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Oilers to shake up lineup against Kings

McLellan unsure how Edmonton roster will look after NHL Trade Deadline

by Curtis Zupke / Correspondent

OILERS (22-33-6) at KINGS (35-20-4) 

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET; SN360, FS-W, NHL.TV 

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Edmonton Oilers will make some lineup changes when they play the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday at Staples Center, said coach Todd McLellan, according to the Oilers' Twitter account.

The Oilers, who have lost a season-high five straight (0-4-1), held an optional skate at Staples Center, and it was unclear what changes would take place. It will be their first game since McLellan questioned his team's character and whether many of his players should be with the team beyond the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday.

Edmonton recalled left wing Jujhar Khaira on Wednesday. But one of the wrinkles could be right wing Zack Kassian with center Leon Draisaitl on the second line. The Edmonton Journal reported that combination in practice Wednesday.

"He brings a lot of physicality and finishes his checks," Draisaitl told Edmonton's Twitter feed. "That should help us a lot."

The Kings, who skated at their practice facility, are in an offensive rut with six goals scored in their previous five games, although the past two were wins. The drought comes with left wing Marian Gaborik out long term with a knee injury.

"If you knew that you had six players that were 20-goal scorers, you know you'd have no problem," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "But you don't. It's even more pressure on some guys. Guys have slipped a little bit that are 20-goal scorers … guys are in those low numbers. Clearly, to get where we want to be, we need a little bit more production and not where you're giving up any more."

The Kings continue to rely heavily on defenseman Drew Doughty, who has played at least 31 minutes in four straight games, including 35:16 against the St. Louis Blues last Thursday. He said that needs to change for the home stretch.

 "I enjoy playing a lot of minutes, but at the same time, I realize it's probably not a good thing for me to be playing that many minutes for the rest of the season until [Stanley Cup] Playoffs begin," Doughty said. "I don't think, personally, I'll be out of gas. But the coaches have told me many times, 'You can't be playing that much this often.' I'm expecting my minutes to slowly go down every game and kind of get back to that 27-26 or something like that."

Here are the projected lineups:


Benoit Pouliot - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle

Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Zack Kassian

Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Lauri Korpikoski

Nail Yukupov - Anton Lander - Teddy Purcell

Andrej Sekera - Justin Schultz

Darnell Nurse - Mark Fayne

Jordan Oesterle - Brandon Davidson

Cam Talbot

Anders Nilsson

Injured: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (hand), Oscar Klefbom (undisclosed), Eric Gryba (undisclosed), Andrew Ference (hip)

Scratched: Adam Clendening, Iiro Pakarinen, Jujhar Khaira


Milan Lucic - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown

Dwight King - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Tanner Pearson - Vincent Lecavalier - Trevor Lewis

Kyle Clifford - Nick Shore - Andy Andreoff

Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty

Alec Martinez - Luke Schenn

Brayden McNabb - Jamie McBain

Jonathan Quick

Jhonas Enroth

Injured: Marian Gaborik (knee), Matt Greene (shoulder)

Scratched: Jordan Nolan, Kevin Gravel, Michael Mersch

Status report: Talbot will start, according to Edmonton's Twitter account. Quick was off the ice first. Nolan did not skate; Sutter said Nolan received treatment.

Who's hot: McDavid and Eberle each have a four-game point streak … Kopitar has five goals in his past five games … Doughty has an assist in four straight games.

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