Edmonton Oilers Potential Playoff Opponents: LA Kings

Apr 10, 2022; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McLellan looks on during the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2022; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McLellan looks on during the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports /
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Los Angeles Kings Drew Doughty #8
Los Angeles Kings Drew Doughty #8 Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /


On D, I’d say the Oilers have better depth there too.

Drew Doughty is having a career renaissance this season, putting up 31 points in 39 games, but unfortunately for the Kings he’s out for the remainder of the season.

In his place is Troy Stecher, acquired from Detroit at the deadline, a generic vanilla player who’s put up goose eggs for points so far in 10 games. He lefty partner is Matt Roy, who has 17 points on the season. OK, but nothing to write home about.

LA’s second pairing is youngster Tobias Bjornfot and rookie phenom Sean Durzi. Durzi is having a phenomenal rookie season with 26 points, while Bjornfot has a mere 8 with a total of 105 NHL games so far in his career. I don’t expect this pairing to have much of an impact in the playoffs due to a lack of experience. The bottom pairing is occupied by veteran Olli Maata, who’s won two Cups with Pittsburgh in his career. He’s not the same player he once and has turned fairly vanilla, with seven points on the year. Ditto for his partner Jordan Spence, who has five points on the year.

The Edmonton Oilers counter with Darnell Nurse on the top pairing, who has 33 points, more than any other Kings D right now. His partner is Cody Ceci, who was nicknamed a pylon in past seasons but is now a defensive phenom, with a +12 and 25 points this season (fun fact – Ceci is only two points away from a new career high). I guarantee you this pairing will get major minutes in the playoffs and if they do officially end up drawing LA they should do very well against them.

The second pairing is just as impressive. It’s only been put together in the last couple of weeks, but whatever voodoo Jay Woodcroft has done with them he should continue. Bouchard only has 93 NHL games to his name, but he’s broken through in a big way this year, putting up 38 points with time to spare in the season.

That’s 28th in the league right now, a fantastic achievement for a 22 year old playing the hardest position in the NHL. His partner is veteran Duncan Keith, who can no longer play regularly on the top pairing but is nonetheless putting up a solid season, +8 on the year and 19 points already. One more and he’ll have met my expectations for offence this year. He’s been playing his best hockey of the season as of late – and there’s a good chance he’ll play a bigger role in the playoffs then we anticipated. He may be 38 but he’s playing like a guy who’s six years younger.

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The third pairing is anchored by Tyson Barrie, who has moved back and forth between the second and third pairings for most of the season, but has been stationed on the third as of late. He’s got 35 points this year, which while down from the 48 points he put up last year to lead the league is still an impressive total, especially for a guy who has spent so much time on the third pairing this year. He’s known as a PP quarterback, and he plays that role on the first unit PP here. I guess that explains why half his goals and just over half of his points have come on the PP.

One other noteworthy stat about Barrie – ever since Dave Manson joined the coaching staff from Bakersfield Barrie’s defensive stats have improved immensely – to the point where he’s +2 on the season, the third best mark of his career. Barrie was largely known as a guy who contributed enough offence that you could overlook his defensive shortcomings, but those shortcomings have disappeared as of late.

His partner is trade deadline pickup Brett Kulak, who has fit on the third pairing like a glove after we rescued him from Montreal. Even in just nine games with the team he already has 1-3-4 in those nine games.

That gives the Edmonton Oilers three puck movers and three stay at home guys, one on each pairing. Even if somebody gets injured, the Oilers have third pairing guy Kris Russell waiting in the wings, as well as prospects Philip Broberg and Markus Niemelainen, both of whom didn’t look out of place on the roster when called up to sub in for injuries or COVID protocols.

Even when healthy, the Kings just can’t compete with that – and having Drew Doughty out with injury only makes it that much worse.

The Kings also have four other players out injured right now – Sean Walker, Andreas Athanasiou, Mikey Anderson, and Blake Lizotte besides Doughty and Brown.