Then Tambellini spoke to the crowds: "That game was a sign for us, a reminder of the covenant that God made with our fathers! Let each uncircumcised man in our midst be circumcised by one who is! Each uncircumcised man must have his foreskin cut off so that we will remember that God is with us! From this day on, we must circumcise each male child on the eighth day after his birth in order to remember God's covenant with us and the miracle of the eight-point game, which was given to us in the midst of our suffering. This command applies not only to fans in Edmonton, but to fans all across the world! All must be circumcised so that our very bodies will be marked by God's favor. Any male who fails to either circumcise or be circumcised immediately denies that I am a true prophet."
Detroit Red Wings (35-16-1) @ Edmonton Oilers (20-26-5)
Rexall Place, 8:00 p.m. MST
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The Red Wings have been excellent this year, and have bucked the trend of the last few seasons that has seen the team in consistent decline. Going back to the 2007-08 season, the Red Wings had a Fenwick percentage of 59.4% with the score close (best in the league), which dropped to 57.2% in 2008-09 (still best in the league), 52.4% in 2009-10 (4th), and 52.0% in 2010-11 (8th). Going into this season, I expected the Red Wings to be good, but for that decline to continue. Instead, they're back on top of the mountain, leading the league with a Fenwick percentage of 56.7% with the score close.So what's helped them get there? Honestly, I think the biggest thing has been health. The club has been getting older over these last several seasons, but they've also had to deal with injuries to key players. This season, the Red Wings have eleven skaters with a cap hit of $2M or higher (Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Brad Stuart, Jonathan Ericsson, Valtteri Filppula, Niklas Kronwall, Ian White, Jiri Hudler, and Danny Cleary), and none of them have missed more than four games, while over half have played in all fifty-two.
Edmonton Oilers (20-26-5):
Hall - Gagner - Eberle
Horcoff - Nugent-Hopkins - Hemsky
Smyth - Belanger - Jones
Petrell - Lander - Eager
Smid - Petry
Whitney - Potter
Barker - Sutton
Detroit Red Wings (35-16-1):
Franzen - Datsyuk - Bertuzzi
Filpulla - Zetterberg - Hudler
Miller - Helm - Cleary
Emmerton - Abdelkader - Holmstrom
Lidstrom - White
Kronwall - Stuart
Ericsson - Kindl
By the Numbers:
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins makes his return to the lineup tonight. While injuries are never good, this one is about as good as you'll ever get. The NHL is a tough grind for a young player, and Nugent-Hopkins hadn't done all that well in the ten games before his injury with no goals, five assists. In the 28 games before that, Nugent-Hopkins had amassed 13 goals and 17 assists. Of course, the other option is that the slump was just percentage-driven variance: Nugent-Hopkins had a shot rate of 2.1 per game in both segments.
- The Oilers have a record of 8-3-2 with Cam Barker in the lineup. Their record without Barker is 12-23-3. Barker also leads the Oilers with a +6 rating. There is, of course, plenty of other information indicating that Barker hasn't been very good, but those first numbers are exactly the kind that enable teams to make a mistake.
- With four points each against the Blackhawks, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle are both threatening to break the point per game mark in their sophomore seasons. Hall has 38 points in 41 games, while Eberle has 50 in 47, which is good enough for 12th in league scoring. The last time the Oilers had a someone play at least 60 games and hit a point per game was Doug Weight who scored 90 points in the 2000-01 season. That was also the last time the Oilers had someone finish in the top ten in league scoring (Weight was eighth).
- It's easy to forget how great Doug Weight was as an Oiler. 2000-01 was actually the third time that Doug Weight broke the point per game mark in at least sixty games. He's one of just six Oilers to do that, and the others are Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, and Glenn Anderson.
- And how can we not talk a little bit about Sam Gagner. That eight-point game was magical, especially considering how much he'd struggled offensively before that. Even though he earned eight points in the Oilers' last contest, Gagner had just two points in his previous nine games.