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Game Day #17 Preview: Edmonton Oilers @ Los Angeles Kings

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Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton Oilers @ Los Angeles Kings

Time: 7:00 PT

TV: FSW, CBC, SN

Enemy Reading: Copper and Blue

Los Angeles Kings

Pearson - Kopitar - Gaborik

Lucic - Carter - Toffoli

Brown - Shore - Lewis

Clifford - Andreoff - Nolan

McNabb - Doughty

Muzzin - Martinez

Ehrhoff - McBain

Quick

(Enroth)

Injured: Greene, King. Scratched: Forbort, Weal

Edmonton Oilers

Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Hendricks

Purcell - Draisaitl - Eberle

Pouliot - Letestu - Yakupov

Gazdic - Lander - Pakarinen

Nurse - Sekera

Davidson - Klefbom

Reinhart - Gryba

Talbot

(Nilsson)

Injured: McDavid, Klinkhammer, Schultz, Korpikoski, Ference. Scratched: Fayne, Miller.

Game Notes

  • The Oilers do not appear to be out of the wilderness yet. Not only are they 29th in the NHL standings, but it's hard to find any evidence of substantial progress in their underlying numbers. They posted a 47.3% score-adjusted Corsi last year, and are at 47.5% so far this year.
  • It might take a miracle worker to resuscitate the Oilers; fortunately, they have one in Connor McDavid. He won't play tonight, of course, but the Oilers have recently gotten some good news about his long-term prognosis.
  • For now, with their lack of depth accentuated by a rash of injuries, the Oilers are stuck with filler like Matt Hendricks and Teddy Purcell in the top six. The defense and bottom six are looking as thin as ever.
  • The biggest bright spot for the Oilers this season is Taylor Hall, who's been one of the best players in the league and is making an excellent case to be part of Canada's 2016 World Cup team.
  • Mark Fayne is a puzzling healthy scratch for the Oilers. He had a rough debut season with the Oilers, but in 14 GP this year he leads the defense in Corsi. I'm guessing he's a victim of of his horrendously unlucky .873 on-ice SV% at 5v5. Expect Edmonton to do everything it can to keep that very vulnerable Griffin Reinhart - Eric Gryba pair away from LA's top six.
  • The Oilers brought in Cam Talbot to fix the goaltending, but so far, not so good (.893 SV%). Many wonder if Edmonton's lack of defensive depth is hurting goalie performance--see this debate in the Edmonton Journal--but this is not a safe conclusion. Team quality doesn't affect save percentage in so simple a way, as Edmonton gives up more of all kinds of shots--bad and good--compared to most other teams. I think the goaltending issue with Edmonton is due to the goalies (and to variance), not so much the defense. Talbot, of course, has plenty of time to turn things around this year.
  • As for the Kings? Well, Jewels from the Crown is mostly pleased. LA is pacing the NHL in the even strength possession metrics, as per usual. In a refreshing change, the Kings have been much better on special teams, by both goal-based and shot-based metrics, than in years past.
  • Nick Shore is leading the Kings in Corsi%, which is pretty impressive given that he shares a team with Anze Kopitar (but almost never plays with him!) He has so far demonstrated zero scoring touch in the NHL, sadly, but maybe that will come round. If not, that Brown-Shore-Lewis line could still be quite useful defensively.