Quinn then arrived in Vancouver and remembered his previous arrival in Edmonton. One of the first men he met was a large man with withered confidence. He had become a laughingstock and all through the preseason the Canucks (who have no Cups) were mocking him, saying, "Most men are paid per point but his man looks like he's being paid per pound!" and "Is it within the rules to play a man as useless as this with a player as good as Ales Hemsky? I'm surprised that Hemsky hasn't asked for a trade!" Penner looked downcast and Quinn heard their comments and so he said to them, "Suppose there was a certain girl who had been dumped by her boyfriend. Wouldn't you...uh... comfort her to... er... improve her... um... confidence? Well how much more valuable is hockey than a friend's sloppy seconds? So you see, all he needs is some encouragement." After the game Quinn went to meet Penner and he said to him, "Stretch out your hand." Penner stretched out his hand and Quinn shook it and said, "That Vancouver organization is terrible. They've never won a damn thing and the only time they were close was because of me. Now, I respect you. I think you're a fine player and I want you to play with confidence." And just like that, Penner's confidence was restored and when the regular season arrived he played like an all-star. But the Canucks were appalled by Quinn's use of the phrase "sloppy seconds," the most offensive phrase in hockey. They reported its use to the league but the referee had not heard it so the complaint was dismissed. And so from that day on the Canucks looked for a way to destroy him.
Edmonton Oilers (6-3-1) @ Vancouver Canucks (5-5-0)
GM Place, 8:00 PM MDT
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report: The Canucks and Oilers both come into this game with quite a few injuries. The Oilers have Strudwick, Peckham and Chorney, but the Canucks have been forced into playing Bolduc, Grabner, Glass and Rome. Through the preseason Canucks fans were excited about Sergei Shirokov but so far his game has been underwhelming in the 3 NHL regular season games he's played (although 10 points in 10 AHL games show he's got some talent). Another newer player in the Canucks lineup is Michael Grabner and to be totally honest, I'm surprised he, and not Shirokov, is getting a shot with the Canucks second line. Grabner's AHL numbers have never suggested that he'd be an offensive force in the NHL (his best season was 48 points in 66 games) so it's a bit of a mystery that the Canucks are trying him there. Maybe they saw Gilbert Brule's stat line and dared to dream.
Last night the Canucks delighted me by giving the Maple Leafs their eighth consecutive loss. What's encouraging for Oiler fans is that even though the Canucks won they were outshot by the Leafs 36-25 even though the Leafs took 7 minor penalties to the Cancucks 4. And that brings me to Roberto Luongo. He played well last night but his EV save% on the season is still down at .910 which puts him 23rd in the league among goalies who have started at least six games. There are enough holes in the Vancouver lineup that they won't really be able to take advantage of the Oilers poor forward depth and I like the Oilers top six better than what Vancouver's offering with both Daniel Sedin and Pavol Demitra.
Edmonton Oilers (6-3-1):
Penner - Gagner - Hemsky
Moreau - Horcoff - O'Sullivan
Jacques - Cogliano - Nilsson
Studwick - Brule - Stortini
Visnovsky - Smid
Grebeshkov - Gilbert
Peckham - Chorney
Vancouver Canucks (5-5-0)
Burrows - Sedin - Samuelsson
Raymond - Kesler - Grabner
Shirokov - Bolduc - Bernier
Hordichuk - Johnson - Glass
Mitchell - Edler
Ehrhoff - Rome
Behind the Numbers:
- Ladislav Smid has now gone
eight nineten games without registering a shot on goal.
- The Oilers are playing their first set of back-to-back games tonight. Last season teams playing on the back half of a back-to-back on the road saw their winning percentage go from 0.452 in non-back-to-back road games to 0.410. The points percentage decreased from 0.506 to 0.470.
- Last night Sam Gagner played his 165th game, passing Gilbert Brule in career games played. Robert Nilsson (197 GP) is next on his list of "guys drafted before me that I beat out for a job."
- It's a good thing Jeff Deslauriers sent this link out yesterday since things might change after tonight.
- Lubomir Visnovsky currently leads the Oilers in scoring chance percentage with 56.5% of scoring chances happening in the positive end when he's on the ice. Strudwick and Chorney are at 38.6% and 35.0% respectively.
- Ales Hemsky needs just one more point to pass Todd Marchant (seriously) for sole possession of 12th place in career points as an Oiler. To make the top 12 for career +/- as an Oiler he only needs to go +127. Hopefully he gets both tonight.