G17: Oilers vs Kings - Round One Rematch
The last time the Edmonton Oilers and LA Kings faced off it was in Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs. The Kings had pushed Edmonton to the brink, going up 3-2 in the series with a heartbreaker in OT. That Oilers team though was a resilient one and it rarely felt like they were out of the series. Edmonton would go on to win game 6 4-2 followed by a 2-0 win in Game 7 to move onto the Second Round.
Tonight most of the players who battled against one another in that first round will be in the lineup.. Hopefully fans will be able to witness some emotion from both sides in this first rematch. Right now the Kings sit 3 points up on the Oilers though Edmonton has two games in hand. It's been a bumpy start for the Oilers as they currently sit only in a Wild Card position. This week the Oil will play against two divisional rivals. These are the games the team need to find ways to win to prove they are a legitimate Cup contender.
Warren Foegele appears to be set to play on the second line tonight alongside Draisaitl and Hyman. Foegele saw the most ice-time yet this season in the game against the Panthers with 16 minutes. He rewarded his coach and team with a goal. Foegele plays a very similar game at times to Zach Hyman; he is a bull in a china shop when he wants to be and can go heavy into the boards, retrieve the puck, and also get a nice shot on net.
The issue has been those little bursts have not been seen nearly consistently enough. Even in the game against the Panthers, Foegele had a clear look on a 2 on 1 play and tried to thread the needle to get the puck to Draisaitl. Later in the game Foegele got a nice little backpass from Leon and elected to shoot. That is the mentality that Foegele needs to play with if he wants to keep a spot in the top six, something that certainly could happen with Kane being out long term.
When Foegele was traded to the Oilers, he was coming off of a 10-10-20 point campaign in 53 games. At the time I wrote that Foegele was probably best as a skilled third line winger but also said he was young enough to grow into a regular top six forward as well. Right now he is being given that opportunity and unlike Puljujarvi or Yamamoto, he needs to show he can do something with that and score.
Speaking of Yamamoto it looks like he will not play tonight though will almost certainly be ready for Saturday against the Vegas Golden Knights. Jesse Puljujarvi has had some good moments alongside Connor McDavid but he needs to put some points on the board tonight if he wants to stay in that spot when Yamo returns.
Kevin Fiala was the big move for the LA Kings in the summer and has not dissapointed thus far, leading the team with 18 points in 18 games. Fiala is currently being slotted however on the Kings third line alongside Kupari and Grundstrom. The Kings top nine as a whole are being given fairly similar numbers as far as ice-time go. Edmonton and Woodcroft need to be sharp and pay attention to who they put out against Fiala.
McLeod will be centring a line with Janmark and Kostin on his wings, meanwhile Holloway appears to be back on a line with Shore and Ryan. That is not a look that I love. McLeod and Janmark both notched assists on Tyson Barrie's first goal against the Panthers but there wasn't much else in the game I loved from this duo, or from Kostin. Once Yamamoto is back I would imagine Kostin sits but Holloway really needs to either be given a prominent role in the top nine or send him back to Bakersfield.
On the topic of Bakersfield, Philip Broberg scored two goals last night including this beauty
Broberg is playing confident hockey in the AHL and I do believe we will see him back up with the big club within the next week or two at the most.
On last note, tonight marks the first game of the season that the Oilers will don their Reverse Retro jerseys, a style that harkens back to 2006 and the Todd McFarlane jerseys that were worn then. I like the old style better (remains one of my favorite jerseys ever) but I'm excited to see how this modern take looks.
Enjoy the game!