GLENDALE AZ - JANUARY 25: (L-R) Eric Belanger #20 Taylor Pyatt #14 and Lee Stempniak #22 of the Phoenix Coyotes skate up ice during the NHL game against the Edmonton Oilers at Jobing.com Arena on January 25 2011 in Glendale Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Phoenix Coyotes complete their final skirmish of their personal Battle of Alberta as they enter Rexall Place to face the Edmonton Oilers.
These two teams have been running in almost opposite directions as the Coyotes have put together a five game unbeaten streak, winning their last three consecutive games. The Oilers though have lost four in a row, with a 5-1 beating at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Will this be an easy two points for the Desert Dogs? Is the Oilers' engine so beyond repair that they can only limp to the finish line before they rebuild?
If the M*A*S*H unit for the Coyotes seems daunting, the Oilers' injuries can be described as high octane intensive care unit. The team's top three point producers of Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner, and Ales Hemsky are all unavailable. Winning games can be insanely difficult with these types of players on the shelf.
To ignore the rest of the team completely would be a mistake though with the likes of Jordan Eberle and Andrew Cogliano on the ice. The Coyotes can't take a night off, especially with how important all of these points are to their position in the standings.
The Coyotes on the other hand, have their engines almost running on all cylinders with Shane Doan putting together a five-game point streak, scoring three goals and four assists during this stretch. Lauri Korpikoski continues to impress notching three goals in his last five, with a game winner at the expense of the Anaheim Ducks.
There is a danger here that the Coyotes will be well served to avoid. During my very, very brief stint as a high school softball coach, when we came up against a lesser opponent, our athletes sometimes forgot that they had to play the game the right way. Instead of walking onto the field ready to enact the slaughter rule and go home early, they had to endure a tight contest as their opponent played "up" to them and they failed to adjust.
The same premise applies tonight. These are two points that are just there for the taking. If the Coyotes play their brand of hockey and play the Oilers as they were a playoff contender, the results should take care of themselves.
Five for Winning
- Not take these two points for granted. The Oilers are a proud franchise and they would like nothing else to spoil the Coyotes' success.
- Not to look forward to Vancouver. That's tomorrow.
- Continue to work on their specialty teams. This is the current leak in their game that has yet to be solved. Against this opponent they can exploit the Oilers 30th ranked PP and 28th ranked PK.
- Work on limiting turnovers. It's a problem everywhere, but especially in their defensive zone as they continually pass the puck from the corners to the middle of the ice - right in prime scoring position for the attacking forwards. Good teams have been exploiting this tendency.
- Use their aggressive forecheck and take advantage of the porous defense. Edmonton ranks 27th in plus/minus with a minus-26. They are second to last in the NHL with a minus-20 at home.
|2010 - Jason LaBarbera||16||823||6||6||47||3.43||482||435||.902||2|
|2010 - Devan Dubnyk||30||1759||10||11||83||2.83||949||866||.913||1|
|2010 - Shane Doan||17||35||52||4||61|
|2010 - Jordan Eberle||15||21||36||-8||16|
Phoenix Coyotes Injuries
Edmonton Oilers Injuries