Arizona thoroughly dominated Los Angeles in the last game the Coyotes played en route to a 3-2 overtime victory. Edmonton got thoroughly dominated by Los Angeles last night. The two teams will square off tonight at Gila River Arena in a battle to climb the ranks of the Pacific Division.
Matchup at a Glance
|Edmonton Oilers||Arizona Coyotes|
|Points||1 (7th Pacific)||2 (6th Pacific)|
|Goals Per Game||2.33 (T-21st)||2.5 (T-19th)|
|Goals Against Per Game||5.00 (30th)||4.00 (T-26th)|
|Power Play Percentage||3/9 (33%)||2/7 (28.6%)|
|Penalty Kill Percentage||8/12 (67%)||8/8 (100%)|
|Even Strength Fenwick For %||59.4%||51.8%|
View from Edmonton
Avert your eyes if you are squeamish.
The Edmonton Oilers suffered a massive beatdown 6-1 at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday night. The Kings dictated possession through the first two periods and leapt out to a 5-0 lead before the midway point of the game. Though Edmonton would control possession in the third (and the game overall), the disparity can be attributed to the massive score effects a six goal difference creates and not any competent level of play Edmonton mustered.
So it appears (albeit a very small sample size) that the Edmonton Oilers are still not primed to take another step forward in their rebuild. Though young 1st rounder Darnell Nurse played his first NHL game on defense last night, the team is still woefully deficient on the back end. And their forward group, impressive enough as an offensive force, is not a very good two-way team. It's possible Edmonton turns it around as the season goes on, but early returns are not promising.
View from Arizona
By contrast, the last game the Arizona Coyotes played was a clinic in how to beat good teams. After conceding two early goals (a nagging concern), the Coyotes turned it up. They moved the puck seemingly at will and kept Los Angeles' top lines out of major scoring areas for the most part. For the times where they didn't, Devan Dubnyk made the saves he needed to in order for the Coyotes to get a 3-2 win in overtime.
It's probably too early in the season to call it a "prove it" game for Mike Smith, but he definitely will be looking to turn in a better performance than he did on opening night. And given that Edmonton will be coming off of a disastrous loss in Los Angeles, they will probably try to get to him early.
Keys to the Game
- Get Out of the First - The Oilers will pressure early and often in the 1st period, which has not been kind to the Coyotes so far. If Arizona can keep the sheet clean (or at least manageable), they should stand a good chance of catching the Oilers tiring later on.
- Get Out of the Penalty Box - Thus far the Coyotes have only taken eight minor penalties, which is among the lowest in the NHL. Though the penalty kill has been perfect thus far, the easiest way to keep that perfect streak going is to not take penalties at all.
- Get Out of the Cellar - If the Coyotes want a playoff spot, this is the kind of game they must win: against a poor opponent on the second half of a road back-to-back. There is no excuse for not coming away from this with two points.
Acquired in the trade with Tampa Bay that eventually sent Sam Gagner to Arizona, Teddy Purcell is leading the Oilers team with 3 points. Of course, when the forward corps also includes players like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov, Purcell leading the team in points is probably not a good thing.
Keith Yandle already has three assists for Arizona, but Mikkel Boedker has scored in both of the team's contests thus far. If he's truly reaching another step in his development, he's doing it at the perfect time for the Coyotes.
The Oilers have a slew of key injuries at the moment. Both Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (undisclosed) and Jordan Eberle (undisclosed) did not play last night, and are up in the air for tonight's game. Last night's starter, Viktor Fasth left the game with a groin injury, which means Ben Scrivens will likely play again. Finally, Luke Gadzic had shoulder surgery in the offseason and has yet to appear this season. It remains uncertain if he will play tonight.
Arizona is skating with a clean roster as far as injuries go.
Tonight is a slightly later start time for those heading to the game at Gila River Arena in Glendale. The game will start at 7:30 PM, and can be viewed on Fox Sports Arizona or heard on 620 AM.