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Oilers, Coyotes get together looking to ease concerns

From FOX Sports - January 11, 2018

GLENDALE, Ariz.The Arizona Coyotes concern is all those days off. The Edmonton Oilers concern is all those games off at least offensively, that is.

The Oilers, unable to generate much momentum with their season now more than halfway over, play back-to-back road games this weekend against teams coming off their bye weeksthe Coyotes on Friday and the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.

What they dont know is if its an advantage theyre going against teams that might be a bit rusty, or a disadvantage because the Coyotes will be well-rested, having not played since a 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday.

Five days off might not seem like a lot, but the rhythm of your game goes away and you have to find it quickly, Oilers center Mark Letestu said following practice Thursday at Gila River Arena. In our situation, weve got two here now before our break and theres a tendency to want to empty the tank. You have nothing to save it for, so you want to give your best effort.

The Coyotes had three days off last week, but they practiced all three days and came out to beat the Nashville Predators 3-2 in overtime on Jan. 4.

This time, though, they werent permitted to practice during the NHLs newly instated bye week until 6 p.m. EST on Thursday.

I cant speak for what Arizona and Las Vegas will go through or how theyll feel, Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. It doesnt matter to us. We have to prepare our game.

Arizona will have a bit of a different look since the Oilers (18-23-3) last saw them on Nov. 28. A 3-2 Edmonton win was decided by Ryan Hopkins-Nugents goal with 40 seconds remaining in overtime.

The Coyotes picked up forward Freddie Hamilton on waivers from Calgary last weekend, then added right winger Richard Panika 22-goal scorer last seasonin a trade Wednesday that sent left winger Anthony Duclair to the Chicago Blackhawks. During practice Thursday, Panik skated on a line with left winger Brendan Perlini and center Derek Stepan.

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