Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 season:
Game 12 vs. Edmonton
October 27, 2013
6pm PST (9pm EST)
Like their opponents back on Monday, it’s a case of what’s old is new again as the Los Angeles Kings welcome the Edmonton Oilers back into the Pacific Division on Sunday evening in what will be the first of four meetings between the two clubs this season.
While there are a number of great memories between the Kings-Oilers rivalry in the past, it has been quite a while since both clubs were playoff teams at the same time. Unlike their provincial rivals, however, the Oilers are in the latter stages of their rebuilding phase and with the likes of Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins supported by the veteran leadership of Ales Hemsky and former King Ryan Smyth , the Oilers are certainly destined for great things even if their 3-7-1 record thus far fails to indicate that.
In three meetings last season, the Kings went 2-0-1 against the Oilers with their lone blemish coming early in the season in Edmonton when then-rookie Nail Yakupov tied the game in the dying seconds before celebrating in a fashion that was caught on all the sports-highlights shows the next day.
A lot has changed in Edmonton since then, however. Behind the bench, head coach Ralph Krueger was replaced by Dallas Eakins and upstairs, GM Steve Tambellini was shown the door while Craig MacTavish was welcomed in.
In order for the Kings to pick up a win in consecutive games, they will need to either stay of the penalty box more or, if they can’t, keep up their streak of scoring shorthanded goals going which is currently at two games. The latter stat certainly comes in handy when Los Angeles hosts the only team in the NHL this year to allow three shorthanded tallies.
Sticking with penalty-killing, it would do the Kings some good if they can get a few man-advantages of their own. While they have improve on the power play recently, the Kings know they can do even better against an Oilers’ penalty-kill which is currently ranked 28th-overall.
As for who to watch out for, the aforementioned Jordan Eberle is leading the way for the orange-and-blue with three goals and seven assists in 11 games to go along with a +3 rating. Someone else the Kings should watch out for is rookie Mark Arcobello who despite not having any goals thus far leads Edmonton with 10 assists.
A graduate of Yale University, hockey fans in Northen California may be familiar with the 25-year-old after playing 33 games with the ECHL’s Stockton Thunder in 2010-11. Los Angeles netminder Jonathan Quick may also be familiar with the youngster as Arcobello is, like the 2012 Conn Smythe winner, a native of Milford, CT.
The Oilers also have other reliable outlets on offense as the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall or David Perron each have eight points while Ales Hemsky and defenseman Justin Schultz each have six. Of course, considering the state of their goaltending thus far, it certainly wouldn’t the Oilers to press harder for more goals.
Devan Dubynk, hoping to be the future of the Oilers goal, has gotten off to an inauspicious start. In fact, Dubynk’s performance thus far has been essentially forgettable. In eight games this season, Dubyk is 2-5-1 with a woeful goals-against average of 4.02 in addition to a lacklustre save-percentage of .878. But maybe a date at Staples Center will turn the tide for the netminder. If not, the Oilers do have former King Jason Labarbera who, in four games so far, is 1-2-0 with a not-much-better 3.22 GAA and a slightly-lower save-percentage of .871. On paper, the Oilers goaltending is ripe for the picking but we’ll have to see if the Kings are able to translate that to success on the ice.
While his .904 save-percentage isn’t exponentially better than his counterparts, Jonathan Quick has been playing better hockey as of late. Currently, Quick is 6-4-0 with a 2.71 GAA, which, despite being good numbers, can be improved upon further. It is also notable to mention that considering Edmonton’s place in the West standings, head coach Darryl Sutter may choose to go with Ben Scrivens in between the pipes who is 1-0-0 with a 1.22 GAA and a shutout. But we’ll see.
Anze Kopitar, who leads the Kings with 11 points, scored his first goal of the season last game – and with that out of the way, expect bigger contributions from No. 11 (not that we haven’t seen any already). Jeff Carter and Justin Williams each have eight points while Mike Richards is close behind with seven. Even Dwight King, criticized for his lack of production last season, recorded his first-career hat-trick last game and is determined to keep his hot streak going.
The Kings and Oilers should put on a great show and hopefully, the home fans will leave Staples Center having had perfect end to their respective weekends.
Enjoy the game!