After a hot start in the early part of 2011, the Phoenix Coyotes have seen quite a dropoff in play over their last four games. The Desert Dogs have won just one of their last four, including Saturday's disappointing affair against the Los Angeles Kings.
Tuesday presents an opportunity to jump back in the win column, when the Coyotes host the bottom feeding Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers are in familiar territory, sitting in last in the Western Conference and 29th in the league, with just 36 points.
If there has been a bright spot for the Oilers this season, it's been rookie Taylor Hall. Last year's first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft, Hall leads the team with 15 goals, and his 28 points are tied for third on the team.
The Coyotes will look to turn it around after a couple of lackluster performances, but the biggest issue facing them is their struggles on the blue line. New acquisition Michal Rozsival has finished with a minus rating in two of his three games for the Coyotes. The good news for Phoenix is that they could get veteran defenseman Ed Jovanovski back from an upper body injury.
Jovo suffered the injury on the Coyotes' win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, after taking a blindside hit, courtesy of forward Mike Brown. The hit left Brown suspended for three games.
Despite recent defensive breakdowns, Keith Yandle has continued to star for the Coyotes. Phoenix's newest star has registered a point in seven consecutive games, including two in the loss to LA on Saturday.
Yandle isn't the only Coyote streaking, however. Lee Stempniak has also elevated his play of late, after going MIA in November and December. Stempniak has points in five consecutive games, and goals in three consecutive games, including a pair against the Kings on Saturday.
Tuesday's contest marks the last home game for the Coyotes until Saturday. They will next hit the road for two before returning for a game on Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks. The road has proven to be more friendly than the Coyotes near-empty home building, where they are just 10-8-5 on the season. One would think that a tilt against the Oilers would be just what the doctor ordered for these Coyotes.