The Edmonton Oilers closed out the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday with a 5-4 victory. After winning two of the first three games, Edmonton rose to the occasion and won three straight to finish off LA, ending the series in six games.
The storyline for the first few games was the Kings’ ability to keep Connor McDavid off of the score sheet, but that narrative did not continue as he ramped up his game in the final three games. In the final three games, McDavid had one goal and six assists.
Los Angeles had an impressive ability to keep him from scoring goals, but they did not have an answer for Leon Draisaitl, who had seven goals and four assists in the series. It creates significant difficulties when one team has two of the best hockey players in the world on the same team.
The Kings have been known to specialize in grinding you down, playing physically, and keeping the scoring low. However, with the recent additions of Viktor Arvidsson and Kevin Fiala, they have seen a significant increase in goal-scoring. As opposed to when they added Phillip Danault, they became more of what they already were.
Don’t get me wrong, Phillip Danault is an incredible player to have on the team, especially when you also have one of the greatest two-way players in modern hockey, Anze Kopitar. It makes watching the Kings more fun because having two shutdown centers creates havoc for opposing teams, even for a guy like Connor McDavid.
And the additions that Rob Blake has made over the past two offseasons have severely expedited the rebuilding process. Just three years ago, the Kings had the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and now they have already made the playoffs in the past two seasons.
Getting into the playoffs seems like something the Kings can do every year going forward, but the challenge of winning a playoff series is the hurdle that they have to get through at this point. General Manager Rob Blake made an impressive move right before the deadline in acquiring Vladislav Gavrikov and Joonas Korpisalo from the Columbus Blue Jackets, which bolstered the two biggest needs for the Kings.
But, now both of them are pending unrestricted free agents and there will be some challenges in re-signing both of them due to the cap restrictions that Los Angeles is under currently. If Rob Blake does want to sign them both, then some trades would have to be made.
All of those issues and more are what the Kings organization and Kings fans are focused on because Edmonton closed out the series on Saturday night, ending the Kings’ postseason run.
Game Six was a tight battle as the Oilers led 2-1 going into the second period with Connor McDavid scoring just one of his three goals all series. Rising star, Adrian Kempe, netted a goal alongside Kevin Fiala to match the Oilers’ two goals in the second period from Leon Draisaitl and Klim Kostin.
Kostin scored his second of the game and the last of the period, giving Edmonton the 4-3 lead heading into the final 20 minutes. In the potential final minutes of the Kings’ season, Stuart Skinner had the puck on his stick and tried to clear it out of his zone with Phillip Danault skating toward him. Skinner whiffed on the clear and sent the puck right on the attacking-Danault’s stick, giving him quite possibly the easiest goal of his career.
The gift that gave the Kings the tying goal at four apiece brought life to the Kings and Kings’ fans as they watched their team continue to fight to extend the series to seven games. But, in the closing minutes of the game Oilers’ forward Kailer Yamamoto sniped one home past Korpisalo who had no idea where the puck was due to the screen in front of him.
An unfortunate way to end the season, especially on home ice. But, the Kings are trending in the right direction and their future looks very bright.
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