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Oilers v. Coyotes - Mark 4:21-23

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Then Renney asked them, "Would anyone light a lamp and then hide it under a bowl or a basket? Of course not! The lamp is put in a high place where it shines brightly and is accompanied by sirens and music. So I will make no secret about using my best offensive players in the offensive zone, and I will be open about the hard work that I entrust to my veterans so that all of them can be celebrated. They are all connected, so to rejoice over one of them is to rejoice over all of them. Let any who have ears to hear listen and understand."

Edmonton Oilers (14-13-3) @ Phoenix Coyotes (15-11-3) Arena, 7:30 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet Edmonton

More analysis after the jump...

Home Team Scouting Report:

The Phoenix Coyotes have surprised me so far this season, but a huge portion of the difference is coming between the pipes. Mike Smith has started the vast majority of the team's games and so far has an even strength save percentage of .926. That compares very favorably to the .912 even strength save percentage he'd registered from 2007-08 to 2010-11. Over the 631 shots that Smith has faced so far this season, it's a difference of nine goals, which translates to about three points in the standings. And that's in just over a third of the season. For me, this raises the question of how much of Smith's success with the Coyotes is the team having excellent pro scouts (i.e. Smith has always been technically sound but was getting unlucky and/or the Lightning allowed more chances per shot than average), excellent coaching (whether that's goalie coaching or chance per shot suppression), excellent luck, or some combination of all three.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (14-13-3):

Hall - Horcoff - Hemsky
Gagner - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Smyth - Belanger - Jones
Eager - Lander - Petrell

Smid - Gilbert
Whitney - Petry
Peckham - Potter


Phoenix Coyotes (15-11-3):

Whitney - Hanzal - Vrbata
Torres - Langkow - Doan
Korpikoski - Gordon - Pyatt
Boedker - Turris - Chipchura

Yandle - Morris
Ekman-Larsson - Aucoin
Schlemko - Rozsival


By the Numbers:

  • The Coyotes took a pretty big chance in acquiring Daymond Langkow, but it has paid off handsomely. Langkow isn't consistently taking on the toughs or eating up defensive zone starts, but he's second on the team in even strength ice time and is driving the puck into the right end of the ice: the team has a Corsi of +10.9 per sixty minutes of five-on-five ice time with Langkow on the ice, which is one of the best rates on the team.
  • With Taylor Hall back in the lineup, the Oilers have pushed Ryan Smyth down to the third line in order to keep Sam Gagner with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. It's an interesting choice considering Smyth's offensive output so far this season (he has 26 points in 30 games), but one that will hopefully see Gagner flourish.
  • Corey Potter is also making his return to the lineup tonight. I think he can make a big difference in several ways, but one of the most important is discipline. Potter is one of just thirty-five defensemen in the NHL (including Ryan Whitney) who have played at least ten games and registered no more than two minor penalties.
  • Magnus Paajarvi will sit out for the second straight game and might be on his way Oklahoma City. At the start of the season, it would have been awfully hard to imagine an Oilers' lineup that included Anton Lander alongside a Barons' lineup that included Magnus Paajarvi. Of course, it also would have been hard to imagine that Paajarvi would have exactly zero goals a third of the way through the year.
  • In Edmonton's last game against the Flames, Ryan Smyth played in his 800th career regular season game with the Oilers, good enough for fourth on the Oilers' all-time list, 237 games behind Kevin Lowe. He's also just two points behind Doug Weight for sixth on the Oilers' all-time scoring list. If Smyth can manage three more seasons after this one, he's got a pretty good shot at first in games played and fifth in points (passing Paul Coffey). I hope he makes it.