With Messier finally gone, the whole community set out for the wilderness in order to save themselves. But the people were not happy, and they complained about their trials. They complained about selling off a dynasty and complained about losing to the Stars year after year; they cried poor every year and moaned about the riches of others; they tore their robes over Pronger and put ashes on their heads because of the never-ending rebuild.
"If only Yahweh had just let this team move to Houston in the 90s, we wouldn't have to suffer like this," they moaned. "The Oilers would forever be remembered as nothing but a great dynasty cut tragically short. Instead, Yahweh has led us into the wilderness and we are mocked day and night until our fandom grows cold."
Edmonton Oilers (25-32-6)
Rexall Place, 7:30 p.m. MST
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
This year's Dallas Stars are a lot like last year's Dallas Stars. They're not very good, but they're in the thick of the playoff race, and have a legitimate chance to leave a team that should be pretty good on the outside looking in. Last year, it was the Chicago Blackhawks, and this year it looks like it might be the San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks, or Los Angeles Kings. I'm pulling hard for those three teams to finish 6th through 8th this year because, if they do, it guarantees the Canucks a tough match-up in the first round... And this is what it's come to for me in watching the playoff race. Not cheering for the Oilers, not even cheering for anyone, just cheering for particular seedings that make life difficult on the Canucks. I can only hope that this is the last year of the Annual Death March.
Edmonton Oilers (25-32-6):
Hall - Gagner - Hemsky
Petrell - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Smyth - Horcoff - Eager
Hordichuk - Belanger - Jones
Smid - Petry
Whitney - Schultz
Sutton - Potter
Dallas Stars (33-26-5):
Eriksson - Ribeiro - Ryder
Ott - Benn - Burish
Nystrom - Fiddler - Dvorak
Garbutt - Wandell - Vincour
Souray - Robidas
Goligoski - Larsen
Fistric - Daley
By the Numbers:
- Former Edmonton Oil King, Tomas Vincour, has had a surprisingly good start to his professional career. Vincour was billed as a skilled player, but never managed to crack a point per game pace in the WHL. His offense translated about as you'd expect to the AHL in his first pro season, but he didn't stay there for long. Vincour is in just the second year of his entry-level contract, but has already played 56 NHL games compaed to 62 in the AHL.
- With Tom Gilbert gone, it'll be interesting to see which players pick up the extra ice time now that Nick Schultz has arrived. In Schultz's first game, he saw 19:45 of ice time compared to 25:16 for Jeff Petry, 23:54 for Ryan Whitney, 23:07 for Ladislav Smid, 14:54 for Corey Potter, and 11:33 for Cam Barker. That's a pretty heavy reliance on the team's top four, and an enormous amount of ice time for Jeff Petry. It'll be interesting to see what Tom Renney does tonight with Sutton in for Barker.
- We've talked at some length about Magnus Paajarvi's offensive struggles so far this season. Another guy who's struggled to put the puck in the net is Radek Dvorak who has just three goals in 64 games playing over fourteen minutes per game. I mention it mostly because Paajarvi's style actually reminds me some of Dvorak - I know that I'd be happy of young Magnus has a career as good as Dvorak's.
- The Oilers scored just two goals last night, but Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each picked up a point. And if we look at the rookie and sophomore scoring race, Jordan Eberle joins this two to form the league's top three in points per game with Tyler Seguin holding down fourth place. I know a lot of virtual ink gets spilled on this site and others talking about the buffoonery of management, but these three young players may well end up being something awfully special.
- Lennart Petrell - who has the 17th-worst Relative Corsi in the league... and that's relative to the Oilers! - has been practicing on the second line. That's where I've put him in the lineup above, but I'm not yet convinced that this isn't Tom Renney pulling some kind of joke. I mean... really... Lennart Petrell? Maybe Renney learned something from Pat Quinn putting J-F Jacques on the first line after all.