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GDB Game Notes: Coyotes @ Oilers

The Arizona Coyotes, who are in the middle of a trip through Western Canada, will be in Edmonton tonight for a game with the Oilers. Here are your game day notes.

1. The Oilers are in the midst of a crucial stretch in which they play six of seven games at home mostly against non-playoff teams. Edmonton squeaked out a win against Florida on Thursday night to kick off the stretch. They’ll have Arizona tonight, they’ll be in Vancouver next week, and they’ll host Carolina and Detroit after that. The only playoff teams Edmonton will face over this stretch are Calgary and Buffalo. A good showing here could vault Edmonton into a playoff spot. If they can’t take advantage of these teams, though, it’s hard to see them buying at the trade deadline on Feb. 26.

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2. Unfortunately for the Oilers, the Minnesota Wild, who I view as Edmonton’s strongest competition for the eighth playoff spot, also have an easy schedule for next little bit. Minnesota plays Detroit, Philly, Los Angeles, and Anaheim over the next week, making this easy stretch for the Oilers even more critical. The Oilers and Wild will also play each other just once more this season on Feb. 7.

3. If the Oilers do decide to buy at the deadline, I imagine they’ll be looking for a player with more than one year of control. While somebody like Mark Stone from Ottawa would surely help the Oilers push into a playoff spot, the team simply isn’t good enough right now to throw away a first-round pick on a first-round exit. Going after somebody like Nino Niederreiter, Tyler Toffoli, or Brayden Schenn who have multiple control years makes a lot more sense.

4. The Coyotes are one of those teams the Oilers need to beat. They’re 19-21-3, they can’t score goals, and they’ve been completely decimated by injuries. Christian Dvorak has yet to play this season, Michael Grabner is out with an eye injury and it isn’t known when he’s going to return, and Nick Schmaltz, who was acquired in the Dylan Strome deal, will also miss the entire season. Beyond those forwards, Jason Demers and Antti Raanta will also miss the rest of the season due to injury. Their leading scorer, Brad Richardson, was also placed on the Injured Reserve on Friday and won’t suit up against the Oilers.

5. The Oilers have Coyotes have met just once this season. It came back on Jan. 2 and ended in a 3-1 Oilers win. For a brief moment, the Oilers were undefeated in 2019. That win was emblematic of how the team has had to pick up wins all season. They scored three goals and Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl factored into all three of them. This is obviously beating a dead horse, but depth scoring has been nonexistent all year. It could be worse, though. At least the Oilers have a few players who can score. The Coyotes have none. 

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6. One of the strangest things about the Coyotes is how they’ve been great at keeping the puck out of the net. You’d think, looking at all the young talent on their roster, that they’d be a team that thrives offensively but struggles in the defensive zone. Instead, they’re the opposite. The Coyotes are horrendous offensively but they’re excellent at keeping the puck out of the net. Arizona ranks 29th in the league in goals for and seventh in goals against. Adin Hill, who was recalled after Raanta went on the Injured Reserve, has been excellent in net. He owns a .916 save percentage in 12 starts since the recall. Darcy Keumper has also been solid as he owns a .914 save percentage in 21 appearances this season.

7. Another key reason why Arizona’s goals against totals are so good is their amazing penalty kill. The Coyotes have allowed just 15 power play goals against this season, good for an 88.55 PK percentage. Amazingly, they’ve scored 11 shorthanded goals, meaning you’re about as likely to be scored on by the Coyotes when you have a power play as you are to score a power-play goal on them yourself. That said, Grabner and Richardson, who have combined for seven of those 11 shorthanded goals, are out due to injury.

8. At some point, you have to assume that Arizona’s offensive woes are systemic. Alex Galchenyuk, who was a consistent 20-plus goal player in Montreal, has just seven goals for the Coyotes in his first year since being dealt. On the other hand, Max Domi, who was moved to Montreal in that deal, has 14 goals for Habs, a massive improvement on the nine he had in back-to-back years in Arizona. Then there’s Dylan Strome, the disappointing No. 3 overall from 2015 the Coyotes moved on from earlier in the season. Strome has 14 points in 22 games with the Blackhawks compared to the six points he had in 20 games with the Coyotes.

9. To be fair to the Coyotes and their offensive abilities, the team has been on a mini-tear as of late. They scored five against the Rangers and then four against the Canucks in back-to-back wins earlier this week. The team’s surge has been led by rookie Conor Garland, who has four goals in his last three games. In 16 career NHL games (all this year), Garland has six goals, meaning he’s just five goals away from tying Richardson for the team’s lead in goals.

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10. Finally, it’s expected Kailer Yamamoto will be ready to play tonight against the Coyotes. Yamamoto played in one game after being recalled from the AHL before being sidelined with an injury. What’s the best way to handle Yamamoto moving forward? He was originally recalled to replace Alex Chiasson who has since returned to the lineup. Yamamoto had just hit his stride in the AHL, so does it make sense to keep him up with the big club?

GAME NOTES BROUGHT TO YOU BY ATB FINANCIAL

From peewee to the pros, Albertans loves the atmosphere, energy, and life lessons that take place at rinks across the province. And where there’s an arena, you’ll find an ATB branch nearby—with our team members cheering and fundraising along with you. See more information at ATB.com.

Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 1/12/2019 – 7:00 am MST



  • Chris_Cruise

    Arizona is only 4pts behind us with a game in hand. The article should have mentioned that for more context. They’re in 2nd last above only the Kings. That’s how close we are to 2nd last!!

    If they beat us tonight, they’d only be 2pts behind, with a game in hand.

    This should be billed as a MUST win, not a ‘should’ win.

    • Chris_Cruise

      My bad, meant to say that Chi and StL are sandwiched in there too. But the bottom is much closer than the top. Calgary is almost 20 freakin points ahead of us now. Unreal

      • Serious Gord

        And Tampa is 12 points ahead of the next highest team. This is looking like it might be the most dominant season by a team in decades. An amazing achievement in a cap league.

        • Serious Gord

          TB is on track for 130 points the last time a team did that was Detroit in 1996 with 131. And the best ever was 132 by the greatest team in league history – the 76-77 habs.

          • Chris_Cruise

            Wow, that’s pretty amazing. And Stevie Y wants to walk away from that? Shows how much of a stand-up guy he is if he’s leaving the top spot in hockey for family life.

          • Serious Gord

            @oiltastic most points; most dominant; best ever

            The none oilers teams of the 80s were close – none of them are arguably in the top five (Montreal in the fifties; the bruins in the early 70s, the 90s wings and the pens of the late 80s were better)

          • Nellzo

            If I recall correctly Detroit only had something like 13 losses and 7 ties that season. Then they lossed in the WCF to Colorado. A lot of people were saying it was because they won too many regular season games… ridiculous.

        • Gravis82

          they have too many offensive forwards. You can’t win with that type of line up. Its not heavy enough. Will never work. There is just not enough balance there. . They need to trade at least 2 of their forwards for some more depth at #4 D and on the 3rd and 4th line. Its the only way. Not enough grit.

          • Serious Gord

            For the playoffs quite possibly- of their eight losses two were to Nashville.

            The red wings in the 90s (forget which years) hold the record for most regular season wins and lost the cup to Colorado.

  • Heschultzhescores

    There is no easy schedule for the Oilers. Non playoff teams…we are currently a non playoff team. Why do we keep looking at the Oilers like they should he beating teams? Get in touch with what the current Oilers are. A weak team with a Superstar and a few decent players with the bulk of the team being AHL material.

    • Serious Gord

      It’s relative. Non playoff teams are weaker than playoff teams. If EDM is to be a playoff team it should be expected that they do well against teams that aren’t playoff quality- certainly better than they would against playoff quality ones.

      Where EDM sits by comparison is irrelevant.

      • Odanada

        If you really want to get rid of Chia, we all need to start writing posts blaming Bob Nicholson for the team’s woes and for not firing PC. If we post enough of these, word will get out and Bob will immediately fire Chia and blame him.
        I’m pretty sure it will work because I have a hunch BN is pretty shallow

  • Cowbell_Feva

    I think goaltending has been the biggest problem for the Oilers. 2 years ago Talbot was a vacuum, and because of it, we should have been playing for the Western Conference title against Nashville.

    Calgary is only where they are due to Rittich. I have watched many games where they are outplayed, only to have Rittich bail them out with huge saves, and then some Plinko Muffin Puck by Gaurdreau will trickle 5 hole at the other end.

    Maple Leafs aren’t world beaters without Andersson making 40+ saves per night.

    If Talbot or Koskinen could ever get rolling for more than a game or 2 consecutively, I think there are nice pieces in Edmonton. Without good goaltending, they look horrible. Obvious having better defenseman would help (i.e. Klef and Rej) but injuries happen.

    If they lose to Zona, they might as well start rebuild 3.0

  • Quoteright

    Anyone know which team in the NHL has the highest turnover? I would bet my left nut it’s the Oilers by a long shot. Always swapping deck chairs from a sinking ship. Blaming all the bottom 6 without giving any consistency, confidence or support. It’s hard to go to war when you feel unvalued and are constantly in the blender. Also, it’s hard to do anything with less then 10 minutes a night, which is what slot many forwards are dealing with.
    This team has to stop looking for trades and start building trust and respect for the players they have.
    Every ex Oilers comments are pointing to a seriously toxic culture. Katz needs to start by apologizing and lowering the ticket prices and consessions. An admitted failure with consequences would be a nice start from the top down . Honestly, Katz is the thread that ties all of Edmonton’s garbage years. He is a spineless greedy leader who has bloated the org with middle managers and doesn’t even live here anymore. Really, he traded in all his business to become a ritzy slum lord.
    Edmonton deserves better,

      • Serious Gord

        Becoming the Ballard era? At least some years Ballard’s teams made the playoffs… in fact they only missed four times in eighteen years.

        Meanwhile the oil have missed 17 times in the past 25 years.

        • Ol_OneNut

          A bigger percentage of teams made the playoffs back then, like 1979 when 12 teams made the playoffs and only 5 didn’t and 1980 after expansion, 16 of 21 teams made the playoffs.

    • Nellzo

      Further to that, I’m not sure pointing a finger at Nicholson is the right thing to do. His track record with Hockey Canada is pretty damn good. Rebuilding and restructuring an entire sports organization from the ground up in 4 years is a huge task. There are bound to be hiccups. Chia is now one of those. His time has come and I’m certain that he is sent packing after their season is over, if not sooner…

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    I ee the Oilers maybe squeaking out a win, but even though the Yotes are not that great of a team the Oilers seem to have a lot of trouble on the compete scale against teams they either under rate or that arent doing well

    I’d like to say the Oilers will come put and play a full 60 minutes and give it there all but the Oilers seem to have trouble doing that. Lets hope they play a full 50 and they start ghrabbibg points while they can, because they need the points or it wont take long to end up dead last in the west if they start losing games.

  • Alberta Ice

    Really enjoying the Ducks sliding downward and blowing a 3-0 first period lead to the Penguins last night. Looking at their goal differential (-27), it’s hard to believe they aren’t even further down the line. So, yes, it looks like the battle for the playoff positions will be against the Wild, the Avalanche, and the Canucks. I am trusting in March, we won’t be talking about the Ducks in this race.

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Richard Rakell who was their leading scorer is back in the lineup now, and all 4 of there young core D-men are back too. Hampus Lindolm, Brandon Montour, Josh Mason (who has been outstanding), and Cam Fowler (who had a broken Jaw). I wouldn’t count them out yet.