The Coyotes are hoping to use this game to wash away the memories of their recent 7-4 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. It was the third game this season where the Yotes let their opponent score more than five goals and was definitely a wake up call for a team that had previously been riding a seven-game point streak. Luckily, the Coyotes had the day off to reset, and practice, and we will hopefully see a better effort out of the Desert Dogs during this matinee game.
While the Coyotes loss on Thursday was bad, there were some positive takeaways. They scored four times, so offense wasn't too much of an issue. Despite being down 4-0 they still managed to stage a somewhat successful comeback before being taken out in the third. If the team can take what worked from that game and fix the few things that didn't work, they should be in a good position moving forward.
Edmonton made a couple moves in the offseason including signing Phoenix veterans Boyd Gordon and Jason LaBarbera. Gordon has already made an impact on the team, and he is getting praise for many of the same things that he did in Phoenix.
The Oilers aren't off to the best start this year. Injuries and some not great goaltending have lead to a 3-7-1 record, good enough for last in the new Pacific Division and the Western Conference. They did manage to pull together two wins at the end of a long road trip as the beat the Senators and Canadiens but they fell in their last game to the Capitals. It's also important to note that they will be playing the Kings tomorrow, and they may end up conserving their energy for the first game of a back-to-back.
|Phoenix Coyotes||Ranking||Edmonton Oilers|
|9th (3.18)||Goals For||18th (2.73)|
|25th (3.09)||Goals Against||30th (3.91)|
|17th (18.0)||PP %||24th (12.8)|
|14th (82.6)||PK %||28th (73.7)|
Keys to the Game
Tighten up the defense. Perhaps the biggest problem with the Coyotes game against the Kings was the defensive lapses. The fact that they were down 4-0 after the first showcases this. After drafting three forwards first overall, the Oilers are a highly skilled offensive team that will make the Yotes play if they have sloppy defense.
Score first score often. The Red Wings and the Kings scored first against the Coyotes. The Yotes rebounded against both teams and ultimately tied the game, however it was difficult and they only ended up with a win against Detroit. Compared to the games where they scored first these games were more difficult for the Coyotes, scoring first solves that problem.
Play physical but smart. The Coyotes play a very physical game and it benefits them. A hard checking game will slow down the Oilers and not let them generate offense. It's important they don't cross the line and give Edmonton power plays.
|2013 - Martin Hanzal||4||6||10||-3||17|
Martin Hanzal has been playing very well the past few games. He scored twice in the loss to the Kings, including a power play goal, and had the game winner against the Detroit Red Wings. Previously, he had assists in games against the Ducks and the Senators.
|2013 - Jordan Eberle||3||7||10||3||2|
Jordan Eberle is tied for the lead in points with the Oilers and is tied for 2nd in goals. He has six points in the last five games with two goals and four assists. However he was a -4 during his last game against the Capitals.
Likely Starting Goaltenders
|2013 - Mike Smith||10||546||5||2||28||3.08||301||273||.907||0|
Mike Smith's first period against the Kings was less than great to put it mildly. Defense was part of the problem but he really didn't look himself either. He will likely be looking for a bounce back against the offensively talented Oilers.
|2013 - Jason LaBarbera||4||205||1||2||11||3.22||85||74||.871||0|
Jason LaBarbera spent years as the Phoenix Coyotes back up but when he wasn't re-signed by the Coyotes he took his services to Edmonton. So far Barbs has played in four games for the Oilers and has a 3.22 goals against average, one win, a pair of loses to his name and a .871 save percentage.
It was announced on Friday that Lauri Korpikoski was placed on the injured reserve list with an upper body injury.
Edmonton has been taking a beating lately, Ryan Hamilton, Steve MacIntyre, Sam Gagner, Jesse Joensuu, Taylor Hall, and Ryan Smyth are all out with injuries from the knee to the jaw. Corey Potter is currently playing with the Oiler's AHL affiliate on a conditioning assignment.
The game starts at 12 noon with tailgating starting at 8 a.m. It will be airing on Fox Sports Arizona and on Arizona Sports 620.