Coyotes-Oilers Preview

The Phoenix Coyotes don’t feel their results are an accurate benchmark for judging the quality of the team.

A visit to the lowly Edmonton Oilers on Friday night could offer the Coyotes a starting point for improving their standing in the Western Conference.

Phoenix (23-18-9), now six points out of the No. 8 spot in the West, has as many wins against the Oilers (15-31-6) this season as it does in 2014 after falling to 3-8-0 since Jan. 2 with Wednesday’s 3-2 loss at Calgary.

"We’ve been down lately in a lot of games and we’ve got to be better," said captain Shane Doan, who scored along with Antoine Vermette against the Flames. "If you look at our record, we’ve been average if that and we’ve got a lot better team than an average team."

Doan has three points in two games against Edmonton this season, while Radim Vrbata and defenseman Keith Yandle each have six in the three-game series.

Vermette has scored in consecutive games, both regulation losses after the Coyotes went 7-0-3 over the first 10 games in which he’s scored this season.

"It’s challenging but the guys that have been around long enough in this league know that you’re going to hit those stretches in a season," Vermette said. "It’s how you manage to get out of it."

The schedule might help with that. Phoenix totaled 15 goals in its three wins over Edmonton and has played 11 straight against it without a regulation loss. The Coyotes are 9-0-2 against the Oilers since March 17, 2011, and they’re catching them at a good time.

Edmonton (15-31-6) has gone 0-4-1 in its last five and is out to avoid matching a season-worst six-game winless streak.

On a positive note, the Oilers allowed fewer than three goals for the first time in 11 games Tuesday against Vancouver – but they scored only once. The 2-1 loss gives them four goals in their last three games.

Jordan Eberle has three of those, including the tally against the Canucks with Taylor Hall and Sam Gagner assisting.

Eberle said the pace of the team’s ongoing development can at times be frustrating.

"There’s sometimes where you go home and you just want to punch the wall or do whatever," Eberle told the team’s official website. "You’re that frustrated that things aren’t going as fast as they should be but I think that’s where it comes back to looking at the positives. Last game, we played a pretty good game, came against a hot goaltender, played really well and (Vancouver is) one of the better teams in the league.

"We have the capability. We’ve shown we can play well. It’s just the matter of bringing it every game and I think the best part about hockey is we have another opportunity to do that tomorrow."

Eberle doesn’t have a point in his last four games against Phoenix, while Hall has four over his last two.

Ben Scrivens made 25 saves in his second game with the Oilers, and he’s now lost his last five starts dating to his time with Los Angeles.

His counterpart, Mike Smith, can sympathize. Smith is 2-7-2 since Dec. 23, but he’s 7-0-1 with a 2.21 goals-against average against the Oilers in his time with Phoenix.