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Oilers v. Blues - Zechariah 6:1-8

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I looked up again and saw four horses coming from two mountains; one of the mountains was red and white, and the other was blue and yellow. The first horse was hazel, the second was ebony, the third was purple, and the fourth was oak, and each of the horses was filled with power. So I turned to the angel and asked, "What are these, my lord?"

The angel of Yahweh replied, "These are the four saviours of heaven, who stand before Yahweh and have been sent out to do his work. The hazel horse has come from the east, so he will be the vessel of Yahweh's anger against any who dare stand against you from the east. The ebony horse has come from the west, so he will stand tall against any who dare rebel from the west. The oak horse has been delayed for a time, but he will come from the south, destroying everything in his path on his way to meet with the other saviours."

Then I saw the powerful horses going out, and it looked like they were struggling, but then the angel shouted, "Have dominion over all the earth!" and suddenly they were filled with furious strength. Then the angel of Yahweh called to me and said, "Look at how the hazel horse has been the vessel of Yahweh's anger, destroying Yahweh's enemies from the east!"

St. Louis Blues (12-9-3) @ Edmonton Oilers (9-12-4)

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

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

The St. Louis Blues have been one of the best teams in the NHL at outshooting. They're solidly in the top ten in outshooting with the score close, and have outshot opponents overall by a rate of 4.7 shots per game. The biggest problem has been in net. As a team, the Blues have an overall save percentage of only .900, which is well below average. If we look just at regulation losses, things get much worse. The Blues have lost nine games in regulation so far this season, and in those nine games, the team's save percentage is .803, and there have been only two losses in which the Blues allowed three or fewer goals. In those same games, the Blues have averaged 2.44 goals per game, so it's not as though these were all unwinnable if the goalie was playing well. Of course, not all shots have the same chance of going in, so it's possible that the Blues abandon the defensive zone when they get behind, which leads to the goalie facing many more high quality scoring chances. On the other hand, it's possible that the goalies simply haven't played well when the Blues lose, and need to be better if the Blues hope to make the playoffs.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (9-12-4):

Hall - Horcoff - Eberle
Penner - Cogliano - Brule
Jones - Gagner - Paajarvi

Jacques - Fraser - Stortini

Peckham - Gilbert

Whitney - Vandermeer
Smid - Foster


Khabibulin

St. Louis Blues (12-9-3)

McDonald - Backes - Boyes
Steen - McClement - Crombeen
Sobotka - Berglund - D'Agostini
Winchester - Scatchard - Della Rovere

Jackman - Pietrangelo
Brewer - Johnson
Strachan - Colaiacovo

Halak

By the Numbers:

  • In 2009-10, Roman Polak and Barret Jackman had the two most difficult end-zone start percentages in the NHL. Polak started 256 times in the offensive zone and 453 times in the defensive zone (36.1%), and Jackman started 310 times in the offesnive zone against 453 defensive zone starts (38.9%). It's quite amazing, then, that both players were able to post a Corsi rating very close to even on the season (-2.88/60 and -2.51/60). This year, however, Jackman was injured for a part of the year, and Polak played in only seven games before seriously injuring his wrist in October. The absence of those two at various times has most definitely had an impact on the Blues' season: in the nine games that the team played with both players out of the lineup, the Blues went 4-4-1 and had a goal differential of -10.
  • The record for most points in a single season without registering a single goal belongs to Jimmy Thompson who collected 29 assists without scoring a goal himself for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1947-48 season. If Ryan Whitney suffered a catastrophic injury today, he'd set the Oilers' record with twenty, and be tied with four others for 16th in league history. Unsurprisingly, every player in the top twenty is a defenseman. The record for a forward is Dan Bourbonnais' 16 assists without a goal in 1983-84. Bourbonnais played in 35 games that season, and would never see the NHL again.
  • Only two Oilers - Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky - have played in more games as an Oiler than former Canadian Olympic team member and current Blues' captain Eric Brewer.
  • In their last game against the Maple Leafs, the Oilers continued their trend of performing much better by scoring chances than they have by Fenwick. The Oilers are now 5-2-1 in their last eight games and have outchanced at EVover the last seven games, it looks like the Oilers are starting to turn a corner at even strength - since getting stomped by Chicago at home, they've outchanced their opponents at EV by a margin of 111-107 for a chance percentage of 50.9%. But, despite the big win, their Fenwick percentage continued to get worse in this stretch, dropping to of only 45.1% at EV (+221 -269) in those eight games. That's a pretty massive spread in shot quality that the Oilers are generating, and I'll be very interested to see if it continues.
  • David Backes is an excellent player, but he has always cost his team by taking a lot of minor penalties. So far this season, he's tied with Cody McLeod of the Avalanche for the league lead with 17 minor penalties. In 2009-10, Backes finished tied for 16th most minors with 33, and in 2008-09 he had the third most in the NHL with 49. He's a valuable player when he stays out of the box, but he's one of the few regular forwards (i.e. non-goons) in the league who takes a lot more penalties than he draws and that disparity sucks up a lot of his value.