Edmonton Oilers (36-25-5, 3rd, Pacific)
Arizona Coyotes (20-40-5, 8th, Central)
28 March 2022
730 PM MT
TV: Sportsnet One, Sportsnet West
Radio: 630 CHED
The Oilers are back in Edmonton after an ugly one in Calgary. The Flames scored nine even strength goals en route to a 9-5 trouncing over the Oilers. There were some good things in the loss: Leon Draisaitl scored a hat trick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins picked up four points, and the power play is functional for sure. Everything else? Mikko Koskinen was chased after allowing five goals in twelve shots, Mike Smith didn’t fare much better. The defence was even worse than the goaltending. One for the dumpster.
The good news? The Oilers can forget about that game (at least for now) with a win over the Coyotes tonight. Anything less than two points tonight will be tough sledding for the Oilers during a critical juncture of the schedule.
Let’s go to the tape.
THE OILERS ARE SAYING
“We played bad. We played poorly...I think it was nine even-strength goals against, right? What did we have, three power-play goals? 9-2 at even strength. Media is probably going to blame our goalies, but you can’t blame our goalies. We hung them out to dry. Just all-around poor performance.”
That’s Oilers forward Zach Hyman after the Oilers’ 9-5 loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.
Hyman thinking the game a little bit right here, and he’s stating something obvious. You’re not going to win a game in this league if you’re giving up nine goals to a high octane club like the Flames, the Oilers are walking proof. A game like this exposes all of a roster’s flaws. If you’re able to score five goals and not take a point, you have a good idea where some of those flaws start and end.
THE COYOTES ARE SAYING
“You want to be a proud team, a proud organization who fights every game and makes it really tough on your opponent. We don’t have the same opportunity as them in the sense that we know we won’t be in the playoffs, but at the same time, we want to fight with the same urgency, the same determination, the same pride, and we did it tonight.”
That’s Coyotes head coach André Tourigny after his club’s 2-1 OT loss to the Winnipeg Jets last night.
The Coyotes took the Jets to OT on the back of netminder Karel Vejmelka. Vejmelka put up 38 saves for Arizona, who picked up a point in the standings prior to tonight’s game versus Edmonton. Vejmelka is one to keep an eye on. His next game will be his 40th of the season.
HAVE SOME OF THIS
- Everything went wrong for the Oilers in the standings on Saturday night. LA won, the Golden Knights had a big comeback against the Blackhawks, and the Canucks beat Dallas. Edmonton still holds a one point lead over the Golden Knights (with two games in hand), but the Oilers need to get back to creating space between them and Vegas. A win tonight goes far in doing that.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put up 1-3-4 in Saturday’s loss, second to only Leon Draisaitl’s three goal, four point output. Big nights for both players, but wildly overshadowed by a crushing defeat against their provincial rivals.
- It’s imperative for Edmonton to come out flying tonight. The Coyotes are on the second game in two nights, Edmonton got whooped on Saturday, anything less than a big win for the Oilers tonight will be rightly met with scrutiny.
- Jesse Puljujärvi played 9:25 in Saturday’s loss to the Flames, a giant save from Jacob Markstrom kept him from hitting the scoresheet while it was a one goal game. Not going to lie, I don’t know what we’re doing out here when this guy plays 9 minutes while the Oilers are getting clobbered.
- THE BEAT GOES ON: The Coyotes have struggled with scoring goals (31st in the league, 2.55 G avg), they’ve struggled with keeping goals out (27th in the league, 3.54 GA avg), their power play is trouble (31st, 13.5%) and their PK isn’t much (30th, 73.6%). Fortunately for them, they’ve got three first round selections and four second round selections in this year’s upcoming draft.
- Clayton Keller is nearly a point per game player for the Coyotes. With 62 points (27-35-62) in 65 games, he’s an all-situations player in Arizona. On a top line with Nick Schmaltz (19-26-45 in 46 GP), they’re a pair to watch.
- Fun Coyotes fact: Shayne Gostisbehere (4.5MM through 2023-24) was given as a salary dump from the Flyers (along with a second and a seventh round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft) to the Coyotes last offseason. Today, Gostisbehere leads Coyotes defencemen in scoring with 40 points (10-30-40 in 65 games). Getting an effective free player is great. Getting an effective free player with a draft pick in the early 30s? Double good. Plus, he’s the glue that’s holding up the Gostisbehere - Dysin Mayo pairing.
Oilers need a win. They need a big win, and they need it tonight.