Game Day Preview #72, Los Angeles Kings @ Edmonton Oilers

Surprise! There really is a game tonight!

Preview: Los Angeles Kings (34-30-7) @ Edmonton Oilers (38-24-9)

How to Watch and What to Watch

Did you forget that there was a game tonight? It’s okay if you did. I think most of us would rather pretend that there wasn’t another game, or that if there were, that it existed in some sort of strange alternate universe where the Kings’ playoff chances weren’t slipping away on a daily basis.

It’s a nice alternative timeline. It’s probably warm there, and my whole street probably isn’t ripped up by construction work. I probably wouldn’t have been woken up by a backhoe today, in that timeline. I try not to think about it too much.


Could you name the Oilers’ backup goalie? Sure, backups aren’t always known quantities, but, like -- would you even know Edmonton had a backup if they weren’t, like, obligated to roster one? Backup Laurent Brossoit has gotten in exactly four games this season (former backup Jonas Gustafsson played in seven), because the Oilers seem committed to riding Cam Talbot until he falls apart.

Talbot’s started 64 games this season, ahead of fellow workhorses Frederik Andersen (58), Devan Dubnyk (58), Martin Jones (57), and Peter Budaj (57) (Here Lies Peter Budaj, He Never Got Any Goal Support And Then We Traded Him). Despite a sketchy streak lately that’s seen the Oilers drop down to a wild card spot, Talbot’s numbers are admirable. Of goalies with more than 30 games played, Talbot is tenth in goals against (2.35, situated between Tuukka Rask and Matt Murray) and has a save percentage of .921, putting him on par with John Gibson, Corey Crawford, and -- somehow, inexplicably -- Robin Lehner.

I don’t think anyone needs to tell anyone about Connor McDavid. We all know what he can do, no matter who he’s got on his line. (Pat Maroon, 24 Goal Scorer.)  After a dreadful start to his season, Milan Lucic seems to have settled into his place on the Oilers. He’s got four goals and four assists over his last eight games and also seems to be on his way to a career low in penalty minutes when playing a full season; he’s got 41 right now, which will most certainly go up, but not likely to top his career high of 136.

Without a morning skate, it’s tough to say what changes, if any, are coming for the Kings. Jordan Nolan and Nick Shore still seem a bit away, and -- all due respect to the both of them -- the Kings’ playoff fortunes aren’t going to (and, truthfully, shouldn’t) hinge on either of them being in the lineup. Having your seventh defenseman be a choice between Brayden McNabb and Kevin Gravel is a choice a lot of teams would like having, but it hasn’t made much of a difference for the Kings.

As it has been for so much of the season, the team you see is the team you get. There are no miracles coming. There are no late-season surprise college signings to be had. The team’s top players are slowly disappearing once again. Over the last ten games, Tyler Toffoli has two goals and three assists and played under twelve minutes last night, including no penalty kill time. Tanner Pearson has four points -- three goals and one assist -- in that time, but no goals since March 2. Even Jeff Carter, who almost singlehandedly carried this team for a large part of the season, only has one goal and four assists.

At least Anze Kopitar is starting to look like Anze Kopitar again -- four goals and five assists in ten games -- lending more credibility that he wasn’t playing completely healthy for a large part of the season. At least there’s that.

So, we could either talk about the weird distribution of ice time last night and what it means -- Andy Andreoff had 13:36! -- or we could all watch that video of the giant chicken again.

What’s that? You want the chicken? Cool, cool.

Projected Line Combinations

Los Angeles Kings

Brown - Kopitar - Iginla
Pearson - Carter - Toffoli
Gaborik - Kempe - Lewis
Andreoff - Dowd - Clifford

Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - LaDue
Gravel - Martinez


Edmonton Oilers

Maroon - McDavid - Draisaitl
Lucic - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Pouliot - Desharnais - Kassian
Caggiula - Letestu - Slepyshev

Klefbom - Larsson
Sekera - Russell
Nurse - Benning


Opposing Preview: Copper & Blue