NHL Preview: Los Angeles Kings vs. Edmonton Oilers
Tonight, the Edmonton Oilers will try to bounce back from Tuesday’s annihilation at the hands of the San Jose Sharks, 6-3, when they welcome the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings to town. Edmonton is currently 1-1-0 on the young season, while the Kings find themselves at 0-2-0.
The Kings have had a rough start. Matt Greene has already been lost for the season due to injury, and Anze Kopitar is working his way back from a knee injury. While Kopitar played nearly 20 minutes in the Kings’ last game versus the Colorado Avalanche and insists his knee is getting better, he didn’t register a single shot on net. Add to this the fact that their paltry three goals for the season have been scored by Rob Scuderi, Jordan Nolan and Kyle Clifford, rather than stars like Kopitar, Dustin Brown or Justin Williams, and it’s safe to say that things have not gone as expected in the team’s defense of their first-ever Stanley Cup. Ah, but that can change in an instant.
Enter the Oilers and their Swiss cheese defense which allowed the Sharks to score six goals on Tuesday–all in the first period. Devan Dubnyk was helpless in net whether he had defensive help or not, and it was a complete team effort in terms of the meltdown that took place. Presumably it had a lot to do with nerves and playing the team’s first home game of the season, but that first period illuminated for the rest of the NHL just how porous Edmonton’s defense and goaltending are. If guys like Ales Hemsky, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz are scoring enough goals to help them keep up, this will sometimes be a problem they can overcome as they demonstrated against the Vancouver Canucks in their season opener Sunday. But if this is a sign of things to come, then the Oilers might just be the tonic that the Kings need in order to get their first win and jump start this season.
Tonight’s starters in net have some question marks. Jonathan Quick has been ineffective in the Kings’ first two games, so it’s plausible that Jonathan Bernier could warrant the start in net tonight. And after coming up big in Vancouver but getting destroyed by San Jose, could backup Oilers goaltender Yann Danis have earned himself a start tonight, especially after saving all 14 shots that came his way after he relieved Dubnyk? Or will the Oilers continue to try and ride the Dubnyk train and see where it leads?