After four games on the road, the Edmonton Oilers are back to Edmonton to face the Los Angeles Kings, a rival on the Pacific division and a well known team, after the 7-game series on the first round of the last playoffs.
The Edmonton Oilers come from a 4-2 victory against the Panthers in Florida, on Saturday and a 2-2-0 record on that four game road trip. It’s way to soon, but so far in the season, Edmonton is in a Wild Card spot, with 18 points on 16 games played (9-7-0).
The Kings were in a streak of four wins in a row until Monday, when they lost to the Flames 6-5. Los Angeles is current second on Pacific Division, with 21 points on 18 games played (10-7-1). Being a divisional rival, any win against them puts more importance to the game.
So what are the main topics the Oilers have to be aware to get a win tonight? Find out below:
The Edmonton Oilers Offence Has to Keep Playing Great
Without Evander Kane, the Oilers lost a lot of power on offence. But Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman are really fulfilling this spot, as well as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl obviously. Nuge and Hyman have each 17 points on 16 games, and their pace of more than one point per game is taking some weight of McDavid and Draisaitl.
And it’s really unfair to expect any other player to play as great as they are. McDavid current leads the league on points by a good margin, with 32. And you have one chance to guess who sits in second. The German comes after with 28. Both of them having played only 16 games. Connor also leads the NHL on goals with 15.
On the bottom 6, Warren Foegele had a great game against the Panthers, and Klim Kostin was a nice surprise. Dylan Holloway should get some more minutes as well, and soon we’ll see his first goal on the big league for sure. So if one of the best offensive sides of the NHL keeps playing great, the way to get a win will become way easier.
Penalty Kill and Defence
Right now the Oilers has a major problem with the Penalty Kill. With only 70,6%, the team is the 3rd worst in the league. After the game against the Capitals on November, 7th, when the Oilers suffered 4 PPG, it started to show some signs of improvement, with a perfect 5/5 on the 3-2 win against Tampa Bay and a 3/3 on the 3-4 loss to the New Jersey Devils. Just on the 2:42 mark of the second period against the Panthers that the Oilers got another PPG.
Without the meltdown of the defence on the third period in New Jersey, it could’ve been three straight wins, showing how important is to play good with only four players on ice.
And the defence is the main issue of the Edmonton Oilers since the beginning. If it wasn’t for the spectacular and unexpected start of Stuart Skinner, things could be really bad. Jack Campbell still needs some time and confidence to find himself on the team, but a good goalie also needs a good defence in front of him.
Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci still have to find their best form on ice together. Brett Kulak also isn’t as good as last season so far, and Evan Bouchard is unfortunately getting less and less minutes. Tyson Barrie is putting some good numbers on the offence, with 12 points on 16 GP. But on defence he still keeps playing as a third line player. Ryan Murray is by a fine margin of being a healthy scratch. And the prospects such as Markus Niemelainen and Philip Broberg might still need some more time to develop.
Don’t Forget How Good the Kings Are
Since the first round of the 2022 Playoffs, the Oilers know the Kings aren’t a bad team. And coming from 4 straight wins until Monday, they almost got their fifth in Calgary, making a 2-5 game become a 5-6 with less than two minutes to the end. It was needed 7 games to the Oilers get through them last time.
Tonight is expected that Cal Petersen starts on goal for LA, and not Jonathan Quick. Petersen so far has worse stats than any of the two Oilers’ goalies, with 4.06 GAA and .867 sv% on six starts.
Kevin Fiala leads all offseason acquisitions in points heading into Tuesday night’s slate of games with 18 (6G, 12A) so far this season… Gabriel Vilardi leads the NHL in net penalties, having drawn 13 while only taking one… The Kings have had the most powerplay opportunities in the NHL with 74, 10 more than the Washington Capitals… Drew Doughty leads the NHL in time-on-ice per game with 26:36 each contest.
If the Edmonton Oilers play what they know when attacking, and don’t leave Stuart Skinner all by himself on defence, the Oilers can get away with a good win tonight against a hard opponent such as the Kings, and would be a great win on the first night of the retro jerseys, with the Edmonton Oilers using the Oil Gear ones for the first time since 2007.