But you must not forget this one thing, my friends. To God, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. So you see, God isn't being slow about his promise to end this rebuild soon, as some of you might think. No, he is being patient; he doesn't want anyone to miss the beginning of this team's ascent, and so he is waiting for those who have become disillusioned to look upon this team with great joy. But when the day finally comes, it will come in a flash - the team will shoot up the standings without warning, everyone else in the league will be thoroughly destroyed, and every person who did not honor the Lord's patience and turned too late will be judged as a bandwagon jumper and treated with the contempt reserved for fans of the Canucks or Flames.
Nashville Predators (10-8-4) @ Edmonton Oilers (12-9-2)
Rexall Place, 7:30 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
As Derek pointed out earlier today, the Predators aren't doing so well this year when it comes to driving play in the right direction. But for Oiler fans, it's not just fancy number-crunching telling us that these Predators are a few steps behind from the last couple of seasons. These two teams have met twice already this season. In the first meeting of the season, the Predators mustered just twelve shots on goal in the entire game, and looked pretty awful doing it. This led to Jerred Smithson describing the club as "a hardworking team that doesn't work hard." And while the Predators earned some wins between that meeting and last week's meeting in Nashville, you wouldn't know it if you just watched the two Oiler games. In Nashville, the Oilers jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first period (in which they outshot the Predators 13-3), and coasted to a 6-2 victory. It will be interesting to see if the Predators are able to turn things around or if, in fact, they really are one of the worst teams in the league this season after defying the skeptics for so long.
Edmonton Oilers (12-9-2):
Paajarvi - Horcoff - Hemsky
Smyth - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Jones - Belanger - Gagner
Petrell - Lander - Hordichuk
Smid - Gilbert
Whitney - Petry
Peckham - Teubert
Nashville Predators (10-8-4):
Wilson - Legwand - Hornqvist
Erat - Fisher - Smith
Kostitsyn - Spaling - Tootoo
Halischuk - Smithson - Hillen
Suter - Weber
Bouillon - Klein
Blum - Josi
By the Numbers:
- Ben Eager and Darcy Hordichuk are both goons, but they've been treated very differently so far this season by head coach Tom Renney. Eager has averaged 7:34 in his sixteen games, compared to just 2:57 for Hordichuk in his first six contests. Eager is pretty close to the other fourth liners, and essentially takes a regular shift at evens. Seems like a significant shift in strategy from the coach depending on which guy is in.
- One of the advanced metrics that show how well the "kids" are doing is ZoneShift even though, at first glance, it looks terrible. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, for example, has started 69.0% of his end-zone faceoffs in the offensive zone, and has had just 58.0% of his end-zone finishes (i.e. a shift with a whistle) in the offensive zone. The thing is, everyone tends to regress heavily toward 50%, which means that his expected ZoneFinish is just 55.7%, a number that he's been able to beat.
- It's always fun to have players near the top of the league in a given category, and right now, the Oilers are just dominating in on-ice shooting percentage during five-on-five hockey. Ryan Smyth is second in the league (min. 10 GP) at 16.1%, but he's not alone near the top: Theo Peckham is third (15.8%), Jordan Eberle is ninth (13.6%), Jeff Petry is sixteenth (13.0%), and Shawn Horcoff is eighteenth (13.0%).
- The Oilers also have a few leaders on the other end of the PDO equation with Cam Barker sitting in sixth in on-ice save percentage (.980), Sam Gagner twenty-second (.960), and Eric Belanger twenty-eighth (.958).
- With a win tonight, Nikolai Khabibulin would move into a tie for tenth on the Oilers' all-time regular season wins list with... 27. Seems awfully low. The guy he's going to tie? Ty Conklin. But the real fun is in guessing the other nine guys (no peeking!).