You, O Yahweh, are the one who grants favor,
who restores the Oilers to their former glory.
You, O Yahweh, are the one who forgives,
who looks past the money-grubbing of players and owners,
and who pardons the hubris of fans.
You, O Yahweh, are the one who (finally!) sets wrath aside,
who enables us to overcome enemies, both weak and strong.
Columbus Blue Jackets (7-15-3) @ Edmonton Oilers (12-10-3)
Rexall Place, 7:30 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The Blue Jackets are in a terrible, terrible position. In order to make 95 points, the team would need to play at a 112-point pace for the rest of the season, which pretty much puts them out of playoff contention, and we haven't even hit Christmas. As a fan of the Edmonton Oilers, I can relate to that kind of despair, but it sure isn't a whole lot of fun. That's doubly true for fans of the Blue Jackets who probably came into this season feeling pretty good about this team being better than they were last season after the acquisitions of Jeff Carter, James Wisniewski, and others. The team (obviously) isn't as bad as their record would suggest, but my goodness, Scott Howson must be kicking himself for not investing some of those resources into goaltending. I mean, Curtis Sanford has been excellent over the last few games, but... I've got to believe that he's not really a long-term solution.
Edmonton Oilers (12-10-3):
Gagner - Horcoff - Hemsky
Smyth - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Paajarvi - Belanger - Jones
Petrell - O'Marra - Hordichuk
Smid - Gilbert
Whitney - Petry
Sutton - Peckham
Columbus Blue Jackets (7-15-3):
Prospal - Carter - Nash
Umberger - Letestu - Johansen
Vermette - Pahlsson - Dorsett
Bass - MacKenzie - Boll
Methot - Wisniewski
Tyutin - Nikitin
Moore - Clitsome
By the Numbers:
- The Oilers have gotten an incredible amount of offense from their top players so far this season, and a lot of that offense has come at even strength, to the point that the Oilers actually have two players in the top five of the NHL in even strength scoring: Ryan Smyth is second in the NHL with 20 even strength points, and Jordan Eberle is tied for third with 19.
- With two more points in Edmonton's last game against the Wild, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins now has seven multi-point games on the season, which is pretty darn impressive, especially when you consider that Taylor Hall (who was himself extremely impressive) had just ten all of last year.
- The Oilers led after the first period against Minnesota but still managed to lose the game. It was the sixth time that's happened to them this season in only ten attempts. That makes them one of just three teams in the NHL with a winning percentage of less than .500 when leading after the first period.
- Vinny Prospal has got to be considered one of the few pleasant surprises for the Blue Jackets so far this season: he leads the team with 20 points in 25 games. On the other hand, Derrick Brassard must be one of the season's biggest disappointments. Brassard has just four points in eighteen games, and has been a healthy scratch several times. Brassard is in just the second year of a four-year deal that will pay him an average of $3.2M per season.
- Curtis Sanford hadn't played an NHL game since 2008-09 before this season. Now, he's second in the NHL in save percentage at .937. Goaltending really is crazy. That kind of turnaround is almost unimaginable at other positions, but with goalies, you just kind of shrug your shoulders. It happens.