Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Kings: Hoping to find the net in Edmonton
By Dan Arritt
Kings (27-22-2, 56 points) vs. Edmonton Oilers (15-26-8, 38) at Rexall Place, 6:30 p.m. PT
Five storylines to track:
1. Offensively challenged –If the Kings can’t generate any offense in the early going against Edmonton, they might be better off playing five defensemen. They didn’t hit the net in regulation, overtime or the shootout Tuesday night in a 1-0 loss to the Wild, wasting a solid effort by back-up goalie Jonathan Bernier. The Oilers have allowed the second-most goals in the NHL (168) this season, so the Kings have run out of excuses.
2. One step forward, two steps back – The Kings gained a point with the overtime loss against Minnesota, but lost a point in the Western Conference race. They now trail San Jose and Chicago by two points for the final playoff spot in the West. Don’t look now but the Calgary Flames have also won five in a row to get to 56 points. You get the feeling that if the Kings ever get back within the top eight, they might breathe a little easier and play a lot better. In the meantime, they’ll continue to grip their sticks like a steering wheel in a snowstorm.
3. Let’s get physical –The statistician in charge of registering hits against the Wild must have had his own definition because the Kings only registered nine during the game. That’s usually about a period’s worth. Either way, the Kings displayed a rather uninspired effort against the Wild and can’t afford to show up like that in Edmonton. If you remember, Kings defenseman Drew Doughtylaid out Edmonton wunderkind Taylor Hall in their last meeting Jan. 15 and the Oilers probably haven’t forgotten either.
4. Familiar foe –Jarret Stoll scored two goals in the last game against the Oilers, lifting the Kings to a 5-2 victory at Staples Center. Stoll, who spent 4+ seasons in Edmonton before coming to Los Angeles prior to the 2008-09 season, has four goals and an assist in seven career games against his former team. With six goals in the month of January, Stoll is the hottest forward for the Kings, but received a bit of a demotion during Tuesday's game when he was replaced on the first-team power-play unit by Jack Johnson.
5. Long layoff vs. short night -- By the time Edmonton takes the ice against the Kings, they’ll have gone a week between games. The Kings, meanwhile, will be playing their second game in 24 hours. Typically, the team playing the final game of back-to-backs is at a disadvantage but judging by how rusty the Kings and Wild looked in their first games back from the All-Star break, this might just be a pick 'em game.