By Dave Vest
The Coyotes are looking to snap out of a minor slump tonight at Rexall Place against the Edmonton Oilers, a team in a major slump. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix, which is 0-1-1 in its past two games, will play minus leading goal scorer Scottie Upshall
, who suffered an upper-body injury on Saturday vs. Detroit.
“We have people that we will put in that position and they will get an opportunity to fill it up, but you also have to recognize what he has done for us,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “He’s our leading goal scorer and he’s a strong contributor to our lineup so we’ll have to have people step up in that role and get the job done.”
, whom the NHL on Monday named its Second Star of December, will be in goal for the Coyotes (25-14-4).
Defenseman Jim Vandermeer, who has missed the past four games because of an upper-body injury, said he will play tonight. Center Vernon Fiddler
(lower-body injury) also is expected to return to the lineup in a limited role.
Tippett is eager to see how his team responds to losing 4-1 to Detroit on Saturday in front of a rare sellout crowd at Jobing.com Arena. Some observers are calling that loss a wake-up call.
“For me, the wake-up call is less about the end result and more about how you are playing,” Tippett said. “I don’t think we played as well the last game or the last couple of periods of the San Jose game (on Dec. 31). We’ve established a real competitive edge to our game and it’s real noticeable when you have it but it’s become more and more noticeable when you don’t. It comes down to the little things. Its’ paying the price to win. It’s blocking shots, it’s blocking people out of the net, it’s getting to rebounds… it’s things like that that dictate outcomes of games and we’ve been a little short on those things the last couple of games.”
Edmonton (16-22-4) has lost nine of its past 10 games and has been outscored 38-17 in those games.
Jeff Deslauriers, who blanked the Coyotes 4-0 on Nov. 23, will be in goal for Edmonton. Forward Fernando Pasani, who has missed the past 23 games because of colitis, will play tonight.