So Fraser returned to New Jersey under the power of the Spirit, and the fans there began to tell incredible stories about the defensive defenseman who returned and scored a hat-trick against them. And so Fraser went out to the bars where he was glorified by everyone he encountered.
Prudential Center, 5:00 p.m. MST
The Race to the Bottom (It's Happening Again):
Visiting Team Scouting Report: The New Jersey Devils are a strange, strange team. They have the best five-on-five Fenwick percentage with the score tied in the entire Eastern Conference at 54.7%, which is also good enough for fourth in the league behind just the Kings, Blackhawks, and Sharks. They also have a better than average on-ice shooting percentage in those situations at 8.1% (the basement-dwelling Oilers are first at 9.8%, which is kind of depressing). It seems almost unfathomable, then, that the Devils have of the worst records in the league. The problems? In other five-on-five situations they're shooting a rather deplorable 6.8%, they've gone 0-8 in the shoot-out, and they've let Martin Brodeur start half the games even though his even strength save percentage of .900 bests only Devan Dubnyk among goalies with ten or more starts. Basically, bad luck and a horrible blind spot might just cause a really good team to miss the playoffs.
Edmonton Oilers (20-33-6):
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Yakupov
Perron - Gagner - Eberle
Hendricks - Gordon - Hemsky
Gazdic - Smyth - Jones
Marincin - Petry
N Schultz - J Schultz
Fraser - Ference
New Jersey Devils (23-21-13):
Zubrus - Loktionov - Jagr
Elias - Zajac - Brunner
Clowe - Henrique - Ryder
Carter - Gionta - Bernier
Fayne - Greene
Salvador - Zidlicky
Merrill - Harrold
By The Numbers:
- The Oilers currently have five players with at least 100 shots: Taylor Hall, David Perron, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov. I was a little bit surprised to see Nugent-Hopkins on that list, but I probably shouldn't have been. Nugent-Hopkins has only increased his shot rate slightly this year, going from 2.08 per game in his first two seasons to 2.28 so far this season, a gain of about 10%.
- Jaromir Jagr is leading the Devils in scoring this season with 48 points in 57 games, an incredible pace for any player, let alone a player of his age. In fact, there have been just nine seasons in NHL history where a 40-year-old has played at least 40 games and scored 0.8 points per game or better. It's one of the things that makes Jaromir Jagr, oh, I don't know, one of the ten best players ever.
- I think we can all agree that Ryan Smyth isn't an effective center, and why would he be with so little time at the position over the course of his career? It's both funny and said, then, that Smyth has been better at faceoffs this year (47.9%) than either Sam Gagner (45.5%) or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (42.0%).