Then Yahweh said to Howson, "Because you have followed my instructions and kept the coach who had that insufferable nimrod fired, I will bless you with the leadership of this team for five seasons." But shortly thereafter, Howson did not do what was right in the eyes of Yahweh. The percentages were bad, and as a sacrifice to the hockey gods, he fired the coach on whom Yahweh's blessing found rest. Yahweh was angry that Howson did not have faith in Yahweh's chosen, and so he turned against him, allowing him to engage in incredible foolishness. Many teams, both great and terrible, came into their home and defeated them in that final year, including the Wild, Canucks, Flames, and Avalanche. At the end of the season, Howson would be fired after ruling for five complete seasons; he made the playoffs once, but the team didn't win a single game. He would be remembered as the second best manager in club history, well ahead of that insufferable nimrod and just behind "vacant".
Edmonton Oilers (17-23-4)
Nationwide Arena, 5:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Home Team Scouting Report:
The Blue Jackets have been awful this year. Awfully unlucky. They have a five-on-five goal differential of -23 despite a five-on-five shot differential of -7. Expressed in percentages, they've earned 49.8% of the shots, but just 43.3% of the goals. Of course, it's not all bad luck. Scott Howson built a pretty good team and then entrusted it to Steve Mason, a young goaltender coming off of two very poor seasons, and Mark Dekanich, a career AHLer with solid AHL numbers. The result was catastrophic failure from Mason to sink the Jackets at the start of the season before turning to Curtis Sanford (!) to right the ship. Now, goaltending is difficult to predict, but this plan between the pipes was not good at all. I said before the season that I thought it would cost Scott Howson his job, and if it doesn't, the guy with the authority to make that decision should be fired.
Edmonton Oilers (16-23-4):
Hall - Gagner - Hemsky
Smyth - O'Marra - Paajarvi
Lander - Horcoff - Jones
Eager - Green - Hordichuk
Smid - Petry
Peckham - Potter
Sutton - Teubert
Columbus Blue Jackets (12-27-5):
Nash - Brassard - Prospal
Johansen - Vermette - Kotalik
Russell - Pahlsson - Dorsett
Gillies - MacKenzie - Boll
Tyutin - Nikitin
Moore - Methot
Johnson - Savard
By the Numbers:
- Some people have been disappointed in the performance of Devan Dubnyk so far this season, so it's interesting to note that this year's even strength save percentage (.924) is the best of his career, and actually higher than Nikolai Khabibulin's (.920). On the penalty kill, we see those numbers reverse. Khabibulin's save percentage on the PK is a truly remarkable .915, while Dubnyk's .825 is the third-worst in the league among goaltenders who have faced at least one hundred shots.
- With Eric Belanger out of the lineup on Sunday night, the fourth line for the Oilers was Josh Green, Darcy Hordichuk, and Ben Eager. You'd think that would mean limited ice time, but all three players actually had more minutes than their season average. The discrepancy was the greatest for Hordichuk who played 7:54 on Sunday, compared to an average of 3:53.
The Blue Jackets recently claimed winger Colton Gillies off waivers. Gillies was originally selected 16th overall in the 2007 entry draft because of his size and speed, and despite scoring just 30 points in 65 games in the WHL. That offense has translated to the NHL pretty much exactly as you'd expect, which is to say, not well at all. Count me surprised that the Blue Jackets decided on this being worth a shot.
- It's no secret that the Blue Jackets have had terrible goaltending, but there are a few guys who are really taking those percentages on the chin, some at both ends of the ice. In fact, there are five Blue Jackets in the NHL's bottom fifty PDO numbers during five-on-five play: Nikita Nikitin (95.5), Mark Letestu (95.3), James Wisniewski (95.3), Antoine Vermette (94.7), and Derick Brassard (93.0). Vermette is, for me, the most interesting guy on that list because he's had a pretty long history of success but terrible boxcar stats this season (17 points and -12 in 44 games). If Scott Howson sees Vermette as a salary dump (he's got three more years at $3.75M), a team might be able to nab a pretty good player for a song.
- With Eric Belanger on the shelf, Anton Lander still played on the wing against the Kings; Ryan O`Marra and Josh Green took the two open spots at center. I know that plenty of good wingers started as centers, but it really is baffling to me that Lander isn't playing big minutes up the middle in the AHL.