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Oilers vs. Coyotes: Special Teams Mismatch Key To The Game

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The Coyotes miserable special teams and the Oilers new-found ability to shoot on the power play could be the key to the game.

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If Edmonton wants to get back on the winning track against Phoenix, the Oilers are going to have to protect their weakness at even strength and take advantage of the Coyotes' struggles on special teams to win. As of this morning, the Coyotes are 4th in the league in Fenwick Close (56.1%) while the Oilers are 21st (46.7%), meaning Phoenix has dominated their opponents in the small sample size thus far. However, while the Oilers have been outshot by ~2 shots per game overall, the Coyotes have been outshot by ~1.5 shots per game.

Special teams have been the difference.

The following tables shows the NHL ranks for the Oilers and Coyotes in shots/60 on special teams.


PP Rank PK Rank
Phoenix 25 28
Edmonton 8 27

Edmonton has broken with their tradition of never shooting while short-handed, though the penalty kill still suffers. Phoenix is lacking in all areas. Below are the shot rates for each team:

Power Play shots/60 Penalty Kill shots against/60
Phoenix 45 66.9
Edmonton 59 63.6

They're equally bad on the penalty kill, in the very small amount of time (60 minutes each on the power play and 65 and 57 respectively on the penalty kill), but the Oilers have been much better on the power play.

In a very important early season game, the Oilers need to minimize their problems at even strength, by drawing penalties to take advantage of the Coyotes' biggest team weakness, and the only significant advantage they have against Phoenix.