Nikolai Khabibulin (Dan Nicholas, Wikimedia Commons)
From every angle possible, it is a great time to be an Edmonton Oilers fan. The kids are producing. The veterans are producing. The entire team is buying into Tom Renney’s defensive-minded system and Nikolai Khabibulin has been completely spectacular.
On Saturday night, the Oilers (8-2-2), visit the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena (CBC, 8pm). Edmonton is currently tied with the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the Western Conference. They have also only given up 18 goals all season long, five fewer than second place Dallas at 23 goals. The recent play of Khabibulin led Brad May of Rogers Sportsnet to say last night that Khabibulin right now “is the best goaltender in the NHL.”
The Coyotes meanwhile are trying to get to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third year in a row. The last two seasons they have lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. So far in 2011-12, they are 6-4-2, and tied with the Nashville Predators, Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings for fifth place in the Western Conference.
The Coyotes’ top player this season is Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta native Ray Whitney, who leads Phoenix with five goals, seven assists.
Here are the other events I’ll be watching this weekend: