Nugent-Hopkins announced: "There is someone coming who is even greater than me, so much so that I would consider myself unworthy to even bend down and tie his skates. I have dazzled you with skill, but I must leave for a time so that the one who is coming soon will come to us and will bring the Holy Spirit with him!"
Edmonton Oilers (16-20-3)
Scottrade Center, 6:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet Edmonton
More analysis after the jump...
Home Team Scouting Report:
I thought that this team would make the playoffs last season, but the team got horrendous goaltending (Ty Conklin posted an .891 even strength save percentage on over 400 shots), and that pushed them down the Western Conference standings. Now, this year the hockey gods have smiled on them, and Brian Elliott (of all people) is second in the NHL in even strength save percentage (.947) after a career of sub-par performances. That combined with veteran additions like Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner, as well as the successful return of David Perron from injury have made the Blues one of the top teams in the Western Conference. Unfortunately for them, they're one of three superb teams in their division, which likely means a very tough first-round date with either the Red Wings or Blackhawks when the playoffs finally arrive.
Edmonton Oilers (16-20-3):
Hall - Gagner - Hemsky
Smyth - Belanger - Eberle
Lander - Horcoff - Jones
Eager - Green - Hartikainen
Smid - Potter
Peckham - Petry
Sutton - Teubert
St. Louis Blues (22-12-5):
Perron - Backes - Stewart
D'Agostini - Berglund - Oshie
Sobotka - Arnott - Langenbrunner
Porter - Nichol - Crombeen
Colaiacovo - Pietrangelo
Jackman - Shattenkirk
Farichild - Polak
By the Numbers:
- Josh Green was -4 in his debut with the Oilers, which led some fans to wonder about Tom Renney's logic in line-matching and even Green's recall in the first place. In my view, there's plenty of room to wonder about Renney, but a lot less with regard to the recall if the Oilers are just taking the guy they think will play the best. Green has played a lot of games in the NHL, so he won't be put off by the speed of the game, and he actually leads the Barons (min. 10 GP) in points per game with 0.89.
- The other call-up, Teemu Hartikainen, still leads the Barons in shots per game with 2.83 so far this season. That's a big increase from last season when he registered 2.07 shots per game in 72 games during the regular season and playoffs.
- I mentioned in the last game-day thread that Ales Hemsky has lost a lot of power play time relative to previous seasons with an average of just 2:24 per game, by far his lowest total since the lockout. That being the case, you might expect him to pick up some extra minutes at even strength, but that hasn't been the case. Hemsky has averaged 14:23 in even strength ice time per game so far this year, which is very close to his average in each of the last four seasons (14:16; 14:08; 14:18; 14:31).
- Jordan Eberle has fallen into second place in the category of points per sixty minutes of five-on-five ice time. The big surprise for me is that Boston's Brad Marchand is the guy that passed him, but Marchand is having a fantastic season. He's got 31 points in 36 games and is second in the NHL with a +26 rating playing mostly alongside Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron on a line that looks for tough matchups more than it avoids them.
- The league's +/- leader? Brad Marchand's linemate, Tyler Seguin, who's also having a fantastic year and has registered 33 points in 35 games playing on the wing, which is just a little bit ahead of Taylor Hall's 27 points in 31 games. If I had to pick one of the two players today, I'd still go with Hall, but at this point, I think it's fair to say that both teams have come out of the 2010 draft winners.