In 1988 the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, shocked the hockey world when he left the Edmonton Oilers to join the L.A. Kings. Some people never forget those details so every time the Kings and the Oilers meet, there will be people on both sides of the ice rink who will remind you of it.
The players today don’t even think about it now. What they care about is today’s game. The Kings are struggling and are not guaranteed to make the playoffs, and the Oilers are out of it completely. L.A. is still working at getting that playoff spot and Edmonton would like nothing better than to spoil it for the team that took their favorite player from them 27 years ago.
For the Western Conference wild card, the Kings are two points behind the Winnipeg Jets and seven points behind the Minnesota Wild. No one wants to count the Kings out of it yet, but there isn’t much time left in the season for L.A. to get it done.
They have lost two in a row, to Minnesota and Chicago, giving up eight goals in those two games. With so few games left on the schedule, the Kings can’t afford too many more losses and expect to make the playoffs this year.
As it turned out, Thursday’s game at Staples wasn’t going to hurt L.A.’s chances at all and would in fact put them ahead of the Jets, when you start looking at the details of points and ROW, SOW and SOL stats. There’s no guarantee the Kings are in the playoffs, but after Thursday’s performance, they are a lot closer than they were on Thursday morning.
Somewhere on the ice in Thursday’s game at Staples Center, was Edmonton Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens. It didn’t seem like he was there, as often as the Kings scored in the first two periods. Just two and a half minutes into the game Dustin Brown scored the first goal for the Kings, ending his scoring drought, and then less than five minutes later Marian Gaborik scored the first of his two goals for the night and then just over two minutes later Drew Doughty ended his scoring drought with a spectacular 53-foot wrist shot to give the Kings their third goal in the first ten minutes of the game.
We shouldn’t put it all on the Edmonton goalies though. The Oilers played terrible defense all night. Their two goalies that played, Scrivens and rookie Tyler Bunz, made 25 saves. If their Oilers defense had been better the Kings would not have been able to send the puck to the net 33 times Thursday night.
As usual L.A. led in penalties and penalty minutes, and in the second period Teddy Purcell was able to score on a power play for Edmonton to get one of the Oilers two goals for the night. The Kings were able to kill the other scoring opportunities the Oilers had with the advantage.
In the second period Jordan Nolan and Jeff Carter each scored for the Kings, Carter’s goal coming on a power play.
In the third period L.A. took control of the ice and scored another three goals, with Robyn Regehr getting a goal and Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter scoring their second goals for the night. Jordan Eberle was able to get a second goal for Edmonton, but it was just not enough to keep the Kings from winning this game in a big fashion.
L.A. goalie Jonathan Quick had 28 saves on the night so he is playing stingy again, which is what the Kings will need if they are going to make it into the playoffs. Right now they are even with the Calgary Flames, who they play in Calgary on April 9. A tie-breaker right now is in L.A.’s favor, but with five games left in the season, that could change.
In the West it looks like the Minnesota Wild and the Vancouver Canucks will be in the playoffs with the teams that have already clinched a spot: the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks. So there are two spots left in the Western Conference playoff bracket and three teams that have a chance to fill them: Calgary, the Winnipeg Jets and L.A.
The Kings will need to win on Saturday against the Avalanche, here at Staples Center, and then they will go on the road to Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary, before finishing the season against the San Jose Sharks here at Staples. If the Kings want to skate past April 11, their final game of the season, they can’t afford to lose more than one of these last five games.
The only thing Kings coach Darryl Sutter is worried about, if anything, going into these finals weeks of the season, it’s the special teams play. They have to kill all power play opportunities by their opponents and they need to score when they have the advantage. Plus, it would be nice if the other team led in penalties and minutes.
The final score from Staples Center Thursday Night: Edmonton Oilers 2, L.A. Kings 8.
(All photos by Claudia Gestro)
Claudia is of Peruvian and Italian descent, having been born in a small town, in the North of Peru, South America. She was raised by her grandmother from an early age, living in poverty until Claudia’s mother brought her to America. She landed in Miami, FL and started her new life, playing high school basketball and eventually becoming a United States citizen. Claudia completed her education at Florida International University with a BA in Broadcast Journalism and became a model to supplement her income. Since graduating from FIU Claudia has worked with many of the Spanish Language broadcasting companies, including Telemundo, Univision and most recently Spanish Language channels on SiriusXM satellite radio and PasTV Deportes in Venezuela.She encourages you to follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Her content appears here under a shared content agreement with her Spanish television clients.