The Oilers homestand continues tonight against the Coyotes of Phoenix, Gelndale, or just plain Arizona, whatever you prefer. Like the Oilers, the Coyotes have struggled this season - their goal differential is an Oilers-esque -11 - and sit just one point ahead of Edmonton in the Western Conference standings. And that means that tonight's game is a good old fashioned battle for last place. With a win (even if it comes after the regulation 60 minutes) the Oilers will vault past the Coyotes in the standings, and after that there will be no stopping them. At least not until the play their next hockey game.
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Sportsnet West at 7PM. Or about an hour after the Eskimos finish beating up on the Roughriders.
What To Watch For With The Oilers
There will be a lot of eyes on the Oilers net tonight as the team tries not to fall behind by three goals in the first period for the third consecutive game. Good goaltending is not something that the Oilers have been blessed with this season, and there are some fans who are starting to call for change. There have been some very good performances between the pipes for the Oilers this season - Ben Scrivens against Washington and Montreal for example - but on a lot of other nights there have been some very soft goals that remind a lot of fans of Devan Dubnyk. I still think that the Oilers took a reasonable chance with their goalies this season and that things will balance out eventually, but another subpar performance tonight will have even more fans looking for alternatives (spoiler: there are none).
What To Watch For With The Coyotes
Even strength play has not been friendly to the Coyotes so far this season. They rank 28th in SF/60 (26.8), 23rd in SF% (48.3%), 23rd in CF% (48.3), in each case a couple of spots behind the Oilers. About the only place where they rank ahead of the Oilers is in GF% - 44.8% compared to 44.1%, which goes back to the Oilers goaltending problems mentioned above. Of course the Oilers are noted slump busters, so if there was every a night for the Coyotes to start getting their 5-on-5 play back on track it's probably tonight.