You yourselves know, dearest Calgarians, that our visit to you will not be a failure. You know how badly we have been treated in every town over the last several years, and how much we have suffered alongside you in Calgary. Yet our God gave all of us the courage to declare the greatness of God's Oildrop boldly, despite great opposition and an extravagant amount of evidence to the contrary. Yes, we have declared and will continue to declare this Good News no matter what mockery or slander might fall upon us, and we know that you will too.
You know that we speak as players approved by God and entrusted with this Good News. We are aware that testifying to the preference God has for the Oildrop may not win you many friends, but our purpose is to please God, not people. And you know that this is true! After all, we have not convinced you to embrace us with earthly things! We did not win you over with a penchant for scoring goals, and we have shied away from winning over half of our games for many years. God is our witness that we did not overperform to swindle you out of your money. No, we have not done anything in human terms to bring praise to the Oildrop from you or from anyone else. Your fandom, then, must find its source in God who was called you to this most holy cause.
Edmonton Oilers (2-1-1) @ Calgary Flames (1-3-0)
Scotiabank Saddledome, 7:30 p.m. MDT
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Home Team Scouting Report:
The Flames are off to a rough start this season with three regulation losses in their first four games. The main reason for these struggles has been their play at even strength. Over their first four games, the Flames have an even strength (excluding empty net situations) Fenwick percentage of 43.7% (+101 -130) and Corsi percentage of 45.7%, which as you may recall, is 2010-11 Oilers territory. Now some of that discrepancy has come because of the team's injuries down the middle (Brendan Morrison and Mikael Backlund were both injured, and Daymond Langkow was traded to Phoenix), but there's been plenty of damage with the team's top forward line on the ice - the Flames with Jarome Iginla on the ice have a Fenwick percentage of 43.8% (+39 -50) and a Corsi percentage of 43.2% (+57 -75) - so unless you think David Moss is the problem... there might be a pretty big problem. Brendan Morrison is set to return tonight, and while he's not slated to start on the top line, I could see him ending there if the Flames struggle.
Edmonton Oilers (2-1-1):
Jones - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Smyth - Horcoff - Petrell
Paajarvi - Belanger - Omark
Eager - Lander
Whitney - Gilbert
Barker - Smid
Sutton - Potter
Calgary Flames (1-3-0):
Tanguay - Moss - Iginla
Glencross - Jokinen - Stempniak
Hagman - Morrison - Bourque
Letourneau-Leblond - Stajan - Jackman
Hannan - Giordano
Bouwmeester - Butler
Sarich - Smith
By the Numbers:
- Through four games the Oilers have a Chance differential of +9 (+44 -35), Fenwick differential of +12 (+117 -105) and a Corsi differential of -2 (+151 -153) at even strength (excluding empty net situations). That's not fantastic or anything, but it's not bad either, which for this team, is a huge step forward. And because it's coming at the beginning of the season, you can even have living hope that they'll keep it going!
- One of the reasons for that hope is the coaching. In last night's game, the Predators came to town with one forward line that looked really dangerous (Wilson, Legwand, and Kostitsyn), and for a second consecutive game, Renney played the matching game. He had Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Smyth, and Ryan Jones out there for over 75% of their ice time, and even used Lennart Petrell (in place of Jones) in a "face-off-get-off" role for some defensive zone draws. Renney, it seems, is coaching like a man who'd like to win some games.
- He's also coaching like a man who sees a player in Ryan Jones. Many around these parts (myself included) didn't have a lot of faith in Jones, mostly because of some particularly ugly WOWY analysis that showed almost everyone on the team having a harder time with him than they did without him. Normally you wouldn't think such a player would be well-suited to very many minutes, let alone tough minutes. Tom Renney disagrees. Jones is currently sixth among Oiler forwards in EV TOI with 13:03 per game and third in SH TOI with 3:07 per game. And so far, he's not dragging the numbers down! With Jones on the ice at even strength (excluding empty net situations), the Oilers have a Chance differential of +4 (+12 -8), Fenwick differential of +3 (+28 -25), and Corsi differential of +2 (+40 -38). Early days, but that's a lot better than I would have predicted before the season.
- I was watching the Predators feed last night, and midway through the game they had an interview with the Predators' assistant coach. He mentioned that the defense is the Oilers' weakness ("if they have a weakness"), which isn't something you normally hear from an opposing coach unless the weakness is dead obvious. Anyroad, it'll be getting better tonight as Ryan Whitney returns from injury. But injury isn't the only reason that expectations should be muted; Whitney's boxcars from last season are awfully impressive (2-25-27 and +13 in just 35 games), but that success came largely because of some amazing percentages. In fact, Whitney had the sixth best PDO in the entire league (min. 20 games played), which helped him to overcome the fact that the Oilers were actually outshot while he was on the ice.
Taylor Hall may be sitting this one out due to illness. If so, the Oilers will apparently dress seven defenders, which means the lines are going to get a shuffle. I've guessed that Lennart Petrell will get the bump to the tough minutes line and that Ryan Jones will take Hall's spot, but I don't have any inside information on the matter. If Hall does end up sitting this one out, that will leave just twelve players who have played in each of the first five games. He'd also be the third of Edmonton's four forty-point scorers from last season to miss time already this season.