Well after this past game against the Red Wings, this team could really use a win against a slumping Edmonton squad. Against the Wings we just looked... flat. At least after the first 10 minutes. We just didn't show up to play Maybe they can actually put together a complete effort tonight. Yeah, I know we've only lost 1 and it's not really a streak unless you include the OTL to San Jose, but the West is packed this year and we don't have a whole lot of margin for error as the smallest slide can put us completely out of the top 8. This is a should win against a stuggling team so we need to show that we can win those should win games now.
Five for Winning
Just Show Up
For the whole game. Those first 10 on Saturday were great. Hitting everyone, fighting for pucks, powering through to the zone it was great. Then we fell off a damn cliff. Nothing seemed to be going right. The hitting stopped we let Red WIngs just coast into our defensive zone. The intensity was gone. The Oilers would be a good team to play against on the rebound as they've been 1-9-0 over the last ten games. Not a good run for the Oil.
Return of the PKing
Both Jim Vandermeer and Vernon Fiddler who had been sidelined with injuries are expected back for the Coyotes tonight. That can only be good news for the Coyotes especially on the power play. Fiddler has been key in winning the PK faceoffs and Vandermeer has been pretty solid on the backend and always brings hits and intensity. Unfortunately Scottie Upshall is out for a bit with what sounds like a bruised kidney.
Don't Look Past This Team
While the Oilers may be struggling, they were the last time we went to Edmonton too and we got blanked 4-0. Jeff Deslauriers was in goal that night too and we just couldn't solve him. The Coyotes website had a good quote from Radim Vrbata about that though:
"The last time we played Edmonton they were struggling too and they beat us pretty bad so we feel like we
owe them one." - PhoenixCoyotes.com Preview
Injury Bugs Must Be HUGE in Edmonton
The Oilers have lost an astounding 242 man games due to injury this season. In comparison the Coyotes have only lost a total of 89. That's an insane number for any team to absorb, especially when the guys that are out are some significant names. Nikolai Khabibulin has been out with a back injury, Ales Hemsky, Marc Pouliot has been out all season, Mike Comrie got mono and the list is a lot longer than that of guys in and out of the lineup. Not a good thing for what was projected as a middle of the road team at the beginning of the season.
Bryz is a Star Again
The most important part of our team this season was once again honored by the NHL as Ilya Bryzgalov was named the #2 star of December by the NHL. Bryzgalov was 8-2-3 with 1.82GAA and a .939 SV%. While the Defensive system has really helped, Bryz has stood on his head in more times than I can remember this year. Unless someone starts having a breakout year offensively, he's hands down the Team MVP
More to come...