Kings still trying to climb in West as they face Oilers
Saturday, 04.10.2010 / 1:00 PM
Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior WriterOILERS (26-46-8) at KINGS (45-27-8)
Last 10 --
Edmonton 5-4-1; Los Angeles 4-3-3
Season series --
The Kings won the first two meetings of the season series, but the Oilers took the last game. They haven't played since Feb. 11.
Big story --
The Kings are still jockeying for playoff positioning, so a win is important. They can finish as high as fifth, which would give them an opening round series against Phoenix. They need to win Saturday and Sunday against Colorado to clinch the fifth spot. The Oilers are just playing out the stretch and hoping to win the draft lottery.
They're already looking toward the summer and potentially drafting Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall
, but the Oilers would like to avoid their worst regular season in franchise history. They have 60 points and need at least one more over their final two games to avoid matching their fewest points total in a full season. They had 60 in 1992-93, but that was an 84-game season. The good news is Edmonton swept a two-game homestand against Minnesota and Colorado this week. However, the Oilers' road record is certainly dreadful. They are 1-19-2 since Dec. 22 and 8-27-4 overall. But, Edmonton's lone road win since Dec. 22 came at Staples Center in a shootout.
With wins in their next two games the Kings will clinch the fifth seed in the Western Conference and a first-round series against Phoenix. They are 3-0-2 in their last five games and two points shy of recording their first 100-point season since 1990-91, when they had 102 in 80 games. Jonathan Quick
has failed in seven straight attempts to pick up his 40th win of the season. He's 0-3-2 with a 3.27 goals-against average in seven starts since winning No. 39 on March 22. Quick had a 2-0 lead to work with in the third period Thursday against Phoenix, but he gave up two goals in a span of 1:24 and then lost in a shootout.
Who's hot --
Kings center Anze Kopitar
has assists in each of the last two games and four points in the last four. He needs two more points to finish the season as a point-per-game player for the first time in his career. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty
also has points in the last two games and in three of the last four. … Left wing Ryan Smyth
has five assists in the last four games. Dustin Penner
has eight points over the last four games for the Oilers.
Injury report --
Kings forward Jeff Halpern has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury. … The following players are out for Edmonton: Nikolai Khabibulin
, Ales Hemsky
, Sheldon Souray, Ladislav Smid
, J.F. Jacques, Theo Peckham
, Gilbert Brule
and Sam Gagner
. Ryan Stone (knee) is day-to-day.
Stat pack --
It's been a forgetful season in Edmonton for everyone except Penner, who has 32 goals and 31 assists. Penner had only 37 points last season, so his 63 in 80 games this season on the League's last place team is a welcome sign for the fans in Oil Country.
Puck drop --
"He's going to be the goalie in the playoffs," Kings coach Terry Murray said of Quick. "We need to get our team game going to give him that support on a consistent basis."