The NHL playoffs start next week, and the Edmonton Oilers want game one at home.
They can take a big step towards nailing down home ice in round one with a road win over the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday night.
“The biggest thing for us was to clinch a playoff spot, but we didn’t want to settle down and ease our way into the playoffs,” said Draisaitl. “We want to keep getting points. We want to take a run at winning the division.”
The Oilers, winners of five straight, have four games left in the regular season and trail Anaheim by two points for first in the Pacific Divison. The Ducks have three games to go and take on Calgary Tuesday.
“We want to be on the upswing going into the playoffs,” said head coach Todd McLellan. “Some would say we’re there now. I don’t believe that despite our record. There are some areas we have to improve on.”
The Oilers are 9-1-0 in their last ten. The line of Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, and Patrick Maroon has been pacing the offence. Draisaitl and McDavid are both riding ten-game point streaks.
“We’ve been getting a few bounces here and there. Every player needs those,” said Leon Draisaitl. “We’ve been playing good hockey as a team. That helps us as a line.”
The Oilers expected lineup is:
Maroon – McDavid – Draisaitl
Lucic – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Pouliot – Desharnais – Kassian
Caggiula – Letestu – Slepyshev
Sekera – Russell
Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Benning
Cam Talbot will be looking to set a new team record for most wins in a season. He’s currently at 40, matching Grant Fuhr’s total in 1987/88.
Catch the Oilers and Kings on 630 CHED with the Face-off Show at 7pm. The game starts at 8:30pm.
The Oilers have assigned forward Jujhar Khaira to the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. Oilers prospect Ethan Bear of the Seattle Thunderbirds has been named the CHL’s Player of the Week. (jrw)