Then Yahweh said, "I will raise up a prophet from among the people. I will put my wisdom into his mouth, and the words he speaks will bring life to a dying people. I will make those who contradict his message look like fools because their predictions will be proven wrong. But before this takes place, any prophet who claims to speak the truth but doesn't have my blessing - or who fails to seek my blessing at all - must be purged."
San Jose Sharks (26-14-5) @ Edmonton Oilers (17-26-4)
Rexall Place, 7:30 p.m. MST
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The Sharks come to town to being a brutal stretch of games for the Oilers. In four out of their five next games, the Oilers will be playing one of the "Big Five" teams in the Western Conference, and that usually means a loss is on the horizon. What makes San Jose so good? They're a decent team at even strength, but an excellent team on the power play. It doesn't show in the results quite yet (they're 19th in power play efficiency), but they lead the league in shot differential per sixty minutes of five-on-four ice time by a substantial margin. As they wait for the percentages on the power play to turn, they've benefited from tremendous goaltending, especially from back-up Thomas Greiss who comes into tonight's game sporting a .926 save percentage.
Edmonton Oilers (17-26-4):
Hall - Gagner - Hemsky
Smyth - Horcoff - Jones
Paajarvi - Belanger - Eberle
Hartikainen - Lander - Petrell
Smid - Petry
Peckham - Potter
Sutton - Chorney
San Jose Sharks (26-14-5):
Desjardins - Thornton - Pavelski
Marleau - Couture - Ferriero
McGinn - Handzus - Mitchell
Winchester - Murray - McCarthy
Vlasic - Boyle
Murray - Burns
White - Braun
By the Numbers:
- The Oilers have missed the playoffs for five consecutive seasons. If they miss this year, it'll be up to six. The only two teams with longer droughts are the Maple Leafs (six going on seven) and the Panthers (ten going on eleven). The Panthers streak is the longest in league history, but the Oilers are already halfway there, and this year, the Panthers have a legitimate shot at ending their streak this season.
- The Sharks are on the other side of this equation. The team has made the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons, and look poised to make it eight this year. That's the second longest active streak, well behind the Detroit Red Wings who are looking to make the playoffs for the 21st time in a row this year. The Boston Bruins hold the all-time record with 29 consecutive seasons of making the playoffs.
- In just 145 games, Theo Peckham is already 40th in franchise history in penalty minutes with 376. No one above him has played less than 192 games (Shayne Corson). Peckham leads the Oilers in penalty minutes this season with 74, but is just third in penalty minutes per game (1.72) behind Ben Eager (1.89) and Andy Sutton (2.07).
- The Oilers are apparently going to have Taylor Chorney play with Andy Sutton tonight. It'll be interesting to see how they work together. I know that Chorney has played several games with Alex Plante so a somewhat immobile but very thwappy partner shouldn't be totally unfamiliar. Chorney has played in four NHL games so far with the Oilers and St. Louis Blues. His Relative Corsi of -36.2/60 is the worst in the league among defensemen with at least three games played.
- Since 2002-03, Eric Belanger has had between 1.5 and 2.0 shots per game in every season he's played. So far this season, he has generated 1.61 shots per game, but his shooting percentage is a truly deplorable 1.4%, and he's earned a point on just six of the fourteen five-on-five goals scored while he's been on the ice (43%), which is, again, incredibly low for a forward. How much does our perception of Eric Belanger change if he's got seven goals so far this season instead of one?