Aside from a brief layover in Edmonton that conveniently lined up with the Washington Capitals schedule, the Edmonton Oilers are back out on the road. Only this time it’s for a brief two-game stint with stops in Phoenix and then Los Angeles on back-to-back nights.
First up are the surprising Coyotes who have rebounded from last year’s disappointing season and bolted out of the gate to a strong start. The Yotes lineup features many familiar faces in Shane Doan, Keith Yandle, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and star netminder Mike Smith. But newcomer Mike Ribeiro has fit in perfectly in the desert and given this team an additional scoring threat to go with the base that is already in place.
This two-game set will be a big test for the Oilers and it starts with the Coyotes. Currently second in the league in goals scored with 35 through 11 games, this new divisional foe has the ability to run and gun with the best of them. But they’ve also given up as many goals as they’ve scored which is surprising given the blue line was thought to be the team’s strongest department.
Mike Smith is considered to be a favorite for Team Canada at the upcoming Olympics which leads to the notion that he’s one of the game’s elite. His numbers this year are mediocre at best with a 3.08 GAA and a .907 save percentage, both of which are far below his career averages.
The Oilers will have to carry over their fine play that they portrayed for the first forty minutes against the Washington Capitals on Thursday, if they want to have a chance at winning this game. As always, let’s take a look at the lineups followed by some note worthy items. Note the start time, it’s an afternoon game in the desert.