilers should have the advantage.

The Oilers power play is middle-of-the-pack while only Philly and Ottawa are more anemic killing penalties than L.A.

McDavid has six of his 13 goals on the power play and Leon Draisaitl three, so they account for nine of their 16 overall.

Eliminating the big mistake

They’ve done a pretty good job of it in Ken Hitchcock’s four-game tenure except against the host Kings on Sunday, when Dustin Brown beat defenceman Chris Wideman in the latter’s first game with the Oilers, and Kopitar got in behind the normally steady Adam Larsson for the third-period winner.

Against the Stars on Tuesday, the Oilers limited the Stars’ chances, then out of nowhere, they left Jamie Benn all alone with three seconds left in a 0-0 game, so they are still prone to the big ‘where did that come from?’ gaffe.

Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid, left, controls the puck under pressure by Los Angeles Kings centre Anze Kopitar on Nov. 25, 2018, during NHL action in Los Angeles.

Alex Gallardo /


Big match-up

The Oilers’ top defence pair of Oscar Klefbom and Larsson vs. the Kings’ best of Derek Forbort and Drew Doughty.

The Oilers’ top dogs will be against Kopitar’s line with Brown and Alex Iafallo, which has six goals and 11 points in the last two games, while Doughty and Forbort will be out against McDavid and Draisaitl.

Whichever pairing does the best job will probably help their team win this one. Doughty has long relished the McDavid challenge. And the physical, shutdown player Larsson would like to rebound after a spotty game against Kopitar last time out.

Tonight’s projected lineups

Oilers lines


Connor McDavidLeon DraisaitlAlex Chiasson

Drake CaggiulaRyan Nugent-HopkinsJesse Puljujarvi

Milan LucicKyle BrodziakZack Kassian

Patrick Russell • Ryan Spooner • Jujhar Khaira


OscarKlefbom • Adam Larsson

Darnell NurseKris Russell

Kevin GravelMatt Benning


Mikko KoskinenCam Talbot

Kings lines


Alex Iafallo • Anze Kopitar • Dustin Brown

Kyle Clifford • Jeff Carter • Tyler Toffoli

Austin Wagner • Adrian Kempe • Matt Luff

Ilya Kovalchuk • Nate Thompson • Sheldon Rempal


Derek Forbort • Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin • Alec Martinez

Dion Phaneuf • Paul LaDue


Cal Petersen • Jonathan Quick

Injuries — Oilers: Tobias Rieder, Andrej Sekera; Kings: Trevor Lewis, Carl Hagelin, Jack Campbell, Gabe Vilardi

Special teams — Oilers: power play 16-76, 21.1% (12th), penalty-kill 19-78, 75.6% (27th); Kings: power play 11-75, 14.7% (29th), penalty-kill 18-71, 74.6%(29th)


On Twitter: @NHLbyMatty

Latest Oil Spills podcast: Clear view of Oilers challenges for Ken Hitchcock

Ken Hitchcock has had a good glimpse at what ails his new team, what works and what doesn’t early in his tenure behind the Edmonton Oilers bench.

With other teams who had gone through a ‘rebuild’ phase at the same time as these Oilers finally realizing success — like the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres — is there anything Hitchcock, the third-winningest coach in NHL history, can do to jumpstart flailing Edmonton?

Podcast host Craig Ellingson talks to Oilers beat writer Rob Tychkowski about Hitchcock and the work the head coach done over the past week while on a three-game road trip to California.

Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, Google Play or Soundcloud. You can also listen via the widget below.

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