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Oilers v. Avalanche - Luke 2:4-7

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Stu and Steve left Edmonton and traveled all the way to Los Angeles because that's where the draft was to take place. They went there to find a savior, and when their time came, there was great excitement as they walked up to the podium and declared their pick. They then quickly wrapped him in marketing slogans and arena propaganda, and placed him in front of the cameras to declare that the rebuild had begun because they knew that there was no room for them in the playoffs.

Colorado Avalanche (19-12-5) @ Edmonton Oilers (12-16-6)

Rexall Place, 7:30 p.m. MST
Television: TSN

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

Colorado's success this season has been surprising to me on a number of levels. Firstly, I'm surprised that they've been able to win even despite injuries to so many of their key players. When Steve Tambellini (or anyone else) mentions all of the injuries the Oilers have had, I think it's worth bearing in mind that there are teams like the Avalanche who have had key players out (guys like Craig Anderson, Chris Stewart, and Kyle Quincey) and yet went on winning regardless. Another big surprise has been their success despite a truly atrocious penalty kill. I thought that if this team was going to improve their penalty kill would have been one area that got better, but instead, it's actually gotten worse. Finally, last season the Avalanche were riding the percentages at even strength, but (thanks to JLikens most recent publication of data, we know that) this season their success has come despite getting a little bit unlucky in terms of the percentages (their PDO was 99.1 at the Christmas break). With key players slated to come back and many of their young players looking very good (Matt Duchene, Ryan O`Reilly, and Kevin Shattenkirk in particular), the Avalanche should certainly contend for a playoff spot this year, and should they get in, will stand a better chance of advancing than they did a year ago.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (12-17-6)

Penner - Cogliano - Hemsky
Hall - Gagner - Eberle
Paajarvi - O'Marra - Brule
Jones - Fraser - Stortini

Gilbert - Peckham
Smid - Foster
Strudwick - Petry

Khabibulin

Colorado Avalanche (19-12-5)

Galiardi - Stastny - Jones
Fleischmann - Duchene - Hejduk
Winnik - O'Reilly - Porter
McLeod - Dupuis - Mauldin

O'Byrne - Liles
Shattenkirk - Wilson
Foote - Hunwick

Anderson

By the Numbers:

  • After the Avalanche traded Scott Hannan to the Capitals for Tomas Fleischmann, I spent some time talking about why I didn't think the deal was very good for the Avalanche... so of course Fleischmann then went on a scoring tear registering ten points in his first seven games with the Avalanche. He's cooled off some since then with only two assists (and nine shots on goal) in his last five contests.
  • The Avalanche are a perfect 11-0-0 when leading after two periods, and an impressive 7-1-0 when leading after the first period.
  • The Avalanche have been somewhat less impressive on the penalty kill. Right now, they're in 29th place in terms of efficiency at 75.9%, just a few notches up on the Oilers who have improved to 72.3% on the season. In terms of goal differential, the Avalanche are only up by two, sitting at -30 with the Oilers at -32.
  • The Oilers are the worst team in the league in terms of Fenwick with the score close, and with the team's best defender injured, that possession number (it was 42.5% at Christmas) might get even worse. The only thing keeping this team afloat has been a gaudy PDO number of 102.4 with the score close, good enough for second in the NHL. It's pretty hard to believe this team is in contention for last overall despite that kind of luck. To put it in perspective here are the PDO numbers for the other teams currently under .500: Ottawa at 100.5; Florida at 100.3; Toronto at 98.5; Buffalo at 97.9; Calgary at 97.9; Long Island at 97.6; and New Jersey at 93.6. If that luck turns around, the second half of this season could feel awfully long.
  • After scoring against the Sabres, Dustin Penner is now one of the top thirty point-getters in Oilers' history with 169. That's good enough for a tie for twenty-ninth with former Stanley Cup champion Joe Murphy. The next man on Penner's list is one of only three players in Oilers' history to score five goals in a game (as per Tyler as per Cosh): Pat Hughes.