Oilers v. Canadiens - Judges 10:15-16

So the Edmontonians, who found that losing would actually be more beneficial than winning, pleaded with Yahweh saying, "We have sinned! Continue to punish us! Now is not the time for your anger to relent!" They went on like this for many games until Yahweh himself grieved because of their misery.

Les Canadiens de Montréal (25-32-10) @ Edmonton Oilers (26-34-6)

Rexall Place, 7:30 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

Montreal is a tough team to figure out this season. Things didn't start so well in terms of actually winning games, but Les Glorieux were actually pretty good by most of the shot metrics. At Christmas, they looked like a decent team at evens and reasonably strong special teams that was having some really bad luck. But instead of seeing the percentages regress, we've seen the team get progressively worse by the possession metrics such that they're now sitting 28th in Fenwick percentage with the score tied. Part of the problem has no doubt been injuries, and especially the injury to Brian Gionta (who's still out of the lineup), but it seems at least possible that some of the difference has also come from the change in coaches. I haven't watched the club enough to know whether or not Randy Cunneyworth is really all that bad, but the team sure hasn't played well since he took over.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (25-34-6):

Hall - Gagner - Hemsky
Smyth - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Petrell - Belanger - Omark
Hordichuk - Horcoff - Jones

Smid - Petry
Whitney - Potter
Peckham - Schultz

Khabibulin

Les Canadiens de Montréal (25-32-10):

Cole - Desharnais - Pacioretty
Bourque - Plekanec - Leblanc
White - Eller - Palushaj
Staubitz - Gomez - Nokelainen

Gorges - Subban
Emelin - Weber
Kaberle - Campoli

Budaj

By the Numbers:

  • Well, we're now up to four consecutive games of less than twenty minutes for new acquisition Nick Schultz. In the Oilers' last game, Schultz actually had the least amount of ice time of any Edmonton defender, including Theo Peckham who was playing in his first game since January 31st. He played pretty well, but there certainly seems to be a bit of a disconnect here between the general manager and the coach.
  • That comes through even more strongly when you consider Steve Tambellini's comments about Schultz frequently playing against the opposition's top forwards when he was in Minnesota. Through four games with the Oilers, that just hasn't been the case. Against the Sharks, Schultz played 6% of his even strength ice time with Joe Thornton; against the Ducks, it was 26% with Ryan Getzlaf. Against the Stars, it was 9% with Mike Ribeiro. Given Tambellini's comments - in addition to his comments about Schultz playing a shut-down role, he made reference to the coaches being happy - this usage is very surprising.
  • So if Schultz isn't handling the toughs, who is? You probably know the answer already, but all three of Thornton, Getzlaf, and Ribeiro played 60% or more of their even strength ice time against Ladislav Smid and Jeff Petry. With Petry playing such a big role on the team, his upcoming contract negotiations are going to be very interesting. This is a guy who spent time in the minors this season, and also a guy who's fast approaching unrestricted free agency. There's a huge range of possibilities.
  • Tom Renney was trying to convince people that he played Linus Omark on the third line yesterday, but no one believed him, mostly because three of the four lowest ice time totals belonged to Omark's line. As if to prove his point, Darcy Hordichuk will apparently be playing with Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Jones. And I've got to say, "they play with Hordichuk" is a pretty compelling argument to call Horcoff's line the fourth.
  • But Horcoff won't be the only big money player on a fourth line tonight. With just two goals and ten points in thirty-five games, Scott Gomez is having the worst offensive season of his career. So who's contract is more debilitating? Even though the gap between value and cap hit is lower with Horcoff, I think he gets my vote because he's got an extra year on his contract.

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