GDB 74.0: The Mullett Experience (8pm MT, SNW)

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
8 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers make their first and only appearance, of the season at Mullett arena tonight. Depending on the outcome of the public vote this coming May for a new arena in Tempe, Arizona, this might be the only time the Oilers play at the home of the Coyotes and Arizona State University. If the public doesn’t vote yes, I think the other 31 NHL owners will be looking at relocation. I don’t see why they’d want to continue to prop up the Coyotes. But I digress.
It will be a unique experience for the Oilers.
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It has been many years since Oilers players, excluding Nick Bjugstad who played for the Coyotes until being traded to Edmonton, have played in a small barn like Mullett Arena. Capacity is 4,600. It has a College or CHL vibe, which is great. Wouldn’t you rather play at a sold out 4,500 seat arena, than play in an 18,000-seat arena with 10,000 fans? It has been very loud this year, with a much better atmosphere, and the Coyotes have played very well on home ice.
They have the eighth-best points% in the NHL at .629%. That is the third highest P% on home ice since they moved to Arizona in 1997.  It has not been easy for playoff bound teams.
Boston, Toronto, Tampa Bay, New York Islanders, Minnesota (2x), Colorado, Vegas and Los Angeles have all fallen victim to the power of the Mullett. New Jersey, Colorado, and Winnipeg needed overtime to get wins. The Oilers better be ready, because Arizona has only lost four times (Dallas, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh and Carolina) at home in regulation to teams currently in a playoff spot. Maybe teams overlooked them, or took them lightly, but they are 9-4-4 v. playoff teams on home ice. They are 3-16-3 on the road v. playoff teams.
Edmonton has fared well on the road v. non-playoff teams. They are 13-3-2. To keep that rolling they need to be better defensively, and Jack Campbell needs to make some saves. In his last seven starts, Campbell’s best Sv% was .895 v. the Rangers. I thought he played fairly well that night despite allowing four goals. But overall he hasn’t been nearly as good as they need him to be. He doesn’t need to be great, just steady.
But the team defence must improve as well. The Oilers’ defensive coverage on Vegas’ third and fourth goals on Saturday was not good enough. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins didn’t pick up Marchessault in the slot. Evander Kane wasn’t covering anyone in the corner, and when he went to recover he inexplicably opted to go behind the net rather than directly at Roy.
Mistakes will happen, but the Oilers still struggle with allowing easier goals to the opposition. They will go long stretches in games giving up very little, but then have a 10-bell giveaway or bad decision and it ends up in the back of the net. The goaltending needs to be better, no question, but the players can also be better at limiting the major gaffes.




Kane – McDavid – Janmark
RNH – Draisaitl – Hyman
Foegele – Bjugstad – Yamamoto
Kostin – Shore – RyanNurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – DesharnaisCampbell
Jay Woodcroft moved Yamamoto to the third line during Saturday’s game and it worked well. I’d keep him there for now. Janmark isn’t an ideal option on McDavid’s wing long-term. I’d still like to see Foegele get a look there, but for a game or two, I get why Woodcroft is experimenting with things. Dylan Holloway scored in Bakersfield on the weekend, and in two weeks after he’s back in game shape, I wonder if he becomes an option for the playoffs. Janmark won’t score much, but he rarely makes any egregious errors. Can you recall him making a bad turnover or giveaway this year? He hasn’t made one often.
Campbell could really use a win and a solid game. Allowing three goals or fewer would be a good start.


Schmaltz – Hayton – Keller
Maccelli – McBain – Crouse
O’Brien – Boyd – Fischer
Keleman – Smith – Imama
Nemeth – Moser
Valamaki – Brown
Mackey – Soderstrom
The Oilers faced Connor Ingram last week and will get Vejmelka tonight. He has struggled in 2023 posting an .898Sv% and 3.56 GAA, which is similar to Campbell’s .888Sv% and 3.26 GAA. It is a battle of two goalies trying to find their games. The Oilers bottom six should out perform the Coyotes bottom six. Their fourth line has a combined total of 27 games played and 3-2-5.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers channel their inner Billy Ray Cyrus and win their inaugural game at the Mullett arena 5-3.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Warren Foegele sets a new career high with his 14th goal of the season.

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