Then Jesus came across some who were confident in their team, a team that looked down on everyone else from the top of the standings and so he told them this parable:
"Two men walk into a bar, one a fan of the Avalanche, the other a fan of the Oilers. The fan of the Avalanche stood up and prayed about himself loudly saying, 'God I thank you that our team is not like other teams - like the Oilers, Thrashers or Panthers - and that I myself am not wallowing in misery like this pathetic Oiler fan. We win at least twice a week and every day I give thanks for our new goaltender.' But the fan of the Oilers watched the game with his face in his hands; he could barely watch. He slammed his head to the bar and whispered over and over, 'God have mercy on me, an Oiler fan.' I tell you today that it is this man and not the one filled with hubris who went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself before God will be humbled and he who humbles himself before God will be exalted."
Edmonton Oilers (7-8-1) @ Colorado Avalanche (12-3-2)
Pepsi Center, 6:00 P.M. MDT
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report: So are they for real? No. Jonathan Willis continues to prophesy doom for the Avalanche this year and I'm inclined to agree with him. The Avalanche have been consistently outshot and (I know because I'm counting) outchanced all season. Jonathan compared their early season run to one put up by the Ottawa Senators a couple of years ago. I'll compare it to a team that has a lot in common with this group: the 2008-09 Florida Panthers. That club had a run from January 3rd to February 13th where they went 12-3-3 which, if the Avs lose in overtime tonight (and I'd be fine with that result!) would match their opening to the season exactly. If we take out the shoot-out goals the Panthers goal differential over that time was +20 compared to the Avs at +15. Both teams employed Craig Anderson and both teams had a shot differential worse than -4.5. And the Panthers missed the playoffs, finishing 9th in the Conference with a solid 93 points. And that's about where I expect the Avalanche to end up.
As for what to expect from them, the Avalanche are very good on the penalty kill. Over the last seven games they've allowed two power play goals and scored two shorthanded for a pretty darn good goal differential of 0. The power play, on the other hand, has been very poor for the Avalanche over the last seven games scoring only one goal and generating very little in the way of scoring chances. Wojtek Wolski has been the best player on the squad so far this year and Oiler fans may remember his wonderful goal in Edmonton a few weeks back (they certainly don't remember any Oiler goals from that game). Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny have both played much better recently than they did at the start of the year while Matt Duchene has started to struggle (remember Sam Gagner). The Avs shut-down pair of Hannan and Quincey have done a very good job so far this year while soft-minutes specialist John-Michael Liles has been so bad that I think the Oilers are the team that's getting screwed with Liles out of the Avs lineup with injury.
Edmonton Oilers (7-8-1):
Penner - Gagner - O'Sullivan
Comrie - Brule - Nilsson
Reddox - Cogliano - Pisani
Moreau - Potulny - Stortini
Grebeshkov - Gilbert
Chorney - Visnovsky
Strudwick - Staios
Colorado Avalanche (12-3-2)
Jones - Stastny - Hejduk
McLeod - Duchene - Svatos
Wolski - O'Reilly - Stewart
Koci - Dupuis - Hendricks
Hannan - Quincey
Foote - Cumiskey
Clark - Wilson
Behind the Numbers:
- John-Michael Liles currently has a scoring chance percentage of 30.0%. The next worst Avalanche player is at 38.8%. John-Michael Liles has a cap hit of 4.2M for the next three years. I don't think there's a worse overpay on the Oilers. And that's saying something.
- The Oilers and Avalanche are ranked 29th and 30th respectively in team faceoff percentage. Believe it or not the Oilers, at 47.2%, have a substantial lead. The Avs are at 44.4%.
- Here's the complete list of players suiting up for this game (both teams) with a Corsi of even or better: Dustin Penner, Lubomir Visnovsky, Liam Reddox, Ryan Potulny. The Avs Corsi leader is Kyle Cumiskey at -0.970/15.
- Craig Anderson's PK save percentage so far this season is .927 on 124 shots. Last season, only five goalies who faced 100 PK shots posted a PK save percentage over .900 (the leader was Niklas Backstrom at .918). Craig Anderson was one of them (.910 on 200 shots). The year before that he put up .850 on 107 shots. That's quite the range.