Colorado Avalanche (8-1-2) @ Edmonton Oilers (6-4-1)
Rexall Place, 7:30 PM MDT
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report: I've been tracking scoring chances for all of the Avalanche games so far this year and so I've seen all of their games and actually feel pretty qualified to be doing this little preview this time around. Of course, everyone knows that the Avalanche have had luck on their side with both a high shooting percentage and a high save percentage but they've also got some nice things there: Craig Anderson is making me look good for picking the Avs as having the best goaltending in the division this year (but I picked Minnesota to win the division... you win some, you lose some). I'm convinced that he's the real deal. The Avalanche power play has also been very good, though it's fallen back a bit since the injury to John-Michael Liles. They don't generally have trouble gaining access to the zone and their puck movement on the power play is quick which gives defenders fits. They tend to look often for plays down low so the Oilers "abandon the points" penalty kill could be effective in forcing them to switch things up. Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly are more effective than you'd think considering they're both only eighteen years old both in terms of scoring and in terms of underlying numbers. Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny, on the other hand, have been outchanced (by the best on the other team mind you) almost every game. The pairing of Scott Hannan and Kyle Quincey have been getting a lot of ice time and playing the primary shut-down role for the Avs while Adam Foote has gotten the scoring chance results you'd expect from Jason Strudwick: he's probably coming to the end of the line. The Avalanche are similar to the Oilers in that their percentages are very high and their out-shooting numbers very low. The Oilers started their fall back to earth over the weekend and despite the perky Oilerpretation above, the Avs are sure to follow suit in relatively short order.
Edmonton Oilers (6-4-1):
Penner - Gagner - Hemsky
Comrie - Horcoff - O'Sullivan
Jacques - Brule - Nilsson
Moreau - Cogliano - Stortini
Visnovsky - Smid
Grebeshkov - Gilbert
Strudwick - Chorney
Colorado Avalanche (8-1-2)
Jones - Stastny - Hejduk
Wolski - Duchene - Svatos
Galiardi - O'Reilly - Stewart
Koci - Hensick - Hendricks
Quincey - Hannan
Cumiskey - Foote
Behind the Numbers:
- Ryan O'Reilly (who was drafted ahead of Taylor Hall in the OHL draft some years ago) is currently on a seven game point streak and is second in the league in +/- with a +10 rating. Ladislav Smid leads the Oilers at +9.
- The last time the Oilers and Avalanche met the Oilers walked out with an 8-1 victory. Let's hope history repeats itself.
- The Oilers are 29th in the league with a shot differential of -8.27 per game. The Avalanche are tied for 27th with a shot differential of -8.00
- Craig Anderson's EV save percentage of .944 is .007 higher than his .937 performance on 1161 shots over the last two years. He's going to regress, but not as much as people are calling for.
- Colorado is off to a hot start but not because they've been playing a lot at home. They've played 7 road games compared to 4 at home and will play 11 of their first 15 away from the Pepsi Center.
- Among players with at least ten shots Gilbert Brule is tied for third in shooting percentage at 33.3% while his scoring chance percentage currently sits at 41.5%. Any discussion of his arrival should be put off until... well - if we look at his AHL track record - it will probably be put off indefinitely.