EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers return home for a brief two-game home stand, hosting the visiting Arizona Coyotes who dwell among the basement of the National Hockey League with 15 points and an overall record of 6-17-3.
Despite their record, the 'Yotes are 4-3-0 in their last seven games, defeating the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings.
"I think it has less to do with the opponent and more about us," said Oilers forward Michael Cammalleri about tonight's matchup. "We liked some things about ourselves in the Boston game and the result was a win. We'd like to see those things happen again regardless of the opponent."
Edmonton administered a better forecheck and as a result, came away with a 4-2 win against the Bruins to conclude the five-game road trip with a 2-3-0 record.
"I thought we did a good job getting above pucks," continued Cammalleri, who had an assist in the win. "Second and third efforts on the forecheck and making it harder for them to skate through our three or four guys to get out.
"That transitioned into more puck time and offence for us."
As the players took to the ice Tuesday morning, Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli held a media availability. He spoke about the sporadic play of the team thus far in the 2017-18 season and that message was heard by the players.
"You never want your GM to come into the room," said forward Drake Caggiula. "It's the players' room, it's the coaches' room… If that starts to happen, that means there's obviously something going really wrong and we have to find a way to fix it."
There's an imperative for the players to hold themselves accountable internally.
"It's something that we need to address ourselves and need to take care of ourselves," said Caggiula.
For the second time in their careers, brothers Ryan and Dylan Strome will match up against one another. The two first played against each other last season when Ryan was still a member of the New York Islanders.
Elder brother Ryan came away with the victory, adding a goal in the Isles' 3-2 win over the Coyotes.
Recently, younger sibling Dylan has been tearing up the American Hockey League, registering eight goals, 18 assists and 26 points in 15 games.
"It's cool and weird," said Ryan about playing his younger sib. "I didn't expect last game to be as challenging as it was playing against each other. You're on the bench and you want to score and do your own thing but then you're watching for No. 20 on the other team.
"It's an interesting dynamic."
Ryan has four goals and seven assists in 24 games this season and three points in his last three games. Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan thinks the off-season acquisition's game has been trending upwards recently.
"I think he's finally felt comfortable in and around our group and the coaching staff, which always takes time to adjust to," the Oilers coach said. "He has been around the puck a lot more and is using his shot more. He's understanding how we want to play the game and he's been more effective over the last little bit."
The Oilers skated in the same line and defence formations as their game against Boston. Cammalleri will start on the first line with Oilers Captain Connor McDavid and Milan Lucic.
Said Cammalleri about complementing McDavid's tendencies offensively: "I think it's a matter of creating some familiarity and understanding, even though it seems obvious, the things he does. There are always details to a guy's game that aren't obvious and as linemates, you learn about one another - where you put pucks and where you don't put pucks."
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will centre Patrick Maroon and Anton Slepyshev, while Leon Draisaitl plays middleman on the third line with Strome and Caggiula.
Nurse - Larsson Klefbom - Benning Auvitu - Russell
-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com
OILERS (9-13-2) vs. COYOTES (6-17-3)
TV: 7:00 p.m. MST; Televised on Sportsnet Oilers
The Oilers host the Arizona Coyotes for the first time this season. It is their first of four meetings in 2017-18. The two teams will meet again on January 12, in Arizona.
Last season, Edmonton won all but two games against the Coyotes in their five-game series. They lost the first two in November and then won three straight.
Oilers team scope:
Edmonton is coming off an up-and-down road trip, in which they went 2-3-0 with wins over Detroit and Boston, and losses in Dallas, St. Louis and Buffalo.
The Oilers return home where they are 4-7-0 this season, getting outscored 41-33. They have lost four of their last six at Rogers Place.
Connor McDavid leads Edmonton in scoring with 30 points (10-20-30) in 24 games. Leon Draisaitl overtook Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the road trip for second place with 19 points (7-12-19) in 20 games.
Coyotes team scope:
The Coyotes are last in the Western Conference with 15 points this season. They are trending up, going 4-2-0 in their last six games - more wins in their last six than they had in their first 20 games of the season.
They have also won three straight road games.
Clayton Keller leads the team in scoring with 20 points (11-9-20) through 26 games.
By the Numbers:
Keller is among the league leaders in rookie scoring this season with 20 points. As of Monday afternoon, Keller was tied for the league lead in rookie goal scoring with 11.
McDavid has the most points in the NHL since the start of 2016-17 (130). McDavid also has the most multi-point games since the start of 2016-17 (38). Nugent-Hopkins has 11 points (7-4-11) in 11 home games this season.
OILERS - A. Sekera (knee) is on IR; J. Khaira (lower body) is day-to-day.
COYOTES - J. Chychrun (knee) is on IR; A. Raanta (upper body) is day-to-day.