Game Notes Coyotes @ Oilers: Beware of the Pesky Coyotes
Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
By Jason Gregor8 months ago
There are no pictures on the scoresheet. If you score a highlight reel end-to-end goal or a puck deflects off your shin pads and goes in, both count the same on the scoresheet. It is similar for wins. Some wins, like the Edmonton Oilers’ 3-2 victory in Boston contain long stretches of solid, sound structure, while others, like Monday’s 5-4 OT victory over San Jose, don’t present much positive post-game video. But, both gave the Oilers two points and right now the Oilers need victories, regardless of how they look.
— The Arizona Coyotes are 26th in the NHL. They will miss the playoffs for the 10th time in 11 seasons, and they only made the playoffs in 2020 because of COVID and the NHL having 24 teams. The Yotes are similar to the 2007-2016 Oilers — not competitive. However, the Coyotes organizational dysfunction has peaked during their recent hot streak. While management barely spends money on healthy players, doesn’t have an NHL-sized arena, and stockpiles draft picks, the coach and players are doing their best to ensure the Coyotes get a worse draft pick in the 2023 draft.
The Coyotes are 6-1-2 in their last nine games, have moved from 28th place to 26th in the standings, and created significant separation from the bottom-four teams. On March 2nd they were three points ahead of 29th and 30th place, four ahead of 31st and five ahead of last-place Columbus. This morning they are 14 ahead of Columbus, 12 up on 31st San Jose, 11 points ahead of 30th place Chicago, and nine up on 29th Anaheim. They are living proof of why “tanking” rarely works, because players will never buy into it. They are wired to try their best.
— The Coyotes are derailing management’s plans, while also making life difficult for playoff contending teams. In their last nine games they’ve defeated Calgary, Minnesota and Nashville, lost in OT to Colorado and New Jersey and last night in Winnipeg they outshot the Jets 30-25 and lost 2-1. Despite ranking 26th overall, they’ve been anything but an easy out lately. Edmonton will need to match the Coyotes’ work ethic tonight.
— The Oilers defeated 31st place San Jose on Monday. The Sharks scored seven goals, but two were called back for offside and the other was a very questionable goalie interference call. The Oilers did outshoot the Sharks 52-32, so it wasn’t like they played awful, they just gave up more chances than they’d like. But at this juncture of the season winning is all that matters. Of course, you’d want them to play sound defensively like they did in recent victories over Boston, Toronto, and Winnipeg, but that doesn’t happen every night.
— In the past 10 days we’ve seen many draft lottery teams defeat playoff contenders. Boston lost to Chicago and Detroit. Tampa Bay lost to Montreal, Florida got beat by Philadelphia, LA lost to Vancouver, Minnesota and Nashville lost to Arizona and Winnipeg lost to St. Louis. And many teams like the Oilers squeaked out OT wins or needed a late goal in regulation to defeat the pesky draft lottery gang. The Oilers would love a dominant victory tonight, but getting two points is what matters most, regardless of how they achieve it.
— Mattias Ekholm scored his 64th and 65th career goals v. the Sharks. He’s played 726 NHL games and that was his second two-goal game of his career. He joked afterward not to expect that very often and he was right. Ekholm had a career-best 44 points in 2019 and a career-high 10 goals in 2018. He had five PP goals in 2018. He’s scored 3-6-9 in 10 games for the Oilers. It is the most productive 10-game stretch of his career. He’s been excellent since joining the team, and while his offensive production will level off at some point, he is clearly riding a heater right now.
— The Oilers D-men have scored 6-27-33 in the last 10 games. Ekholm has eight even strength points, while Evan Bouchard and Darnell Nurse have six and Cody Ceci has four. The recent offensive explosion has the Oilers blueliners with the ninth most points among the team’s defence corps. They had 134 points in the first 61 games and have 33 in the last 10. If they stay hot, the blueline could easily finish in the top five. Colorado leads with 183 points by D-men followed by Boston (177), New York Rangers (174), San Jose and Florida (169), Washington, Seattle and Winnipeg (168), and Edmonton has 167.
— Leon Draisaitl picked up his 200th multi-point game on Monday and became the sixth Oiler player to reach 200 trailing Wayne Gretzky (472), Mark Messier (300), Jari Kurri (296), Connor McDavid (255), and Glenn Anderson (240).
— There are 20 active players with 200+ multi-point games: Sidney Crosby (444), Alex Ovechkin (416), Evgeni Malkin (330), Patrick Kane (327), Steven Stamkos (282), Anze Kopitar (280), Claude Giroux (266), Nicklas Backstrom (263), John Tavares (257), McDavid (255), Patrice Bergeron and Phil Kessel (242), Eric Staal (240), Joe Pavelski (231), Blake Wheeler (220), Jonathan Toews (213), Jamie Benn (205), Nathan MacKinnon (204) and Draisaitl and Nikita Kucherov (200).
If you go from when Draisaitl entered the league in 2014-15, the top five is McDavid (255), Crosby (212), Draisaitl and Kane (200) and Kucherov (199).
— Don’t buy into the refrain that the Pacific Division is the worst in the NHL. It isn’t accurate, and in fact, since March 1st the three best teams in the NHL are from the Pacific. LA is 7-0-2 with an .889PT, Vegas (9-2) with a .818P% and Edmonton (8-2) has an .800P% and is tied with Minnesota. The Pacific isn’t the best division in the NHL, but it is far from the worst.
— The odds of all three in the below tweet reaching 300 career goals in the same game is the same as my hair growing back, but could two of them do it?
McDavid has 16 goals in 22 career games vs. Arizona. Draisaitl has eight in 31 games and Kane has 10 in 28. McDavid has never had a hat trick v. the Yotes, Draisaitl has one two-goal game. It’s not likely, but it could happen.
But all three of them scoring their 300th career goal this season seems like a foregone conclusion, and when they do, they will be only the second trio of teammates in NHL history to score their 300th goal in the same season. Bill Barber, Bobby Clarke, and Rick MacLeish scored their 300th goals with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1981.
— Historically Connor McDavid becomes more productive later in the season. He has 8-13-21 (2.10 points/game) in 10 games this March and could have the most productive March of his career.
He needs eight points in the remaining five games this month to reach 29 points, and he is on pace to surpass the 1.93 P/GP he had in 2019.
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