Oilers v. Panthers - Psalm 101:1-4

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

We sing of loyalty and justice.
We sing to you, O God of the Oildrop.
We walk in the way of the rebuild,
and wonder when our miserable march will finally finish.
We walk with integrity; we speak truth;
we refuse to let our foolish leaders deceive us.
And yet we will not leave this team as others have,
those who have said, "I have better things to do."
That kind of perversion has been weeded out,
and our community now knows nothing of band-wagoners.

Edmonton Oilers @ Florida Panthers

BB&T Center, 5:30 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet

Visiting Team Scouting Report: At the start of the season, I thought that the Panthers would be a really tough team to predict. They added several important pieces in September, but none more important than Tim Thomas. Thomas took the 2012-13 season off, but was excellent in the two seasons before that posting a .927 even strength save percentage in 2011-12 and an NHL record .947 in 2010-11. If Thomas was among the league leaders again this year, the Panthers had a real chance at the playoffs. It hasn't quite worked out. Thomas has a respectable even strength save percentage of .922, but has only been able to start six games because of injury. It was a great opportunity for Jacob Markstrom, but they young netminder hasn't risen to the occasion, posting an .883 even strength save percentage so far this year, second-worst among goaltenders who have seen at least 100 even strength shots (if you're a fan of the Edmonton Oilers, you know who's worse).

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (3-10-2):

Hemsky - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Smyth - Gagner - Yakupov
Jones - Gordon - Arcobello
Gazdic - Acton - Eager

Smid - Petry
Belov - Larsen
Ference - Fedun

Dubnyk

Florida Panthers (3-8-3):

Huberdeau - Barkov - Fleischmann
Versteeg - Goc - Kopecky
Bergenheim - Matthias - Boyes
Upshall - Bjugstad - Winchester

Campbell - Gilbert
Kulikov - Weaver
Whitney - Gudbranson

Markstrom

By The Numbers:

  • Tonight's game features two of the top ten rookie scorers in the NHL in Florida's Aleksander Barkov (tied for 6th with seven points) and Edmonton's Mark Arcobello (tied for 3rd with 10 points). Given Edmonton's position in the standings, I think what's happening to Arcobello since Gagner returned is a bit sad. I think the Oilers have a real chance to add a value contract if Arcobello succeeds as an offensive center, especially since they could then use Gagner on the wing, or move one of Gagner or Nugent-Hopkins via trade to fill other needs. But it'll be awfully hard to know whether Arcobello can handle that role playing him as a third-line winger.
  • I've liked Tom Gilbert for a while, and it's great to see him doing reasonably well in Florida. Gilbert is currently second on the team with 21:18 in ice time per game and is one of just Panthers with a positive shot attempt differential during five-on-five play (the others are Aleksander Barkov, Brian Campbell, Jonathan Huberdeau, Kris Versteeg, and Jesse Winchester).
  • The Oilers and Panthers are tied for 28th in the NHL in power play goal differential at a rather poor +3. Edmonton's goal differential on the PK is an awful -13, while Florida's isn't much better at -9. These teams both have plenty of problems, and special teams is definitely on the list in both cases.
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