LOS ANGELES, CA - The Edmonton Oilers wrap up a three-game road trip tonight in Los Angeles against the Kings, who are fighting for their playoff lives.
“We talked about it today," said Oilers interim head coach Todd Nelson. "This is going to be a playoff game. We have to treat it (like that),” he said. “We’re treating this as a game, how we can play in the playoffs in the future. This is a good opportunity for us to see what we can do.”
The Kings sit two points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, with a game in hand. They also have a game in hand on the Calgary Flames and trail them by three points for third place in the Pacific Division.
Nelson added that the team will need to be much better than Wednesday's 5-1 loss in Anaheim with the high stakes tonight.
“We just addressed it. It was easy to pick out with video. With the puck last night, we did some good things but we threw it away uncharacteristically. Something we hadn’t done in quite some time. But our play away from the puck wasn’t good at all. We were being lazy in certain situations, weren’t checking effectively, our sticks were horizontal versus on the ice,” Nelson continued. “We have to get that back. Everybody has games like that, but we want to reel it back in quick. We want to nip that in the bud and hopefully it resonates within the group and we have a good outing tonight.
“We have to play better away from the puck.”
Matt Hendricks said that the team needs to expect a playoff-calibre game tonight as the Oilers look to rebound.
“Last night didn’t go the way we wanted, but (we are) looking forward to tonight," said Hendricks. "We know our opponent. We played them a few times already but more importantly, we know how important the game is for them. They’re going to bring their A game tonight. Playoff-style hockey, which is going to be good for our group to be in this atmosphere.”
Hendricks did not play on Wednesday in Anaheim but Coach Nelson pronounced him ready to go tonight.
“Gordo (Boyd Gordon), he’s not going tonight. Looks like Hendricks is. We’re going to have an extra guy dressed for warm-ups and then we’ll make a game-time decision on a few guys so we’ll go from there,” said Nelson.
Hendricks said he feels fully recovered from his back injury and would be able to do whatever is asked of him tonight.
“I’m feeling pretty good. Morning skate today went well. Not a lot of us out there but still got the work in that I needed. It’ll be a game time decision,” Hendricks stated.
LANDER SIGNS TWO-YEAR EXTENSION
This morning, the Oilers announced that they have signed centre Anton Lander to a two-year contract extension. Lander said he was relieved to have the deal done.
“It’s great. I’m excited to be a part of the organization for the next two years. The future looks pretty good,” Lander said.
The Swedish centre added that he felt that Todd Nelson helped him immensely and really contributed to his resurgence as an NHL player through the back half of this season.
“He put me out in different situations. He believed in me. That helps your confidence too when you get to play on the penalty kill or power play. It’s showing that you’re part of the team. They need you out there. I have a lot to thank Nelly for that opportunity for sure.”
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (23-41-13) at KINGS (37-25-14)
TV: SNW, FS-W
Season series: The Los Angeles Kings are 2-0-1 against the Edmonton Oilers and have scored at least five goals on two occasions. This is the first time the Kings will host the Oilers since Oct. 14.
Oilers team scope: Edmonton is wrapping up a three-game road trip. The Oilers saw their three-game win streak end in a 5-1 loss at the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday. Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has five goals in his past seven games. After the loss, coach Todd Nelson said he thought about pulling No. 1 goalie Ben Scrivens for rookie Tyler Bunz, a fifth-round draft pick in 2010. Regular backup Richard Bachman is away from the Oilers for personal reasons, so Scrivens is expected to start again Thursday. “I was considering it,” Nelson said. “I think that if a sixth one went in, especially early in the third period, I think that’d be a time to rest up (Scrivens) for (Thursday) and get Tyler an opportunity.” Forwards Matt Hendricks and Boyd Gordon are expected to return from back injuries against the Kings, according to the Edmonton Journal.
Kings team scope: Los Angeles will be without defenseman Andrej Sekera because of a lower-body injury. Sekera did not practice on Wednesday. “He’s out,” coach Darryl Sutter told LA Kings Insider. “He hasn’t skated for a couple days, and he’s seeing more of the doctor (Wednesday), and I’m sure that you guys seem to get information better than I do.” Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register speculated that the injury is “not minor.” The Kings will also be without forward Tanner Pearson (broken lower fibula). Forward Jarret Stoll (head) could play for the first time since March 12. Los Angeles enters the game two points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference and three behind the Calgary Flames for third place in the Pacific Division. The Kings have a game in hand on the Jets and Flames.