After the season, Taylor left for the draft combine and when he found Kevin he said to him, "Pick me!" Kevin, like Steve and Daryl, was from Edmonton. The three of them went to Stu together and said to him, "We have found the one that the scriptures promised, the one written about by the prophets! It's Taylor Hall, born in Calgary, but playing in Windsor! He will be our Saviour!"
"Calgary? Nothing good could possibly come from that wretched place!" Stu retorted. The three men knew that this was a rock solid argument, and that Stu was filled with wisdom, but nonetheless shouted back in unison: "Look for yourself!"
When Taylor saw Stu approaching, he said to him, "Now here is a truly Magnificent Bastard! Surely not born of a virgin, but magnificent nonetheless! You are wise at the draft table, finding many gems, and this year, will select a Saviour."
"How do you know me?" Stu asked him. Taylor answered, "I knew your conversation with the others without hearing it, and I knew that you would draft me even before you came to see me." Then Stu declared, "You are the Saviour sent to us from God! You are the king of Edmonton!"
Taylor said, "You believe because I told you about God's plan for you and your conversation with the others, but I tell you now, you will see far greater things than that. I tell you the truth, you will see utter dominance on the ice for many years, and the Stanley Cup ascending and descending in my arms."
Edmonton Oilers (2-1-0) @ Calgary Flames (1-2-0)
Pengrowth Saddledome, 8:00 p.m. MDT
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The Flames came into their first contest against the Oilers a battered team that wasn't ready for the regular season. There were several players out because of injury, but the guys in the lineup didn't look too healthy either. It was an absolutely brutal effort, and a fine time for everyone who cheers on the Oil. But in their next two games, the Flames have been playing much better, particularly their top line. Jarome Iginla, Olli Jokinen, and Alex Tanguay are all without points on the season, but they outchanced (as tabulated by Kent Wilson) both the Kings and the Panthers pretty handily at EV (Iginla was +16 -5 in the two games, Jokinen was +12 -8, and Tanguay was +12 -7). But when the team can't score, coaches like to fiddle, and so those three won't start the game together tonight. Still, even though the team isn't healthy - Matt Stajan is back in, but Rene Bourque is out with a concussion - this is not going to be the same impotent team the Oilers saw on opening night.
Edmonton Oilers (2-1-0):
Penner - Gagner - Hemsky
Hall - Horcoff - Eberle
Paajarvi - Cogliano - Brule
Jones - Fraser - MacInytre
Smid - Gilbert
Whitney - Foster
Vandermeer - Peckham
Calgary Flames (1-2-0)
Tanguay - Stajan - Iginla
Hagman - Jokinen - Morrison
Glencross - Backlund - Jackman
Sutter - Conroy - Meyer
Regehr - White
Bouwmeester - Staios
Sarich - Giordano
By the Numbers:
- It's worth pointing out every single time it happens: going into tonight's games the Calgary Flames are in dead last - 30th overall - in the official NHL standings with only two points in three games and a -5 goal differential. (I don't expect it to continue, so I figure that I may as well get my licks in while I still can.)
- I think most people will agree that the Oilers top nine has been comprised of two lines that have been somewhat effective, and one line that has been very, very ineffective. That impression is backed up by the possession numbers as well. Through three games Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner, and Sam Gagner have a combined EV Corsi rating of -20; Shawn Horcoff, Taylor Hall, and Jordan Eberle have a combined EV Corsi rating of -14; and Gilbert Brule, Andrew Cogliano and Magnus Paajarvi have a combined EV Corsi rating of -69. In terms of EV scoring chances (as tabulated by Dennis King), Hemsky, Penner, and Gagner are a combined +18; Horcoff, Hall, and Eberle are +8; and Brule, Cogliano, and Paajarvi sit at -12. The Oilers sure could use another capable hand (or two) to bring some stability to that forward group.
- The Flames have already been shut out twice in their first three games. Last season, the Flames scored a league-low 204 goals, but were shut out only five times. In other words, not scoring twice in three games is bad, but it should pass, even if the team really is offensively challenged. Perhaps more encouraging for the Flames is that despite the lack of scoring, they're third in the NHL in shot differential per game at +7.7. It's early going, but that shot differential isn't the sign of a bad team getting beat up.
- Tom Renney gave almost everyone a try on the PK in the first two games, but in the last game against Minnesota, there were only four forwards who played at least one minute on the PK: Ryan Jones (3:21), Colin Fraser (3:19), Shawn Horcoff (1:42), and Jordan Eberle (1:40). The PP also seemed to stabilize somewhat with only six forwards drawing significant time, and a distinct "first" and "second" unit emerging: Ales Hemsky (6:30), Dustin Penner (6:28), Sam Gagner (6:26), Taylor Hall (3:42), Shawn Horcoff (3:37), and Jordan Eberle (3:33). There were four forwards without a significant role on either unit. Gilbert Brule and Andrew Cogliano played bit parts on each unit, but Magnus Paajarvi and Zack Stortini were pretty much left out in the cold. In Stortini's case, the lack of opportunity on the PK has probably cost him his spot in the lineup.
- Nikolai Khabibulin will be playing in his 700th career game tonight in Calgary. I've been pleasantly surprised by Khabibulin's performance so far this season. It's only been three games, but his overall save percentage is currently sixth in the league among goalies with at least two starts (31 goalies). With the news breaking that a sale of the Coyotes might be imminent, I should also point out that he's one of only three former Winnipeg Jets still in the league, the others being Shane Doan and Teemu Selanne.