After four years had passed, an angel appeared to Smyth in the crease while he was playing against the Flames. When he saw the angel, he was filled with fear and awe. For it was on that day that he heard the voice of God speak to him through the angel, "I am the God of your fathers, of Gretzky, and Messier, and Lowe. I have heard the cries of my people in Edmonton. I have seen their suffering and have come down to heal them and set them free. Now then, you must come with me, for I am sending you back to Edmonton."
Calgary Flames (10-12-2) @ Edmonton Oilers (13-10-2)
Rexall Place, 8:00 p.m. MST
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
I admit that before the season, I thought that the Flames would be one of the teams in the hunt for the playoffs. Not a great team, but a decent one in a poor division. And in some ways, that's exactly what they've been. Miikka Kiprusoff has been quite good, and their play at even strength is that of a mediocre hockey team; their Fenwick percentage at even strength is 48.6%, and actually improves to 49.6% if we look only at results with the score tied. But they're getting absolutely roasted on special teams. The power play has generated just 39.9 shots per sixty minutes of five-on-four ice time and their penalty kill is allowing 56.1 shots per sixty minutes of four-on-five ice time. The Flames are among the league's bottom five teams in both categories, and leaves the team with a very poor (considering we're only about a third of the way through the year) -8 goal differential on special teams. Given that their overall goal differential (excluding shoot-out goals) is -9, I know what areas I'd be working on hard in practice or trying to find help with cheaply via trade.
Edmonton Oilers (13-10-3):
Gagner - Horcoff - Hemsky
Smyth - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Paajarvi - Belanger - Jones
Petrell - O'Marra - Hordichuk
Smid - Gilbert
Whitney - Petry
Sutton - Peckham
Calgary Flames (10-12-2):
Glencross - Jokinen - Iginla
Tanguay - Horak - Bourque
Comeau - Backlund - Stempniak
Kostopoulos - Stajan - Jackman
Bouwmeester - Butler
Hannan - Brodie
Smith - Piskula
By the Numbers:
- You're all probably sick of hearing this one, but Eric Belanger, Sam Gagner, and Magnus Paajarvi are now first, second, and third among NHL forwards in "most time on ice without a goal". Belanger and Gagner are also tied for first in "most points without a goal" with seven each.
- At home, the Oilers have a goal differential of +12. On the road, they have a goal differential of -5. The Flames aren't quite as Jekyll and Hyde. At home, the Flames have a goal differential of -6, but on the road, they're actually a bit better at -4.
- Edmonton's 6-3 win over Columbus was the third time this season that the club scored six or more goals in one game. Last season, the Oilers only scored six or more twice.
- Ales Hemsky had a very impressive third period against the Blue Jackets, and while he's still clearly working some of the kinks out of his game, one area where he's been very impressive is personal discipline - through fifteen games, Hemsky still hasn't taken a single penalty.
- With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins among the league's top five scorers, I got to wondering who the last Oiler was to finish the season among the league's top five. It turns out that it was Mark Messier who finished second in scoring during the 1989-90 season with 129 points. That got me to wondering how many other teams have had to wait that long. It turns out that it's not that many. While the Predators, Blue Jackets, and Wild have never had a top-five point-getter in their history, the only other team that's had to wait for two decades is Montreal, which I somehow found very surprising. Their drought actually goes all the way back to Guy Lafleur's third-place 125-point season in 1979-80.