This is the word that Yahweh spoke through Muckler the prophet concerning Ottawa and Bryan Murray, the usurper and man of no class:
"I will announce their sins throughout the league,
proclaim them to players and fans alike.
I will keep nothing back for I am compelled to speak:
'Ottawa will go into a swoon;
Murray - a thief, a usurper and a man filled with evil - will be made to feel shame;
Melnyk will be filled with horror.
They will blame others for their "misfortune,"
not recognizing the hand of Yahweh's judgment.
"An awful team from the North is coming to play them
and even they will lay waste to what is left of Murray's abomination.
Now no one wants to come to Ottawa,
both men and fans alike have run away."
Edmonton Oilers (8-8-1) @ Ottawa Senators (7-5-2)
Scotiabank Place, 5:30 P.M. MDT
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report: At the start of the season I picked Ottawa as a playoff club, mostly because I didn't think they were ever as bad as they seemed last year. Craig Hartsburg just strikes me as a particularly awful coach and Cory Clouston as enough of an upgrade to generate better results. They're also a cap team and, Edmonton Oilers notwithstanding, cap teams usually make the playoffs.
Since Anton Volchenkov went down to injury the Senators have been using Filip Kuba and Chris Phillips as a shut-down pairing, which means they'll probably be assigned the one legitimate first line player left among the Oiler forwards: Liam Reddox. Nevertheless, the Oilers should have some opportunity against the bottom two pairings as three of the four Senator defenders have spent time in the AHL in the 2007-08 season or later. It's not an area of great depth. At forward the Senators have some very good players (none quite as good as Reddox, but still good players) who will put some of the Oilers depth guys to the test. Daniel Alfredsson especiallly is still a real difference-maker at EV and could have a big game tonight against an Oiler team that continues to be ravaged by injury (apparently Nilsson may be out with a concussion and Chorney with an ankle sprain; if so the Oilers don't have a full roster travelling with the club unless MacIntyre clears waivers and they keep him up for this one).
Peter from Silver Seven sends this scouting report:
The Senators are really having a hard time staying out of the penalty box recently, and it looks like their luck has run out on the penalty kill--Ottawa's allowed five goals in the last two games, all powerplay markers. The season started well, but the Senators are going to have to stay out of the penalty box if they're going to start to win consistently. Pascal Leclaire has been solid, even great at times, when the teams are even strength, so goaltending's not an issue (knock on wood). The defence is unpredictable, but benefits from the aggressive backchecking and forcechecking style head coach Cory clouston has instituted since coming on board. And we're all hoping off-season acquisitions Alex Kovalev and Jonathan Cheechoo wake up one of these days, but until then we're pretty happy with the offence spearheaded from a much-improved Jason Spezza, a seemingly ageless Daniel Alfredsson, and the remarkably speedy Milan Michalek. (No matter what Dustin Penner seems to think, I'd take Michalek over Penner any day of the week.)
Edmonton Oilers (8-8-1):
Penner - Gagner - O'Sullivan
Comrie - Brule -
Reddox - Cogliano - Pisani
Moreau - Potulny - Stortini
Grebeshkov - Gilbert
Smid - Visnovsky
Strudwick - Staios
Ottawa Senators (7-5-2)
Michalek - Spezza - Alfredsson
Foligno - Fisher - Kovalev
Kelly - Regin - Cheechoo
Phaneuf - Winchester - Neil
Phillips - Kuba
Carkner - Picard
Behind the Numbers:
- Dany Heatley has 11 goals and 8 assists for 19 points. Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek have a combined 7 goals and 5 assists for 12 points. Dany Heatley's cap hit is 7.5M. Cheechoo and Michalek combined have a cap hit of 7.3M.
- Ryan Potulny leads the league in PP points per 15 minutes with 15.385 pts/15. That's a ridiculous number even among the other "leaders" who have onlly played a couple of minutes. The guy in second (Tyler Bozak) has 7.143 pts/15.
- After Liam Reddox and Ryan Potulny debuted against the Avalanche there are still three players left in the lineup who are even or better in terms of Corsi. Which one of those two was treading water?
- Through 11 games Peter Regin has not been on the ice for a goal against at 5v5 and yet Chris Phillips, the team leader in quality of competition, who leads the team in +/- (+6).
- Pascal Leclaire's .899 EV save percentage is tied for 34th among 40 goalies with at least five starts. In 12 games last season his EV save percentage was .873. In 24 games in 2006-07 his EV save percentage was .900. He did put up .930 in 54 games in 2007-08 but if I were a Senator fan I'd be at least a little bit worried about "the greatest goaltender that the Senators have ever had."
- The Senators lead the league in penalty minutes per game but would need 16 minor penalties in their next two games to match the 16-game total of the Carolina Hurricanes. I say they go for it all tonight!
- Ryan Potulny is the guy who was treading water for the Oilers against the Avalanche.