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Oilers v. Sharks - Psalm 4:1-8

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Answer me when I call, O God!
You gave me this job when I was in distress,
when I was again passed over by the Canucks.
Let your grace flow over me, and hear my prayers.

How long, you stupid bloggers, will my honour suffer shame?
How long will you love to hear yourselves natter on about how smart you are?
How long will you be skeptical about my great and glorious plans?
I know that the Lord has called me to lead this team,
and that the Lord hears me when I call on his name.

When you are disturbed by my actions,
do not sin by saying something bad about me;
ponder it in your beds and be silent.
When you do speak, always be positive and patient,
and put your trust in the Lord, which is to put your trust in me, his anointed.

There are many of you saying,
"O that we might finally see some good! That the Lord might save us from fools!"
Let there be gladness in your hearts!
The kids have arrived! Wins and Cups will be plentiful!

I understand your sorrow,
for I too was devastated when the felon snubbed us for San Jose.
But now I see what God was doing!
We needed to be torn down before we could be rebuilt!
Now when I lie down, I lie down with clarity.
A veteran face-off man? A player to kill penalties? An established defender?
What's next, a (long-form) census!? None of these will help this team;
we need only be patient with youth and rely on the grace of God.

San Jose Sharks (2-2-1) @ Edmonton Oilers (2-3-0)

Rexall Place, 8:00 p.m. MDT
Television: CBC

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

Before the season began, the San Jose Sharks were one of the teams I picked to regress significantly. I still think that they'll be a playoff team, but I don't think they'll repeat as Pacific division champions and don't think that their team is at the level of some of the best teams in the Western Conference like the Blackhawks and Red Wings. After tracking scoring chances for their last game against the Avalanche, I noticed that that their weakness on defense isn't just on paper. The biggest deficiencies in that regard seemed to be coverage in front of the net. The Avalanche were able to earn quite a few chances off of rebounds, and with passes to teammates left open in the slot area. It was a pretty consistent problem when the Avalanche established pressure in the Sharks' zone, and is no doubt going to be something that the Sharks will work on much of the year. Are the Oilers going to be able to take advantage? I doubt it. The Sharks have a strong top nine up front and should be able to control the flow of play, which will obviously limit the number of chances going the other way.

From yesterday's scouting report:

It will be interesting to see whether or not Todd McClellan aggressively pursues any kind of match-up in tomorrow night's game. Against the Avalanche, he was content to try to protect his fourth line and bottom pairing, and that should be pretty easy to do given the predictability of the Oilers' bench. In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see McLellan roll his lines in conjunction with Renney thinking that his top line bests the Oilers' top group, his seconds best their seconds, and his thirds best their thirds. If that's the case, there's really no need to get fancy and try to abuse some of the kids with Thornton, although the top line may well get an extra shift here and there.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (2-3-0):

Penner - Gagner - Hemsky
Paajarvi - Horcoff - Eberle
Hall
- Cogliano - Brule
Jones - Fraser - Stortini

Smid - Gilbert

Whitney - Foster
Vandermeer - Strudwick


Khabibulin

San Jose Sharks (2-2-1)

Heatley - Thornton - Marleau
Setoguchi - Pavelski - Clowe
McGinn - Couture - Mitchell
Mayers - Nichol - McCarthy

Boyle - Murray
Vlasic - Wallin
Demers - Huskins

Niittymaki

By the Numbers:

  • For the 2010-11 season, there are only thirty players with a cap hit of $6.5M or more. The San Jose Sharks and the New York Rangers are the only teams in the NHL with four (or more) of those players, and one of the men on the Rangers was demoted to the AHL. No other team has more than two. After the lockout, there was a lot of talk about the Tampa Bay Lightning having a top-heavy roster that couldn't succeed. The Sharks are setting out to prove that line of thinking wrong.
  • The Edmonton Oilers, by contrast, are one of nine teams that don't have a single player earning at least $6.5M. The others are the Anaheim Ducks, the Atlanta Thrashers, the Florida Panthers, the Minnesota Wild, the Nashville Predators, the New York Islanders, the St. Louis Blues, and the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks have both Sedins at $6.1M, but the other eight teams are trying to get by without paying any players 10% of their total cap space.
  • Jamie McGinn will be playing in his 100th career game tonight for the Sharks. Last night, McGinn finished the night on a very effective line with Torrey Mitchell and Logan Couture. All three are Sharks' draft picks, and in fact, eleven of the eighteen players in the Sharks lineup were drafted and developed by San Jose including two of their top four defenders and seven of their top nine forwards. Only three of those players were taken in the first round. The Sharks have brought in some fantastic players from outside the organization (Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, and Dan Boyle), but they've also been able to supplement their lineup with good drafting and development.
  • Patrick Marleau leads San Jose's forwards in ice time with 21:11 per game, good for 12th in the NHL. The Oilers' leader is Sam Gagner with 18:54, way back in 64th. One thing about running lines: your best players don't play nearly as much.
  • Theo Peckham will sit out tonight's game because of a hand injury. It's too bad because Peckham has been a bit better than I was expecting so far this year. The possession metrics while he's on the ice aren't good (his Corsi through five games is -20), but he's right in line with what the other defenders on the team are doing (the six defenders have an average of -21.3). Now, he's done that in less ice time, and both Peckham and Vandermeer are getting stomped so far by scoring chances - given how much the two like to pinch for hitting and offense respectively, but don't like covering for each other, it's easy to see why - but that's still a nice improvement on last season's performance. Plus, I'm not really looking forward to the return of Jason Strudwick.