After a disheartening loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night, the Oilers are back in action this afternoon against the 31st place Arizona Coyotes. You’d think this is a game they’d have to win, right?! RIGHT!?
At this point in the season, we’re all suffering through the Oilers’ death march into the summer and all we can really hope for is 60 minutes worth of effort. I mean, it’s horrible to have to set the bar that low but the idea of actually stringing some wins together seems like a pipe dream at this point. At this point, if the Oilers didn’t have bad luck then they would have none at all, and it’s a black cloud that seems to be relentless in its pursuit. I’ve said it a million times now, but I don’t think even the harshest Oiler critic would have imagined the season going as poorly as it has. To be in a lottery spot again seems almost unfathomable, but the numbers don’t lie.
The last time these two teams met, the Oilers allowed two goals in the first few minutes of the hockey game, causing Cam Talbot to get the hook and forcing the Oilers to, once again, play from behind. Fortunately, they were able to complete the comeback and win that hockey game, but they certainly did everything they could to make things harder on themselves. For today’s game, I’m hoping that the Oilers will actually be ready to play, but that seems to be too big of an ask these days so I won’t be holding my breath. On paper, the Coyotes are a team that the Oilers should stomp but nothing that’s on paper makes sense anymore so who knows what to expect?
Would it really be surprising if the Oilers beat the Coyotes by five goals? How about if they lost by five? Either outcome seems likely at this point. What a season.
NUMBERS TO KNOW…
- Right now, the most important number to know is that the Oilers find themselves on another five-game losing streak, their first of the season but third such streak that is four-games or longer. Not a great look.
- On the flip side, the Coyotes are in the midst of a three-game winning streak in which they’ve outscored their opponents by a margin of 13-4. For as bad as the Coyotes have been this season, the run they’re on is some of the best hockey they’ve played and it will likely mean a tough afternoon for our boys in white. Can they be ready to play for a full 60 minutes? We shall see.
- Looking at the fancies, the Oilers are still maintaining their top-5 position in terms of CF% with a 52.11%. While the numbers suggest that the Oilers are still getting their fair share of chances, they’re never able to convert on anything. As of this morning, the Oilers are shooting at only 8.23% which ranks them in the bottom third in the league.
- One of the weirdest stats of the season is how the Oilers can do a good job of killing penalties on the road, but are completely useless at home. Coming into today’s game, the Oilers’ road PK percentage is 85.5% which ranks 2nd in the NHL, a drastic change from what’s going on at home where they’re bad on a historical level.
- Looking at the goal differential, these two teams are majorly depressing if you’re a fan of defence. The Oilers -30 (158GF, 188GA) absolutely crushes the Coyotes’ -55 (142GF, 197 GA) which is both hilarious and horrifying at the same time. Both teams suck at scoring and keeping the puck out of their own net which is a lethal combination for any team.
- Clayton Keller, the Coyotes’ leading scorer, torched the Canadiens for four points on Thursday night and the Oilers will always need to be aware of where he’s at on the ice. Keller has eight points (3G, 5A) over his last five games as continues his push for the Calder Trophy.
- I’ve eaten 25 cans of beets since my stupid #BeetCast bet started. The struggle is real.
Adam Larsson returned to practice yesterday, but Todd McLellan said after practice that there was no defined timetable for his return. To make matters worse, Al Montoya took a high shot in practice and it was unclear whether or not he would be available for this weekend. At the time of posting, there hadn’t been any line combos released yet but I’ll jump in and update things as soon as I see some news.
***UPDATED*** Larsson is in, Benning is out, and the Oilers have recalled Laurent Brossoit as an emergency backup.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
Tocchet said he expects that — if the team continues to play within the system — it will make next season that much better.
“It’s important to build and get an identity, Tocchet said. “That way, when they guys come back in for summer camps, this thing isn’t foreign to them.We’ll be a little bit ahead of schedule on that stuff. We can’t afford to take our foot off the gas pedal. We don’t have that type of team.”
Tocchet said he wants his players to treat the last 27 games as if they are playoff games — and as if their jobs depend on it. Because they just might.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Gord bless the Arizona Coyotes for being so bad this season. The Oilers needed a confidence boost and they get one today, leaving Glendale with a 3-2 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: A large segment of Nation readers will ‘forget’ that there’s a game today, and won’t turn on the TV until the third period.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Not only do the Oilers make it through the first period without allowing a goal against, they even get on the board first with Zack Kassian opening the scoring for Edmonton.
Take home a growler, a crowler, a sixer, a mixer, whatever. Sherbrooke Liquor. Where’s Your Beer?
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 02/17/2018 – 10:00am MST