Why did I ever start cheering for this team,
start caring about the fate of men I don't know?
Why did I have a father who witnessed a dynasty,
and a mother to selflessly drive me to practice?
If only I were born in a place like Detroit,
where fans take a truly great team for granted,
I wouldn't need to endure season after season of this suffering.
Edmonton Oilers (14-15-3)
Rexall Place, 7:30 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The Detroit Red Wings are, without question, one of the very best teams in the league. They play in the league's toughest division, and yet still lead the Western Conference in both goal differential (+35, which projects to +93 over 82 games) and clear victory winning percentage (they're 17-4, for an .810 winning percentage). Prior to this season, it had seemed like the Wings were in decline over the last couple of seasons, but Jimmy Howard has been one of the best goaltenders in the league, and many of their stars on the wrong side of thirty (Datsyuk, Franzen, Zetterberg, Lidstrom) haven't looked over the hill at all. So for the umpteenth year in a row, we're looking at a team that's comfortably in the top third of the league.
Edmonton Oilers (14-15-3):
Smyth - Horcoff - Hemsky
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Gagner - Belanger - Jones
Eager - Lander - Petrell
Smid - Gilbert
Whitney - Potter
Peckham - Petry
Detroit Red Wings (20-10-1):
Franzen - Datsyuk - Bertuzzi
Filpulla - Zetterberg - Hudler
Cleary - Helm - Miller
Emmerton - Abdelkader - Holmstrom
Lidstrom - White
Kronwall - Stuart
Ericsson - Kindl
By the Numbers:
- Pavel Datsyuk is once again leading the Red Wings in scoring, a feat that he'd accomplished every season from 2003-04 to 2009-10, and while he didn't lead the Wings in scoring last season, he did have the team lead in points per game. For some reason, I find this surprising. I just didn't remember Datsyuk being so good for so long, but... there you have it!
- Datsyuk is also sixth in points per game since the lockout (min. 240 games played) at 1.10. The top ten is actually a very diverse group with three Russians, three Swedes, one Czech, and three Canadians. And one of those Canadians didn't even make the Olympic team in 2010!
- Jordan Eberle scored another absolutely wonderful goal last night. It was his 12th of the season, and the 30th of his young career. It also helped him to stay at the very top of the league in points per sixty minutes of ice time during five-on-five play (3.3).
- Shawn Horcoff is about to be in the Oilers' all-time top ten in a wide variety of categories. He's already top ten in games played, points, and power play goals, and needs just three more goals to pass Craig MacTavish for tenth, sixteen more assists to pass Charlie Huddy for tenth, and three more shots on goal to pass Ethan Moreau (!) for tenth. He's now also been the team's captain and has never played for another organization. If Shawn Horcoff retires an Oiler, where does he rank in the Oilers' list of all-time greats? What if he retires an Oiler after captaining the team to the Stanley Cup?
- The Oilers had a strong start to the season as far as wins and losses go, but in their last twenty games the club is just 6-13-1. That's a 53-point pace over 82 games, and looks awfully (and I do mean awfully!) similar to what the team has put on the ice over the last two years.