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Banged-up Kings head to Edmonton

by Shawn P. Roarke /

KINGS (13-9-2) at OILERS (10-11-3)

Last 10 -- Kings 5-5-0; Oilers 3-5-2

Season series -- This is the first meeting of the season between these two teams, who split four one-goal games in 2008-09. Anze Kopitar had the winner for the Kings in the first game, almost a year ago to the day, before Edmonton won two straight, including a shootout decision on Feb. 14. The Kings closed out the series with a 2-1 win on April 7.

Big story: Expectations have certainly changed in Los Angeles this season. The Kings have lost two straight games and are pushing the panic button, which is a new phenomenon for a team that has missed the playoffs for six-straight seasons. "We've got to figure this out now," said Kopitar, the Kings' leading scorer. "We've dropped two in a row now. We're going to have a couple days of practice now. We've got to look ourselves in the mirror and get the job done."

Team Scope:

Kings -- Injuries have struck the Kings and it will be interesting to see how the feel-good story of the first quarter reacts to adversity. Both top-line forward Ryan Smyth and top-four defenseman Rob Scuderi are out of the lineup and, as a result, the Kings have dropped back-to-back games. Clearly, these injuries are testing the depth of a team that has not topped 90 points since the 2002-03 season.

Oilers -- Edmonton took a very important 4-0 decision from the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night, easing some of the pressure this team has been feeling after what can only be described as a middling first quarter. The Oilers have won two of three on their latest homestand after losing 11 of their previous 13 games. But there were concerns remaining in the win against Phoenix. After jumping out to a 4-0 lead, Edmonton lost its desire in the third period, a lapse that left coach Pat Quinn fuming. "It made for a good early performance … 'til we got fat and happy," Quinn said. "I don't know why this team ever would have that happen to them because we haven't accomplished squat yet. But we got pretty comfortable in the third. These are things we have to learn. We're not there. It shows the immaturity sometimes."

Who's hot -- Kings defenseman Drew Doughty is having a special season. He already has 6 goals, which matches his total from his rookie season, and has 14 assists after managing 21 all of last season. For Edmonton,  Shawn Horcoff is riding a five-game points streak (3 goals, 3 assists) since returning from injury.

Injury report -- Edmonton has a lengthy list of injuries. C Marc Pouliot (sports hernia surgery) is out until early January. RW Fernando Pisani (colitis) has been out two weeks with no return date set. Denis Grebeshkov (knee) is out until mid-December. LW Ryan Stone (knee), D Taylor Chorney (ankle), LW Robert Nilsson (concussion)  and G Nikolai Khabibulin (back) are all considered day-to-day.

Scuderi has missed three consecutive games with an undisclosed lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day for the Kings. Smyth, who has an undisclosed upper-body injury, is expected to be out until mid-December.

Stat pack: Kings leading scorer Anze Kopitar does not have a goal in his last six games. He had 6 goals in the seven games before the start of the drought.

Puck drop: Both teams are desperate for a win here. Yes, Edmonton won Monday night, but it was just the club's fourth win in 15 games, a stretch that saw Edmonton take just 10 of a possible 30 points. The Kings have lost two straight and don't want to see the big cushion they built in points while being one of the busiest teams in the season's first two months -- only the Sharks have played more games -- evaporate more than it already has.


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