Fight On. Phoenix Coyotes at Edmonton Oilers Game 17 Preview

Christian Petersen

The Oilers need to play .610 hockey to make the playoffs. With a 9-game roadtrip looming, that looks impossible.

Tuscon Mavericks

@

Spruce Grove Saints
8-6-2, 1.25 p/g
6-7-3, .938 p/g
Western Conf: 7th Western Conf: 13th

1:30 p.m. MST | Sportsnet
Rexall Place
Tickets

The opposing view: Five For Howling

Top Story: The 2013 season is perilously close to over for the Edmonton Oilers. The five-game homestand that was supposed to solidify the Oilers as a playoff contender before their 9-game road trip has been a disaster. The Oilers are 1-3 through the first four games and host Phoenix in the fifth and final game. They'll take on the Coyotes without Taylor Hall and Shawn Horcoff, a tall order for a team that has slipped all the way to the bottom of the conference. The Oilers need to fight on, not collapse like so many seasons before. Look for Magnus Paajarvi to move to the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins line to replace Hall while Hall serves his suspension. Paajarvi has been all over the lineup for the Oilers so far but this is his first audition in the spotlight.

The Coyotes keep doing what they do. Despite being trapped in one of the worst ownership situations in league history, they remain a lock in the 5-8 battle for the playoffs. Except for signing Derek Morris, Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney has pulled all of the right strings in building a bargain-basement, but very competitive team. They lack an offensive superstar, but have one of the best defensemen in the league in Oliver-Ekman Larsson.

The Oilers are saying:

"We need to start positioning ourselves for the reality of the next few weeks"

--Edmonton coach Ralph Krueger on the upcoming road trip. True to form the Oilers have planned and prepared for the season far later than they should.

The Opponent is saying:

"It’s fun to get compared to him, but I’m not even close to him. I watched him a lot when I was younger and when we played against him. I met him my first year at the All-Star Game and talked to him a little bit. It was awesome. It meant a lot to me. He’s a great guy."

--Oliver Ekman-Larsson, addressing the Nicklas Lidstrom comparisons.

Ekman-Larsson is that good.

Key matchup: Who will step up for the Oilers with Taylor Hall in the press box? I've written extensively about Hall's impact on Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - can they hang on without Hall pulling them along? Or will Sam Gagner finally break up his terrible possession streak? The Oilers have little chance in the next two games without Hall if Hopkins can't fend for himself and Gagner continues to falter. Unless the Oilers can somehow force Dave Tippett to triple-shift Derek Morris, the key matchup is the Oilers versus their own shortcomings.


Edmonton Oilers Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Jeff Petry Hip 02/15/2013
Justin Schultz back 02/15/2013

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Ryan Jones
eye 01/18/2013
Andy Sutton knee 01/16/2013
Anton Lander foot 02/07/2013
Shawn Horcoff Knuckle 02/04/2013


Phoenix Coyotes Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Derek Morris other-excused 02/22/2013
Radim Vrbata other-excused 02/22/2013

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
David Schlemko shoulder 02/05/2013
Matthew Lombardi shoulder 01/25/2013



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