When Edmonton's enemies from Buffalo heard that the Oilers were rebuilding for the sake of Yahweh's glory they came to Kevin Lowe and said, "We understand your situation. Just like you we are in a small market with limited resources. We have heard of your God and will worship with you so that we might also make an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals or lose frequently enough for a top ten pick. Let us share scouting information with one another, for we have a common cause and are rarely at odds since you play in the West but we in the East."
But Lowe, MacTavish and the rest of the Oiler braintrust was seething mad: "You do not worship our God Yahweh, for only we are his chosen people! We are going to rebuild ourselves and our own way. You want to share scouting after firing all your scouts? I'll bet you do. Why don't we instead share players? Limited resources you say? How does over 7M for Thomas Vanek sound! This sharing is fun!"
After this all the peoples around Edmonton wanted to discourage the Oilers from their rebuilding efforts and tried to make them afraid. They spoke out against them in public and gave them bad advice in private so that their rebuilding efforts would lead only to mediocrity.
Edmonton Oilers (8-8-2) @ Buffalo Sabres (9-4-1)
HSBC Arena, 5:00 P.M. MDT
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report: At the start of the year I picked this team to win their division and so far they're right on track. One of the reasons I thought that they would do well is that they really weren't a poor team last season. Their +16 goal differential on the season was actually good enough for 6th in the Eastern Conference and 11th overall. So they have a very good base. On top of that, their division wasn't particularly strong (the Bruins had a lot of luck last year and have lost some key pieces) and the Sabres are probably a little bit better this season than they were last. Right now only Tim Connolly and Clarke MacArthur have negative Corsi values and they have a lot of players who can take tough minutes and have reasonable success. At this point, the play of Drew Stafford and Thomas Vanek must be disappointing. The two have often formed the basis of a "soft minutes" line and yet haven't really been able to dominate. If that duo is able to get on track the Sabres will be a very good team going forward.
Edmonton Oilers (8-8-1):
Penner - Gagner - O'Sullivan
Comrie - Brule - O'Marra
Reddox - Potulny - Pisani
Moreau - Cogliano - Stortini
Grebeshkov - Gilbert
Smid - Visnovsky
Strudwick - Staios
Buffalo Sabres (9-4-1)
Vanek - Roy - Stafford
MacArthur - Connolly - Pominville
Hecht - Kennedy - Grier
Ellis - Gaustad - Kaleta
Tallinder - Myers
Butler - Rivet
Montador - Sekera
Behind the Numbers:
- Patrick Kaleta, the league's best pest, draws more penalties per sixty minutes than anyone else in the league. And it's not close.
- This is the second half of a back-to-back on the road which usually means bad news for the visiting team: NHL road teams have a winning percentage of .452 in non-back-to-back situations. In back-to-backs, that number drops all the way to .410.
- Dustin Penner is tied for third in the NHL in EV points with 14. And he's not the most unlikely name on the list. That honour belongs to Ryan O'Reilly.
- We can now add the improbable Ryan O'Marra to the list of Oiler skaters with a Corsi of even or better: the list now includes O'Marra, Penner, Visnovsky and Ryan Potulny.
- The Sabres and Oilers are two of six teams in the NHL who have yet to a score a short-handed goal. Last season the Oilers fiinshed 29th in the NHL with only 3 short-handed goals on the year. The Sabres were in the middle of the pack with 7.
- In the 8 games in which the Sabres have scored the first goal they have yet to lose in regulation.
- The Edmonton Oilers outshot their opposition for only the second time last night bringing their shot differential on the season to a still-awful -7.8 shots per game which still leaves them 30th overall (Colorado and Florida are next at -7.0). The Buffalo Sabres have only outshot their opposition 8 out of 14 times but do lead the league in shots per game with 34.9.