EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers host the Arizona Coyotes tonight at Rexall Place for their third of five meetings this season. Edmonton lost the first two games by a combined score of 9-5. The Oilers are currently on a nine-game slide, that began on November 11.
“We should be scared because every team we play is higher than us in the standings and that means they play better hockey than us,” Oilers winger David Perron said. “Every night should be the exact same way. You should be excited personally, but as a team we should be scared of making the big mistake and making sure we play the right way for the full 60.”
Some lineup notes tonight include the absence of Matt Hendricks (leg) and the recent recall of Tyler Pitlick from Oklahoma City. Pitlick will play on the right wing on the line with Leon Draisaitl and David Perron.
“For Pitlick, it will be his first game of the season and he’s excited as a kid probably playing in their first NHL game,” Perron said. “It’s good to see him up here and that’s the only way you can go about it, to be excited every night.”
Pitlick, the 31st overall pick in 2010, will make his season debut tonight against the Coyotes.
“I’ve just got to play my game,” Pitlick said. “I’ve got to be physical, get in on the forecheck, create some energy and I’ve got to chip in some offence.”
Pitlick scored his first NHL goal against the Coyotes on October 26, 2013. As the 23-year-old hopes to stick with the Oilers, the organization is just looking for some more consistency.
“Consistency, and this usually happens,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “The players that get called up, they give you anywhere from one to three or four really good games and then there’s the drop off. They can’t sustain it. Pit has given us some really good games and then there has been falloff. One game he got hurt… That kind of went into it too, if you get injured. You can’t really control that. It’s consistency for those guys that are up right now like Pitlick, a guy like Oscar (Klefbom) or (Steve) Pinizzotto. There can’t be a drop off in play. You have to play every shift right now like this might be my last one, this might be my last day here. I think if you go about it that way then things turn out very well for you. But the second you get comfortable, it starts to go the other way.”
The winger has nine points in 14 AHL games this season.
“The word on Pitlick is he’s been playing well and deserves another look,” Eakins said. “Hopefully he brings his skating, some physicality and pucks to the net. We’ve got to get more people to the net and more pucks to the net so that we can get some more goals under our belt. We’re hoping that he’ll be able to bring not only that but some physicality as well.”
MORE FINISH FROM YAK
Oilers winger Nail Yakupov has just seven points (3-4-7) in 24 games this season. That is despite having 52 shots on goal this season, which is tied for fourth on the team.
When speaking about what he’d like to see from his forward, Eakins said, “finish.”
“We’d like more finish obviously,” he said. “I think Nail has worked hard to get his chances, he’s hit a few posts and crossbars and I think we’d be thinking differently about him if they’d went the other way. The biggest thing with Nail is not to get frustrated by it. He’d just got to keep shooting the puck, going to the net. We’ve seen it a couple of times in games here where he’s taken the puck to the net on his own. Those courageous plays that you see where they’re just trying to jam it in there.”
For much of the Oilers lineup, more finish is necessary. The Oilers need their players to be ready for that one or two chances they get each game.
“We need more production out of a number of our guys,” Eakins said. “A lot of that comes down to sticking with it and then the second part of it is, how many real chances does a forward get in a game? You might only get one chance all night. The biggest thing for me is to be ready for that chance to bury it, not be surprised by it, don’t let it blow up on your stick. That’s your job, especially as a forward, to be ready for that one or maybe two chances and being able to bury it.”
QUICK NOTES: Oilers winger Taylor Hall has 17 points (6-11-17) in 14 career games against Arizona. Mark Fayne leads the Oilers in blocked shots with 50. Oilers forward Boyd Gordon is two assists away from his 100th career NHL assist. Mike Smith is 9-1-1 with a 2.69 GAA and .910 SV% in 13 career games against Edmonton. Mikkel Boedker leads Arizona with 4-1-5 in two games against Oilers this season and has 13 points (7-6-13) in 19 career games vs. Edmonton.
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com
COYOTES (9-12-3) at OILERS (6-14-4)
TV: FS-A, SNW
Season series: The Arizona Coyotes have won the first two games against the Edmonton Oilers, a 7-4 victory Oct. 15 and a 2-1 win Nov. 16. Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker has four goals and five points, including a hat trick in the first game. Oilers forward Taylor Hall has three goals and four points.
Coyotes team scope: Arizona was shut out by the Calgary Flames 3-0 on Saturday, the fourth time they've been blanked this season, and their third loss in a row. "We had to play fast and we had to play with poise and make good plays with the puck, and we didn’t do a lot of either," coach Dave Tippett said Saturday, according to the Coyotes’ Twitter account. After the loss, the Coyotes are 6-3-0 against Pacific Division opponents. Forward Brendan Shinnimin made his NHL debut against Calgary, skating on a line with Sam Gagner and Martin Erat. The 23-year-old played 13:11 and went 3-for-4 on faceoffs, but failed to record a shot on goal. "We're still trying to find that mix in our lineup that gives us the best chance, and he's earned an opportunity," Tippett said of Shinnimin. The Coyotes head to Calgary on Tuesday for a rematch with the Flames before playing the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.
Oilers team scope: Edmonton will look to snap their nine-game losing streak (0-6-3) on Monday. The Oilers wrapped up a three-game road trip with back-to-back overtime losses to the Nashville Predators on Friday and St. Louis Blues on Saturday. They finished November 2-9-3. Goalie Ben Scrivens voiced his displeasure after the Oilers loss to St. Louis. "I think we’re getting what we deserve right now," he told the Edmonton Sun. "I don’t think we’re playing good enough to win in the NHL." Forward Matt Hendricks did not skate Sunday morning because of a leg injury. "He's a big part of our team. He brings a lot as a physical guy," center Boyd Gordon said of Hendricks. There was no further update on Hendricks’ status for Monday. Defenseman Martin Marincin was assigned to the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League, and forward Jesse Joensuu was placed on waivers Sunday.