Come and bless Yahweh, all you followers of the Oildrop,
who search through blogs by day,
and listen to call-in shows by night!
Lift up your hands and shout praises to Yahweh
and to his chosen team!
May Yahweh, the creator of heaven and earth,
who held back his favour when we worshiped in his Temple,
show us his mighty power in foreign lands.
Edmonton Oilers (3-6-2) @ Chicago Blackhawks (8-7-1)
United Center, 5:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet Edmonton
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
When the Blackhawks moved their depth to retain their star players, they didn't necessarily make a poor choice, but they did make the risk of injury somewhat more tangible, and with two of their big six forwards out of the lineup because of injury, the Hawks are not an imposing bunch up front. As he did when these two teams last met, Joel Quenneville will have the last change, and if the last few games are any indication, he'll use that advantage to make sure that his fourth line gets some shelter, which means he'll need to rely on his top two lines - both of which have a rookie on board - to take on tougher competition. In some ways, the Hossa-less, Bolland-less Blackhawks are just like the Oilers up front. The big difference is on the back-end. Both teams do employ a couple of slugs, but Chicago's top end talent is much, much better.
Edmonton Oilers (3-6-2):
Hall - Horcoff - Hemsky
Paajarvi - Gagner - Eberle
Penner - Cogliano - Brule
Jones - Fraser - Stortini
Whitney - Vandermeer
Smid - Foster
Strudwick - Gilbert
Chicago Blackhawks (8-7-1)
Stalberg - Toews - Kane
Brouwer - Sharp - Morin
Kopecky - Dowell - Bickell
Scott - Pisani - Skille
Keith - Seabrook
Hjalmarsson - Campbell
Cullimore - Boynton
By the Numbers:
- Apparently Craig MacTavish is a double secret pro scout with the Chicago Blackhawks. At least, that seems like the most likely explanation for the return of everyone's favourite experiment: Pisani at center! Fernando Pisani has been the fourth line pivot for the last two games, one of which was played between two defensemen (Jordan Hendry and John Scott). Through those two games, Pisani is 2/10 in the faceoff circle, and the coach has trusted him with taking exactly zero defensive zone draws.
- We all know that the Oilers have played a lot of their best hockey this season after falling behind. But when the score has been close (within one in the first two periods, or tied in the third period or overtime), it's been all ugly all the time. Thanks to JLikens, we know that the Oilers have earned a deplorable 40.8% of Corsi events in those situations so far this season (for context, last year's team earned 45.1% of Corsi events with the score close), which is, amazingly, only bad enough for 29th in the league (thanks Thrashers!). The Oilers may not have a particularly bad goal differential at even strength so far this season, but don't be fooled; they are, in fact, very, very bad.
- Patrick Sharp is one of the NHL's leading scorers so far this season with 17 points in 15 games, but his -10 rating stands out like a sore thumb. It's never a good sign when your team's leading scorer also has the worst +/- rating.
- The Blackhawks have struggled mightily this year compared to last despite having one of the best power plays in the NHL. Their 27.8% efficiency rating through 16 games is currently 2nd in the league, and if it's maintained over the entire season, would be the best rate since the lockout (and well beyond).
- One of the positives often mentioned about Magnus Paajarvi is his ability to draw penalties, but so far this season, his penalty differential of +0.4 per 60 minutes of EV ice time isn't all that impressive. Even compared to the other top nine forwards on the Oilers, Paajarvi's number isn't all that good: Ales Hemsky (+1.7), Andrew Cogliano (+1.4) Jordan Eberle (+0.9), Taylor Hall (+0.4), and Shawn Horcoff (+0.4) have all been as good or better.