O God, if only you would completely destroy the Stars!
If only you would get these murderers out of my life!
These Texans blaspheme against you day after day,
thinking that you actually love them!
Dearest Yahweh, shouldn't I hate those you hate?
Shouldn't I despise this team you loathe?
Yes, I should and I do! I hate them with total hatred,
for your enemies and my enemies are one and the same.
Dallas Stars (28-13-5) @ Edmonton Oilers (14-24-7)
Rexall Place, 7:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
When these teams met in Dallas, I said that I didn't believe the Stars were really all that good. The Stars then immediately dispatched the Oilers in regulation then thrashed the Thrashers 6-1 (I'm sure Kari Lehtonen enjoyed that one thoroughly), and picked up another regulation win over the Kings, before flying to Edmonton. The team is now 15 games over fake .500 and holds down the fourth best points percentage in the entire league. But I'm a pretty stubborn guy, and the majority of the things I've been concerned about with that team haven't changed all that much. JLikens recently updated the EV stats for the last month, and the Stars are still right near the bottom in terms of possession (they've earned 46.7% of Fenwick events on the year at EV with the score close, good for 24th spote) and have instead been getting by on the percentages in those same situations. The .936 save percentage with the score close is particularly high and may be poised to drop.
But maybe I'm being too dogmatic. If I were to spin this positively, I would lean on two main things. First of all, the Stars getting a .936 save percentage with the score close at EV isn't all that remarkable when you consider that they've had a .936 save percentage at EV in all situations. Further, Kari Lehtonen, the Stars' starter, is a pretty darn good goalie when he can stay healthy, having put up a post-lockout EV save percentage of .926 on 5864 shots. Even if we don't expect him (and Andrew Raycroft) to maintain a .936 save percentage over the long haul, it's not unreasonable to think that he can maintain something well above average.
In addition, the Stars have been better over their last batch of games, which is obscured by looking at data from the entire season. Before Christmas, the Stars had earned 46.1% of Fenwick events at EV with the score close (+657 -769), but in the eleven games since then, they've earned 48.7% of Fenwick events at EV with the score close (+223 -235). In terms of possession at EV, the club seems to have gotten better, and with yet another game against the Oilers tonight, they'll probably improve on that number further.
Edmonton Oilers (14-24-7):
Hall - Horcoff - Penner
Omark - Gagner - Paajarvi
Reddox - Cogliano - Jones
Jacques - Fraser - Stortini
Peckham - Gilbert
Smid - Petry
Foster - Chorney
Dallas Stars (28-13-5)
Neal - Richards - Eriksson
Morrow - Ribeiro - Langenbrunner
Ott - Benn - Burish
Barch - Wandell - Sutherby
Grossman - Robidas
Skrastins - Daley
Woywitka - Fistric
By the Numbers:
- The Dallas Stars are one of three teams with six thirty-point scorers (the others are the Flyers and Sharks). The Edmonton Oilers are one of three teams with no thirty-point scorers (the others are the Predators and Senators).
- Of their thirty-point scorers (Brad Richards, Loui Eriksson, Mike Ribeiro, James Neal, Brendan Morrow, and Jamie Benn), the most surprising to me was Benn. After a stellar rookie season in 2009-10, Benn has taken another step forward this year, and is only eleven points back of his previous year's total.
- The Oilers faceoff percentage going into tonight's game is a rather revolting 43.9%. That would be the worst mark... since the NHL started tracking? The NHL site only goes back to the 1997-98 and I haven't been able to find another source. At any rate, it's really bad. Funny thing though. The Carolina Hurricanes are at 43.6% this year. No team under 44.0% for 14 years, and now suddenly there's two. Crazy.
- Ales Hemsky is sitting out tonight just one point back of Kevin Lowe for tenth spot on the Oilers' all-time scoring list. Clearly, the Oilers played Hemsky in an attempt to hurt him and help Lowe retain his spot.
- Kurtis Foster will be playing in his 300th career regular season game tonight. Things haven't exactly worked out so far between Foster and the Oilers, but that's still a tremendous accomplishment and congratulations are in order.