NHL Game Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings | 02/26/2024

I like the Battle of Alberta better when we win. Instead, we went back to watching October and November style hockey from Edmonton against the worst possible opponent. The Flames came prepared to play, and the Oilers did not; it was as simple as that. Evan Bouchard and Mattias Ekholm have been a great pairing since last season, but a turnover by each of them led to the 2-0 goals. Ekholm’s wasn’t as bad, as he just tried to clear the puck out of the zone. He did, but the wrong players were waiting. After Calgary went up by 3, before Zach Hyman’s first of two goals was scored, Leon Draisaitl ran into goalie Dan Vladar on a rush and couldn’t get out of the way on time. The officials counted it a good goal because of this, but I would’ve been up in arms too, if that happened to Stuart Skinner or Calvin Pickard. It seemed to wake up the Oilers for a brief period of time. Congrats to Hyman on setting a new career high in goals with 37, even in a losing effort.

Related Post: Edmonton Oilers Interested In Henrique and Carrick?

Who knew Mattias Janmark could throw punches like that? He had a spirited fight with Blake Coleman. Do we have a new enforcer on the team? He would end up scoring a goal late in the third period when the game was out of reach. I’ve been writing in previous articles about how I feel about the timing of the coaching staff’s decisions to pull the goalie, but doing it when they were down by 3 goals was certainly a choice.

Leading up to tonight’s pre-game, the Oilers are still third in the Pacific Division. But the Kings are tied with them in points and could pass them if they win tonight. Edmonton has not had their preferred month of February, even if they win these next two games. They can’t have starts like Saturday night, and they need to break out of the late comeback attempts, which, as evidenced by Saturday, won’t always happen. The keys to the game are…

Big Save Dave: Dave Rittich has been a villain for Oilers fans dating back to when he was playing for the Flames. He kept playing bad games against Edmonton ever since he made an enthusiastic celebration in a shootout win against Edmonton. Oilers fans would poke fun and call him “No Save Dave,” but that wasn’t the case in the last meeting between these teams, where he posted a 4-0 shutout. If he’s one of the starters, he’ll come in with a .917 SV% and 2.21 GAA.

Shoot The Puck: It’s baffling that players who’ve had 30+, 40+, 50+, and 60+ goals seasons have looked too shy to fire any shot on net. There are times when the Oilers have a blatant chance to score or create a rebound chance, but they keep passing instead. Don’t just look for pretty plays. Any chance is a good chance and any goal is a good goal.

Blended: This is a more general key for the rest of the season, but part of what made the 16 game winning streak substantial was not making too many changes to a winning line-up. Not that I want to rag on someone who has only been on the job for a couple of months, but Kris Knoblauch has recently been doing the same line juggling that we saw from Jay Woodcroft and other coaches before him. Edmonton should go back to what was working in their favor. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Stephen Vani

Oilers fan in Toronto. Staying up past my bedtime for Western games since the mid 2000s.

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