It really is that simple.
The Oilers should be well-rested when they take on the Coyotes in Phoenix tonight. The ‘Yotes lost 4-1 last night in Anaheim, while the Oilers haven’t played since being shutout in Calgary on Saturday. If the main reason why the Oilers haven’t beaten the Flames in three tries this year is because they’ve faced them in the second half of back-to-back sets, then the Oilers should beat a tired Coyotes team tonight.
The Oilers are 6-5-1 in Phoenix since the lockout, one of the few visiting rinks where the Oilers are .500 or better since the lockout.
The Oilers have only won five games since November 10th, but with Corey Potter and Taylor Hall returning to the lineup the Oilers are only one player (Andy Sutton) from a completely healthy lineup. The management, coaches and players have all stated their goal is to compete for the playoffs this year, so tonight’s game is one of the "must-haves" if they plan on fulfilling that goal.
***Props to whoever photoshopped this picture. Epic***
Potter will be paired with Theo Peckham, but also look for him to return to the 1st unit PP with Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Shawn Horcoff. It is amazing how many people have felt the Oilers PP struggled without Potter, when in fact since he’s been out the PP has actually improved. I’m not saying they are better off without him, but I sense that many fans really liked his come-out-of-nowhere-to-make-the-team storyline and started to overvalue him.
The Oilers PP was 13 for 69, 18.8%, with Potter, and 11 for 52, 21.1%, without him. I don’t think his absence has improved the PP, because the biggest reason for the improvement on the PP is due to Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle becoming an unstoppable combo with the man advantage. Potter’s hard low shot will give them another weapon, but you shouldn’t expect him to become a major factor.
Reading many of the comments in the Nation the past month I sense many of you have heightened expectations of Potter now. Considering he had none at the beginning of the season, and played well in his 16 games, I understand why people expect him to help get this team back on track. He might be able to, but keep in mind he’s essentially a 27-year-old rookie.
Ryan Whitney and Ales Hemsky have struggled since returning from injuries, and Sam Gagner needed 13 games before he started playing well after his preseason ankle injury. Potter might be able to bounce back quicker, but if regular NHL veterans struggle after an injury, you should expect a D-man with only 25 NHL games to most likely need a few games, or maybe weeks, to recoup his pre-injury game.
The Triple H line will be re-united tonight, and I’m sure Tom Renney is hoping the return of Hall will kickstart Ales Hemsky.
Gagner – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Hall – Horcoff – Hemsky
Smyth – Belanger – Jones
Eager – Lander – Petrell
Smid – Gilbert
Whitney – Petry
Peckham – Potter
We’ll also see Ryan Smyth play with Eric Belanger and Ryan Jones for the first time. Smyth hasn’t scored in eight games, but he’s been expectional on the road this year tallying 16 points in 14 road games. The Oilers have 33 goals on the road and Smyth has been in on 48.4% of them. He’s been their best player away from Rexall and they will need him to continue being a road warrior tonight.
Like I wrote earlier this week, two maintenance days after a day off were a sign Nikolai Khabibulin has some minor injury. He practiced yesterday, which is a goo sign, but the Oilers clearly don’t want him to risk aggravating his tender groin. Dubnyk will have consecutive starts for the first time this year.
Still no word from the Oilers on who will be "injured" or go to OKC, but they have to make a decision once they officially activate Corey Potter and Taylor Hall. If it isn’t Magnus Paajarvi being re-assigned, and he isn’t in the lineup then I have no clue what their reasoning is. If it isn’t him then it will be Teubert based on practice.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Four days rest combined with the Coyotes 4-1 loss in Anaheim last night equals the Oilers first road win since November 25th. Oilers win 3-1 and Smyth’s goalless streak ends at eight games.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hemsky scores a goal. Phoenix is one of only two teams (CBJ is the other) that Hemsky has 10 career-goals against.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The game will be sold out…yeah right…
Yesterday the winning bid of our package of Leafs/Oilers tickets, party for ten at the Druid plus $200 in GCs, a Jordan Eberle framed pic and a fun extra of Eberle’s WJC bobblehead turned out to be a fake. Not a great human being in my mind, but oh well. Today I will re-auction this for the first hour 2-3 p.m. and go just go with what we get. He bid $1,500 yesterday. If you want in call in first hour.
Today’s we have a great package that consists of the Oilers, technology and a great evening out.
- A pair of Club Seats to the Oilers/Avalanche on January 31st.
- The BlackBerry Playbook (Tablet)16GB (pictured above) courtesy of Digital Communications.
- A "Great Night out for four" at Vons Steakhouse and Oyster Bar. You will have a three course meal and bottles of Dynamite Cabernet. After dinner you will have VIP entrance ( for 10 people) into Cook County Saloon and $100 in GCs.
To bid you can call 780.426.8326 or email email@example.com. Bidding starts at 3 p.m and ends at 5:45 MST with 100% of the money going to the Christmas Bureau.
Over 60,000 people need help from the Christmas Bureau so if you can’t bid on this package, but you want help you can donate here. or you can make a quick donation on your phone. Just text: Christmas to 45678 for a $10 donation or Hamper to 45678 for $5.
Thanks in advance and Merry Christmas.