A man who had suffered many years in an incompetent organization, who had lost the love of many of his fans, and whose body had begun to break down sought out Mr. Holland after leaving practice early, begging to be healed: "If you are willing, you can trade for me, and make me whole."
Moved by both compassion and self-interest, Mr. Holland reached out to him and said, "I am willing, and so you will be made whole." Instantly, the man was filled with life! It was as though a weight had been lifted from his surgically-repaired shoulders, and he went on to perform admirably over the next several games. But he did not forget the stern warning that Mr. Holland had given him: "Don't tell anyone about our conversation. Instead, let our scouts examine you. Play with heart, and a scorer's touch for this is what we will require of you. This will serve as a public testimony that you have been made whole."
Once the trade had been completed, the man could not keep himself from praising Mr. Holland and his anything-but-incompetent organization. As a result, even more people talked about Mr. Holland's genius, and though he tried to stay out of the public eye, people kept wanting to speak with him about his magical team that never seemed to decline.
Home Team Scouting Report:
The Oilers saw the Red Wings just a few days ago, and I remarked at the time that the Wings have been the best team in the league with one of the main factors being good health. But being healthy is only helpful when you have good players to begin with, and the Red Wings have managed to acquire a great many of those. That's why they're third in the NHL in shot differential per game (+5.9), why they're in the top ten in both shots creation on the power play and shot prevention on the penalty kill. And it just so happens that a pretty good hockey player might be available from the Oilers, a guy named Ales Hemsky. Sure would be fun to see him win something. Maybe Ken Holland can help us out, and Hemsky can score the goal that eliminates the Canucks from the playoffs.
Edmonton Oilers (21-27-5):
Hall - Gagner - Eberle
Paajarvi - Horcoff - Hemsky
Smyth - Belanger - Jones
Petrell - Lander - Eager
Smid - Petry
Whitney - Potter
Barker - Gilbert
Detroit Red Wings (35-17-2):
Franzen - Datsyuk - Bertuzzi
Filppula - Zetterberg - Hudler
Miller - Helm - Cleary
Emmerton - Abdelkader - Holmstrom
Lidstrom - White
Ericsson - Kronwall
Kindl - Commodore
By the Numbers:
- The Oilers have a road record of 6-19-2 so far this season, which is really, really bad. That puts them on pace to lose 29 games in regulation. If they make it, that will tie them with a couple of other awful teams (the 2008-09 Islanders, the 2001-02 Blue Jackets, and possibly the 2011-12 Blue Jackets) for the most road losses since the 1999-00 Atlanta Thrashers - the team that basically defines replacement level in the modern NHL - lost 31 games on the road. And nothing says the rebuild is working quite like sharing company with the Islanders, Thrashers, and Blue Jackets.
- Magnus Paajarvi makes his return to the NHL tonight after spending a bit more time in the AHL. Down there, he's got just one goal through fourteen games despite taking 37 shots on goal. Put that together with his NHL totals, and Paajarvi has scored one goal on 98 shots so far this season. That puts him just a few shots away from a shooting percentage lower than 1 but higher than 0, a truly remarkable feat. Using just NHL totals, only one forward has ever done it (Shawn Thornton in 2009-10).
- With this game in Detroit, Jordan Eberle and Pavel Datsyuk might just be seeing a lot of each other this evening. Both players have 54 points on the season, putting them in a tie for seventh in the league's scoring race, eight points behind the leader, Evgeni Malkin. Both players are also on the list of fifteen who have managed at least a point per game so far this season (min. 20 games). Taylor Hall could join that list with a four-point game tonight.
- A four-point night sounds like an awful lot, but the Red Wings do have Joey MacDonald between the pipes, so you never know. MacDonald hasn't played much in the NHL over the last three seasons, but his AHL save percentage over that stretch is .900 on 2,268 shots. If Jimmy Howard is going to be out for a while, the Wings should really get themselves another goalie to give them a better chance at winning the division.
- Lennart Petrell has the fifth-worst Zone-Finish of any player in the NHL. He has concluded just 39.9% of his shifts with a whistle that stops play in the offensive zone. Petrell has a more favorable Zone-Start ratio than the four guys below him too. The two players who jump out as comparably bad on that list in terms of Zone-Shift are Jody Shelley and Darcy Hordichuk. I think it was worthwhile to bring Petrell over and see if he was a player, but at this point, it's safe to say that the answer is no.