GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 15: Shane Doan #19 of the Phoenix Coyotes skates with the puck past Anton Lander #57 of the Edmonton Oilers during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on December 15, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Oilers 4-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Tomorrow the Phoenix Coyotes will be looking to get their fourth win over the Edmonton Oilers this season and fifth in a row at Rexall Place. This may be just what the doctor ordered for the struggling Desert Dogs, who have yet to gain the momentum in March that they had when they were dominating the month of February. If the Yotes can get the win tonight they will be tied with the Dallas Stars for the Pacific Division lead, which will make Tuesday's game all the more interesting, Coyotes and Stars, winner leads the division.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, before that game the Coyotes will be facing an Oilers team, which we can all admit, has struggled this season. The Yotes had previously been on a four game point streak before being beaten in regulation by the Calgary Flames last Thursday, a game which featured only one Coyotes goal. The Yotes have played amazingly against the Oilers this season, they are 3-0-0, and have won the games by two goals. The Coyotes are going to need to go into this game with the right amount of confidence, they need to play like they know that they can win, but not so confident that they underestimate the Oilers. Coming off a loss against a team that they had twice beaten last month, it isn't likely that they will be overconfident in their abilities, but hopefully they will play like they need to to win, and get the two points which will tie them with the Stars for the lead over the Division.
The Oilers have definitely struggled this season, they are currently second to last in the West just above Columbus, they give up more goals than they score, and their road record is 10-21-3. At home they are better, 18-15-4, but they still should not be taken lightly. Like Columbus they seem to be playing the role of the spoiler during these last few games, beating teams like Calgary and San Jose, which are desperately trying to get into the top 8. They will also be coming off a win against the Flames, the team that beat the Coyotes last Thursday. So they will be going into this game with a home record where they win more than they lose and with the momentum from a 3-1 victory, and they aren't going to want the Coyotes to sweep them, which makes them a dangerous obstacle, but one that the Coyotes can overcome with hard work.
Five For Winning
1. Don't let the Oilers score first. Especially 17 seconds into the game like another Canadian team did recently. I really don't need to say anymore do I?
2. Play physical. The games I have watched between these two teams have been very physical and the Yotes have dominated those games. If it isn't broke don't fix it.
3. Take lots of shots. Its pretty simple math but you usually need to shoot the puck in order to score goals, and goals are what win games. The Coyotes are going to need to generate offense, despite winning the last game they only had 20 shots on goal.
4. Defense. The most shots on goal that the Oilers have had against the Coyotes in a single game this season is 26. Keep Edmonton from getting those shots and chances and you keep them off the board.
5. Play like the other three games and just win. No further explanation needed.
|2011 - Ray Whitney||21||45||66||24||26|
Ray Whitney has been an assist machine these past few games, 5 in his last 3, and has the most points against the Oilers this season, 5. The Wizard needs to bring his A game tomorrow, set some people up and maybe score a goal or two for himself.
|2011 - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins||18||27||45||-1||8|
The young Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been playing great this season, he has 3 goals in the past two games, and has been one of the two best players against the Coyotes this season with 2 goals an assist.
Likely Starting Goalies
|2011 - Mike Smith||58||3349||31||18||132||2.36||1730||1598||.924||5|
Mike Smith has not lost against the Oilers this season. That's all you need to know.
|2011 - Devan Dubnyk||38||2104||16||17||97||2.77||1081||984||.910||2|
Devan Dubnyk has not won against the Yotes this season but he has been looking good lately. He stopped 40-41 shots in his past two games which was all it took to beat the Flames and shutout the Blue Jackets.
Phoenix Coyotes Injuries
Edmonton Oilers Injuries
Remember to come back tomorrow for the game day thread and recap, and head over to The Copper & Blue to get their side of the story. Happy St. Patrick's Day.