Edmonton Oilers (12-15-5) vs. Kings (19-12-1) at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., PT
Five storylines to track:
1. Two traps in one – With 22 of 30 teams in the NHL owning winning records, the Kings must take advantage of the few opportunities against weaker ones, something they could be better at this season. Against the clubs with losing records, Los Angeles is just 4-3. The Kings also need to avoid the trap of getting too comfortable in their first game back after a 10-day, five-game road trip. They’re 2-1 this season after returning from road trips of two or more games.
2. Look out for No. 11 – Dustin Brown put up four points in a 5-0 win Tuesday at Colorado, but linemate Anze Kopitar probably had a more impressive overall game. Kopitar was a magnet with the puck and powerful on his skates. He even made one of the highlight moves of the season when he passed to himself through his legs and got off a quality shot on goalkeeper Craig Anderson. He’s been a pest against the Oilers as well, accounting for 15 points in 15 career games.
3. Getting in the groove – The Kings looked much better on the power play during their five-game road trip, producing five goals in 15 man-advantage situations. They remain in the league’s bottom third with a season-long success rate of just 16.7%, but the Oilers come in with the worst penalty-kill unit in the league at 71.3%, making them just the right team for Los Angeles to continue its upward trend.
4. The stat that counts – The biggest disparity between the Kings and Oilers is their goals-against averages. The Kings come in fourth-best in the league at 2.3 goals a game. Edmonton is last at 3.3. Except for a 6-4 loss last week in St. Louis, the Kings haven’t allowed more than two goals in regulation since Nov. 24 in Montreal, a span of 11 games. The Oilers have been better of late, allowing three goals or less in nine of their last 10.
5. Hall gaining fame – Edmonton rookie left wing Taylor Hall is quickly becoming the Blake Griffin of the NHL. Like the Los Angeles Clippers rookie forward, Hall has the explosiveness of a cheetah and the creativity of Leonardo da Vinci. He’s also the son of former Canadian Football League player Steve Hall, who went on to become a member of the Canadian national bobsled team. The younger Hall, who turned 19 last month, has four assists in his last two games.