The seven men from the rafters looked down upon these Oilers and declared their scorn. When Al looked down he spat blood declaring, "A huge part of this team's history has been burned to the ground. There is a willful forgetfulness here that will not be forgiven, so just as this team played in the WHA for seven years, so this team will spend seven years out of the playoffs as punishment."
Then Wayne looked down with disappointment declaring, "This team is supposed to be the reincarnation of the boys on the bus? Really? What disrespect for our legacy! What utter foolishness! For these audacious claims, a third of your team will be injured!"
Next Jari looked down and said, "I can't help but love this team, and the fans have endured so much punishment, so I will give them comfort by destroying the Stars! They will fall in the standings and out of the playoffs for a third straight season! Suomi!"
After this, Grant looked down and said, "The only thing this team did right was sign a clutch goalie, but their other moves have made him look like a fool! How can he prove himself when it really matters if the team doesn't ever play in important games! For treating a Stanley Cup winner with such contempt, all seven goalies in the organization will be made to struggle!"
As I sat and listened to these greats speak from the rafters of Rexall Place, I looked up and saw a maniacal Kevin Lowe looking down and lamenting, "Woe! Woe! Woe to the people who follow this team because of what the three men who have yet to speak have to say."
Edmonton Oilers (13-20-7) @ Dallas Stars (25-13-5)
American Airlines Center, 6:30 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet Edmonton
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
I refuse to believe that the Dallas Stars are a particularly good hockey team. Sure. A team with some tremendous individual players? Definitely. A nasty team? Sure. But a really good team? I just don't think it's the case. Five NHL teams have a goal differential of +20 or better so far this year. The Stars' record against those teams? 3-2-0. That's terr... pretty good. But their record in games decided by two or more is only 10-8, which is... fifth in the West. So... yeah... I refuse to believe that they're a good hockey team.
Edmonton Oilers (13-20-7):
Penner - Hall - Hemsky
Omark - Gagner - Paajarvi
Reddox - Cogliano - Jones
Jacques - Fraser - Stortini
Peckham - Gilbert
Smid - Foster
Chorney - Petry
Dallas Stars (25-13-5)
Neal - Richards - Eriksson
Morrow - Ribeiro - Benn
Burish - Ott - Langenbrunner
Barch - Wandell - Sutherby
Grossman - Robidas
Woywitka - Daley
Fistric - Larsen
By the Numbers:
Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson are both top ten scorers so far in the NHL. Eriksson has 46 points so far this season, and has another five seasons to go with a cap number of $4.3M, a contract that looks like it could pay big dividends for Dallas. Richards, meanwhile, has 49 points this year and is heading toward unrestricted free agency this summer, when he'll be 31 years old. That could be one helluva payday.
Derek has already mentioned that Nicklas Grossman had one of the toughest end-zone start ratios last season, and is doing more of the same this year. One of the guys who had tougher starting positions a year ago? Recent call-up Taylor Chorney who had the fifth toughest ratio in the NHL. And he played mostly with Jason Strudwick. If any rookie has played tougher minutes since the lockout, I'd be surprised.
- Which brings me to Theo Peckham, this season's rookie who's been absolutely thrown to the wolves. Peckham has the toughest end-zone start ratio of any Oilers' defender and seems to be facing pretty tough competition to boot toughest by +/-, (toughest by Relative Corsi, but second easiest by Corsi). The difference between Peckham and Chorney (aside from Strudwick) is that Peckham is actually doing a bit better than expected. I don't know what it feels like to have established oneself in the NHL, but Theo Peckham does, and I'll bet that it feels pretty good.
- I was having a bit of fun up top, but there are some warning signs that the Stars aren't as good as their record suggests. Through Christmas, they were getting bombed with the score close, earning only 46.1% of Fenwick events, which placed them 26th in the league. If there's something other than blind hatred making me think twice about Dallas, that's what it is.
Taylor Hall is playing at center for the Oilers tonight with the two best wingers on the team. If he works out, the Oilers will finally have a TRUE NUMBER ONE center, something they've lacked since Mark Messier left town (if you got offended for Shawn Horcoff there, Doug Weight would like a word).