After a disappointing 6-5 loss in Calgary, the Los Angeles Kings (10-7-1) head to Edmonton. Facing off against the Edmonton Oilers (9-7-0) for the first time since being eliminated in seven games by the Oilers last May.
The LA Kings have to tighten up their defensive game. In their last two games, they've returned to the run n gun style of hockey that marked their inconsistency to start this season. While 6-5 games are fun for fans to watch, they don't indicate a playoff team.
The Kings must be especially cautious tonight, coming up against Connor McDavid. McDavid torched the Kings in the postseason, scoring 14 points in seven games, and has continued that torrid pace this season. With 32 points (15-17-32) in 16 games, it will be about containing McDavid, not shutting him down. You can't forget about Leon Draisaitl either, who's second in the league in scoring with 28 points.
A major key to this game will be penalties. The Kings have to stay out of the box, something they've failed to do all season. Second in the league for penalties taken, behind only Edmonton, the Kings cannot give Edmonton multiple power play opportunities. McDavid with 15 power-play points and Draisaitl with 14 will make you pay. These two lead an Oilers powerplay that's ticking at 32.20%, third best in the league. Combine that with the King's lackluster penalty kill and you have a recipe for disaster if the Kings get into penalty trouble.
The Kings can take advantage of the Oiler's own penalty, and penalty kill, troubles. The King's power play, particularly the second unit, has looked much better in the last few games and can do damage. Still, relying on winning the special team's battle against Edmonton isn't a safe bet.
If the Kings can keep this game at even strength, they should have the edge. Their 50.65% goals percentage and 54.92% expected goals percentage are noticeably better than Edmonton's 45.31% and 48.44%. They also post far better possession metrics at even strength. It won't be easy, but the Kings have a recipe for victory, stay out of the box.
Cal Petersen is expected to start for the LA Kings. Petersen's -5.5 goals saved above expected and .867 save percentage doesn't instill much faith against this Oilers offense. However, Petersen is currently 4-2-0 on the season. Stuart Skinner (3-3-0) is expected in net for Edmonton. Skinner's 4.9 goals saved above expected and .932 save percentage points to Edmonton having the edge in net.
Expected LA Kings Lines:
Adrian Kempe-Anze Kopitar-Gabe Vilardi
Trevor Moore-Phil Danault-Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin Fiala-Rasmus Kupari-Carl Grundstrom
Jaret Anderson-Dolan-Blake Lizotte-Arthur Kaliyev
Mikey Anderson-Drew Doughty
Sean Durzi-Matt Roy
Alex Edler-Sean Walker
Expected Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-Connor McDavid-Jesse Puljujarvi
Warren Foegele-Leon Draisaitl-Zach Hyman
Mattias Janmark-Ryan Mcleod-Klim Kostin
Dylan Holloway-Devin Shore-Derek Ryan
Darnell Nurse-Cody Ceci
Brett Kulak-Evan Bouchard
Markus Niemelainen-Tyson Barrie
Los Angeles Kings Power Play: 15-74,20.27%, 18th in NHL
Los Angeles Kings Penalty Kill: 17-67, 74.63%, 26th in NHL
Edmonton Oilers Power Play: 19-59, 32.20%, 3rd in NHL
Edmonton Oilers Penalty Kill: 20-68, 70.59%, 30th in NHL
Los Angeles Kings Pre-Game Notes
- The Mikey Anderson-Drew Doughty defensive pair’s 293 shot attempts rank second in the league among any offensive or defensive lines.
- Kevin Fiala’s nine even-strength road points are second in the league, trailing only Boston’s David Pastrnak (10).
- Fiala, who enters tonight riding a three-game point and goal streak (3-1=4), has tallied a team-leading 18 points (6-12=18) through 18 games this season with 13 coming at even-strength, tied for the most on the team with Gabriel Vilardi.
- Defenseman Drew Doughty currently sits atop the league in highest time on-ice average per game with 26:36 minutes.
How to Watch:
TV: TNT // Radio: iHeartRadio