As Jordan Eberle and the rest of the Oilers were traveling through Florida, a group of Panthers suddenly attacked them! But the spirit of Yahweh descended upon Eberle, and he ripped the Panthers apart with his bare hands - it was as though he was playing against 16-year-olds in the WHL! But Eberle knew that he did this only because of God's favor, so he remained humble and did not lord his superior skill over his teammates.
Edmonton Oilers (28-36-9) @ Florida Panthers (36-24-13)
BankAtlantic Center, 5:30 p.m. MDT
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Home Team Scouting Report:
The Florida Panthers made a lot of changes this off-season, but I didn't think that those changes would actually help them to become a playoff team. But thanks to some surprisingly weak play from the Washington Capitals, the Panthers are poised to not only make the playoffs for the first time in a decade, but also to become one of the worst teams to win a division in the history of the NHL. Their fans will be the first to tell you that a lot of the guys getting them the results are transitional veterans, but they'll also be the first to tell you that watching a team win some games is about a million times better than watching yet another run into the bottom ten. It'll be a surprise if they go anywhere in the playoffs, but as someone who was now seen his team go six straight years without the playoffs, I certainly won't begrudge any Florida fans who have fun cheering their faces off hoping that they do.
Edmonton Oilers (28-36-9):
Jones - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Hartikainen - Gagner - Hemsky
Smyth - Horcoff - Petrell
Hordichuk - Belanger - Eager
Smid - Petry
Whitney - Schultz
Peckham - Potter
Florida Panthers (36-24-13):
Fleischmann - Weiss - Versteeg
Kopecky - Santorelli - Upshall
Bergenheim - Goc - Samuelsson
Sturm - Madden - Smithson
Kulikov - Weaver
Garrison - Campbell
Jovanovski - Gudbranson
By the Numbers:
- Ladislav Smid is having an incredible offensive season... for him. He has four goals in just 73 games so far this season, which is a huge number compared to the four he had scored in his previous 331. Yet, incredibly, he hadn't set a career high until last night because Smid had also scored three goals in his rookie year.
- Smid is also able to play a very disciplined game. He's always involved physically both before and after the whistle, and yet takes way fewer penalties than the other defenders known for their physical play. Smid has taken just 0.7 penalties per sixty minutes, compared to 1.5 for Theo Peckham and 1.8 for Andy Sutton. It's a very nice combination of skills.
- Even though he has played in just 54 games this season, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is back up to second in rookie scoring with 46 points, and he's just one point behind league leader Gabriel Landeskog. If Nugent-Hopkins and Landeskog finish first and second in rookie scoring, it will be just the second time in the last ten years that two players finished 1-2 in the rookie scoring race after being drafted that June. The other instance was in 2009-10 when Matt Duchene and John Tavares finished first and second respectively..
- The Florida Panthers have done very well when they've scored the game's first goal. The Panthers have opened the scoring 33 times so far this season, and have lost in regulation in just two of those games. That's the lowest number in the league. The Oilers, by contrast, have actually opened the scoring more frequently - 37 times - but they've lost eleven of those games in regulation.
- I know that I don't normally mention this, but Corey Potter was chosen as one of the three stars against the Lightning. He didn't score any points, he had just one shot on goal, and he was -1. I haven't gone back to watch that one yet, so I'm curious. What did he do that was good?