|Oilers hoping for miracle as surging Kings visit|
With seven games remaining on the schedule and sitting seven points out of a playoff spot, the Edmonton Oilers are in faint-hope territory.
While it's possible they can make the playoffs, the Oilers more than likely are destined to miss the Stanley Cup chase for the 12th time in 13 seasons.
But until they're officially eliminated, there's always a flicker of hope, and going into their home date with the Western Conference's cellar-dwelling Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night, the Oilers are flat-out praying for a miracle.
"Everyone in here, we have an opportunity to do something great," stated Sam Gagner after Monday's practice. "We've had a couple tough losses the last little bit, but we've still got a chance to get back in here. We win (Tuesday) and we'll see what happens."
The Oilers (33-34-8, 74 points) are coming off an incredibly disappointing result, a 4-3 overtime defeat Saturday at the hands of the NHL's last place team, the Ottawa Senators. Sure, they gained one point in the standings, but not pocketing two points against the league's worst club was a major disappointment for a squad that can't afford any slips.
"Obviously we wanted both points last game, but we can't we can't dwell on that," said defenseman Darnell Nurse. "We've got a big matchup (Tuesday) night, and we're excited to play. The mindset can't change at all."
The Kings (28-39-8, 64 points) arrive riding a three-game winning streak, the latest in the string a 3-0 victory over the Western Conference-leading Calgary Flames on Monday night to kick off a three-game road trip.
"Our job as players is to play," said defenseman Dion Phaneuf. "Where we're at the the standings, we're aware, and everybody's disappointed, but the bottom line is we have a job to do."
Phaneuf added: "I thought we deserved the win. ... We wanted to come in and play a good road game against a very good team."
Backup goalie Jack Campbell made 42 saves for his second shutout of the season, as the Kings were outshot 42-20.
"I thought we played a great game," Campbell said on the Fox Sports West broadcast after the game. "This is a tough building to play in, and we got a great effort from everybody. Guys helped me out a lot, clearing the rebounds and letting me see the puck. It was a well-executed game by everybody."
"We really rode Jack's coattails that whole game. A huge performance by him, for sure," said forward Jonny Brodzinski, who provided a key insurance goal in the win.
While an Oilers miracle run to a playoff spot is unlikely, it is obvious there will be changes in the offseason. The club will hire a new general manager, who will take the reins in the latest rebuild for the struggling franchise.
Gagner, however, said there's a simple way to deal with the uncertainty that's coming.
"Focus on what you can control, and that's on-ice product," he said. "Just try and get ready for the games, and make sure you're preparing in practice the best you can. If you can do that, more often than not, you can feel good about what you're doing and don't have to worry about anything else."
--Field Level Media