The Oilers were wrecked in the home opener against the Sharks. Defensive miscues, a scattered penalty kill and terrible breakouts did them in during a six-goal first period by San Jose. It can't possibly be worse tonight against the Kings (Khabibulin is on IR), a team that can't even load into the starting gate. The Oilers should skate circles around the Kings depleted defense and get them to the power play - where they've looked very good through two games. Magnus Paajarvi shaved his sideburns even higher and was rewarded with a promotion to the Horcoff line, where he'll likely see a big dose of Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar all night.
Oilers Report: Ralph Krueger made two lineup changes today - Magnus Paajarvi moved to the third line to play alongside Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff while Teemu Hartikainen dropped to the fourth line to play with Eric Belanger and Lennart Petrell. Kruger also replaced Corey Potter in the lineup with Mark Fistric in an effort to strengthen the penalty kill. The Paajarvi move is a good one - he's deserving of the playing time and responsibility and more. He was one of the Oilers best players in the loss to the Sharks. Personally, I'd still like to see Krueger move Taylor Hall to the Gagner line and Yakupov to the Hopkins line, but this is as close as the Oilers have been to strategically prepared since Craig MacTavish was coach.
The Oilers also announced that Ben Eager is out with a concussion, suffered while getting beat up by Zack Kassian.
Kings Report: The Kings have been pretty bad through two games and Darryl Sutter isn't a guy you want at the helm during a slump. He's tried scratching Simon Gagne and Brad Richardson to no avail, so tonight he's expected to scratch Dustin Penner. The Kings have about as much defensive depth as the Oilers -- the first pairing of Rob Scuderi and Drew Doughty is fantastic, but without Willie Mitchell on the second pairing and Matt Greene on the third pairing, there are real problems on the Kings blueline. If Ralph Krueger matches lines and pairings, he should have the Hopkins and Hemsky lines in a position to destroy Martinez, Voynov, Muzzin, and Drewiske, which sounds bad even as a law firm. However, if Krueger chooses to roll lines, he probably won't be able to take advantage.
Expected Line Combinations
Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Nail Yakupov - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky
Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Magnus Paajarvi
Teemu Hartikainen - Eric Belanger - Lennart Petrell
Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Justin Schultz - Nick Schultz
Ryan Whitney - Mark Fistric
Scratches: Ben Eager, Potter, Corey, Darcy Hordichuk
By The Numbers
Jonathan Quick's .936 save percentage against Edmonton is his second-best against Western Conference teams.
The Kings are Sam Gagner's toughest Western Conference opponent: Gagner has totaled just 4 assists and hasn't scored a goal in 16 games versus the Kings in his career. He's also a -9.
Ryan Smyth, on the other hand, likes playing against the Kings. He's totaled 49 points in 52 career games against L.A.
Smyth has averaged .94 points per game against the Kings - Ales Hemsky has averaged .93 points per game.