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MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers at Kings

The Oilers continue their five-game Western Conference jaunt with a game against the Kings

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers five-game Western Conference trip finds them in Los Angeles for a match with the Kings.

You can watch the game on Sportsnet West and Oilers or listen on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre-Game at LA 11.21.19

INSIDE THE OILERS

News and notes from Bakersfield where goaltender Stuart Skinner's role has increased, plus a look at how the Oilers are approaching their crucial five-game road trip.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

LOS ANGELES, CA - As Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett said post-game following his club's 5-2 win over the Sharks on Tuesday: "We got to move onto the next and figure out what we have to do to be at our best that night."

With two points in the bag to begin an ever-important five-game road swing, the Oilers have their targets locked on Todd McLellan's Los Angeles Kings. 

LA sits near the bottom of the National Hockey League's standings but has performed better lately, owning a 4-5-1 record in their last 10, having won their last four contests at STAPLES Center.

But for Tippett and the Oilers, the focus is on continuing to build off San Jose's convincing outing.

"We played hard the first game, now the expectation is that we've raised that bar and we got to play hard the second game," said the bench boss. 

"The mindset of your team continues to build every game."

The Orange & Blue are 4-1-0 in their last five road games.

POSITIVE ATOM

Thursday's affair with the Kings will see defenceman Adam Larsson return to action for the second time this season. 

The Oilers Alternate Captain fractured his right foot in the first game of the year against the Vancouver Canucks and has watched his teammates perform from the press box since.

"You want action early when you've been out that long," Larsson said following Thursday's morning skate, where he was paired with defenceman Kris Russell.

"I'm ready for game action."

Coach Tippett did not undermine Larsson's re-entrance to the lineup. The veteran is a stable presence on the ice and vocal member in the room.

"There are certain guys that are glue guys," Tippett said of the defender. "They just hold the group together. Their commitment to winning goes beyond goals and assists. It's the guts of the game where your blocking shots and you have to play against the other team's top players. 

"Things that allow your team to win are usually things that he's involved in."

In the game Larsson suffered his injury, the Swede persevered through the agonizing pain caused by Quinn Hughes' first-period slap shot to play 22:19, ending the night with the win but also with the fractured right fibula.

"Two and a half periods," Tippett, recollecting the '19-20 season opener, said. "Even when he did that, I think he was feeling that he didn't want to hurt the team because he wasn't at his best. 

"Not only is he a warrior but he's a smart guy that's trying to win."

Larsson's return comes at a fortunate time for the Oilers as the club lost the services of Matt Benning on Tuesday. Benning was high-sticked by Evander Kane and is in concussion protocol. 

Despite the injuries to the Oilers blueline this season, the club has been able to execute with a next-man-up mentality, which has paved the way for their 14-6-3 record. Larsson shared his thoughts on Edmonton's play from his time watching from a bird's eye view.

"It's been very impressive," he said. "Our top two guys (Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl) have been outstanding, Bearsy coming in being outstanding and I think a lot of guys that were here last year have been stepping it up.

"Pretty much every aspect of the game has been better this year… Everything is looking good."

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Adam Larsson 11.21.19

LINEUP NOTES

Coach Tippett did not alter his forward groups at morning skate on Thursday. The only changes that will come to the lineup are Larsson's deployment on the right side of Russell and Mike Smith spelling Mikko Koskinen in goal.

"Physically, I feel great," Smith, when asked about the shared workload with Koskinen and how it impacts his energy levels, said. 

"The rotation seems to be working pretty well right now."

Smith is 19-10-2 with a .925 save percentage and 2.34 goals-against average in 32 appearances versus the Kings all-time. 

Lines at morning skate appeared to be:

Draisaitl - McDavid - Kassian
Khaira - Nugent-Hopkins - Neal
Nygard - Sheahan - Archibald
Granlund - Haas - Chiasson

Nurse - Bear
Klefbom - Jones
K. Russell - Larsson

Smith
Koskinen

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Mike Smith 11.21.19

PREVIEW

OILERS (14-6-3) at KINGS (8-12-1)

TV: 8:30 p.m. MT; Televised on Sportsnet West & Sportsnet Oilers

Head-to-Head:

Tonight's game is the second of four meetings between the clubs this season.

Edmonton defeated the Kings 6-5 at Rogers Place on Oct. 5, in a game that saw Connor McDavid record a goal and three assists, James Neal score twice and Mike Smith backstop the club with a 27-save performance.

Anze Kopitar notched a goal and two assists in the loss. The LA captain had two goals and seven assists in nine games versus the Oilers in '18-19. 

The Oilers are 5-2-0 in their last seven against Los Angeles but 1-13-1 in their last 15 road games at the Kings.

Oilers team scope:

The Oilers swam circles around the Sharks in the opening contest of their current five-game Western Conference jaunt, downing San Jose's six-game winning streak with a 5-2 victory.

McDavid captured a goal and two helpers, and Leon Draisaitl extended his point streak to 13 games. Draisaitl leads the NHL in points with 44 (16G, 28A) and McDavid is second with one less goal.

The Orange & Blue are second in the Western Conference with 31 points but sit atop the Pacific Division, three points up on Arizona.

Kings team scope:

The Kings 8-12-1 record places them in the basement of the Pacific Division thus far in the '19-20 campaign. The club has been outscored 75-53 this year and their minus-22 goal differential is the third-worst in the League.

Los Angeles, coached by former Oilers bench boss Todd McLellan, is 4-5-1 in their last 10 games.

Anze Kopitar leads the Kings in goals, assists and points with seven, 15 and 22, respectively. Defenceman Drew Doughty has five goals and 13 points.

By the Numbers:

Draisaitl and McDavid have accounted for 21.7 and 18.4 percent of the Oilers team goals this season. ... Draisaitl has 30 even-strength points, six more than any other player. ... Oscar Klefbom has 19 points (2G, 17A) in 19 career tilts against Los Angeles and has 10 points in the last four. ... The Kings have averaged 4.20 goals for and 1.80 goals against vs. Edmonton in their last 15 meetings.

Injury Report:

OILERS - Adam Larsson (fractured foot) is on IR; Brandon Manning (hand) is on IR.

KINGS - Trevor Lewis (lower body) is on IR; Derek Forbort (back) is on IR; Gabriel Vilardi (back) is on IR.

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

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