Woe to you who long
for the day of Tambellini's judgment!
Why would you long for his day of reckoning?
That day will be darkness, not light.
It will be like a man who fled from an elk in heat
only to meet a Vish-ous bear,
like a man who returned home
happy to find familiar surroundings,
but oblivious to the moldy walls.
Yes, the day Tambellini is judged will be a day of darkness,
pitch black, without a single ray of light.
St. Louis Blues (5-5-0) @ Edmonton Oilers (6-2-2)
Rexall Place, 6:00 p.m. MDT
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
Jaroslav Halak has been a huge disappointment in St. Louis. After a stirring playoff run with the Montreal Canadiens - and some very fine regular season results to back it up - the Blues traded for the young netminder and signed him four-year fifteen-million dollar contract. Halak came in and provided about average goaltending over the course of the season, but played much better toward the end of the year once the Blues had already been all but eliminated from post-season contention. Of course, that .922 save percentage after the trade deadline still counts, and was no doubt reason to be encouraged, but the .907 he had posted before the deadline didn't exactly make a good first impression. This year, it's another rough start. In five games, Halak has an atrocious .835 save percentage, and has been bad enough that the Blues have already started Brian Elliott five times (you know you're desperate when...). Halak gets the call tonight, and will look to get his game on track. If he can, the rest of the club is good enough that they should be able to make the playoffs.
Edmonton Oilers (6-2-2):
Smyth - Horcoff - Jones
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Paajarvi - Belanger - Gagner
Eager - Lander - Petrell
Smid - Gilbert
Peckham - Potter
Barker - Petry
St. Louis Blues (5-5-0):
Sobotka - Backes - Oshie
Steen - Arnott - Langenbrunner
D'Agostini - Berglund - Stewart
Grachev - Nichol - Porter
Colaiacovo - Pietrangelo
Nikitin - Polak
Jackman - Shattenkirk
By the Numbers:
- The St. Louis Blues are a clear example of a team that uses a top nine rather than a top six. All of the players listed among the top nine forwards have played at least 12:30 per game at even strength, and no one has played more than 15:00. No one in the bottom three has averaged more than 9:00 per game at evens.
- More and more coaches are using an extreme differential in zone-starts to get the most out of their lineup. Several teams are giving their fourth lines a lot of nasty business, but the Oilers have given the tough side to Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff, and Ryan Jones. But they aren't alone. There are other teams with at least three players who have taken at least 65% of their end-zone starts in the defensive zone and played at least ten even strength minutes per game: the Columbus Blue Jackets (Samuel Pahlsson line), the Minnesota Wild (Kyle Brodziak line), Nashville Predators (Jerred Smithson line), and the New York Rangers (Brian Boyle line).
- After ten games, it's almost hard to believe that there are only six Oiler forwards who have scored at least one goal: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (5), Ryan Smyth (3), Taylor Hall (3), Ryan Jones (2), Jordan Eberle (2), and Shawn Horcoff (1). That makes zero goals for all of the bottom six forwards. And yet the team is winning!
- With six points in his first eight games, Corey Potter is among the twenty-five highest-scoring defensemen in the NHL, and just six points behind league leader (ahem) Marc-Andre Bergeron. It will be very interesting to see what happens with Potter in terms of contract over the next several months. With five years in the minors, does he dare risk turning down an offer from the Oilers? With just eight games of experience, do the Oilers dare make him an offer? If they wait until the end of the year and Potter is outstanding, do they pay up paying him big bucks? It should be interesting.
- The Oilers have been winning games so far this year, but they haven't done all that well on the shot clock. They currently stand 27th in shots per game with 25.5, and 26th in shot differential per game at -4.4. And things don't get any easier tonight. The Blues have allowed the fewest shots per game of any team in the league (25.5), and are currently fifth in shot differential per game at +5.6.