A couple of days later the team continued on their road trip to Tampa which wasn't far from Miami. A couple of them were talking about everything that had happened to them over the last several days and as they were talking Hemsky appeared to them and began to talk with them, but he disguised himself in the form of a flight attendant so they didn't recognize him.
Hemsky asked them, "What are you talking about with such surprise on the way to Tampa?" They sat with their heads down, not wanting to make eye contact with the help. One of them, named Moreau, said, "You must not follow our club very closely if you don't know what's gone on over the last couple of weeks."
"What things?" Hemsky asked.
"About Ales Hemsky," they replied, "He was a right winger, powerful with both his words and his deeds which he did before God and before thousands of people. Some of our opponents maimed him and he needed to undergo surgery, but we had hoped that he was going to be the one that would lead our team to the Stanley Cup. What is more, we have only played five games since this took place. In addition, some of the rookies on this team amazed us. Stone and Potulny were saying that they'd seen a vision and some angels told them about us playing well in Hemsky's absence and that he would then rejoin us for the playoffs. In fact, we have been playing well since he was injured... but playoffs? That's too much to hope for."
And then Hemsky said to them, "How foolish you are! How slow of heart! Hemsky had to suffer these things so that you would learn to trust in God and not in a man! Now that things seem hopeless and you have no choice but to trust in God, look how well you're doing!" And beginning with the Torah and going all through the Prophets Hemsky showed them what God's plan was for their hockey team.
As the plane landed, Hemsky acted like he needed to stay behind to clean the plane. But Moreau and Staios urged him, "Stay with us, you'll have the time of your life. Leave the plane for the other attendants for you have given us good news." so he went out with them, though he was still in disguise.
When they were at the bar "Private Eyes" began to play. All of a sudden their eyes were opened and they recognized him. Hemsky quickly turned and disappeared from sight. They asked each other, "Were not our hearts aflame when he spoke with us on the plane? He believes in us!"
They got up the next morning and went to the rink. They gathered their teammates together, along with the coaches and said, "It's true! The vision that Potulny and Stone had was true, we will make the playoffs and Hemsky will meet up with us as we make a run to the Stanley Cup!" Then the two of them explained everything that had happened to them on the plane and how they thought they'd recognized Hemsky when "Private Eyes" began to play. And the whole team believed they could win.
Edmonton Oilers (13-13-4) @ Tampa Bay Lightning (11-10-8)
St. Pete Times Forum, 5:30 P.M. MDT
Television Internet: oilers.nhl.com webcast
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report: The Tampa Bay Lightning suffer from the same basic problem as the Edmonton Oilers: not enough proven talent at forward. They have about seven forwards every night that one might have called "suspect" at the beginning of the year if they were expected to play above a fourth line role. That's likely the same number that many would have given the Oilers (Hemsky, Horcoff, Penner, Gagner, O'Sullivan would have been my "solid bet" list). The Lightning have struggled some this year and, in fact, the coach just benched the top two lines against Washington and then switched them up at practice during the week. Now, it's not often that you come back from down three goals but when the best offensive player you're willing to put on the ice is a toss-up between Steve Downie and Stephane Veilleux you're really not going to come back. The Lightning aren't a good team this season but they have a real chance since there are a lot of teams in the Eastern Conference that aren't really very good. I thought that Philadelphia and Carolina would be good teams this year (and Philadelphia probably still will be a good team) but with those clubs languishing the bottom three seeds are wide open. The sixth seed is currently Atlanta with a truly awful shot differential of -5.2 per game. The seventh seed is Ottawa with a goal differential of -7. The eighth seed is Montreal with a record of 9-13-10 in regulation. For the Lightning, there's very real hope... even though they're playing Kurtis Foster as a forward.
Edmonton Oilers (13-13-4):
Penner - Gagner - Brule
Jacques - O'Sullivan - Horcoff
Moreau - Potulny - Cogliano
Stone - Stortini (It Seems to be Working) - Nilsson
Smid - Visnovsky
Gilbert - Souray
Strudwick - Staios
Tampa Bay Lightning (11-10-8)
Malone - Lecavalier - St Louis
Szczechura - Stamkos - Downie
Tanguay - Wright - Halpern
Veilleux - Konopka - Foster
Ohlund - Meszaros
Hedman - Krajicek
Hale - Walker
Behind the Numbers:
- For the second straight game the Oilers are playing a team who is ranked below them at both power play efficiency (EDM 20.8%; TB 18.9%) and penalty killing (EDM 77.9%; TB 76.8%).
- Apparently Vincent Lecavalier doesn't have much shot at playing in the Olympics. I wonder if the sentiment would be the same if he was 12 goals and 30 points in 29 games instead of 6 goals and 24 points. Dude picked the wrong time to shoot half (5.8%) his career average (12.3%).
- Steve Downie has the best Corsi number of any player on the Lightning by a pretty fair margin despite having a very unfavourable start ratio (55 OZ starts against 79 DZ starts) compared to many of his more accomplished teammates. Maybe these newfangled stats are broken after all.
- The Oilers have won three games in a row now for the first time since October 16th to 22nd. The last time the Oilers won three road games in a row was November 13th against Colorado, December 4th against Vancouver and December 8th against Dallas... in 2006. That is, unless you count winning the last road game of the 2007-08 season and the first two of 2008-09 as a streak. The last time they won three road games in a row without any intervening home dates was January 25th to 29th 2006 against the Ducks, Kings and Coyotes. I believe the Ducks game was the one where Giguere went bananas because of Ryan Smyth. Good times.