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Arizona Coyotes vs Edmonton Oilers Preview: Looking to Finish Strong

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The Coyotes hope to build off a win against the Calgary Flames tonight against the Edmonton Oilers.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes look to get two wins in a row for the first time in a month as they finish their four game road trip with a game against the Edmonton Oilers tonight.

Matchup at a Glance

Edmonton Oilers

Arizona Coyotes

Points

61 (7th in the Pacific)

65 (4th in the Pacific)

Goals For

2.36 (T-26th)

2.65 (T-15th)

Goals Against

2.90 (25th)

3.09 (29th)

Power Play

16.7 (25th)

18.6 (15th)

Penalty Kill

81.1 (14th)

78.1 (26th)

5v5 Corsi For*

49.0 (18th)

47.4 (27th)

PDO*

98.8 (27th)

100.1 (14th)

*stats courtesy of stats.hockeyanalysis.com

View from Edmonton

For the latest on the Edmonton Oilers, check out The Copper & Blue.

Like death and taxes, the Edmonton Oilers being bad is a certainty in life. But in a year where it is likely that no Canadian team will make it to the playoffs, Oilers fans can be proud of the fact that they are at least not the worst team this year, and things actually appear to be trending upward for them.

Edmonton has won five of their last seven games, including a 4-0 win against a desperate Flyers team at home. The wins seem to largely be 2-1 or 3-1 victories, and except for one game they have been regulation wins. Close wins are a good sign for a young team.

Part of the reason for the Oilers recent good fortune is the return of Connor McDavid in early February. McDavid has four goals and two assists in March and has scored two game winning goals for Edmonton against the Minnesota Wild and the Buffalo Sabres. Edmonton's success is also due to what is typically considered a weakness of the Oilers, their goaltending. Cam Talbot has been good recently, allowing one goal or fewer in five of his past six starts. Although he has not been elite this season, he is proving to be a solid starter for the Oilers.

View from Arizona

The Coyotes fell hard in the standings recently with a seven game losing streak that was finally broken with a 5-1 win against the Florida Panthers. The Coyotes managed another win last night with a 4-1 w against division rival Calgary Flames, who like tonight's opponent have been very bad this season. Last night's win also broke a ten game road loss streak, and was their first win on the road since January 25's 2-1 win against the Minnesota Wild.

Other then Louis Domingue's solid play stopping 24 of 25 shots, last night's win can largely be chalked up to the veterans. Boyd Gordon, Antoine Vermette and Brad Richardson all had goals last night and Shane Doan had two assists. Most of the season the Yotes had been relying largely on the younger players (and Doaner who leads the team in goals) to do the scoring, and while they have taken a step back its nice to see the older players finally step up.

Keys to the Game

  • Quick Start. Having played last night, the Yotes are going to want to get a quick start and control the game. The longer the game stays close, the more likely the Coyotes run out of gas before the Oilers do.

  • Protect the goaltender. Edmonton is definitely an offensive threat and the Coyotes are either going to be playing a goaltender who started last night's game or Marek Langhamer, a 21 year old who has yet to see NHL action in his career. They're going to need to help out their netminders.

  • Special teams. In what continues to be the theme of this season, special teams showed their importance last night. The Coyotes were perfect on the penalty kill but allowed a short handed goal early in the second period. The Coyotes also had a short handed goal which tied the team and a power play goal that proved to be the game winner.

Players to Watch

Shane Doan had two assists last night and led the team with six shots. Doan has been having one of his best seasons in recent memory by leading the game in goals.

For the Oilers, Taylor Hall leads the team in points and assists which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. He didn't record a point in his last two games but he usually doesn't stay quiet for long.

Injury Report

Anders Lindback, Joe Vitale, and Jarred Tinordi are all for the rest of the season with an Achilles injury, concussion issues, and a suspension for violating the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program respectively. Mike Smith appears to be a ways away from returning with an injured core muscle. Oliver Ekman-Larsson missed the past two games and is questionable to return tonight.

Brandon Davidson, Benoit Pouliot, Oscar Klefbom, and Andrew Ference are all out for the rest of the season with knee, shoulder, finger, and hip injuries. Darnell Nurse was suspended for violating the league's aggressor rule during the Oilers game against the San Jose Sharks. Eric Gryba is out with a knee injury and is likely to return later this month. Matt Hendricks is questionable for tonight after leaving his last game early with an undisclosed injury. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins previously had been on the IR with a hand injury but is set to return tonight.

Puck Drop

Tonight's game will be airing on Fox Sports Arizona Plus at 8 PM and on the radio at AZ Sports 98.7 FM as well.