This is what Yahweh has to say:
"These leaders are nothing but false prophets!
They promise future glory to my people,
but then make demands for money and veiled threats!
I will let the night close in on you,
and your grand fantasy of victory will be snuffed out.
The darkness you have brought will not pass you by;
the losing that you have earned will not come to an end.
The sun will soon set on your tenure completely,
and the day of these false prophets will come to an end.
Until that day, coaches will be made to look foolish,
and players will feel nothing but shame;
fans will cover their faces
because there will be no answer from God."
Chicago Blackhawks (27-22-4) @ Edmonton Oilers (16-29-8)
Rexall Place, 7:30 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The Chicago Blackhawks have been muddling along the fringes of the playoffs for the entire season, and yet, it seems to me that this is a very good team. They have the fourth best goal differential in the Western Conference, and seventh best in the NHL (+18). They have the second best record in the Conference and fifth best in the league looking at games decided by two or more (see the "Clear Vicotry" standings in the sidebar). They have the second best outshooting record in the Conference and third best in the league (+3.6 per game). Their penalty killing is poor, but their power play efficiency is the best in the NHL at 24.3%, which is good enough to give them a Special Teams goal differential of +9. Yet the Blackhawks are on the outside looking in at the moment. This is unacceptable. In a year when the Vancouver Canucks are set to take a run at Stanley, it is paramount that all of the best teams in the Conference make the playoffs.
Edmonton Oilers (16-29-8):
Penner - Horcoff - Hemsky
Hall - Cogliano - Eberle
Paajarvi - Gagner - Brule
Reddox - Fraser - Jones
Peckham - Gilbert
Smid - Petry
Vandermeer - Foster
Chicago Blackhawks (27-22-4)
Brouwer - Toews - Kane
Kopecky - Sharp - Hossa
Bickell - Bolland - Pisani
Stalberg - Dowell - Skille
Keith - Seabrook
Hjalmarsson - Campbell
Boynton - Leddy
By the Numbers:
The Chicago Blackhawks have eight forwards on pace to score forty points this season (provided they play in all twenty-nine of Chicago's remaining games): Patrick Sharp (73), Jonathan Toews (72), Patrick Kane (66), Marian Hossa (51), Tomas Kopecky (48), Troy Brouwer (48), Bryan Bickell (44), and Dave Bolland (41). It's interesting to see a team with that many given the conversation going on at the start of the season (the Oilers, for what it's worth only have five forwards on pace for forty points).
Andrew Cogliano will be playing in his 300th game tonight, and he's been a pretty good player since Christmas. In the twenty games since Jesus' Birthday Bash, Cogliano has notched five goals and nine assists for fourteen points, and a very tidy +4 to go with it. His shooting percentage over that time is a quite reasonable 14.3% (he's 12.6% for his career), and the 1.75 shots per game in that span is a good improvement on the 1.21 shots per game he'd produced in the previous thirty-three games this season, and on the 1.41 shots per game he'd averaged over the first 279 games in his career.
- The Blackhawks are using a pretty extreme distribution of Zone Starts so far this season, with all three of Dave Bolland, Fernando Pisani, and Bryan Bickell taking well over 60% of their end-zone draws in the defensive zone while Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp take more than 65% of their end-zone draws in the offensive zone. As it turns out, Sharp and Kane have two of the ten most favourable ratios in the league among forwards (who have appeared in at least twenty games), and Bolland, Pisani, and Bickell each have one of the twenty-five least favourable ratios - the line is also 1-2-3 in all three Quality of Competition metrics. Tough sledding.
- Speaking of old Fernando, he's sitting at 51.6% on the dot so far this season, which trails only Gilbert Brule among Oilers.. Granted, Pisani has only taken 64 faceoffs, but it still makes me laugh. More seriously, Pisani is playing a pretty big role on that club. He's fourth in PK ice time per game and ninth in EV ice time per game among forwards on the team. His Corsi numbers are dead last among regulars, but as we've seen, he's playing in somewhat less than ideal circumstances.
- Only two players in the NHL (minimum twenty games) have a lower on-ice EV save percentage than Linus Omark's .847. In related news, Nikolai Khabibulin could be going for a post-lockout record fourteenth consecutive regulation loss tonight. Khabibulin's streak began on December 21st, and since that time the Oilers are 0-13-0 with the Maginot Line in goal, and 4-2-3 when Devan Dubnyk starts between the pipes.