Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pre-Game: Game #17 Coyotes vs. Oilers

It's starting to get into the dog days of the season for the Oilers and there are a lot of nervous fans in and around Edmonton. The Oilers enter the final game of the homestand, 1-3 thus far, staring down a 9 game road trip. Needless to say it could be lights out for the Oilers season unless they can buy some time and win a few games. Things are getting ugly in Oilerville, but we are all accustomed to this, amirite? Taylor Hall starts serving his 2 game suspension after trying to take Cal Clutterbuck's knee off. I feel the suspension is justified, but at the same time I like the way Hall wasn't going to take another loss lying down. Sure, it was dirty and a bit cheap, but that's hockey and the Oilers need to become a team that sends messages from time to time instead of just receiving them. I liked the fact that Hall showed some fire and some pulse in an otherwise tepid loss to the Wild. There are a few more players that could stand to show a pulse because right now, the Oilers have become too individual and far too easy to play against. Successful teams are built from the sum of the parts, not through individual skill. The Oilers management group needs to identify this by starting to cull out the wheat from the chaff and start moving forward. I don't know how anyone could think that bringing in a couple of rookies and turfing a coach would make a significant difference. Sure some players are playing better this year but some players are also struggling. It doesn't have anything to do with the individual players, it has to do with the mix of the players and the player chemistry. If Oilers management doesn't deal with player chemistry then the Oilers will continue to toil at the bottom of the standings. Ryan Jones should see his first action of the season in this one.

Forwards Coyotes
- Without Taylor Hall for the Oilers, the Oilers could have a tough time generating shots. We know the Coyotes will be in lockdown mode early and often.
Defense Coyotes
- Coyotes have an excellent blend of defenders. Oliver Ekman-Larsson looks like a stud in the making. Keith Yandle is always good for some offense on the backend.
Goaltending Coyotes
- Mike Smith has been solid since his stint on the IR. Not sure who is getting the start for the Oilers, I assume Dubnyk will get another shot to right things.
Special Teams Oilers
- The Oilers special teams are the only hope the Oilers have in this game. They can still move the puck well even without Taylor Hall in the lineup.
Coaching Coyotes
- Dave Tippett has to be licking his chops looking at an Oilers lineup without Taylor Hall. Ralph Krueger has to be wondering where it all went wrong.
Intangibles Coyotes
- Coyotes have to be ridiculously well rested having not played since Monday. Oilers are at the tail end of a homestand.

Oilers: (my version)






Game Time - 1:30 PM MT @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West.

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