When the Stars came out to find the bodies of those who had already been eliminated, they came across the Oilers who had been playing for nothing more than a paycheck for quite some time. So they bludgeoned the Oilers and stripped them of their dignity. They then proclaimed the good news of their victory to the 4,000 faithful when they returned home. Those faithful gladly pointed to the two points in the standings and reminisced about all of the times that they had dismembered the Oilers in days gone by.
Dallas Stars (41-30-5) @ Edmonton Oilers (31-36-9)
Rexall Place, 7:30 p.m. MDT
Television: Sportsnet Oilers
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The Dallas Stars are in the middle of a very exciting playoff race in the Western Conference. There are still six teams with a shot, and because four of those teams are in the Pacific division, they'll play each other a lot as the season winds down. The Stars, for example, have two crucial games left against San Jose. The Sharks have those two, plus two against the Kings and another against the Coyotes. The Kings also have one more game left against Calgary. Each team pretty much has its destiny in its own hands, and each team is capable of winning four (or five or six) in a row to get there. As an Oiler fan living in Vancouver this playoff race is mostly about making life tough on the Canucks, and that means cheering for the Kings and Sharks to finish third and seventh respectively. So even though an Oiler victory bumps the club out of 29th and into 27th, a victory tonight also contributes to a worthy cause. Go Oilers!
Edmonton Oilers (31-36-9):
Hartikainen - Gagner - Hemsky
Jones - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Smyth - Horcoff - Petrell
Hordichuk - Belanger - Eager
Smid - Petry
Whitney - Schultz
Sutton - Potter
Dallas Stars (41-30-5):
Eriksson - Ribeiro - Ryder
Morrow - Fiddler - Vincour
Ott - Benn - Burish
Smith - Dowell - Garbutt
Souray - Robidas
Goligoski - Larsen
Pardy - Daley
By the Numbers:
- The Oilers have had a real nice run going by the even strength scoring chances over their last twenty games. They've earned 53.4% of the even strength chances over that time period, and have either tied or outchanced their opposition at evens in 13 of the 20 games. The other possession metrics aren't quite as strong, but 50.3% of the Fenwick events and 48.9% of the Corsi events is still pretty good relative to what they've done over the last several years.
Sam Gagner is having a pretty good season, but it's worth noting that he's headed for a new contract after a season that saw him post a five-on-five PDO of 102.7, including a 10.6% on-ice shooting percentage. Gagner has started 54.8% of his end-zone faceoffs during five-on-five play in the offensive zone, and he's also got a career-high 12.1% shooting percentage overall. All of that will help him to set career highs in goals, points, and plus/minus. I like Gagner, but depending on what kind of market is out there and what kind of contract Gagner is looking for, it might be better to sell high than to sign him long-term.
- Among players with at least twenty games played, Jordan Eberle has the second-highest on-ice shooting percentage during five-on-five play in the NHL at 13.2%. The only player ahead of him is David Van Der Gulik of the Colorado Avalanche at 14.7%. Hilariously, despite the gaudy percentages, Van Der Gulik has just one goal and five assists in 25 games.
- It looks like Andy Sutton will make his return to the Oilers' lineup tonight. The Oilers have played 21 games since signing Sutton to a contract extension on February 13; Sutton has dressed for 13 of those games, and has been a (somewhat?) healthy scratch for 8.
- When Nick Schultz first arrived from Minnesota, I was very surprised at how little he was being used. That trend has reversed itself in recent games: Schultz has gotten over 20 minutes of ice time in each of the last five games, most of which have come playing alongside Ryan Whitney.