"What can I do with you Mr. Manager?
And what about you Mr. Dithers?
Your savvy is like a morning mist,
present in the early hours and then quickly gone forever!"
"And so the prophets of the Oilogosphere have torn you to shreds!
Outwitted by jerks behind computers! How embarassing!
Like a pack of Coyotes with fresh meat, they have pounced on your incompetence!"
"I want to show you mercy, not receive a 'righteous' sacrifice,
I need an acknowledgment of your failings, not more make-believe assessment."
Edmonton Oilers (18-33-6) @ Phoenix Coyotes (35-19-5)
Jobing.com Arena, 7:30 P.M. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report: The Phoenix Coyotes are a good team this year and I don't know anyone who predicted it. They're outperforming their goal differential at the moment thanks to a very strong record in one-goal games, so they may not be as good as they're record suggests, but they've also been able to outshoot opponents on the year so it's not like their success is a mirage. I don't know how much credit goes to Dave Tippett on turning this club around but at the moment I'm going to say A LOT.
The man that changed in the off-season was not the general manager. Dave Tippett was hired on September 24th 2009. On September 29th the Coyotes signed center Robert Lang who was a sign of thigns to come. Last year's "promising" rookies were sent down to the farm. Mikkel Boedker, Kyle Turris, Viktor Tikhonov, Kevin Porter... Last year, those four played a total of 236 games. This year? 16. Maybe it was Tippett that decided that youth shouldn't be served, maybe it was Maloney. I imagine it was a decision they made together and it has certainly worked out for the better.
Tippett has also been very aggressive on the bench, moving certain players into clear "defensive" roles (Fiddler, Winnik, Hanzal, Michalek, Jovanovski) and other into clear "offensive" and/or "protected" roles (Mueller, Lang, Lombardi, Yandle, Lepisto). Certain players have been better than expected (Jovanovski) but I think a lot of credit should go to Dave Tippett for finding roles for his players. The majority of them are finding ways to succeed.
Edmonton Oilers (18-33-6):
Penner - Pouliot - Nilsson
M(ake room in the pressbox)? - H(ave a seat)? - Pi(sitting)? - Co(uld be out)?
O'Sullivan - Potulny - Brule
Jacques - Cogliano - Stortini
Acid - Chloroform
Czecho - Slovakia
Steady - Steadier
Shoving it up Backsides
Phoenix Coyotes (35-19-5)
Mueller - Lombardi - Doan
Vrbata - Hanzal - Prucha
Pyatt - Lang - Korpikoski
Winnik - Fiddler - Bissonnette
Michalek - Jovanovski
Yandle - Lepisto
Vandermeer - Aucoin
Behind the Numbers:
- The Coyotes just had a six-game winning streak snapped on Saturday night against the Dallas Stars. Coming into tonight they've won three in a row at home and have a very strong record at home overall (21-8-2). the Oilers, meanwhile, have won fewer road games than any team in the NHL with a total of seven. And this team won five road games in a row. Aside from that streak the Oilers are 2-17-2 on the road.
- Ladislav Smid will play in his 250th career NHL game tonight, all for the Edmonton Oilers. Smid's 34 points is the lowest total among players who have played that many games as an Oiler.
- The Phoenix Coyotes have a record of 15-15 in games decided by more than one goal, not an especially impressive total. On the bright side, they're very likely going to be able to improve on that total tonight.
- There has been some talk that Peter Mueller is a better player than he's shown so far this season. The argument is that he's being destroyed by the percentages (PDO of 97.3) despite doing well in terms of possession (Corsi of +8.20/60). And there's some truth to that. However, among forwards (min. 40 GP) he's also received the sixth best OZ to DZ ratio in the entire league (187 OZ to 102 DZ). His Corsi and Relative Corsi? They're not close to that high and he's not exactly facing the vaunt either. Gabe Desjardins has three measures for Quality of Competition and Mueller ranks dead last, dead last and third last among Coyotes forwards in each of them. He is -4 5-on-5. It's true that the percentages are hurting him but it looks to me like "not being very good at hockey this year" is hurting him more.