1-7-2 in their last ten games, 0-3-0 on their recent three-game road trip. Things are bad right now when it comes to the Edmonton Oilers. The team is losing games far too often and are about to have their playoff chances pulled off life support.
The Oilers return home now beaten and battered, seemingly playing out another death march while their CEO speaks like a politician on local radio. Is there any chance to save their season? A slim one, but the wins have to start tonight. The Oilers will play host to the Arizona Coyotes for the second time this season, opening a three-game home stand that goes through Saturday night.
Mikko Koskinen gets another start for the Oilers, searching for his first win in over a month, while Darcy Kuemper gets the nod on the second half of a back-to-back for the Coyotes.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Finish your chances. I know this sounds stupid to write but my lord the Oilers simply cannot score goals. They lit the lamp just four times in three games last week, wasting three overall solid efforts. A little goal scoring would at least keep things interesting as we slug towards the end of another wasteland February.
Arizona: Just play your system. The Coyotes have flat out owned the Oilers over the years, mostly because they play a structured and disciplined style of hockey. The Oilers don’t, and are right now a broken hockey team. The Coyotes dominated each of the first two meetings by playing their brand of hockey, and I suspect they’ll repeat the feat tonight if they come in focused and ready to do their thing.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Josh Currie, at 26 years old, will make his NHL debut tonight. He’s been the hottest scorer in the AHL since the turn of the New Year, and has been the most consistent Condors forward since the club’s move to Bakersfield. Currie likely will not move the needle and he will likely only have a short NHL career, but I’m very happy he was able to overcome the long odds and get his chance. Kick some ass tonight Josh, we’ll all be rooting for you!
Arizona: Conor Garland was a royal pain to deal with when these two met at Rogers Place in January. He’s a hard-nosed player that perfectly epitomizes Arizona’s style of play. He’s had some success against the Oil in his career, and I suspect that continues tonight with another goal. Maybe this one, for his sake, won’t be off of his face.
Sam Gagner makes his Rogers Place debut tonight as he returns to Edmonton following Saturday’s trade. Matt Benning returns from the IR and will skate with Andrej Sekera, who is making his season debut. Josh Currie draws in, while Jesse Puljujarvi and Jujhar Khaira were shifted to IR yesterday.
In case you missed it this morning, Brandon Manning has been assigned to the AHL.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Leon Draisaitl – Connor McDavid – Zack Kassian
Tobias Rieder – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Sam Gagner
Milan Lucic – Colby Cave – Alex Chiasson
Ty Rattie – Kyle Brodziak – Josh Currie
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse – Kris Russell
Andrej Sekera – Matt Benning
Arizona Coyotes Lines:
Lawson Crouse – Derek Stepan – Josh Archibald
Alex Galchenyuk – Nick Cousins – Clayton Keller
Mario Kempe – Brad Richardson – Vinnie Hinostroza
Conor Garland – Jordan Weal – Christian Fischer
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Alex Goligoski – Jakob Chychrun
Ilya Lyubushkin – Jordan Oesterle