Embarrassed in Los Angeles, Oilers need to play ‘with a chip on our shoulder’ tonight versus Kings

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The Edmonton Oilers have a chance to get some revenge on the Los Angeles Kings for last week’s embarrassing 8-2 defeat at Staples Center.

You see, the Kings are in Edmonton tonight, and a loss for the defending champs would deal a serious blow to their playoff hopes.

“They embarrassed us last time, and frankly, I thought we looked like a junior team out there,” said Oilers forward Rob Klinkhammer, per the Edmonton Sun. “It was ugly. We just have to come in with a chip on our shoulder, play hard and play the right way. We can’t feed their game, they are super hungry, they’re making a push for the playoffs and they are a great team. We have to have our best game if we want to have a chance.”

Another factor in Edmonton’s favor, besides revenge, could be fatigue. The Kings played last night in Vancouver, where they lost 2-1 in a shootout. Drew Doughty logged almost 30 minutes in that one. Jonathan Quick was similarly busy in goal, where he faced 38 Canuck shots. There’s even been speculation Martin Jones could get the start tonight.

Of course, while the Oilers haven’t played since Saturday, they’re not counting on a diminished opponent.

“If we have the same effort that we had the other night in L.A., it’s going to be the same result,” said Taylor Hall.

Oilers keeping tabs on Pens, ‘hoping for another pick in the lottery’

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Several Eastern Conference teams are tracking the ongoing free-fall in Pittsburgh, but there’s a team out west that’s keeping an eye as well — the Edmonton Oilers.

Edmonton owns Pittsburgh’s first-round pick at this year’s draft, thanks to January’s David Perron trade, and the Oilers could very well end up with a second crack at the lottery should the Pens miss the playoffs.

“It’s another chip on the roulette table, you could say,” Taylor Hall said, per the Edmonton Sun. “You don’t root for teams to lose or anything like that, but it would certainly be nice to have another shot at that No. 1 pick.”

Rob Klinkhammer, who came to Edmonton in the aforementioned Perron trade, was even more direct.

“Obviously, everyone here is hoping for another pick in the lottery,” he explained.

The Oilers host Los Angeles tonight in a game that’ll go a long way in deciding odds for their own pick. Currently sitting 28th in the NHL, Edmonton has an 11.5 percent crack at the No. 1 pick but, should it slide into 29th (a spot currently held by Arizona, three points back), those odds would increase to 13.5 percent.

As for that potential Pittsburgh pick? If the Pens miss, they’d have between a two and one percent chance of getting the first overall selection — slim, but still a chance. It’s a ray of hope for an Oilers team that hasn’t had many good moments this year, and wants to have something positive to build on.

“We put ourselves into a situation to have a good chance, and that sucks,” he said. “But at the end of the day, you want to do well in that lottery.”

No Nugent-Hopkins for Oilers on Saturday

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The playoff-hungry Calgary Flames get a break on Saturday, as the Edmonton Oilers will try to play spoiler against them without Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

“RNH” is out with a lower-body injury. The bad side of that is a top line gets a new wrinkle, however, as Taylor Hall slides between Benoit Pouliot and Jordan Eberle according to Fan 960’s Derek Wills.

No Nugent-Hopkins seems like a positive on paper for the Flames, but what if that little change of pace gives Edmonton a little boost? This is a wacky time of year, after all.

Kings regain playoff spot by crushing Oilers

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After losing back-to-back games against Minnesota and Chicago, Los Angeles needed a win tonight against Edmonton. The Kings achieved that in 20 minutes. The remainder of the game was just for fun.

Los Angeles earned a 8-2 victory over Edmonton.

Every single Kings forward recorded at least a point with the lone exception of Nick Shore. Every Los Angeles player had a plus-one rating or better aside from Trevor Lewis, Dustin Brown, and Jarret Stoll. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Anton Lander were the only Oilers players to finish the contest with a plus/minus rating that wasn’t minus-one or lower.

Ben Scrivens got the start for Edmonton, turning aside 16 of 21 shots before being taken out of the contest. Already down 5-1 through 40 minutes, 23-year-old goaltender Tyler Bunz, who has played in just eight career AHL games, was asked to make his NHL debut against the defending Stanley Cup champions on a night where they were both hungry and clicking.

That went about as well as expected.

The idle Winnipeg Jets dropped their last two games and thanks to that the Kings’ victory tonight was enough for them to jump into the second Wild Card spot. Both squads have 90 points in 77 games, but Los Angeles has a comfortable lead in the tiebreaker ROW.

Winnipeg will have to wait until Saturday’s game against Vancouver for its chance to respond.

Hot Oilers trying to prove they’re moving in right direction

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Back in December, Edmonton GM Craig MacTavish got a little heated while trying to defend the woeful Oilers. Less than a week later head coach Dallas Eakins was fired. Edmonton didn’t see an immediate or dramatic uptick once Todd Nelson took over as the team’s bench boss, but they have an opportunity to finish on a high note thanks to their current 5-1-1 stretch.

“First and foremost, it’s a pride thing, so it doesn’t matter where you are in the standings, losing is never fun. There are a lot of guys playing for contracts, playing for a lot of different things,” goaltender Richard Bachman noted to the Edmonton Journal. “We want to show people we are coming together as a team and that we are trending in the right direction.”

Bachman, along with fellow Oilers goaltender Viktor Fasth, is among those that are scheduled to test the unrestricted free agent waters this summer. There certainly are plenty of players on Edmonton playing for contracts or trying to make a strong impression to help themselves ahead of the 2015 training camp. Beyond that though, as Bachman said, there’s also a need for Edmonton to prove that there is a light at the end of this tunnel. That breaking up this core isn’t the franchise’s only possible path to success.

Not that they can accomplish that with a handful of strong weeks at the end of the season. The Oilers have struggled for far too long to get the benefit of the doubt by going on a winning streak long after they’ve been eliminated from the playoffs. Still, the Oilers seem upbeat and perhaps that’s a start.

“I feel that the atmosphere in the dressing room has changed since I was last in here,” defenseman Brandon Davidson said, who was previously summoned in December. “That’s a big part of it. Guys are having fun doing things the right way.

“We don’t have a playoff, but for us, this is everything, especially for most of us going into next year.”

Whether or not this is a sign of things to come for Edmonton in 2015-16, one thing we can say is that this hot streak has hurt their chances of winning the Connor McDavid sweepstakes.

“I’m sure there’s a whole group of fans hoping for us to lose, but we’re having fun winning,” said Oilers forward Taylor Hall. “Game 1 or Game 75, it is still fun to go out there and win — and we’re playing good teams, teams that have full lineups and teams that are chasing playoff spots. … I know I’m having a really good time with (Miller and Anton Lander). We play hard and we play with energy.”

Contrast that with where he was three months ago when he wondering what he did wrong after watching yet another one of his coaches get fired. Or against captain Andrew Ference calling out his teammates over their lack of pride.

Maybe times have changed. Then again…

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