The Oilers play host to the LA Kings tonight in their final meeting of the year with the 2012 Stanley Cup Champions. The Kings have won all the previous meetings between the teams in convincing fashion, including one at Rexall back in March. The Oilers conclude their season on Saturday night against Vancouver.
Oilers forward Boyd Gordon injured his shoulder on Tuesday night, and was shut-down for the rest of the season. Gordon has had a tremendous year for the Oilers in the third line center’s spot. Forward Nail Yakupov is also expected to miss the game tonight for Edmonton. The Oilers are coming off of a rather uninspiring 4-1 loss to Colorado on Tuesday.
The Kings enter tonight’s match-up with nothing really at stake. With Anaheim clinching the Pacific division last night, the Kings are basically locked into a match-up with San Jose, who they knocked off in a thrilling series one year ago. The Kings bring in a healthy line-up to Edmonton tonight, and bring an offense that has woken up following the trade-deadline deal to bring in sniper Marian Gaborik.
Viktor Fasth will make his final start of the season for Edmonton tonight, while the Kings, on the second half of back-to-back games, will turn to Martin Jones.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: The Oilers are undermanned tonight and out-matched by a superior Kings team. They won’t win this game, or even have a prayer, without a full sixty minute effort. Edmonton’s key tonight is to compete from the opening puck drop to the final horn. We can’t expect anything else at this point.
Los Angeles: The Kings key to the game is to play their physical brand of hockey. The Oilers struggle against any team that plays this way, but especially the Kings, whom Edmonton seemingly can’t create any offense against. If LA plays their physical, defensive game tonight, they’ll complete the season sweep over Edmonton.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Oilers forward Philip Larsen, who made the transition from defense to forward in this final stretch, has had a positive impact on the Oilers fourth line. With Larsen on the ice, the Oilers fourth line has out-chanced the opponents and he’s helped create some offense. I’m not sure if this will be permanent, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on him again tonight.
Los Angeles: Dustin Brown is one of the premier power-forwards in the NHL. He can score, he plays physical, brings it every night, and can play both PP and PK. He’s also had a lot of success against the Oilers in recent memory. Brown is the kind of player Edmonton struggles to contain, and I believe he’ll have an impact on the result tonight.
The Kings, like Edmonton, don’t exactly have anything big on the line here tonight. That being said, LA is preparing for what they hope will be a third straight deep playoff run, and will be looking to gain a little momentum tonight. Edmonton has a lot of injuries, and are out-matched to begin with. The Oilers will keep it close, but LA will come out with a 4-2 win here.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Ryan Smyth – Sam Gagner – David Perron
Matt Hendricks – Will Acton – Steve Pinizzotto
Philip Larsen – Anton Lander – Tyler Pitlick
Martin Marincin – Jeff Petry
Oscar Klefbom – Justin Schultz
Mark Fraser – Anton Belov
Los Angeles Kings Lines:
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Dwight King – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Tanner Pearson – Jarret Stoll – Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford – Mike Richards – Trevor Lewis
Robyn Regehr – Drew Doughty
Alec Martinez – Willie Mitchell
Jake Muzzin – Slava Voynov