Now, there was a time when the whole hockey-world spoke English and communication was easy. People had started settling down out East and they played hockey for fun; it was a fantastic sport! Then one day they got together and said, "Let's start playing indoors, and we'll put a Cup on the line!" Of course, they weren't allowed to make forward passes, but it was clearly still hockey. Then they said, "We should start a league, we'll invite teams from all around to come and compete for the Cup, and in that way we'll make a name for ourselves! We'll be worshiped like gods!"
Now, Yahweh was drawn to the fantastic game and so he came on down from heaven to take a look to see what these crazy people had gone and invented this time. And then Yahweh said to himself, "This is amazing! If, because they all speak one language, they were able to create this magnificent sport, imagine what else they might create that will cause them to be worshiped!" So Yahweh spoke to his divine friends and said, "Let's get down there and make sure to throw the French into the mix; heck, let's make them the best players! It will be like consolation for when we helped the English take control of their land."
And so Yahweh gave power to the French who dominated the game for many years and the English couldn't understand why they could no longer win at the game they'd invented. And that's why the French call a goal a "but" - Yahweh may have given the English control of their land BUT he helped the French win at hockey.
But now Yahweh has taken his divine empowerment for hockey-ability and scattered it all over [the world]* because the French no longer go to church. Yahweh's punishment began in 1967 and has gotten harsher and harsher ever since.
* some ancient manuscripts read "North America and parts of Europe"
Edmonton Oilers (7-12-4) @15-8-1)
Centre Bell, 5:00 p.m. MST
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
Les Canadiens have been playing well so far this season, but their record is probably somewhat inflated by the phenomenal start Carey Price is having to his season. His .936 save percentage at EV is excellent, and places him fifth among goalies with at least ten starts so far this season, but his PK save percentage of .921 is he real eye-opener. That abnormally high save percentage is likely the major reason that the Canadiens are doing so well on the PK (they've killed 90.1% of the penalties against them), and I'm virtually certain that Price won't be able to sustain such a good performance. As such, when he cools down, the Habs will likely cool down as well. That said, the Canadiens seem to be an above-average team at EV, and considering their position in the league (there doesn't seem to be any elite teams in their division, although I thought Boston would be better than they've shown so far), they may well be able to win their division and give their fans another round or two in the playoffs - and you never know, two upsets this year might be enough to win them the Stanley Cup.
Edmonton Oilers (7-12-4):
Paajarvi - Gagner - Hemsky
Penner - Cogliano - Brule
Hall - Horcoff - Eberle
Jacques - Fraser - Jones
Smid - Gilbert
Whitney - Vandermeer
Peckham - Foster
Les Canadiens de Montréal (15-8-1)
Cammalleri - Gomez - Moen
Kostitsyn - Plekanec - Gionta
Pyatt - Halpern - Lapierre
Pouliot - Eller - Darche
Hamrlik - Spacek
Gorges - Gill
Picard - Subban
By the Numbers:
- The Canadiens have been using their top four defenders to provide some shelter for their bottom pairing. Cuiously, this hasn't manifested itself in the form of Zone Starts. Although the Canadiens are pretty close to even in terms of Corsi, P.K. Subban is the only defender with more than half of his end zone starts in the offensive zone, and even then, it's just barely (50.8%). Subban's Corsi rate is very high (+15.5/60), but his end-zone finish percentage doesn't seem to reflect that dominance (51.4%). It makes me wonder if Carey Price has a tendency to freeze more pucks than the average goalie.
- Olivier has been tracking scoring chances for the Canadiens, and through twenty games the erstwhile-Oiler pairing of Hamrlik and Spacek has struggled the most with their role, getting solidly outchanced by reasonably strong opposition but with pretty decent starting positions. If Andrei Markov returns from injury (and the other defenders are all healthy), it will be interesting to see which player sits. Alexandre Picard and P.K. Subban are clearly the bottom pairing in terms of responsibility, but they've also been utterly dominant in that role (Picard's Corsi is +17.1/60, Subban's is +15.5/60 and all other defenders are underwater).
- Ales Hemsky is returning to the lineup tonight, which is great news for the Oilers, but apparently bad news for Zack Stortini who again draws the short straw and will sit. It's another one of those small things, but by virtually every metric, Stortini is better than all three of the Oilers who will play on the fourth line. Despite playing with those guys when he does get into the lineup, Stortini's Corsi performance is clearly superior, and his scoring chance performance is better than both Jacques and Fraser despite the fact that Stortini has had the most challenging end zone start percentage on the team. He has also done a very good job of not putting the Oilers short-handed, and has even created a few power plays for the Oilers. It's a small thing, but it's very surprising to me that Stortini's performance hasn't been enough to land him a regular spot in the lineup.
- The Canadiens don't do well when they head into the intermission already down in the game. So far this season they haven't earned any points in games that they've trailed after the first (0-6) or second (0-7) period.
- Montreal is one of only two teams in the NHL that hasn't yet allowed a single short-handed goal. That puts Montreal in a tie for 15th in power play goal differential, even though they rank 20th in power play efficiency. The Oilers, meanwhile have allowed a couple of shorthanded goals and draw fewer penalties than average, but rank 23rd in both power play efficiency and goal differential.