If the rebuild that we preach is hard to get behind, it's only for those who are apt to start cheering for another team anyway. In truth, it's the devil who has blinded those who cannot see that we are doing great things! For whatever reason, they are unable to see the glorious light so clearly present in all of our young phenoms. They can't seem to understand the message that we preach, and the evidence of its veracity in the light of Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, and Eberle, all of whom reflect the glory of God.
We're not preaching about ourselves here. We're not walking around saying that Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini are saviors! We're simply preaching that this rebuild is God's plan and that we are his servants. Those who have eyes can see that it's true! For God said, "Let there be light in the midst of darkness," and it is clear that in these, the darkest days of our franchise, God has provided that light in these wonderful young players!
Toronto Maple Leafs (28-23-6) @ Edmonton Oilers (22-28-5)
Rexall Place, 8:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The Maple Leafs haven't earned a point since February 6th (when they clobbered the Oilers), and have been outscored 16-5 in the four games they've played since that date. When I wrote about the Leafs on the 6th, I suggested that they were probably had the worst chance to make the playoffs among the four teams vying for the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference (the others being Washington, Ottawa, and Florida with one of Washington or Florida qualifying through a Southeast division victory), but that they still had a better than 50% shot at getting in. The team's 1-4 record since I wrote that hasn't done anything to change my mind. The Leafs are still the worst possession team in that group, but it only takes the percentages smiling on them or frowning on one of the others for the Leafs to get in, which really isn't that unlikely.
Edmonton Oilers (22-28-5):
Hall - Gagner - Eberle
Paajarvi - Horcoff - Hemsky
Smyth - Belanger - Jones
Eager - Lander - Petrell
Whitney - Gilbert
Smid - Petry
Barker - Sutton
Toronto Maple Leafs (28-23-6):
Lupul - Bozak - Kessel
MacArthur - Grabovski - Connolly
Crabb - Lombardi - Kulemin
Boyce - Steckel - Brown
Phaneuf - Schenn
Liles - Franson
Komisarek - Gardiner
By the Numbers:
- In Edmonton's last game against the Senators, Shawn Horcoff scored a goal and added two assists for his third three-point night of the season. That's tied for the second-most three-point games in a season during Horcoff's career, but is well back of the 2005-06 season when Horcoff scored three or points in seven different games.
- As we get closer and closer to the end of the season, there's less and less to cheer about since losses probably help the team more than wins. One thing that we have left is the chase for personal records. One man involved in such a chase is Ryan Smyth who's just five power play goals off the franchise record, which is currently help by Wayne Gr... huh... Glenn Anderson. Anderson has 126, Gretzky 125, and Smyth 121. Go Smytty!
Among players drafted in 2007, Sam Gagner is second in goals (72), assists (137), points (209), and games played (339), behind old junior teammate Patrick Kane in all categories. Of course, if we look at those stats on a per game basis Gagner doesn't do quite as well. Gagner is fourth in points per game (behind Kane, Jamie Benn, and Logan Couture), third in assists per game (behind Kane and Benn), and eighth in goals per game (behind Couture, Kane, Benn, James van Riemdsyk, Max Pacioretty, David Perron, and Carl Hagelin), not too far ahead of Linus Omark who sits in 11th.
- I simply cannot think of what it is about Ben Eager that I like. He's not a very good hockey player, and he's been a lot less crazy than I was expecting too. But he's still taking penalties! So far this season, Eager has received 1.88 penalty minutes per game, compared to 1.98 per game in the three previous seasons. He doesn't even have as many hits (48) as Tom Gilbert (51) for crying out loud!
Nikolai Khabibulin is getting the start tonight in what I can only hope is an effort to get the man traded. If the Oilers do move him, I'm very comfortable with Yann Danis getting a few starts. Danis leads the AHL in both save percentage (.929) and goals against average (1.94) to go along with a pretty decent larger body of work. Heck, if the Oilers decide to come back with Danis and Dubnyk as their NHL goalies next year, that'll be a substantial improvement on what they started with this season.