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Oilers v. Blue Jackets - Psalm 118:21-25

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Let us give thanks to Yahweh who answers our prayers,
who remains our only hope for salvation.
The top pick that the Jackets rejected
has played on the top line!
Yes, it was Yahweh who did this,
and it was frightening to see!
This is the lot that Yahweh has given to us,
Let us fans rejoice and be glad in...
O Yahweh save us!
Come on Yahweh! Let us taste success!

Columbus Blue Jackets (15-20-9) @ Edmonton Oilers (16-22-5)

Rexall Place, 7:00 PM MST
Television: Sportsnet West

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report: The story of the Blue Jackets this season for many is bad goaltending. I'd add in inflated expectations right off the hop though. At least, I didn't pick this team as a playoff club this year. Not too many teams post a -4 goal differential and still make the playoffs. Of last season's playoff teams, only the Rangers were worse and there were three teams with a better goal differential who missed the playoffs entirely (though only one in the West). But now they're -35. So where are they losing all of this ground? One culprit is even strength save percentage, i.e. goaltending. The team went from a .917 save percentage at EV last season to .901 so far this season. That's a pretty drastic change and has cost them about 16 goals so far this year compared to last. On the other hand, they've made a significant improvement on special teams. Over half the year the improvement is worth about 12 goals. That leaves us with a pretty big gap to fill out that -35. If we split last year's goal differential (since they're -35 over half a season) and factor in the goaltending and special teams, all else being equal, they should be sitting at -6 today. So what the hell else has gone wrong? Well, they've stopped outshooting the opposition and their shots aren't going in. They've shot 6.7% at EV this year compared to 8.8% a year ago. That shift in shooting percentage has actually cost them 21 goals so far this year. The goaltending has been bad, but the lack of finish/luck/mojo has actually cost them more. Add in those 21 lost goals and we're down to -27. The last 8 goals are coming from shot differential. They're allowing more and taking fewer than they did a year ago. They're still not a bad team at EV (+4 in shots so far), but they're not nearly as good as last year (+153 on the season). I'm sure that Scott Howson is wishing he didn't trust Steve Mason after his first glorious month in the NHL but that's not the only thing that's gone wrong.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (16-22-4):

Penner - Horcoff - Nilsson
Stone - Gagner - Pisani
O'Sullivan - Potulny - Brule

Moreau - Cogliano - Stortini

Souray - Gilbert

Smid - Staios?
Grebeshkov - Strudwick


DUBNYK!

Columbus Sex Jokes (15-20-9):

Nash - Umberger - Huselius
Brassard - Vermette - Voracek
Modin - Pahlsson - Clark
Murray - MacKenzie - Boll

Russell - Jurcina
Hejda - Roy
Tyutin - Stralman

Garon

Behind The Numbers:

  • The Columbus Blue Jackets don't have any players with more than 4 points who are also at least even in traditional +/-. They have five different players who have played at least ten games with 4 points or less and who are even or better in terms of traditional plus minus.
  • The Blue Jackets are -1 so far on special teams compared to -25 a year ago. The improvement has come entirely on the power play (they're actually slighlty worse at penalty killing this season). So far this season they have a +29 goal differential on the power play which matches their goal differential for the entirety of last year.
  • Rick Nash and Dustin Penner are tied for 22nd in the league with 40 points. So far at EV Nash has had a save percentage of .860 behind him and the team has shot 8.0% with him on the ice. Penner's numbers are a lot better in both of those categories.
  • Sammy Pahlsson has taken 125 faceoffs in the offensive zone compared to 203 in the defensive zone. That's not fun. For the Oilers, Dustin Penner has taken 147 OZ draws compared to 199 DZ draws. The Pahlsson split is coaching. The Penner split is because none of the other Oiler lines end shifts in the offensive zone.
  • The Oilers only have one guy who has started more shifts in the offensive zone than the defensive zone (minimum ten games) at even strength. Name him without checking. The Jackets have fifteen such players. Name them without checking :)