AT THE MORNING SKATE:
Judging by attendance at Wednesday's morning skate, the Oilers continue to bounce back from the injuries and illnesses that decimated them in October and early November. Ryan Stone and Marc Pouliot joined recent returnees Robert Nilsson and J-F Jacques on the ice. For Pouliot, the appearance marked his first morning skate since suffering from a pubic bone injury at the beginning of the season.
The only players missing from the skate were Taylor Chorney (ankle), Denis Grebeshkov (knee), Mike Comrie (mono), Fernando Pisani (colitis), and goatlender Nikolai Khabibulin (back). At five players, today's injured list is half what it was just over a week ago.
With Khabibulin missing in action, the Oilers will give Jeff Deslauriers his third consecutive start tonight. The young goalie comes into the game on the heels of a 4-0 shutout win over the Phoenix Coyotes.
Does Deslaurier's recent success make the team more comfortable when he's between the pipes? Head Coach Pat Quinn said that he doesn't think so.
"Over the years, whether it's playing or coaching, you have situations where teams feel more comfortable sometimes in front of one guy versus the other, but I don't sense that here. I think good pros don't look at someone and say 'Boy, this guy's lousy, therefore I'm scared about playing in front him,' because if they are that way, then they're weak.
"So that's where you've got to think about, what have we got to do to shore everything up? That's what teamwork's all about: covering up for your weak spots and doing the things well that you're supposed to do well," Quinn explained.
"[Deslauriers] was a little bit shaky -- he'll say that -- but that's youth learning to get control of emotion, because emotion can be a great strength for you or it can be an achilles heel for you as well. . . It if controls you in bad energy, that's a hard one to beat."
Last 10 -- Kings 5-5-0; Oilers 3-5-2
Season series -- This is the first meeting of the season between these two teams, who split four one-goal games in 2008-09. Anze Kopitar had the winner for the Kings in the first game, almost a year ago to the day, before
Big story: Expectations have certainly changed in
Kings -- Injuries have struck the Kings and it will be interesting to see how the feel-good story of the first quarter reacts to adversity. Both top-line forward Ryan Smyth and top-four defenseman Rob Scuderi are out of the lineup and, as a result, the Kings have dropped back-to-back games. Clearly, these injuries are testing the depth of a team that has not topped 90 points since the 2002-03 season.
Oilers -- Edmonton took a very important 4-0 decision from the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night, easing some of the pressure this team has been feeling after what can only be described as a middling first quarter. The Oilers have won two of three on their latest homestand after losing 11 of their previous 13 games. But there were concerns remaining in the win against
Who's hot -- Kings defenseman Drew Doughty is having a special season. He already has 6 goals, which matches his total from his rookie season, and has 14 assists after managing 21 all of last season. For
Injury report --
Scuderi has missed three consecutive games with an undisclosed lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day for the Kings. Smyth, who has an undisclosed upper-body injury, is expected to be out until mid-December.
Stat pack: Kings leading scorer Anze Kopitar does not have a goal in his last six games. He had 6 goals in the seven games before the start of the drought.
Puck drop: Both teams are desperate for a win here. Yes,