2016 has been kind to the Arizona Coyotes. The team has taken points in every single game, with regulation wins against two of three Pacific Division teams. The only team to beat them in that stretch now comes to Gila River Arena.
The Edmonton Oilers will try to right the ship after a nasty 3-6-1 stretch when they come to Glendale tonight.
Matchup at a Glance
|Edmonton Oilers||Arizona Coyotes|
|Points||37 (7th Pacific)||46 (2nd Pacific)|
|Goals For||2.37 (T-23rd)||2.83 (T-7th)|
|Goals Against||2.95 (27th)||3.02 (28th)|
|Power Play||16.3% (27th)||18.0% (19th)|
|Penalty Kill||80.5 (15th)||78.8% (T-23rd)|
|5v5 Corsi For||48.5% (19th)||46.6% (29th)|
|PDO||98.3 (27th)||101.5 (T-5th)|
View from Edmonton
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After hanging around in the Pacific for a few months, the Edmonton Oilers are reverting back to their usual selves. The defense is as porous as ever, and Connor McDavid is not expected back until after the All-Star Break. Despite a myriad of talented forwards like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle, Edmonton is still struggling to score.
Equally problematic is the play of both Cam Talbot and Anders Nilsson. Both netminders have conceded 61 goals this season for identical .908 save percentages. The Oilers are getting consistent play in net, but the problem is that play is below average.
View from Arizona
It's hard to not beat a dead horse when it comes to this Coyotes team. They look more and more like the year's designated fancy-stats beater, which has not worked out well for Colorado, Toronto, and Calgary in years past. Yet there they are, near the top of the Pacific Division, with no definite signs of reversion on the horizon.
Louis Domingue continues to be excellent as the de facto #1, which makes the fact that he nearly spent the year in Europe perhaps an even stronger indicator that this Coyotes team is catch some lucky breaks like nobody else this season.
Though slightly overshadowed by the play of Domingue, Arizona's power play is also finally clicking. The Coyotes have scored a power play goal in three consecutive games, and are lowly making their way towards 20% on the season. It's a tremendous boost to the offense when the team can convert on man-advantage opportunities.
Keys to the Game
- Neutral Zone Play - Arizona frustrated Nashville by making offensive zone entries a total nightmare. The Coyotes can really help control Edmonton's speedy forwards by making the middle of the ice a slog.
- Stay Above the Red-Line - The Coyotes have scored plenty of goals from point-blank range, which is possible when forwards stop short of the red-line on rushes.
- Be Better Shorthanded - It's not just about keeping the puck out of the net, it's about disrupting zone entries and not allowing the Oilers to move the puck around the outside. Hold the puck on the boards or in the defensive end.
Players to Watch
If there's hope for Edmonton's defense, it's in Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse. The pair have combined for six goals and thirteen assists, but both have missed some time. Both have plenty time to improve, which is what the Oilers desparately need.
Oh look, Shane Doan is on pace for another 20+ goal season. He has four goals in his last five games, and doesn't look like he's slowing down at all.
The Oilers have Andrew Ference, Oscar Klefbom, and Connor McDavid on injured reserve. Matt Hendricks will not play tonight as he serves a three game suspension after boarding Aaron Ekblad on Sunday, while Nail Yakupov is considered questionable for tonight's game.
Mike Smith and Joe Vitale are both on injured reserve, but the Coyotes are otherwise healthy.
Tonight's game begins at 7 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona Plus or listen on ESPN 620 AM.