The gap between the top three teams in the Pacific division and everyone else is significant. In the Bettman era of loser points a gap of 4 points is significant to over; currently there is a 12 point gap between Vegas and the next Pacific team Anaheim. Edmonton's only hope of making the playoffs is as a Wild Card team.
Fortunately the other teams currently in the mix for the Wild Card spot have struggled equally as much as the Oilers.
Anaheim has lost 10 straight games and despite Gibson still playing strong, a lack of scoring is crippling that team's chances.
Colorado has only won two of their last 10, their 1A/1B tandem of Varlamov and Grubauer have SV% of 0.908 and 0.895 respectively.
Minnesota has been doing Minnesota things all year, being unspectacular in most areas while still being good enough to remain in the hunt.
Vancouver has been streaky all season, with bursts of offense, followed by weak defensive showings.
One team that is well out of the hunt now is the Arizona Coyotoes. This season I felt Arizona was going to be in the mix for most of the season, but a slew of injuries has hampered their year, with the worst loss being that of Antti Raanta.
- Hitchcock decides to reunite RNH with McDavid, while Draisaitl is paired with Chiasson and an anchor.
4 KEYS TO VICTORY
1) A Poor Offense.
The Coyotes best forward this season has been Clayton Keller who is slightly off pace from his production in his first season. Last year Keller went 23-42-65 in 82 games. This year in 43 games Keller is 9-21-30. He may not be producing as much as he has expected too, however he is still a threat and the Coyotes most potent weapon.
2) RNH and McDavid Reunited.
At least for the beginning of the game we will see Nuge and McDavid back on the same line. Through 269 minutes of play together the duo have been a positve force at 53.70 CF% outchancing the opposition whenever they were on the ice.
3) Meanwhile On The Second Line...
There should be no doubt that RNH and McDavid should have scoring chances, but the key will be whether or not Draisaitl can survive on the second line. Chiasson is a safe bet to produce but Lucic still continues to be the weak link on whatever line he plays on.
4) A Must Win.
Arizona will likely miss the playoffs this year but Edmonton still has a chance. Losing against a division rival tonight will continue to reduce the Oileres chances of being a playoff team.