Oilers v. Blues - John 2:13-16

It was nearly time for the annual Draft Lottery Party, so Derek made the pilgrimage to Pittsburgh. There he saw old men selling tools and upside and hope; he also saw dealers exchanging men and money and picks. So, offended by all of this, he made a whip and ran around on the draft floor, screaming like a madman! He found Scott Howson, grabbed what he was reading, and tore it into pieces. Then he found Steve Tambellini's table and flipped it upside down. He looked at the men who were sitting there and said, "Get out of here! Resign! I've had enough of your false hope and empty promises! When will you stop turning the loyalty of this fanbase into a vice!"

St. Louis Blues (39-17-7) @ Edmonton Oilers (25-31-6)

Rexall Place, 8:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

The St. Louis Blues make for an interesting team. The team's strength is quite clearly goal prevention. They've allowed just 126 goals so far this season, good enough for second in the NHL, but first in the Western Conference, well ahead of the second-place Kings (137). A big part of that is the team's save percentage - Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott have a combined .930 save percentage - but another big part is shot prevention. The Blues lead the league with just 26.2 shots allowed per game, and are fourth in the NHL in shot differential at +4.7 per game.

But perhaps what's most interesting about the Blues is their offense. The team just doesn't have any offensive superstars. They don't have a single player with twenty goals, and David Perron leads the club in points per game with 0.76, a total that places him 68th in the NHL among players who have played at least thirty games. What they do have is decent offensive depth. They have four players in the top one hundred (David Backes, T.J. Oshie, and Alex Steen are the others) plus Andy McDonald who would qualify by points per game but has only played twelve games, as well as a few other players capable of putting the puck in the net (Chris Stewart, Jason Arnott, and Patrik Berglund). It's the kind of arrangement that's difficult to plan for because there's no one line that needs checking. Instead, it's three solid lines that are quite difficult to expose.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (25-31-6):

Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Hemsky
Smyth - Gagner - Eberle
Eager - Horcoff - Jones
Hordichuk - Belanger - Petrell

Smid - Petry
Whitney - Potter
Sutton - Schultz

Dubnyk

St. Louis Blues (39-17-7):

McDonald - Backes - Oshie
Perron - Berglund - Stewart
Sobotka - Arnott - Porter
Crombeen - Nichol - Reaves

Colaiacovo - Pietrangelo
Jackman - Shattenkirk
Huskins - Polak

Halak

By the Numbers:

  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has only been back in the lineup for a few games, but he's already getting back onto the scoresheet and on a two-game point streak. Nugent-Hopkins is currently sitting in third place in the rookie scoring race, three points back of Gabriel Landeskog, and four back of Adam Henrique.
  • Of course, by points per game, Nugent-Hopkins is still in the lead at 0.88. That's the seventh-best number among rookies since the 1994-95 season (min. 40 games played) behind Alex Ovechkin (1.31 in 2005-06), Sidney Crosby (1.26 in 2005-06), Evgeni Malkin (1.09 in 2006-07), Peter Forsberg (1.06 in 1994-95), Paul Stastny (0.95 in 2006-07), and Patrick Kane (0.88 in 2007-08). Very interesting that six of the top seven have come since the last lockout. Including Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers actually have ten players on that list in the top 100. Major props to you if you can get all ten without checking. I'll put the answer in the last bullet point.
  • Sam Gagner has seen his season really turn around since that eight-point game. For example, in the eleven games since the eight-point night, Gagner is averaging 18:41 in ice time compared to his season average of 17:00. Plus that time is coming at his natural position with some of the team's most talented wingers, and a lot of that extra time has come on the power play. With just three points in his last in his last six games (all in one game against Calgary), Gagner has cooled off offensively, but at least so far, he's still getting the opportunity to shine, and that's half the battle.
  • In Edmonton's last game, Ryan Smyth became the 142nd player in NHL history to score at least 800 career regular season points. If Smyth can make it to 900 at some point before he retires, he'll likely be among the top 100 point-scorers of all-time. Which is crazy. Ryan Smyth one of the top 100 scorers of all time? Just sounds off somehow. What doesn't sound off is that 900 points isn't even a quarter of the way to the guy in first place. My oh my was Gretzky ever good.
  • So who are those ten players anyway? We've got Nugent-Hopkins (0.88), David Oliver (0.68 in 1994-95), Taylor Hall (0.65 in 2010-11), Jordan Eberle (0.62 in 2010-11), Sam Gagner (0.62 in 2007-08), Miroslav Satan (0.56 in 1995-96), Andrew Cogliano (0.55 in 2007-08), Mike Comrie (0.54 in 2000-01), Linus Omark (0.53 in 2010-11), and Ales Hemsky (0.51 in 2002-03).
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