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Oilers v. Canucks - Matthew 12:15-21

Aware of their desire to destroy him, Quinn no longer spoke to members of the Vancouver organization. It turns out that it wasn't only Penner that was inspired by him. Many others were pleased with Quinn, especially his willingness to speak about the things the team was lacking. Unlike others in the organization, it seemed to them that Quinn was willing to tell the truth. Many of the Oilers followed him and he spoke words to them that made sense but he always warned them not to tell anyone about his desire to usurp Tambellini as general manager. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet:

"Watch for the old man that I have chosen,
the one on whom my blessing will rest.
My Spirit will be with him,
and he will proclaim justice across the league.
He is too old to quarrel and cry out from behind the bench,
and to ride team buses through city streets.
So an old man will sit in a high chair,
he will treated the lives of people like game pieces.
He will lead justice to an overwhelming victory;
in him the Edmonton Oilers will put their hope."

Edmonton Oilers (15-18-4) @ Vancouver Canucks (21-16-0)

GM Place, 8:00 PM MST
Television: CBC

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report: The Vancouver Canucks are being seriously screwed by the Bettman Point so far this year. They've only been involved in two games that have made it to overtime so far this season (they won both) which is the lowest total in the league by a wide margin. It also makes their record in regulation 19-16-2 which seems like it should be good enough for the top eight. When we look at the NHL standings counting all regulation games as ties this is exactly what we see, but the Canucks are still on the bubble; they've just moved to the right side:

San Jose 19-8-10 (48 points)
Colorado 18-12-9 (45 points)
Chicago 16-9-11 (43 points)
Phoenix 17-13-8 (42 points)
Calgary 16-11-9 (41 points)
Nashville 16-12-9 (41 points)
Vancouver 19-16-2 (40 points)
Los Angeles 15-12-10 (40 points)
Dallas 12-10-15 (39 points)
Detroit 13-14-10 (36 points)
St Louis 12-14-10 (34 points)
Anaheim 11-15-11 (33 points)
Minnesota 11-16-10 (32 points)
Columbus 11-17-10 (32 points)
Edmonton 11-18-8 (30 points)

The system has really resulted in Vancouver losing ground to everyone else in the standings. Not only are they in playoff position in the chart above but they're also much closer to the teams above them and would hold the "wins" tiebreaker over any team they catch. That said, we know that teams are playing for the tie in the final minutes of regulation in order to activate that third point. Maybe Alain Vigneault is behind the times? It would be interesting to look at the Canucks behaviour in the last three minutes relative to the rest of the league. Have they lacked opportunity to drag games into overtime or are they pushing the pace in the final minutes? If they're pushing the pace, how often are they winning these games?

At any rate, there are other important factors that are point toward the Canucks being a good team that should be able to make the playoffs. They played much of the season without Daniel Sedin and he's now back in the lineup and is the kind of player that makes a difference. Their shot differential of +1.8 per game is tied for ninth in the NHL and their goal differential of +10 leaves them alone in ninth in the NHL. Their record in games decided by more than one goal is 15-11. The numbers seem to think that this is a quality team. The team has also usually been impressive by eye. I've really only seen them play six or seven times so far this year, but a couple of those games have been dominating performances. I don't think that this is a fantastic team and would consider them a big longshot for Stanley Cup contention but they should be good enough to make the playoffs.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (15-18-4):

Penner - Potulny - Brule
Jacques - Horcoff - O'Sullivan
Moreau - Gagner - Cogliano

Nilsson - Stortini - Stone

Souray - Gilbert

Visnovsky - Smid
Grebeshkov - Staios


Vancouver Canucks (21-16-0)

Sedin - Sedin - Burrows
Raymond - Kesler - Samuelsson
Glass - Wellwood - Bernier
Hansen - Rypien - Johnson

Mitchell - Salo
Ehrhoff - O'Brien
Bieksa - Edler


Behind the Numbers:

  • Jeff Deslauriers' EV save percentage of .909 puts him in 38th in the NHL among goalies that have appeared in at least ten games (there are 49 such goaltenders). His PK save percentage (.893 and 14th in that same group) has been keeping him afloat. Even though, by eye, he's looked better positionally on the PK (to me) I'd expect those numbers to come down. He's been better than I expected, but that "better" is still a below average NHL goalie.
  • The Edmonton Oilers are the only team in the NHL without a short-handed goal. The Canucks are one of four teams that only have one.
  • Zack Stortini is only one penalty minute behind Dave Manson for 25th on the Oilers all-time list. In Stortini's 184 games as an Oiler he's averaged 3.1 penalty minutes per game. To break Kelly Buchberger's team record, Stortini would need to keep up that average for another 380 games. So cheer up Oiler fans! We could be watching the greatest penalty-taker in Oiler history!
  • J.F. Jacques is currently sitting in 361st (of 372) on the Oilers all-time +/- list with a shiny -31. I sure as heck hope he doesn't ever get anywhere close to Kelly Buchberger's franchise low of -99.
  • Living in Vancouver I get to hear a lot about the Canucks. In a pretty recent interview (about a week or two ago) Henrik Sedin was being interviewed about his high goal totals this year. He attributed his better goal-scoring to (1) more confidence/willingness to shoot and (2) shooting from higher percentage areas of the ice. Now, maybe his 21.9% shooting percentage is a function of that second point. It could, at least partially be the case. Still 21.9% is a long long way from his career average of 13.0% and a good long way from what even the best shooters are able to do on a consistent basis. It would be interesting to look at a graph of all of Sedin's shots this season to see if he really has made a significant change. The first point he makes, however, seems to be demonstrably true. Sedin took more shots last season than any other previous season (143, or 1.74 per game). So far this season he's taken 1.97 shots per game which would put him on pace for 162 shots. That would be a pretty nice bump except that the entire increase came when his brother Daniel was out of the lineup. In the 18 games from October 11th to Novermber 20th, Henrik took a total of 41 shots or 2.28 shots per game compared to his much more normal 1.68 shots per game when Daniel has been in the lineup. In fact, in the 15 games since Daniel has been back in the lineup Henrik has only taken 23 shots or 1.53 per game, a considerably lower total. It looks to me like his improved shot rates were entirely a function of having Daniel out of the lineup, or at least on another line. Given how effective Henrik was when Daniel was out of the lineup, I'd be sorely tempted to put each of them on different lines.