The Edmonton Oilers will play their final game before a ten day All-Star/bye week break that takes them to January 29th. It’s a big one too, as the Oilers host the Arizona Coyotes in a key Pacific Division tilt. It is the third of four meetings between the sides this season.
The Oilers are coming off of a 4-2 victory over the Nashville Predators at Rogers Place on Tuesday night, while the Coyotes suffered a 3-1 setback at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks of Thursday night at Rogers Arena.
Mike Smith gets the start for the Oilers, while Adin Hill gets the go for the Coyotes.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Empty the tank. The Oilers have ten days to rest and recover after this game, meaning there is no reason to hold anything back. Ride the big guns, empty the tank and throw everything at the Coyotes. These are two points that are way too important to let slide. With time off straight ahead, you can take some risks with the lineup.
Arizona: Play your game. It sounds so simple, but the Coyotes are a team that works hard and capitalizes on the mistakes of their opponent. They have a knack for creating turnovers and frustrating their opponents. The Oilers do not handle teams like that well. If the Coyotes play their style, they’ll have a chance.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has points in four straight games and has come alive in 2020. Nugent-Hopkins opened the scoring on Tuesday night and has been playing his best hockey since shifting to the wing with Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto. Can he keep it up in a key divisional matchup?
Arizona: Taylor Hall will visit Edmonton as a member of the Coyotes for the first time this afternoon. He’s been quiet against his former team since the 2016 trade that sent him to New Jersey, but Hall has been on fire as of late. These are the types of games that Arizona got Hall for. Will he prove to be worth the price?
No surprise after Tuesday’s effort, but the Oilers are keeping the lines the same. Jujhar Khaira and William Lagesson will be the healthy scratches, while Zack Kassian serves the final game of his suspension. Matt Benning continues to skate but remains on IR.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
James Neal – Connor McDavid – Josh Archibald
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Joakim Nygard – Riley Sheahan – Patrick Russell
Sam Gagner – Gaetan Haas – Alex Chiasson
Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Kris Russell – Caleb Jones
The Coyotes are banged up at the moment. They are without All-Star goalie Darcy Kuemper (lower-body) and center Brad Richardson (lower-body). Defenseman Jordan Oesterle (lower-body) missed Thursday’s game and is day-to-day. Goalie Antti Raanta is also day-to-day.
Arizona Coyotes Lines:
Taylor Hall – Christian Dvorak – Conor Garland
Lawson Crouse – Derek Stepan – Phil Kessel
Nick Schmaltz – Carl Soderberg – Clayton Keller
Michael Grabner – Michael Chaput – Vinnie Hinostroza
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Jason Demers
Jakob Chychrun – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Ilya Lyubushkin – Alex Goligoski
Connor McDavid has feasted on the Coyotes over the years. The Oilers captain is riding a six-game point streak against Arizona that has seen him post ten points (6-4-10). McDavid has two points in as many games against the Coyotes this season. Leon Draisaitl also has two points in the season series.
“These are the games you want to play in,” Dave Tippett said this morning. “It makes it that much more important when you step on the ice knowing every play and every point counts at this point. It’s going to be a fight to the end with all the teams that are involved in the playoff race.”
McDavid collected three points on Tuesday, bringing him to 446 for his career. McDavid sits just one point behind Shawn Horcoff (447) for 9th all-time in franchise history. He passes him with a two point performance this afternoon.