LOS ANGELES, CA - Four games left in the regular season. Four important games against Pacific Division rivals and the Oilers could still finish as high as first or as low as fourth as the teams jockey for playoff positioning.
"We're continuing to talk about parking games and approaching this next one looking for a way to get better as a team. The standings, the seedings, the home-ice advantage, all that type of stuff will take care of itself as the week goes on," said Oilers head coach Todd McLellan.
"We've got to remain focus on what I think will be a tough task tonight in L.A. Yes, they're not in the playoffs but, again, referring to their group and their leadership they're going to come out and play a really hard game and we'd better be prepared for that.
"You don't win Stanley Cups with poor leadership and a lack of pride," McLellan continued. "They're very strong and rich in that area. We know they're going to come out, they're going to play hard and physical like they always do. They're going to attack the net and it's a good test for our team.
"We've got to be prepared to play in that type of environment, not only tonight but moving forward."
It was an optional morning skate for the team with only a small number of participants so not a whole lot is known about tonight's lineup. However, with the team having won nine of its last 10 games not a lot of changes are expected, particularly with Jujhar Khaira having been sent to AHL Bakersfield today.
LOOKING FOR SUCCESS IN SOCAL
The Oilers haven't had a lot of wins in Los Angeles in recent seasons. They've lost each of their last 10 games at the Staples Center (0-9-1) with the last win coming on November 3, 2011 by a score of 3-0.
When asked about that success, Coach McLellan preferred to focus on the current iteration of his squad and called back to the team's 4-2 loss in L.A. back in November.
"Earlier in the year, they got off to a good start. We fell behind and they have a tendency to limit your shooting and scoring opportunities, night in and night out. When it comes to giving up shots on goal they might be at the lowest end or close to it," said McLellan.
Oilers captain Connor McDavid echoed his coach's thoughts.
"We've played well against L.A. most of the year but we know they're going to be hungry to beat us. We need to be at our best."
ON THE UPSWING
The Oilers have been on absolute fire to end the season with a 9-1-0 record giving them a chance to win the division title for the first time since 1986-87.
Coach McLellan was quick to say that he's not anointing the team ready for playoff success just yet.
"We want to be on the upswing going into the playoffs. Some would say we're there now. I don't believe that. Despite our record, I think there's areas we have to improve on."
He added a statement which could be seen as a mantra for the club as the postseason approaches.
"Move on, prepare, play, get better."
With three points on Saturday against the Ducks, McDavid's career-high scoring streak reached 10 games. McDavid has six goals and 18 points in those 10 contests. Leon Draisaitl also has a career-high 10-game scoring streak where he has five goals and 18 points.
"The team seems to be clicking. My linemates are playing great. Everything seems to be going well. When the team's doing well, individuals are going to find success as well," said McDavid.
He also has a seven-point lead in the NHL scoring race with only four games to go. He was asked about the possibility of reaching 100 points.
"Four games left and it is possible but at the end of the day it wouldn't be the end of the world. These are four huge games as a team and we'll focus on that first."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (44-25-9) at KINGS (37-34-7)
TV: 8:30 p.m. MDT; Televised on Sportsnet West
Tonight's game marks the fifth and final meeting between the Oilers and Kings this season and the second and final game in Los Angeles. The last time these teams faced each other in Los Angeles was on November 17th, when the Kings topped the Oilers 4-2.
The last time these teams met was on March 28th in Edmonton when the Oilers defeated the Kings by a score of 2-1 to clinch a playoff spot. Connor McDavid and Eric Gryba scored for the Oilers in the win. The goal for Gryba marked his second of the season, both have which been game-winning goals.
Oilers team scope:
The Oilers sit in sole possession of second place in the Pacific Division, two points behind the Anaheim Ducks and two points ahead of the San Jose Sharks. The Oilers have four games left to play in the regular season including tonight. The Ducks and Sharks each only have three.
Goaltender Cam Talbot tied Grant Fuhr last game for the Oilers record for most wins by a goaltender in one season (40), a record held by Grant Fuhr (1987-88). With one win Talbot will set a new Oilers record for most wins in a season by a goaltender.
Talbot has now appeared in an NHL high 70 games this season, and leads the NHL in minutes played (4,114), in saves (1,883) and third in wins (40). The Caledonia, ON native has set new career highs in all these categories in 2016-17.
Talbot also has seven shutouts this season, a new career high and is one shutout away from tying the Oilers single season record for shutouts (8) which was set by Tommy Salo in 2000-01. His seven shutouts are one behind the NHL leader, Braden Holtby (WAS), who has eight.
As an Oiler, Talbot now has 10 shutouts, putting him in sole possession of third place, one ahead of Fuhr for most shutouts.
He also has a .919 save percentage since joining the Oilers, the best save percentage all-time for Oilers goaltenders with at least 100 games played with the organization.
Kings team scope:
With a regulation loss at home on Sunday to Arizona, the Kings are now officially eliminated from the postseason. It marks the second time in the last three seasons that the Kings have missed the playoffs.
Prior to that, the Kings had made at least the conference finals in three straight years and won the Stanley Cup in two out of three seasons.
Jarome Iginla has played 100 career games against the Oilers. He has 39 goals and 90 points in those contests. The St. Albert native has played 15 games with the Kings since being moved from Colorado at the trade deadline and has six goals. He had eight in 61 games for the Avalanche.
In 25 career games against the Oilers, Jeff Carter has 18 goals and 28 points. The only NHL team that Carter has more goals against than Edmonton is the New York Islanders. Carter has 20 career goals against the Islanders but he's also played 46 games against them.
Carter leads the Kings with 32 goals this season and is also tops on the team with 62 points through 62 games.
Anze Kopitar is second on the Kings with 49 points (12 goals, 37 assists). The 12 goals and 49 points are both career lows for Kopitar in seasons where he's played more than 50 games.