I want to remind you, my dearest friends in the faith, of the good news that we have all received and in which we now stand tall, and indeed, by which we are being redeemed so long as we continue to hold fast to that great message of hope, lest our trials over the last several years be in vain. For we all know the truth: I was set ablaze for the sins of others in keeping with the testimony of the scriptures, the team was buried in the standings as a result, and after three years, we know that this team will rise again just as the scriptures testify.
Indeed, we have seen God's promise partially fulfilled already in the Kingston Cannonball, and in some small measure in each of the twelve forwards, and even in the hope residing in the hundreds upon hundreds filling Rexall Place, most of whom continue to have hope and passion for the future, though a few have passed on. But those who are discouraged must take heart, for we are also reminded of God's promise by Clutch and Smïttÿ andlast of all, by the one to come this June. Now, that one may be the least of these players because he will likely be a defenseman and they do in fact take longer to develop. (I still remember the day that Kevin traded for Laddy and told me I'd have to play him all year just days removed from a near taste at the Cup... talk about discouraging!) But by God's grace, this new chosen one will still be inexpensive when this team is ready to compete because by that time you will no longer have a twit in charge who tries his best to make God's favour in vain. On the contrary, you will have a man who understands what a coach needs in order to attain victory and who works harder than any other man in the business - though it is not really I who work, but rather, the grace of God working in me. But even if I have misunderstood God's call and it is not I who will guide this team to the promise, we must all agree and proclaim that the promise itself is true: this team will return to glory!
Minnesota Wild (2-2-1) @ Edmonton Oilers (2-2-0)
Rexall Place, 7:30 p.m. MDT
Television: Sportsnet Edmonton
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The Minnesota Wild got off to a slow start this season, but I think we can all agree that their last game against the Canucks was a step in the right direction. They were able to pound the Canucks on the scoreboard, which is of course a good thing, but it was also encouraging to see that some of the tweaks that Todd Richards made to the lineup worked out wonderfully. Prior to the game against the Canucks, Guillaume Latendresse had spent most of his ice time alongside former Oiler (and boy could they use him now), Kyle Brodziak. Now, Brodziak does a lot of things well, but providing offense generally isn't one of them, and the Wild had been struggling to produce at even strength all season, so Richards moved Latendresse away from Brodziak and onto a line with Martin Havlat and Matt Cullen. That unit immediately clicked with an EV goal, and should they prove reliable over the long term, they will really take the heat off of Mikko Koivu who's being relied upon for so much right now.
Edmonton Oilers (2-2-0):
Penner - Gagner - Hemsky
Paajarvi - Horcoff - Eberle
Hall - Cogliano - Brule
Jones - Fraser - Stortini
Smid - Gilbert
Whitney - Foster
Vandermeer - Peckham
Minnesota Wild (2-2-1)
Brunette - Koivu - Miettinen
Latendresse - Cullen - Havlat
Nystrom - Madden - Clutterbuck
Staubitz - Brodziak - Kobasew
Zidlicky - Zanon
Schultz - Burns
Falk - Barker
By the Numbers:
- So far there has been an average of 2.26 standings points awarded per game of the 2010-11 NHL season, slightly higher than last year's average of 2.24 standings points per game. If it holds up, it would actually be the highest number of points per game awarded ever - since the lockout, 2.23 points were awarded per game in 2008-09, 2.22 in 2007-08, 2.23 in 2006-07, and 2.23 in 2005-06.
- I downplayed the Matt Cullen signing this summer, suggesting that it was probably an overpayment, but so far Cullen has eight points in five games including two points against the Oilers. That said, his production at even strength has been less than expected with only one assist in five games. The other seven points have all come on the power play.
- Cullen isn't the only one struggling at EV. So far this season, the Wild have only scored five goals at EV (or an average of one EV goal per game), and have a shot differential of -16 (or an average of -3.2 per game) despite playing four of those games against teams that finished with 80 or fewer points in the 2009-10 standings.
- Among regular penalty killers (minimum 1:30 PK (4v5) ice time per game) Ryan Jones has the worst goal differential per 60 minutes in the NHL at -21.65. His regular partner, Colin Fraser, is fourth worst at -20.75. The penalty kill, it seems, is a bit of a problem. Who would have thunk it?
- Ryan Jones will be playing in his 100th career regular season game this evening, which sounds like a small thing but is a really amazing accomplishment for any young player. Of the 291 players drafted in 2004, Jones will be the 49th to reach the century mark. So, congratulations! (Penalty "killing" notwithstanding)