Nashville Predators (20-11-3) @ Edmonton Oilers (15-14-4)
Rexall Place, 7:30 P.M. MDT
Visiting Team Scouting Report: The Nashville Predators have massively exceeded my expectations this year. They have generally managed to outshoot (and outscore) their opponents so far this season. Although their goal differential isn't impressive (95-95 including shoot-out markers) their 11-8 record in games decided by more than one goal suggests that they're a quality club (the Oilers, by comparison, have an 8-10 record in games decided by two or more). A big part of this is their ability to stay out of the penalty box. They're currently fourth in the NHL with only 121 minor penalties which is 25 better than the median of 146, or, almost one fewer minor penalty per game. That can make a big difference. The Predators are led offensively by their top line but have started to get more scoring from some of their depth players as well. Five of the guys on their bottom two lines weren't "everyday" players last season (doesn't that sound familiar) and yet they've so far managed to put to combine into a nice team. I don't really know how to evaluate coaching but if someone asked me who I thought was the best coach in the NHL I would probably pick Barry Trotz.
Edmonton Oilers (15-14-4):
Penner - Gagner - Brule
Nilsson - Horcoff - Stone
Moreau - Potulny - Cogliano
Jacques - Stortini - O'Sullivan
Gilbert - Souray
Smid - Visnovsky
Grebeshkov - Staios
Nahville Predators (20-11-3)
Erat - Arnott - Sullivan
Smithson - Legwand - Ward
Hornqvist - Goc - Dumont
Spaling - Jones - Belak
Weber - Suter
Hamhuis - Klein
Behind the Numbers:
- The Predators are 12-0-0 when they have the lead after two periods. The Oilers are 8-0-1. The Predators are 15-2-1 when they score first. The Oilers are 10-3-2. We're probably not going to be seeing a comeback tonight.
- The Edmonton Oilers are the only team in the NHL that does not yet have a shorthanded goal which makes their 27th ranked penalty kill look even worse.
- If the Oilers lose tonight they will be tied for 15th in the Conference in terms of points percentage. If they were in the East, a loss would leave them in a tie for the final playoff spot. Unbelievable.
- Steve Sullivan leads the Predators in scoring with 23 points which ties him for 75th in the NHL... hmmm... The Predators have a total of 229 points on 91 goals scored (2.52 per goal) while the Oilers have 260 total points on 96 goals scored (2.71 per goal). If I were a small-market team that didn't have much money to spend and I knew that offense was expensive might I suggest to my official scorer that he should be a bit less generous on doling out second assists? Is this something the teams have control over? I'm not sure but if they do, and this is intentional, it's genius
- The Calgary Flames have lost two games in a row. Now doesn't that just make you feel good... well... until you look at the standings.