But let me say this to all of you who truly love to watch hockey: the time that remains before the next lockout is very short. So from now until the Stanley Cup is awarded, those of you with wives should live like you don't. If you lose your job, or get a promotion, or win the lottery, don't get absorbed by mourning, or new responsibilities, or a life of luxury. Whatever God gives is given so that you may enjoy hockey in these last days: to spend all of your time reading and writing and counting chances; to slack off now that you know they like you; or to travel around the continent following your team. For the world as we know it will soon come to an end.
Edmonton Oilers (17-24-4)
Scottrade Center, 6:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Home Team Scouting Report:
The St. Louis Blues were a very good team getting poor goaltending last season. This season, that part of their game has improved plenty, and the rest of their game has stayed on track. The goaltending part has been especially true under Ken Hitchcock. In the first thirteen games (under Davis Payne), the Blues had a very good even strength save percentage of .926 and a respectable PDO of 100.5, but under Hitchcock their save percentage has increased to .948 and their PDO to 101.5. Both coaches had the team earning over 55% of the Fenwick events. In other words, these guys are good. Unfortunately (for them), they're also in the Central division, the toughest in hockey. The winner of that division will get a relatively easy first round match-up, but the second and third place teams will need to play one another. That'll be a great series, but I'm sure the Blues would rather not be one of the participants.
Edmonton Oilers (17-24-4):
Paajarvi - Gagner - Hemsky
Smyth - O'Marra - Eberle
Lander - Horcoff - Jones
Eager - Green - Hordichuk
Smid - Petry
Peckham - Potter
Sutton - Teubert
St. Louis Blues (27-12-6):
Steen - Backes - Stewart
Perron - Berglund - Oshie
Sobotka - Arnott - Langenbrunner
Reaves - Nichol - Crombeen
Colaiacovo - Pietrangelo
Jackman - Shattenkirk
Cole - Polak
By the Numbers:
- Jordan Eberle will be back in the lineup for the Oilers tonight, and boy do they need him. In the four games that Eberle missed, the Oilers scored a grand total of five goals.
- With only eleven forwards in the lineup against Columbus, a lot of players had to handle a lot of minutes, including Josh Green who played 17:26. Now, they had to play with eleven forwards because Taylor Hall was hurt during the warm-up and the Oilers weren't carrying an extra forward. So, as you'd expect, the Oilers have decided not to call anyone up and continue with just twelve healthy bodies.
The Blues have both Barret Jackman and Carlo Colaiacovo headed for unrestricted free agency this summer. The Blues have leaned on both players hard so far this year. Jackman handles a huge amount of defensive zone faceoffs, while Colaiacovo has been playing the toughs, and both players are generating solid Corsi numbers (Jackman is at +7.9/60, Colaiacovo at +14.5/60). Jackman will be 31 at the start of next season, and Colaiacovo 29, so they probably have some good years left. It'll be interesting to see what the Blues decide to do.
- Brian Elliott is having an amazing season so far. His even strength save percentage is .946 on 459 shots, which is about as good as you're ever going to see. Elliott was also smart enough to turn that performance into a two-year deal that will pay him $1.8M per season. That sounds small for a guy headed to the All-Star game, but Elliott's past performance isn't exactly stellar. Even if we include this season, his career even strength save percentage is just .912, which is well below average. Seems like Elliott's willing to bet on regression and take some security. Not exactly a great deal for the Blues.
- After finishing dead last in faceoff percentage in each of the last two seasons, the Oilers have improved a tonne this year. As a team, they have a faceoff percentage of 48.2%, a full four points better than last season, and good enough to vault them into... 26th overall.