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Edmonton Oilers @ Phoenix Coyotes: Duel In The Desert

The Oilers need to play .610 hockey to make the playoffs.

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Spruce Grove Saints


Tuscon Mavericks
3-7-1, 0.636 p/g
Ranks 6-3-2, 1.27 p/g
Western Conf: 16th Western Conf: T-10th
26th P/G T-10th
16th ST 30th
20th ES 4th
29th Goal 23rd

1:00 p.m. MDT | Sportsnet Arena

The opposing view: Five For Howling

Top Story:

.610 hockey, that's all the Oilers need to do over the next 71 games to make the playoffs. If you need it quantified, that's 44-27 from here on out. For perspective, that's a season similar to a 5th seed in the Western Conference in recent years. Can they do it? Maybe, but they need a bunch of things to break their way: health, luck, goaltending and they need at least two or three of the teams in front of them in the West to falter in the way of health, luck, and/or goaltending.

Shots, Shots and more shots: We touched on Alex Ovechkin's run at 500 shots and his start to the season. The last time the Oilers had someone top 250 shots on goal was 2008-09 when Sheldon Souray finished with 268 shots at 3.31 shots per game. Before that, it was Bill Guerin in 1998-99 with 261 shots at 3.26 shots per game. This season, David Perron is averaging 3.5 shots per game and has found a role as the blaster to Ales Hemsky's setups. If they stay together and they stay healthy, he has a solid chance at breaking 250. His 2.6% shooting percentage isn't going to last, and if he posts 12%, slightly below his career average, he's got a legitimate shot at 30 goals. Keep calm and Perr on?

The Oilers are saying:

"Darnell Nurse sees his point shot deflect in off Michael Bunting in tight to tie the game at three."

--The Oilers' first round pick keeps chugging along and the extra power play time we talked about before the season started is having an impact. Nurse has 11 points through 11 games for the Soo Greyhounds.

The Opponent is saying:

"I was worried about our energy before we came into the game. The last couple days you could tell our group was dragging a little bit. I don’t know if it’s physical or mental fatigue, but you could tell we were dragging a little bit."

--Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, on his team's performance against Los Angeles.

The Oilers need to take advantage of overall team speed, and they have an advantage in that area on every line, and draw penalties against some tired legs.

Key matchup: Dave Tippett's selection of his poison. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Zbynek Michalek have taken the toughest comp and toughest starts early in the season and they've been solid. Their mountaineering has allowed Dave Tippett to give lesser defensemen much easier work and the Coyotes have been successful at even strength. Tippett is going to have to choose between Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Mark Arcobello and give Keith Yandle and Derek Morris the other. Either way, the Oilers should have an advantage against Yandle and Morris.

Expected Lines & Pairings:

Nail Yakupov - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
David Perron - Mark Arcobello - Ales Hemsky
Tyler Pitlick - Boyd Gordon - Ryan Jones
Luke Gazdic - Will Acton - Ben Eager

Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Anton Belov - Justin Schultz
Nick Schultz - Andrew Ference

Jason Labarbera

The Coyotes expected lineup based on recent practices and updates:

Lauri Korpikoski - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Boedker - Mike Ribeiro - David Moss
Kyle Chipchura - Antoine Vermette - Rob Klinkhammer
Paul Bissonnette - Jeff Halpern - Brandon Yip

Zbynek Michalek - Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
David Schlemko - Rostislav Klesla

Mike Smith

The Oilers need to win a duel with a division foe: