Then Yahweh said to Quinn, "Get up early in the morning, go to Katz and say to him, 'This is what Yahweh, the God of all Oiler fans and players, has to say: Let the management go, so that fans might have hope and worship me, or I will send plagues against you and your hockey team! Then you will know that there is no hockey fan like Yahweh, who cares passionately for his people! And know this: I could have foiled your attempt to buy this team like I did to Jim Balsillie, who is now forever on the outside looking in. But I did not. Instead, I brought you to rule over but my own chosen team (how much better than owning the Coyotes!) for this special purpose: to liberate my people from slavery to incompetence so that my name will be praised for generations! Yet you do not listen to me! Therefore, today I am sending the Hurricanes against you and they will be the team that causes this losing streak to tie a team record, worse than any losing streak since the day this team was established. You would be wise to immediately trade any players you do not want degraded after the game because the Hurricanes will not stop humiliating this team until the final buzzer sounds and this year's team - your team Mr. Katz - is established as the worst in Oiler history.'"
Some agents who heard about Quinn's speech started frantically demanding trades so that their clients would not be forced to endure this embarrassment but Tambellini kept on saying that he needed more time to assess, that making decisions is hard.
Then Yahweh told Quinn, "Fill out your lineup card and hand it over to the Hurricanes so that this moment of shame may begin." Shortly after Quinn handed it over the puck was dropped and Yahweh was with the Hurricanes. There were many goals. Ray Whitney, the Oiler castoff, scored a hat trick and Cam Ward, the Edmonton native, posted the shutout. It was the worst losing streak in Oiler history.
Then Katz called on Quinn and Renney. "I realize that I have done wrong," he said. "I should have known that Yahweh was right all along. I have endured enough humiliation, enough consecutive losses. I will let them go. Lowe and Tambellini will not stay any longer."
When Quinn heard this he spoke to Katz and said, "I will go into the dressing room and calm the players and shelter them from the media. I will also speak to Yahweh and ask him to make the post-game humiliation brief. And yet, I know that your heart is still not ready to follow Yahweh." Now Katz had asked this because all of the players were sullen, browbeaten by their own failure and they could not look any man in the eye.
So Quinn left Katz and went down into the dressing room. He spoke to the players and to the media, telling stories from days long ago and encouraging them. He watched as the Hurricanes left town, not to be seen again for at least another year. But when Katz saw that the Hurricanes were gone and that the players were starting to regain some confidence, he sinned yet again; he hardened his heart and refused to let Lowe and Tambellini go proving that Quinn was right when he said, "Your heart is still not ready to follow Yahweh."
Carolina Hurricanes (19-28-7) @ Edmonton Oilers (16-31-6)
Rexall Place, 7:30 P.M. MST
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report: Before the year began I thought six teams in the Eastern Conference were well clear of the pack: Washington, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Boston, Philadelphia and Carolina. Now, there were some errors in there. Boston has come back more than I expected and I left out the New Jersey Devils who are clearly of some quality. Still, the biggest surprise to me has been the performance of the Carolina Hurricanes. So what's gone wrong?
Well, the first quarter of the season was a disaster. Since December the Hurricanes are actually 14-11-2 and they'd played at that pace all season they'd be in playoff position quite comfortably. Unfortunately for them, they were 5-17-5 in the months of October and November. So it's really a tale of two seasons. And each of those seasons have decidedly different traits in terms of the percentages at EV. Despite getting the better of the Corsi battle, both overall (1214-1062) and when the score was close (706-641) they were brutally outscored (64-38 overall and 33-16 with the score close) because of some terrible percentages: an .891 save percentage and 6.3 shooting percentage overall and a .906 save percentage and 4.6 shooting percentage with the score close. Injuries to Eric Staal and Cam Ward didn't help, but this team has really getting jobbed and I feel confident in saying that they were a better club than many of those ahead of them in the standings over this period. Over the last two months, the story is almost the exact opposite. They've actually lost the Corsi battle overall (1304-1097) and with the score close (670-586). Those numbers are ugly. But they've been helped by very strong percentages: .936 save percentage/9.0 shooting percentage overall and .923 save percentage/10.2 shooting percentage with score close. Over these games, they've been bailed out a bit by superior goaltending and finishing at EV. It's a strange team whose results have not (at all!) mirrored the underlying shooting numbers but have instead followed the percentages. Depending on how much you think variation in the percentages are "luck" (IMO, a good amount but far from "completely") the 2009-10 Carolina Hurricanes are a case study in how being lucky sometimes leads to (much!) better results than being good.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Carolina Hurricanes (19-28-7):
Whitney - Staal - Jokinen
Samsonov - Cullen - Kostopoulos
Tlusty - Sutter - Larose
Yelle - Brind'Amour - Dwyer
Ward - Pitkanen
Gleason - Wallin
Alberts - Carson
Edmonton Oilers (16-31-6):
Penner - Gagner - Nilsson
Moreau - Horcoff - Pisani
Comrie - Potulny - Brule
O'Sullivan - Cogliano - Stortini
Grebeshkov - Gilbert
Chorney - Visnovsky
Strudwick - Plante
Behind The Numbers:
- Worst Oiler teams ever leaderboard: The "Ryan Smyth Deathmarch" Oilers: 2-16-1 with an 11-game winless streak. The current "AHL Goaltending" Oilers: 1-18-2 with a 13-game winless streak. The "Shame Corson" Oilers: 1-18-3 with a 14-game winless streak. This. Is. It. A loss in regulation makes this the worst segment of games - in terms of results - in Oiler history. I believe!
- Alex Plante makes his Oiler debut this evening after only 48 professional games in the AHL. This is a huge opportunity for him to show the Oilers that he belongs in an NHL role as early as next season. There is a good possibility some of the current defensive corps and that at least one job will be available to a young player, whether it be Chorney, Peckham or Plante. Both Chorney and Peckham have drowned at the NHL level so far, but the coach isn't doing Plante any favours giving him Jason Strudwick for a partner.
- The two teams in tonight's game have five of the six worst plus/minus numbers in the NHL. The Oilers are represented by Shawn Horcoff (-25), Patrick O'Sullivan (-24), Robert Nilsson (-20) and Sheldon Souray (-19). The Hurricanes lone representative is Rod Brind'Amour (-24).
- The Oilers penalty killling is getting dangerously close to falling into dead last. The Oilers have fallen to 73.9% while the Maple Leafs are currently sitting at 70.2%. In some ways, the Leafs problem is a little bit worse since they've taken 225 minor penalties compared to the Oilers 211. On the other hand, the Leafs now have two real goalies compared to the Oilers 0.