Game Notes Oilers @ Coyotes: Which Goalie Starts?

Photo credit:Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
Who will Jay Woodcroft start in goal tonight in Arizona? The answer might not be as straightforward as you think.
— The Oilers play the Coyotes tonight and are in Vegas tomorrow. The Coyotes are 27th in the NHL while Vegas is fourth, and I can see the reasoning to start the backup, Jack Campbell, tonight and then Stuart Skinner tomorrow. However, the Oilers are only three points ahead of Seattle (Kraken have a game in hand), and they need at least one win in the next two games. You could start Skinner tonight, giving you better odds to win, based on recent play, and then play Campbell tomorrow. That scenario might give Campbell a boost of confidence as well.
— If it was me, I’d start Campbell tonight and Skinner tomorrow and plan on winning both games. The Oilers are likely more focused on trying to catch LA (five points ahead) or Vegas (seven points ahead), rather than worrying about Seattle. It is the better mindset, but the other truth is if Colorado wins their game in hand on Minnesota, then the Avalanche are first in the Central and would host the first wild card spot, which Seattle currently occupies. If you had to choose between playing Colorado, LA, or Vegas in the first round, I’m guessing Colorado is your third choice, and that’s why starting Skinner tonight might be a consideration.
— Oilers get a bit of a break from the schedule makers. The Coyotes are playing the second half of a back-to-back tonight and it is their third game in four nights. The Oilers need to take advantage of it because tomorrow in Vegas the Oilers will be on the second half of a BTB and their third game in four days.
— Connor McDavid is currently tied with Peter Stastny and Bobby Orr for the 25th most points in a single NHL season with 139. He will become the 10th player in NHL history to reach 140 points tonight. The easiest prediction of all time is McDavid scoring his 140th point tonight, and when he does, he will join a very exclusive list:
Wayne Gretzky had 11 seasons (215, 212, 208, 205, 196, 183, 168, 164, 163, 149, and 142) with 140+ points.
Mario Lemieux had five (199, 168, 161, 160 and 141).
Phil Esposito had two (145 and 152).
Steve Yzerman (155), Bernie Nicholls (150), Jaromir Jagr (149), Pat Lafontaine (148) Mike Bossy (147) and Adam Oates (142) each did it once.
McDavid is on pace for 156, which would be the 14th most points in one NHL season, and would only trail Gretzky and Lemieux.
— McDavid also needs one assist to set a new career high with 80. He will become only the seventh player in NHL history to score 60 goals and 80 assists in the same season. Gretzky did it five times, Lemieux four and Yzerman, Jagr, Bossy and Nicholls did it once.
— Leon Draisaitl has picked up his play recently. He has 11 points in the past four games, but he’s been physical, creating chances and been sound defensively. He’s outscored the opposition at 5×5 9-6 and outshot them 59-39. He played through a nagging injury for a few weeks, but he’s looked much healthier recently. Draisaitl needs five goals in the final nine games to reach 50 for the third time in his career and he’d be the 21st player to score 50 three times. He’d be only the 14th player to have three seasons with 50 goals and 100 points, and the 12th player to have three seasons of 50 goals and 50 assists. Quite the accomplishment if he reaches it. I expect he will.
— Connor Ingram played yesterday in Colorado, so the Oilers will likely face Karel Vejmelka tonight. That is a break considering how they’ve played since January 1st. Ingram has posted a .922Sv% and 2.90 GAA, while Vejmelka has an .898Sv% and 3.56 GAA. Ingram started nine games v. playoff teams and seven v. non-playoff teams, while Vejmelka made 11 starts v. playoff teams and nine v. non-playoff clubs. They have faced similar competition, but Ingram has been much better.
— The Coyotes have played hard despite going 0-2-2 in their last four. They don’t score much, outside of Clayton Keller. He has four goals in their last four games and the rest of the Coyotes have four goals. His line with Nick Schmaltz and Barret Hayton has been excellent. They gave the Oilers major problems last week, and the Oilers’ top-two lines will need to match their tenacity tonight. Keller’s line outscored Draisaitl and McDavid’s lines 1-0 each. I suspect they will take it as a challenge tonight to outplay Keller’s line.
— McDavid and Draisaitl are the 10th set of teammates to score 50 power play points in the same season, and first since Ilya Kovalchuk and Marc Savard did it for Atlanta in 2006.
If Draisaitl scores five more PP points they will become only the second duo to have 60+ PP points in the same season, joining Mario Lemieux and Paul Coffey who reached that level with Pittsburgh in 1989
— Ryan Nugent-Hopkins needs five PP points to reach 50 and if he does the Oilers will have only the second trio to score 50 PP points in a season joining the 1996 Penguins with Lemieux, Ron Francis and Jaromir Jagr.
— I think Kailer Yamamoto could have more success on a third line. He won’t have to face top-pairing D-men as often. Warren Foegle, Nick Bjugstad, and Yamamoto were really good as a trio in the third period. I’d keep them together tonight.
— Ryan McLeod won’t play tonight and isn’t likely for tomorrow, but he should be available to return to the lineup Thursday vs. the LA Kings.

Check out these posts...