TALE OF THE TAPE:
Game: Edmonton Oilers (17-22-3) at Arizona Coyotes (21-16-4)
Location: Gila River Arena, Glendale, Arizona
Time: 7:00 PM MT
Where to find it: TV: Sportsnet West – Radio: 630 CHED
Now, while I do not condone the intentional injury of a player, or the injury of a player in general I am very okay with the Matt Hendricks hit on Aaron Ekblad.
OW! Okay, stop with the pitchforks. I get it, it’s an uncommon opinion and you probably hate me for it but that’s okay.
The Oilers are a soft team and we don’t often see them take over a game physically, or consistently play physical games for that matter. Simply put, the attitude Matt Hendricks and the rest of the Oilers roster showed against the Panthers Sunday night is everything the team have been missing. After Taylor Hall was hit by Erik Gudbranson (clean hit, I know), Hendricks dropped the mitts with Alex Petrovic the following shift.
I’m sure it wasn’t his intention to lay a suspendable hit on Ekblad. Hendricks is an fast playing, energy player and these sort of instances happen.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 12, 2016
“Inside, I know I’m not a player trying to be malicious,” said Hendricks.
Now, go listen to Todd McLellan after the game:
A reporter, who I believe is TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, asked Todd if he was happy with the way his team responded, and McLellan’s answer was awesome. This isn’t a league anymore where players are coming flying in like maniacs punching every face in sight.
The way the Oilers responded to the hit on Hall was excellent. The team increased the tempo of the game, and ended up with what was one of their best showings as a team the entire season.
If Taylor Hall has to get hit like that to get the Oilers playing a more complete and motivated hockey game, then something is wrong. That is a style of play the Oilers need more of, especially in a tough Western Conference.
I don’t expect Edmonton to start running around taking heads off of every other team’s players, but the team is going to start to win more games if they continue to play with the mentality they brought to the table Sunday night.
Edmonton Oilers Preview:
Tonight, as the Oilers prepare to take on the Arizona Coyotes sans Matt Hendricks, Todd McLellan and co. decided to dress seven defenceman instead of a forward.
“It allows us to be a little more liberal with ice time,” said McLellan. “When you dress six and there’s a player who is not going real well in the first five or seven minutes of the game, it’s really hard to shorten your bench up in that situation.”
Really, it’s a hard argument to go against. With the way the Oilers D have been playing, there is always someone who isn’t really deserving of the ice time given to them.
The Oilers and Coyotes just met ten days ago, when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins netted the game winner to allow Edmonton to cruise to a 4-3 victory. Cam Talbot got the start that night and stopped 31 of 34 shots.
A matchup with the Coyotes tonight sparks a three game trip through Pacific Division opponents, with the Oilers taking on the Sharks on Thursday in San Jose, then the Flames Saturday night in Calgary.
Nail Yakupov will not return to the lineup, but is a viable option Thursday against the Sharks.
Goalie Louis Domingue is expected to make his 11th start in 12 games. With the exception of goalie Mike Smith (abdominal surgery), who is not expected to return until late February, Arizona is healthy. In Smith’s absence, Domingue, 23, is 6-2-2 with a .936 save percentage since being recalled from Springfield of the American Hockey League, including a 4-0 shutout against the Nashville Predators on Saturday. “He came in this year with a lot to prove,” coach Dave Tippett told the Coyotes website. “He was hoping to have a chance to be that No. 2 guy, and then we signed [Anders] Lindback. So he came in very driven in camp and played well in camp. But with the numbers, he went down. He’s come back and got the opportunity, and now he’s running with it.” The win Saturday came in the first of a seven-game homestand. The Coyotes are 7-1-2 in their past 10 games and in second place in the Pacific Division at the midway point of the season. – nhl.com
Line Combos and Starting Goalies c/o Daily Faceoff:
Oilers (Anders Nilsson):
Taylor Hall – Leon Draisaitl – Teddy Purcell
Benoit Pouliot – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Lauri Korpikoski – Mark Letestu – Iiro Pakarinen
Rob Klinkhammer – Anton Lander
Andrej Sekera – Brandon Davidson
Darnell Nurse – Justin Schultz
Mark Fayne – Eric Gryba
Coyotes (Louis Dominique):
Max Domi – Antoine Vermette – Mikkel Boedker
Tobias Reider – Martin Hanzal – Anthony Duclair
Jordan Martinook – Brad Richardson – Shane Doan
Kyle Chipchura – Boyd Gordon – Viktor Tikhonov
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Connor Murphy
Klas Dahlback – Zbynek Michalek
Nick Grossman – Michael Stone
Any ideas on how to improve my game previews? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.