O Yahweh, there are many who stand against us,
many who circle around us, like Sharks,
ready for the kill.
All of our enemies are saying,
"God has abandoned them!"
and they destroy us time after time.
But you are a secret shield around us!
For we are waiting patiently for our crowning glory,
for our saviours who come to us each June.
It is to Yahweh that we cry aloud for failure,
and he will answer our prayers again;
he hears as well in California as he does in Alberta.
We turn our televisions off,
and look to the scoresheets for losses;
our prayers are answered again!
We will not pay heed to those who cheer for different laundry,
who mock us for our inferior club;
for we know that it must be this way for our unrighteous leaders to be punished.
Deliver us, O God!
Strike down our foolish leaders!
Pitch them into a lake of fire!
From Yahweh comes deliverance!
May your blessing be on your people.
Edmonton Oilers (25-34-6)
HP Pavilion, 8:30 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
It's hard for me to believe that the San Jose Sharks are hanging on to the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. You look at the roster, and it seems like an excellent team! They may have lacked a little bit in the way of depth up front before the trade deadline, but the acquisitions of Daniel Winnik and Dominic Moore have fixed that. They've got one of the best power plays in the league (they actually lead the league in shots per game five-on-four), and are one of the best possession teams five-on-five. So what's going so wrong? The team's save percentage is .914, and while that's far from tops in the league, it's far from a disaster. Their record in the shoot-out is 6-3, so they're not taking on water there either. But their record in one-goal games excluding shoot-outs is terrible. The Sharks are 15-9 in games decided by two or more, but just 12-19 in non-shoot-out games decided by one (or one plus empty-netters), which is driving them down the standings. A team's record in one-goal games doesn't generally have much sustain, so the Sharks will probably pull out of this funk and into another Pacific division title. If they don't, but still make the playoffs, they'll make a very tough first-round opponent.
Edmonton Oilers (25-34-6):
Hall - Gagner - Hemsky
Omark - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Smyth - Horcoff - Eager
Petrell - Belanger - Jones
Smid - Petry
Whitney - Schultz
Sutton - Potter
San Jose Sharks (33-24-7):
Marleau - Thornton - Pavelski
Wingels - Couture - Clowe
Winnik - Moore - Mitchell
Desjardins - Handzus - Galiardi
Vlasic - Burns
Murray - Boyle
White - Braun
By the Numbers:
- Ales Hemsky will be playing in his 543rd regular season game with the Oilers tonight, which will put him one game ahead of Jason Smith for 17th on the all-time list, and 2nd on the list of players who have played their entire career in Edmonton behind just Shawn Horcoff. Of course, neither of those guys is retired yet. Among retired players, the longest-serving career Oiler is Jaroslav Pouzar who played 186 regular season games and won three Stanley Cups with the Oilers in the 1980s.
- The Oilers have been going through a very dry time over the last four seasons, but at least in terms of winning percentage, the stretch from 1992-93 to 1995-96 was actually worse. Over those four seasons, the Oilers won just 33% of their games, while from 2008-09 to 2011-12 they've won 37%. Of course, the shootout has sure helped to create more victories. If we count shootout wins as ties, that 37% number drops all the way to 31%.
- Joe Thornton is one of just two players who has scored at least 65 points in each of the last ten NHL seasons (Jarome Iginla is the other), is one of just five players who was scored at least 20 goals in each of the last ten seasons (Iginla, Milan Hejduk, Vincent Lecavalier, and Marian Hossa are the others), and is one of just nine active players who has played at least 400 NHL games and is averaging a point per game (Sidney Crosby, Jaromir Jagr, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Teemu Selanne, Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, and Ilya Kovalchuk are the others) over his career. Is Joe Thornton really one of the very best players of the last decade?
- In his first three games with the Oilers Nick Schultz has played 19:45, 14:18, and 17:01. I can only hope that the Oilers are breaking him in slowly because if the Oilers traded Tom Gilbert for a guy that they knew was going to be on the second/third pairing bubble on their team... well... I don't know what to say.
- Ryan Whitney, Corey Potter, and Shawn Horcoff are all among the league's bottom twenty in terms of +/- this season. But with three representatives, the Oilers are far from the worst team on the list. Both the New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets have five representatives.