The beginning of 2018 is looking a lot like the end of 2017 for both the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings.
That’s great for the surprisingly effective Kings. They might struggle to gain ground on the even-more-surprising Vegas Golden Knights, but for an L.A. team that looked to be in steep decline, wins like Tuesday’s 5-0 victory against the Oilers push them closer to a playoff return. And, hey, maybe they’ll lock down at least a round of home-ice advantage.
For Edmonton, a confidence-boosting four-game winning streak now looks like a blip on the radar, as they’ve matched it with a four-game losing streak.
The last two victories have been especially rough, falling 5-0 to the Winnipeg Jets and 5-0 to the Kings. They’ve only generated a single standings point during this skid, so this isn’t one of those slumps that actually ends up being prettier than it might first seem.
In the case of Tuesday’s game, the score was a little misleading, yet that actually might turn the knife in deeper.
This was a well-played, tight contest about halfway through, with Connor McDavid and others almost tying things up after a nice Andy Andreoff 1-0 goal. Patrick Maroon ended up delivering the death blow to his team with a bad hit on Drew Doughty; the Kings ended up scoring a resounding three goals on the ensuing five-minute major penalty.
Doughty was able to play at least a bit during the third period, so the Kings might dodge a bullet (and Maroon might enjoy higher odds of avoiding a suspension). Whatever happens as far as a possible injury or suspension goes, L.A. can happily brag about taking full advantage of Maroon’s mistake.
A second Dustin Brown goal made it 5-0, putting extra salt in Edmonton’s wounds, but one wonders how different this game might have been if Maroon didn’t deliver that unnecessary, high hit.
That’s part of the narrative with this Oilers, team, though: they’ve had a sad penchant for unforced errors. Kris Russell‘s own-goal cost Edmonton a standings point, if not a win, against the Maple Leafs. Maroon’s major was hugely negative tonight. Bad trades arguably deprived this team of crucial depth.
Three of these four losses have come in Edmonton, and the Oilers are at risk of losing every contest during a four-game homestand. With five straight road games after that, things could get awfully grim for the Oilers once again.
Edmonton has to hope that 2018 doesn’t continue as it begins. The Kings wouldn’t mind, though, especially if Doughty ends up being fine.