It has been reported that there is grotesque immorality among you, the kind not practiced even by other truly terrible organizations that have never won anything like the Wild or Canucks: A man is lambasting management in public. And some of you fans are proud of him! Wouldn't it be better if you were distressed, calling for this man to be put out of the community? Even though I am no longer with you in the flesh, I am still with you in spirit, and I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present with you in the flesh. When you gather together in the name of our God, and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord is with us, rejoice together in handing this man over to the AHL so that his sinful pride might be destroyed, and if so, his spirit saved when he comes for forgiveness by the start of next year's training camp.
Your glee at his outburst is not good. Don't you know that just a little yeast works its way through the whole batch of dough? Just look at what that traitorous rat did to me! Things weren't perfect, but after that, what chance did I have! No, it's time to dispose of that old yeast so that you may create a new batch more suitable to who you really are, that is, God's chosen people. Therefore continue to celebrate your eventual destiny of the Stanley Cup, but not with the old yeast of jaded selfishness. Instead let us celebrate our destiny with youthful exuberance in sincerity and truth.
I'm sure you understand that I've called on you not to heap praise on immoral and unprofessional people, but I do not mean that you ought to simply toe the management line (the good Lord knows I wanted Reasoner back), but when a player pulls on the jersey and calls himself a brother in the faith and then betrays the team publicly... with such a man, you should not even eat.
Look, what business of mine is it to judge the men of other organizations, who I do not know? None! Let God judge them! But those who are a part of the organization where I invested so much of myself, we must all agree to judge evildoers there together. As the scripture says, "Expel the wicked man from among you."
Edmonton Oilers (2-0-0) @ Minnesota Wild (0-1-1)
XCel Energy Centre, 6:30 p.m. MDT
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
I really thought that the Wild were in perfect position to add some difference-makers in the off-season, but instead they overpaid a good but not great player in Matt Cullen and way overpaid to have Eric Nystrom take his talents to The Land of 10,000 Lakes. They didn't add a single top nine winger, and with Pierre-Marc Bouchard still on the shelf, that decision would seem curious at best. The roster isn't exactly poor, but it's not brimming with talent either, and I'm not confident that Todd Richards will get the most out of what he has. Playing Nick Schultz - a defensive blueliner through and through - away from his customary tough minutes role when you're paying him $3.5M to shut down the opposition is a particularly poor allocation of resources. The same is true of using Mikko Koivu to munch on softer minutes when you don't have a players like Ryan Kesler and Manny Malhotra waiting in behind to pick up the pieces. At the start of the year, I predicted the Wild to finish out of the playoffs with something approaching a -20 goal differential, and the 0-2 start to the season hasn't done anything to change my mind.
Edmonton Oilers (2-0-0):
Penner - Gagner - Hemsky
Hall - Horcoff - Eberle
Paajarvi - Cogliano - Brule
Jones - Fraser - Stortini
Smid - Gilbert
Whitney - Foster
Vandermeer - Peckham
Minnesota Wild (0-1-1)
Brunette - Koivu - Miettinen
Clutterbuck - Cullen - Havlat
Latendresse - Brodziak - Kobasew
Staubitz - Madden - Nystrom
Zidlicky - Zanon
Schultz - Burns
Falk - Barker
By the Numbers:
- The Oilers have had the lead at the end of the second period for both of their games this season. That was true only 21 times last year, although when it happened, the Oilers seemed to do a decent job of holding the lead, going 17-2-2. But surprisingly, that .810 winning percentage was only good enough for 23rd in the NHL. Coming from behind just isn't easy in the NHL, which will be a good thing to remember if the Oilers fall behind and Minnesota "shuts the game down". Remember folks, that's not anything special.
- Do you remember when the Oilers signed Shawn Horcoff to that big extension a couple summers ago? Well, the Minnesota Wild signed Mikko Koivu to a bigger extension this summer and the two situations are in some ways similar. I'll start by saying that I think Koivu is the better player, and that his deal is also better value (it runs out at a younger age, the player has fewer injuries, and the player has a more consistent offensive track record), but it isn't exactly a steal either. After a few years of taking on the toughest assignments, Todd Richards held Koivu back a year ago and gave him one of the easiest ZS ratios on the team as well as less heavy lifting in terms of opposition. Naturally, Koivu had a career year in terms of points (71 in 80 games), and given his previous reputation as a defensive stalwart, he looks like a complete player. Now, just like Horcoff, that’s true to some degree. If you put in offensive situations, he can score, and if you put him in defensive situations, he can get the puck moving the right way, and limit the opposition. It’s just that the team is paying him to do both, and he hasn’t proven he can do both of those things together at an elite level. As of today, Koivu has the 16th highest cap number among forwards for the 2011-12 season (although Joe Thornton's new deal will likely make that 17), and if Mikko Koivu really is that good, it’s by the skin of his teeth. The Wild were wise to sign him because you need good players to win, but they probably won't be getting a lot of extra bang for their buck.
- The coaching staff is definitely trying some returning players in new roles early in the season. For example, last season Ladislav Smid played 8:42 on the power play. This year he's already up to 2:30 in only two games. Ales Hemsky, meanwhile, has already played 3:24 on the penalty kill, compared to 7:20 in 2009-10 and 2008-09 combined. I'm not a fan of either decision, but when the coach doesn't have the right tools, sometimes he'll end up throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks (Pisani at center!)
- Oiler fans know that last year's team was hit very hard by injuries. What they might not know is that Minnesota was particularly hard hit as well, accruing the second-highest CHIP (Cap Hit of Injured Players) in the NHL with $10.379M sitting on the shelf over the course of the year (Edmonton was first with $15.435M). At various times last season the Wild were without some of their most important contributors like Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Brent Burns, Niklas Backstrom, and Martin Havlat. The Oilers are off to a better start with injuries in 2010-11 (I'm not sure that J.F. Jacques being out counts as a problem), but the Wild are still without Bouchard due to concussion issues, Josh Harding may be out for the season, James Sheppard is done for several months after an ATV incident, and Marek Zidlicky missed the first two games of the year with a bad groin.
- Dustin Penner's goal against the Panthers was his 200th career regular season point. It's hard for me to believe that the vast majority of those have come with the Oilers. His total of 148 regular season points puts him in 42nd on the Oilers' all-time list, and should Penner score between 45 and 60 points with the Oilers this season, he'd jump all the way to 24th, sandwiched between Randy Gregg (if you haven't read Bruce's article, you should) and Petr Klima (I don't know what Bruce is waiting for).