I once gave this team unimaginable riches,
only to see them throw it all away to Los Angeles and New York
for money to pay for Puck's penny stocks and prostitutes.
I punished them for a time before relenting,
only to see them throw it all away again!
Should I not punish them for this?" declares Yahweh.
Should I not fuck this team thoroughly with an oblong stick?"
I will send team after team to brutalize and maim,
but to preserve their misery, I will not destroy them completely.
I will strip them of their best players,
for this team no longer belongs to me.
No, the leaders in Edmonton,
have been utterly unfaithful
and must feel my elliptical revenge,"
declares Yahweh our God.
Edmonton Oilers (14-25-8) @)
Jobing.com Arena, 7:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The Phoenix Coyotes had a rough start to their season that wasn't showing much in the standings. Through the first quarter of the season they were routinely getting outshot, but strong goaltending and tremendous success in one-goal games was keeping them solidly in playoff position. Since then, the Coyotes have played much better. They're now just one game under .500 in games decided by two or more on the season (after starting the year 4-9), and have the eighth best Fenwick percentage in the Conference with the score close. Put that alongside legitimately above average goaltending (Ilya Bryzgalov's EV Sv% of .924 is about what you'd expect from him, and backup Jason LaBarbera is having another fine year, posting an EV Sv% of .932), and the Coyotes should be on their way to a second consecutive playoff appearance. In fact, considering the way Dallas has been winning games, the Coyotes have a decent chance at a division title.
Edmonton Oilers (14-25-8):
Hall - Horcoff - Penner
Omark - Gagner - Paajarvi
Reddox - Cogliano - Jones
Jacques - Fraser - Stortini
Peckham - Gilbert
Smid - Petry
Vandermeer - Foster
Phoenix Coyotes (24-16-9)
Upshall - Korpikoski - Doan
Whitney - Hanzal - Vrbata
Pyatt - Belanger - Stempniak
Boedker - Turris - MacLean
Jovanovski - Lepisto
Yandle - Roszival
Ekman-Larsson - Aucoin
By the Numbers:
- I haven't checked in on the Phoenix Coyotes for quite some time, so when I looked over to see who their leading scorer might be I was expecting a name like Ray Whitney or Shane Doan. Instead I found Keith Yandle leading the pack with 40 points in 49 games. Now, Yandle hasn't been taking on the toughs this season, but he hasn't been sheltered either (the role I'd like to see for Tom Gilbert), and he's had a lot of success. He's also a restricted free agent this summer, and has a cap hit of only 1.2M this season. It will be very interesting indeed to see how the Coyotes handle that negotiation.
- As I mentioned, Yandle hasn't been taking on the toughs this season. That responsibility has fallen largely to Ed Jovanovski (along with partner Derek Morris, who's unlikely to play tonight), just like it did last year. Jovanovski's also taking more than his share of defensive zone starts, and yet has remained very close to even in terms of Corsi while he's on the ice. Considering he was originally paid for his offensive skills (he only has 14 points this year, but 11 are at even strength, which puts him inside the top sixty), that's a pretty darn useful player. And just like Yandle, he'll be a free agent this summer. Unlike Yandle, however, Jovanovski is unrestricted, though he shouldn't expect a raise (his current cap hit is 6.5M). Would those two players meet in the middle? 3.85M each doesn't sound like an unreasonable target to me.
- Eighteen games into the season, the Coyotes had a shot differential of -5.7 per game. Toady, that gap has closed to just -1.4 per game for the season, which means over their last 31 games they've had a shot differential of +1.1 per game. That's a pretty drastic turnaround, and so far as I can tell, there's been no real catalyst for that particular split. The team is just... playing better.
- The Coyotes' biggest weakness is on special teams. They're one of only four teams in the bottom third of the league in both penalty killing efficiency and power play efficiency, and the company they're keeping (Columbus, Ottawa, and of course, Edmonton, the only team in the bottom two in both categories) isn't exactly stellar. If the Coyotes hope to improve at the deadline, PK and PP specialists might be a place to look.
- The Coyotes have yet to lose a game in regulation in which they've led at the intermission. Either of them. They've held the lead after two periods 21 times, and have gotten at least one point in all of them (19-0-2), and have lead after one period 14 times, and have again gotten a point or more each time (11-0-3). Surprisingly, the Oilers are one of the other three teams who have yet to lose in regulation after taking a lead into the first intermission (7-0-2).