Oilers hope visit from Coyotes answer to their woes
Monday, 11.23.2009 / 7:00 PM
COYOTES (13-9-1) at OILERS (9-11-3)
Phoenix 4-5-1; Edmonton 2-6-2
First of four meetings this season. Edmonton won the first three games in 2008-09 before Phoenix picked up a 3-2 win on March 26. Ales Hemsky
led the Oilers with four goals, while Ethan Moreau recorded a hat trick in a 6-3 win on Jan. 18. Martin Hanzal
's two goals paced the Coyotes. Ilya Bryzgalov was 1-1 in two starts.
With the Oilers a dismal 3-9-2 over their last 14 games and coming off a 5-2 loss on home ice Saturday to the Blackhawks, the team held a meeting at Rexall Place on Sunday morning. For most of the team it was a short visit, but seven players stayed for close to 90 minutes to further discuss matters with coach Pat Quinn.
"Communication is great -- it's very important in sports and any walk of life," Moreau added. "(Quinn is) a good communicator and it was a good morning to talk about things.
"We should do it more than we do. It's just that everyone is so busy and your schedule gets so hectic and sometimes you just don't want to do it, you don't have the energy for it, but in any successful organization, that happens."
An impressive 3-1 win Saturday over a strong Eastern Conference opponent in Philadelphia lifted Phoenix to 3-1-1 over its last five games. The Coyotes were able to rely on their power play against the Flyers, getting the game's opening goal courtesy of Matthew Lombardi and breaking a 1-1 tie midway through the third when defenseman Keith Yandle
struck with the man advantage.
Coach Dave Tippett was even more impressed with the penalty-killing unit. Philly entered with the League's most potent power play at 26.6 percent, but the Coyotes gave up just five shots and no goals during 10 minutes of shorthanded play.
"Our penalty kill was really good," Tippett said. "That's a very good power play over there. … I thought our penalty kill really rose to the occasion tonight, and (Vernon) Fiddler and (Daniel) Winnik and our group of (defensemen) for the most part did a great job."
It will be interesting to see how Edmonton responds after the team meeting, which was called in the wake of comments Quinn made after Saturday's game suggesting the Oilers were not exactly playing intelligent hockey.
"We got beat in all of the fundamentals of the game," he said. "They outworked us and outwilled us early on. We had some guys that didn't play very hard. If we learn from that then we have a chance, but we abandoned the game plan.
"We got handed our lunch."
Bryzgalov is 3-0-1 in his last four starts with a 2.00 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. Dustin Penner, the runaway leader on Edmonton in goal scoring, picked up his 13th of the season against Chicago.
Phoenix is without a pair of defensemen. Ed Jovanovski has missed the last seven games with a lower-body injury. Kurt Sauer
(head) hasn't played since the season opener.
Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin
missed Saturday's game with a back injury and is questionable to play Monday. The Oilers recalled Devan Dubnyk
from Springfield of the American Hockey League to back up Jeff Deslauriers. Forward Mike Comrie is out with mononucleosis and forward Marc-Antoine Pouliot
has a pelvis injury.
Edmonton has been a house of horrors for Phoenix over the years. In fact, dating back to the 1993-94 season, when the franchise was still located in Winnipeg and known as the Jets, it's registered just six wins in 30 trips there – that includes three ties. The Oilers have a current four-game home winning streak against the Coyotes, scoring 23 goals over that span.
Quinn has taken a no-nonsense approach to the Oilers' slide, but he can't stop pucks or put them in the opponent's net. Now it's up to the players to respond.