Phoenix at Edmonton
7 p.m. MT
Sportsnet, 630 CHED
Surely to the surprise of absolutely no one, the Coyotes are totally shitty so far this season. Fresh off a laughably tragic 4-0 loss at the hands of Dallas Stars' rookie netminder Mike Smith, the Coyotes are 2-6-0 for a paltry four points heading into tonight, good for last in the conference and second-last in the NHL. (The only team lying between them and the floor are the lowly Philadelphia Flyers, who of course just dumped their GM and coach in an attempt to salvage the season. If this were any other team, GM Barnett and coach Gretzky would probably be posting their condos on leasebusters.com right now in preparation for the fallout, but luckily they work for a team with no pride or expectations in a city that couldn't care less about hockey, so yeah. Everybody wins?)
At any rate, this team better get used to looking up at 14th place, because I really can't see any other future for Phoenix than one in which they spend so much time in the NHL basement this year that Shane Doan ends up all bow-legged with rickets. Their big off-season forward additions of Jeremy Roenick and Owen Nolan have expectedly turned out to be backward steps — Nolan's defence isn't bad, but his offensive touch has long since shuffled off this mortal coil, and Roenick's a pathetic minus-6 with one assist who should stop embarrassing himself and just retire already — resulting in a pop-gun offence that has averaged just 2.00 goals a game. This, coupled with a woeful goaltending tandem of Curtis Joseph (2-4-0, 3.64 GAA, .876) and the fondly remembered Mike "Mayor Quimby" Morrison (0-2-0, 6.00 GAA, .811) that has allowed 33 goals against, seems to suggest easy pickings for the Oilers tonight, who are looking to increase their home record to 5-0-0 on the season.
Still, this is exactly the kind of team that the Oilers like to come out listless against, and anything can happen. Edmonton split their series with Phoenix 2-2 last year, with the first three games decided by identical scores in extra time (4-3 OTL, 4-3 SOW, 4-3 SOL) before the Oilers finally got some good goaltending and flattened them 7-1 on Apr. 3. After Joseph's assy performance in Dallas, I imagine that Gretzky will play Quimby against his old tonight, and it's possible that he could pull out a couple flashy saves. But come on. If we play with any sort of jump, this is a game the Oilers should easily take. I call a 5-2 romp with goals from Smyth (2), Lupul, Sykora and Greene with the empty-netter.
Oil Spooze: Oilers dreamboat Ethan Moreau somehow managed to dislocate his own shoulder while punching Red Wings defenceman Danny Markov during Saturday's 3-1 win, and will be out of the lineup for at least a week, which means JF Jacques or Alexei Mikhnov will be getting a look over the next few games. Ireland suggests in the story that Edmonton might move Torres off the fourth and up to the second line, but considering Thoreson's play of late, I wonder if they'll give him an audition instead.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Phoenix at Edmonton
Posted by Chris! at 11:17 AM