Los Angeles Kings 2015-16 Regular Season:
Game 8 @ Edmonton, October 25, 2015, 6:30pm PST
After hitting the road and heading back home for back-to-back wins on Thursday and Friday, the Los Angeles Kings hit the road once again — this time for two games — as they first visit Alberta’s capital to meet the rebuilding, but somewhat resurgent, 3-5-0 Edmonton Oilers for the first of five matchups this season.
Last season, the Kings went 3-1-1 against the Oilers, outscoring them 19-5 in those wins. However, the last time the silver-and-black were at Rexall Place was during the final week of the 2014-15 regular season when they lost a must-win contest by a 4-2 score. While it had not officially eliminated them from playoff contention, the defeat did set up the painful inevitable for the Kings and their fans as they were mathematically eliminated two nights later in Calgary.
But while teams and their respective fanbases have looked at the Oilers in recent years as, for all intents and purposes, an easy way to get two points, that cannot be the case any longer. While they are still a rebuilding club to experience more growing pains, the Oilers made enough moves this offseason to prove that, while they may not be championship contenders just yet, they are serious about winning right now.
With a new — and, to the Kings, familiar — head coach in Todd McLellan, a new netminder in Cam Talbot and an 18-year-old wunderkind by the name of Connor McDavid, the Oilers will be certain to make sure that every one of their opponents fight for said two points.
Speaking of McDavid, this will be the first time the Kings will lace up against the young star. Through eight games, McDavid leads the Oilers with five goals and eight points while Nail Yakupov, the subject of underachievement in recent years, is right behind with seven points thus far (two goals, five assists). Plus, to add some heat to this rivalry, there is defenseman Andrej Sekera.
Sekera, a defensive specialist, was a trade deadline acquisition last season by the Kings and made a positive difference in his brief time with the club. But plans of him re-signing with the Kings were halted when the veteran signed with the Oilers on July 1, raising the ire of Kings fans everywhere, especially considering that the silver-and-black gave up quite a bit for his services. Sunday will mark the first time Sekera faces his former team since leaving.
Like the Kings, the Oilers got off to an inauspicious start to the season as they lost their first four decisions. However, Edmonton reeled off three-straight wins but lost 7-4 to Washington on Friday night. They will be hoping that a date with a familiar division rival will help them restore their winning ways. At the same time, the Kings, behind a defensive corps that looks better with each passing game, are vying to pick up their fifth-straight win. But that’s not all the silver-and-black have in their favour thus far.
Without question, Tyler Toffoli is the hottest King right now. Having scored twice on Friday to lead his team to a 3-0 win over Carolina, No. 73 is currently riding a four-game goal-scoring streak and has potted tallies in five of his team’s seven games so far this season.
Two of the newest Kings, Milan Lucic and Christian Ehrhoff, are both finding their respective strides as well. After scoring his first of the year on Thursday, Lucic recorded a pair of assists on Friday while Ehrhoff has recorded helpers in his last two outings.
As for the goaltending, enough cannot be said about either Jonathan Quick or Jhonas Enroth. The former is coming a 40-save shutout performance on Friday while the latter was stellar in his Los Angeles debut on Thursday, allowing just one goal on 40 shots. Expect Quick to get the nod in goal on Sunday, though.
While Sunday will not be their last game there, the Kings embark on a year which will be the last at Rexall Place, but more on that later. As for now, it’s another game as the Kings and Oilers will each look to open their season series on a high note.
Enjoy the game!