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Oilers v. Canucks - Luke 8:4-15

When the great crowd came together again, Kevin looked down at the mass of people and told this story to those gathered in the press-box: "There was once a farmer who threw many seeds on the ground. As he did this, some of the seeds fell on the path but were trampled, and others were gobbled up by vultures. Some fell on rocky ground and began to grow, but are now withering away. Still others fell among thorns and the two grew side by side, but the plants are constantly choking because of the thorns. Finally, one seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced more than any of the others! Let anyone with ears to hear understand!"

Steve and Daryl looked at Kevin quizzically, and took him aside to ask the meaning of the story, because they didn't understand. Kevin said, "I will speak to you plainly, but when others are around I must speak God's promises in parables so that, 'though mocked they may not perceive, and though derided they may never understand.' Now this is the meaning of the story: The seed is every team that God has formed in his great wisdom since 1967. Those on trampled on the path are those who just lose and lose until they fall out of existence: the Barons, Predators, Blue Jackets, Panthers, Wild, Sharks and Thrashers. Those eaten by vultures are the teams who have been stolen away and whose current incarnation is nothing but pure unadulterated evil: the Hurricanes, Stars, Avalanche, Coyotes, Flames, and Devils. Those who fell on rocky ground are those teams who once had glorious seasons, but now have nothing to celebrate." Daryl and Steve looked at each other nervously as he said this. "What? Us!?" yelled Kevin. "We have plenty to celebrate! I'm talking to you about the Islanders, Flyers, Lightning, Ducks, and Penguins. Those who fell among the thorns are the teams that have built themselves up, but constantly choke when they have a chance at victory: teams like the Canucks, Senators, Blues, Kings, Sabres, and Capitals."

"But the one planted in the good soil is the team God favoured above all the rest. If we simply hold fast to God's promises with a good, honest, and patient heart, that team will no doubt bear fruit for years to come!"

Vancouver Canucks (5-3-2) @ Edmonton Oilers (3-4-2)

Rexall Place, 7:00 p.m. MDT
Television: Sportsnet West

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

The Vancouver Canucks have a very good collection of players, but so far this season they haven't been able to translate that talent into an elite hockey team. They've outshot their opponents 248-246 at EV (excluding empty net situations), which is a much less impressive total than I was expecting. A team with the talent that Vancouver has should really be able to do better. The team's PDO of 101.6 (7.7% Sh% + 93.9% Sv%) in those situations has helped, (and I'd give Vancouver a base of 100.5 or 101.0 rather than 100.0 because they've got an elite goalie in Roberto Luongo), but this team shouldn't need to rely on percentages to have success at evens. One of the reasons for the slow start is likely injuries. Alex Burrows is making his return to the lineup tonight to give the Canucks a full complement up front for the first time, but the blue-line remains banged up. Keith Ballard just returned to the lineup after being concussed early in the year, but Sami Salo and Dan Hamhuis are still out because of injury. The Canucks have good depth at the position (they're much better prepared for injuries than the Oilers; imagine the defense without Ryan Whitney and Kurtis Foster), but until those players get back, are the Canucks really just an average team at even strength? I think they should be better.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (3-4-2):

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

Whitney - Gilbert

Peckham - Foster
Smid - Vandermeer


Vancouver Canucks (5-3-2)

Sedin - Sedin - Burrows
Raymond - Kesler - Samuelsson
Torres - Malhotra - Hansen
Glass - Schaefer - Desbiens

Edler - Ehrhoff
Bieksa - Alberts
Rome - Ballard


By the Numbers:

  • As I mentioned earlier, Alex Burrows makes his debut tonight for the Canucks. Last season, Burrows scored a career-high thirty-five goals playing mostly with Daniel and Henrik Sedin. One of the reasons for that was his career-high 16.7% shooting percentage, which makes it sound like Burrows should regress significantly. Of course, that's what I said last year when Burrows was coming off a career-high twenty-eight goals and 16.0% shooting percentage. Before the 2008-09 season, his career shooting percentage was 9.0%. After the 2008-09 season, and a change in role, it climbed to 11.9%. After the 2009-10 season it climbed further to 13.5%. I still expect Burrows' numbers to regress a bit, but certainly not as much as I did at this time last year so long as he continues playing with the Sedins.
  • So far this season, the Oilers have taken 184 shots and scored 16 goals at EV (again, excluding empty-net situations). They've also allowed 240 shots and 15 goals for a PDO of 102.5 (8.7% shooting percentage plus 93.8% save percentage). I suppose that means we should expect the Oilers to regress, but this early in the season these things change quickly. Before the game against Chicago, the Oilers PDO was only 99.7 (6.1% shooting percentage plus 93.6% save percentage).
  • After registering two assists against the Canucks, Shawn Horcoff is now only one point behind Kevin Lowe for ninth on the Oilers' all-time list. He also extended his lead among current Oilers to twenty-one over Ales Hemsky.
  • There are only two players in the Canucks' lineup who have never appeared in an NHL playoff game (Keith Ballard and Guillaume Desbiens). In the Oilers' lineup, there are only eight players who have dressed for an NHL playoff game (Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Dustin Penner, Colin Fraser, Ryan Whitney, Kurtis Foster, Jim Vandermeer, and Nikolai Khabibulin).
  • Last season, Alain Vigneault decided to shelter the Sedin twins by giving them a tonne of offensive zone starts. The strategy proved successful in generating a lot of offense, but also resulted in the Canucks needing to bury their fourth line in the defensive end to compensate. During the off-season, Mike Gillis signed Manny Malhotra, an elite defensive player, and unsurprisingly, Vigneault has kept on using a similar strategy. The Sedins once again lead the Canucks in offensive zone starts, but with Malhotra in the fold, the Canucks can now confidently protect their fourth liners as well since both Malhotra and Ryan Kesler can anchor lines that drive possession back into the offensive zone.