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GDB Game Notes: Oilers @ Coyotes

New Year, new Oilers — hopefully. The Oilers are currently mired in a six-game losing streak and they’ll look to end their woes on Wednesday night in Arizona. Here are your game day notes.

1. Tonight’s game in Arizona will kick off a four-game road swing through the Pacific Division. The Oilers are coming off a five-game homestand that they completely blew by losing all of the games. As awful as this six-game skid has been, this four-game road trip presents the Oilers with an opportunity to redeem themselves. Three or four wins against Pacific teams this week, including two in San Jose and Anaheim that the Oilers are chasing, would go a long way in making up for this ugly six-game losing streak.

2. The Coyotes are the only Pacific Division team the Oilers have yet to face this season. The team is supposed to be built to be successful in this division but, unlike in previous years, we haven’t seen that so far in 2018-19. The Oilers are 4-6-1 against the Pacific so far this season. If Edmonton is going to climb back up the standings and into a playoff spot, they’re going to have to do so by beating the teams in their division.

3. I know it’s still fairly early on, but this feels like a must-win game for the Oilers. The Oilers, as we know, are reeling right now, and, the Coyotes, to be blunt, aren’t a very good team. This was a year many predicted the team would finally break out but it hasn’t happened. Arizona has a 17-20-2 record and they have just one regulation win in their last 13 games. Obviously, this isn’t an automatic win just because the Coyotes are below the Oilers in the standings (it didn’t work that way with St. Louis a few weeks ago) but this is a team the Oilers should beat up on.

4. If the Oilers drop this one, their points percentage will drop below .500 and they’ll see their losing streak extend to seven games. When was the last time the Oilers had a losing streak that long? You’d have to go all the way back to Connor McDavid’s rookie season in which the Oilers went on a seven-game skid that lasted for more than half of the month of February.

5. The young Coyotes have had a difficult time scoring goals this season. They rank 29th in the league in goals for with just 100 through 39 games. Their leading scorer is Brad Richardson with 10 goals. Clayton Keller, who had 23 goals last year in his rookie season, has just eight goals this year. Veterans Derek Stepan, Richard Panik, and Michael Grabner haven’t contributed as much as the team need, as those three have just eight, seven, and six goals respectively. Alex Galchenyuk, who was acquired in a swap for Max Domi last summer, has been a bust in Arizona so far as he only has six goals in 29 games.

6. It’ll be a match of a team that can’t score vs a team that can’t stop themselves from getting scored on. Since Oscar Klefbom and Kris Russell got injured in Colorado, the Oilers have allowed a whopping five goals against per game. Even adding Alex Petrovic and Brandon Manning to the mix didn’t help much as the Oilers still allowed four goals against Winnipeg on New Year’s Eve. They’ve allowed at least four goals against in all six of their losses during this skid.

7. While the Coyotes have struggled to score, they’ve actually been very effective at keeping the puck out of the net. The Coyotes rank ninth in the league with 112 goals against. A big part of that has been their incredible penalty kill. Arizona is killing 87.7 percent of their penalties, giving them the best PK in the league. They’re also shockingly lethal on the PK as they’ve scored 11 goals while shorthanded. Hilariously enough, that’s half as many goals as they’ve managed to score on the power play this season.

8. Arizona’s starting goalie Antti Raanta was injured back in November and he’ll miss the remainder of the season. 22-year-old Adin Hill, who the Coyotes recalled to split the net with backup Darcy Keumper, has been excellent in a limited showing. Hill has a .916 save percentage in 11 games, which is quite a bit better than the .906 and .908 save percentages that Raanta and Keumper have posted this season.

9. Beyond Raanta, the Coyotes have struggled with their fair share of injuries this season. Christian Dvorak, a key forward heading into his third year in the league, could miss the entire season while recovering from pectoral surgery. Jason Demers suffered a knee injury in November and will miss the entire season. Michael Grabner is dealing with an eye injury and it isn’t known when he’ll return. Alex Galchenyuk was also hurt to start the season and he’s had a tough time catching up.

10. I alluded to this earlier, but this really seemed like the year the Coyotes would take a step forward. Last season, they put together a very strong second half, going 20-14-7 in their final 41 games, which is good for a 94-point pace. Of course, it simply hasn’t happened as the Coyotes wealth of young talent hasn’t been able to translate to the NHL level. It’s amazing how things have worked out so poorly for them in the last few years. In 2014-15, they tanked aggressively for Connor McDavid, finishing second-last in the league ahead of only Buffalo. Edmonton won the lottery, bumping the Coyotes to third, where they missed out of a very nice consolation prize in Jack Eichel, Dylan Strome, who they picked third overall, was a bust and has since been dealt to the Blackhawks. The following year, the Coyotes overachieved and totally pulled themselves out of an opportunity to land local prodigy Auston Matthews at the 2016 draft. Now the team is just sitting in purgatory, lacking a true superstar and unable to translate their young talent into legitimate success at the NHL level.

GAME NOTES BROUGHT TO YOU BY ATB FINANCIAL

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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 1/02/2018 – 8:00 am MST



  • The future never comes

    As much as we all cling on to hope, let yourself relax this year and realize they are done, stick a fork in it and save alot of stress. I’m in the mode once to change the channel depending on how the first period looks or not watch them at all. This Oilers story is so old and overdone.

    • VK63

      you are not alone. The buffoons in charge of this show have blown huge gaping holes in a once strong brand. Unbelievably or perhaps predictably they seem completely oblivious to the fact that their ship has hit an iceberg and is heading towards a frozen and terminal end.
      Although once inconceivable, I accept the fact that it is exactly what they deserve.

        • Hemmercules

          The unfortunate truth. The building will continue to sell out no matter what the on ice product is. Hockey hungry Edmontonians will never leave that brand new building with empty seats, at least for a few years anyway if it continues like this.

    • Hemmercules

      Im with you guys. Seen this stressful movie way too many times. Last year I quit watching games almost entirely after New years and I felt a lot better mentally and physically.

      It’s really sad what has become of this team and there is really nothing any of us can do about it. I can’t even imagine the new GM making enough moves this summer to improve the team enough to make the playoffs next year either. A starting goalie, 3 or 4 wingers and two top 5 Dmen, all while trying to ditch a few gross contracts. Thats a tall order. I can only hope the new guy can take it slow, don’t make any knee jerk trades or sign any free agents the morning of free agency day. Might as well rebuild right and shoot for playoff towards the end of McD’c contract.

      Rebuild part 3 (or is it 4?) starts in April. It will be interesting to see who the OBC chooses for their next saviour GM?? I wonder if they dip into the rookie crop or take a proven guy??

    • Oilerz4life

      What about ownership? The OBC isn’t going anywhere under this current owner. The nepotism has only increased under Katz, no matter what the circumstances.

  • TKB2677

    This is a must win game for the Oilers. The problem is while the Oilers need more scoring from guys other than McDavid, Leon or Nuge, while the defense isn’t that good, they can’t win without goaltending. Talbot was brutal for more of the season last year and has been brutal this season. Koskinen was great but has slowed down. They need some stops.

    • Ty Guy

      Talbot looks like he has no idea where the puck is half the time and if he does, he gets so far out of position and turned around he has no chance to stop it.

      • TKB2677

        I agree. I really thought Talbot would bounce back and have a solid year. He hasn’t at all. i have zero confidence when he is in the net and I think neither does the team which is a problem. The team has a lot of issues but if you don’t believe your goalie can make the saves, it makes things worse.

        • Ty Guy

          how many other Oiler fans hold their breath until the first shot on net gets registered? I have played with a goalie like that before, it is immensely deflating. You don’t want to pile on him but there are only so many pad taps and “shake-it-offs” you can offer. At this rate Cam will need to worry about his next contract….in the KHL.

          • TKB2677

            You have to think the goaltending especially Talbot weighs on the players mind even just a tiny bit. He’s got a 3.30 GA. So that means every night he plays, you will have to score 4 goals to win. The highest scoring team last year – Tampa – Scored 3.6 goals per game. The second highest, the Jets, scored 3.3 goals per game last year. So to win in a Talbot start most nights, you have to score way more goals than ALL the teams average. How can that not mess with the players minds just a bit and affect their play? It has to. Then you factor in the fact that Talbot lets in a badish goal pretty much every start, so you are ALWAYS behind the 8 ball.

          • Stallions #35

            Like the Professor Ben Scrivens? lol… I still think part of it has to do with the goalie coach they have… never played in the NHL, never coached anyone but 16 year olds… almost ruined a few careers (Dubynk and Brossoit)…

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    If the Oil win one of the four they will be lucky, because I dont see it happening, and they are so close to the bottom of the west, 3 loses is going to kill any chance of making the playoffs IMHO because they have blown so many games already against West Division opponents that they really cant afford to lose any more ground, and based on the last 7 games, I dont see it happening, they just can defend in their end and it has been like that all season and teams are exploiting like crazy

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      That was brutal to go thru last year, and it wont be any better this year, I almost was desperate enough to do the stuff the wife wanted on that long list she has for me, this year I may just do then watch the rest of the season go by like last year

  • Flint

    At the beginning of the year a lot of people were predicting a 98 Oilers team here. 95 is usually the playoff cutoff, it looks like it’ll be 96 this year.

    I asked a number of writers how they thought the Oilers will get to the predicted 98points when they were largely the same roster with the same problems. Well, Chiarelli has actually changed quite a bit of the roster from last year (Petrovic, Manning, Chaisson, Koskinen, Spooner, Reider, Brodziak, Gravel) and he changed the head coach, but he hasn’t changed the problems.

    In any event, the Oilers play game 40 tonight, right near the halfway point of the season. If they finish with 41 in 41, they’ll need to get 55 pts in their final 41 games to make the playoffs, and 57 to get to the predicted level. Thats at least 26 wins and a couple of ties.

    You know how many teams have got 26 wins in their first 41 games? 2 Tampa and Toronto. Maybe Winnipeg will do it.

    Put another way, the Oilers can lose 14, maybe 15 games including tonight.

  • camdog

    Cam, If Chaisson is still hurt the Oilers roster for tonight’s game has scored like 80 goals all season. I’m pretty sure the Coyotes are icing a roster tonight that’s outscored the Oilers roster.

  • Oiler Al

    Fairweather fans!? Each to their own, but you are either a Oiler fan or not.
    “I wont watch,unless they are winning”. I don’t get it! Go watch cricket or darts.

  • Dark Knight Returns

    If the Coyotes are in purgatory for lacking a true super star, where are we???
    We have a true super star and no way in hell of making the playoffs with this Mickey Mouse team built with expensive scraps.

    The sooner Chia goes the better, otherwise the new GM will have to “evaluate ” before starting to fix this mess.

    I hope the Oilers drop the next 6 so that heads roll.

    • Odanada

      I can’t wish losing upon them, but I wholeheartedly agree that heads need to roll.
      Nicholson’s “Chia is safe if we make the playoffs” comment shows what a bush league greenhorn he is. A real hockey man would never make a comment like that public because it paints you into a corner. Chia deserves to be fired and Bobby doesn’t have the balls to do it – sounds like a guy that has no business being in charge.

  • Odanada

    I’m not living in Edmonton and don’t go to the games.
    But we need an attention grabber.
    A group needs to show up with paper bags over their heads , sporting a banner that says “McDavid Needs Help” on one side and “Fire Chia” on the other. The message needs to make some headlines and give Katz an optic he can understand.

  • JasonY

    It is scary that this organization is still keeping Chiarelli. Based on the last two trades and his media avail, he is clearly doing anything to keep his job, regardless of this organization’s well-being. He continues to underestimate the value of having salary cap space. He continues to overpay to address weaknesses, whether perceived or real. If Katz has any testicular fortitude, he should fire Chia before the trade deadline before further damages. Somehow I still feel he loves to see his kid go up to the podium. What a joke this organization has become