The Oilers have struggled to keep pace atop the Pacific Division standings and they’ve fallen back into second place after going just 5-4-1 over their last 10 games. Edmonton has compiled 37 points in 30 contests, good for fourth place in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Kings are trying to fight their way out of the bottom of the Pacific Division after going 11-16-2 with 24 points in their first 29 games. Can Edmonton get back on the winning track at home against the lowly Kings on Friday?
Quick flashing improvement for KingsThe Kings were unable to right the ship on Wednesday night, losing at home 3-1 to the Washington Capitals. Blake Lizotte scored in the third period to help Los Angeles avoid a shutout and Jonathan Quick allowed two goals on 21 shots to take the loss on the night.
After a strong start to the season on offense, the Kings have fallen back in the league rankings as of late. They come in scoring just 2.52 goals per game, which ranks 29th in the NHL and their 3.31 goals-against average is tied for the fifth-worst work in the league. Special teams have also played a role in the Kings’ tumble down the standings. Los Angeles has converted just 11 of its 98 power-play opportunities this season, good for an 11.2 conversion rate that ranks as the league’s second-worst mark. They have also killed off only 75.3 percent of their penalties, which ranks 27th in the NHL. Anze Kopitar leads the team with 27 points while Nikolai Prokhorkin has scored four goals over the last 10 games for the Kings.
Quick is scheduled to guard the cage for the Kings in Edmonton on Tuesday. Quick is 7-11-1 with a 3.29 GAA and .883 save percentage in 19 games this season. Believe it or not, the veteran goaltender has actually turned things around since his slow start, allowing three goals or fewer in nine of his last 11 starts and he’s been serviceable at home. The 33-year-old owns a 2.46 GAA and .911 save percentage at the Staples Center compared to a 4.46 GAA and .846 save percentage in eight road starts. He’s faced Edmonton twice already this season, going 1-1-0 with a 3.55 GAA and .877 save percentage in those matchups.
Oilers struggling versus mediocre teamsEdmonton lost for the third time in four games on Wednesday night, falling at home 5-2 versus the Ottawa Senators. Jujhar Khaira and Oscar Klefbom scored goals for Edmonton while Mikko Koskinen got the early hook after allowing three goals on 12 shots to open the game. Mike Smith finished with 11 saves in the loss.
The Oilers have been plagued by inconsistency this season, especially against teams below them in the standings. For a team with Stanley Cup aspirations, Edmonton has left points on the table against mediocre teams, suffering losses to the Senators, Kings, Red Wings, and Blackhawks already this season. Figuring out which Edmonton team is going to show up has been a nightly question mark for Oilers’ fans but they should hit their stride once they get back to full health. Zack Kassian is expected to return to the lineup for the Oilers as early as Friday’s contest, meanwhile Ryan Nugent-Hopkins remains day-to-day with a wrist problem.
Koskinen is scheduled to patrol the crease once again for the Oilers as they seek to keep pace in the Pacific Division race. The 31-year-old has seized control of the No. 1 goaltender job by going 10-3-2 with a 2.62 GAA and .917 save percentage in 17 games (15 starts) this season. Koskinen has actually been a tick better on the road (2.50 GAA, .922 save percentage) compared to at home (2.78 GAA, .910 save percentage) this season. He entered the game in relief against the Kings on Nov. 21, allowing two goals in a 5-1 Oilers’ defeat. Koskinen started three times versus Los Angeles last season, finishing 2-1-0 with a 4.03 GAA and .885 save percentage against them in 2018-19.
- Oilers are 0-4 in their last 4 games as a favorite.
- Oilers are 2-5 in their last 7 games as a home favorite.
- Oilers are 2-6 in their last 8 home games.