Sing, O Daughter of the Oilfields!
Scream and shout, you sons of Hunter!
O, people of Edmonton,
may your joy completely overwhelm you!
For God's judgment against us will soon come to an end,
and our enemies will be utterly destroyed!
Yes God himself, the Creator of this great game,
will wrap himself in Oiler colours and live in our midst!
Our time of trouble will finally be over,
and we will have no more need to fear disaster!
On that day we will hear God's voice:
"Don't be afraid, Oil Country!
Today, you have no need for mourning!
For Yahweh, your God, wears your colours,
and dwells within you.
I am delighted by this team and by the joy they bring;
I will show my love for you through their victory,
and will rejoice with you in your songs of celebration."
Rexall Place, 8:00 p.m. MDT
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
In my preview of the Central division, I noted that the Jets have a significant unresolved problem in goal, with Ondrej Pavelec signed for four more seasons as the team's starting goaltender despite performing at about the level of an average NHL backup. But Pavelec aside, the Jets have some nice things. The top nine looks solid with Mark Scheifele being the one big question mark. He's going to have terrific support from his linemates, and they'll likely get plenty of offensive opportunities. Corey Pronman has picked Scheifele to win the Calder Trophy this year, so there are at least a few folks out there who believe he'll succeed. If he does, the Jets are going to be solid up front. He's likely to see plenty of either Boyd Gordon or Taylor Hall tonight, and things won't get any easier once he's playing teams that haven't lost their two best centers to injury. It's a tough way to break in a rookie.
Edmonton Oilers (0-0-0):
Smyth - Hall - Hemsky
Perron - Arcobello - Eberle
Joensuu - Gordon - Yakupov
Gazdic - Acton - Brown
Smid - Petry
Ference - J Schultz
N Schultz - Belov
Winnipeg Jets (0-0-0):
Ladd - Little - Wheeler
Kane - Scheifele - Setoguchi
Wright - Jokinen - Frolik
Tangradi - Slater - Thorburn
Enstrom - Byfuglien
Bogosian - Trouba
Stuart - Postma
By The Numbers:
- People keep saying that there are questions about Devan Dubnyk's ability to be a starting goaltender in the NHL, but decision-time is coming and coming fast with Dubnyk scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season. Unfortunately for the Oilers, the questions are warranted. Over the last four seasons, Dubnyk has posted a .920 even strength save percentage, which puts him 26th out of 40 goalies with at least 100 starts over that time. That's good enough to be a starter in the NHL, but it's not so good that you'd want to spend a lot of money on it.
- No one played more five-on-five minutes on Winnipeg's blueline last year than Ron Hainsey (he played 882 minutes), and yet the Jets decided to let Hainsey go for nothing during the off-season even though he's clearly a better bet than, say, Paul Postma. It was a very curious choice. That said, one of the reasons he played so much was injuries to some of Winnipeg's key players; Tobias Enstrom played in just 22 games and Zach Bogosian just 33. If the Jets get better health from their blueline, and Jacob Trouba proves to be a capable replacement for Hainsey, their blueline could actually be better despite the loss.
- I understand that playing Mark Arcobello on the second line probably isn't a very good idea, but I also think there's a non-zero chance for it to work. Arcobello was a dominant offensive player last year in the AHL. He led the Barons in points (68) and shots on goal (236) during the regular season and led the Barons in goals (12) and points (20) during the playoffs, totals that left him second and fourth league-wide even though the Barons didn't make the Calder Cup Finals. I know that it's rare for an AHL player to suddenly become a quality NHLer, but every once in a while, a team finds Rich Peverley when they give a player like that quality ice time and strong linemates. Here's hoping.