Monday, November 17, 2014

Hall Returns But Oilers Still Lose

Heading into their Sunday night tilt with the Arizona Coyotes at Rexall Place, the Edmonton Oilers were hoping they could celebrate the 100th game of Dallas Eakins’ National Hockey League coaching career with the team’s first win of the season against a Western Conference opponent. 

Unfortunately for them, Dave Tippett’s squad had other ideas on an evening in which the home team had the good fortune of having Taylor Hall return to their lineup sooner than first expected. Former Oiler Devan Dubnyk was rock solid in between the pipes for the visitors, stopping thirty-three of the thirty-four pucks fired his way, in leading the Coyotes to a 2-1 win in his old stomping grounds. 

Both defenceman Brandon Gormley and Oiler killer Mikkel Boedker managed to get pucks in behind Edmonton’s starter Ben Scrivens for Arizona, who finished up their three came road swing through Western Canada with a pair of victories, while Hall ruined his former starting goalie’s shutout bid with a late third period power play marker that at the end night…was ultimately nothing more than window-dressing. 

While Dubnyk looked poised and ready to go from the drop of the puck, the fourteenth overall pick of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft had more than little help along the way. After putting together arguably their finest defensive performance of the season in Vancouver on Friday night, blanking the Canucks by a score of 5-0, the Coyotes continued to do whatever was necessary in order to keep the puck out their net, in a game that also marked the return of Sam Gagner to the place he called home for the first seven years of his NHL career. 

As a team Arizona blocked a grand total of twenty-five shots on the night and made a point of allowing their goaltender to get a pretty good look at every puck that came his way. With that said, were it not for a crucial block from a sprawling Martin Erat off the stick of Justin Schultz in the closing minutes of the final frame…this one would have been headed to overtime. 

Instead the Coyotes will head home with four points they simply had to have firmly stuffed into the backpocket, while Edmonton is left to ponder about when the time will come for them to actually find a way to beat a team within in their own conference. With eighteen of their next twenty games coming against teams out west, that streak will most certainly come to an end at some point in the very near future. However, considering they have posted a rather meek 0-7-1 record to this point in their season and have had a rather easy schedule to date, one can’t help but wonder how bad things might look by the end of the calendar year. 

Here is hoping this group can figure things out and do so rather quickly or all bets are off on whether their head coach will survive long enough to have the opportunity to celebrate another 100 games behind a National Hockey League bench. 

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