Then I saw another beast coming up out of Missouri. He had two Orbs of Power and was a source of both great joy and tremendous sorrow. He was a symbol of the power and authority of the first beast. He made Edmonton and all its inhabitants worship the first beast who had finally been healed of his poverty and been told to spend. And the second beast gave miraculous signs, even bringing the Oilers to within one game of the Stanley Cup. Because of the signs he did - which gave great power and honour to the first beast - he deceived the people of Edmonton and then abandoned them.
After the departure of the second beast, the first beast created an image for the people to worship. And so the first beast hired a puppet and gave him the ability to speak and anyone that did not worship the first beast and its image was destroyed. Then everyone, man or woman, rich or poor, hockey fan or not, was asked for their tax money to build a temple for the first beast and his followers.
Now the interpretation requires wisdom. If anyone is understanding let him recognize that the number of the first beast is four and the second was twice four: 444.
Philadelphia Flyers (28-23-3) @ Edmonton Oilers (17-31-6)
Rexall Place, 7:30 P.M. MST
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report: Over the last several days I've talked about having a balance of salary throughout the lineup. Right now the Flyers are spending 17.32M on their top four defence (30.9% of 56M). That number is a little high but generally acceptable. However, the Flyers already have the three most expensive defenders locked in for at least two more seasons and need to re-sign Braydon Coburn over the summer and they don't have much space. They're currently saving money by going cheap in goal (a good move IMO) but if they give Coburn a sizeable raise (his cap hit is only 1.4M today) they'll need to start taking some money from the forwards.
I bring this up now because we're inching closer to deadline day and it seems like the Flyers are a team that might want to be active. They're a team that's been good at outshooting (they're winning the Corsi battle on the season 2378-2272) and outscoring (99-88) their opponents at even-strength. Their special teams have been decent overall. In terms of the power play, they've had a strong percentage (22.9%) but have allowed 7 short-handed goals (tied for second worst in the league). The penalty kill has been poor but not awful in terms of efficiency (80.4%) but they're among the league leaders in "times short-handed" (229, tied for fourth). The net result is a +2 on special teams.
So... they're a good team, but not a great one and they could certainly use a push to get over the hump. They're probably going to need to move some salary in order to afford talent for next year since they don't have any expensive expiring contracts. I kind of wonder if a trade with Atlanta for Ilya Kovalchuk makes sense. If the Thrashers would be willing to take a package of Daniel Briere (they get a star), Braydon Coburn (right some past wrongs and a truly talented player) and Ryan Parent (a good young defender but currently injured). The Thrashers may be able to get a better deal elsewhere (i.e. where they're not taking on a bunch of salary) but this deal has the advantage of giving the fans a message of "we're not throwing in the towel just because we're moving Kovy" since the assets are good NHL players today, all under control for the forseeable future. For their part, the Flyers would likely need to find a defender to fill into the lineup for Coburn but a 4-6 defender is usually available at the deadline for a 3rd rounder and the deal frees up some space for them going forward. Also, I like speculating :)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Philadelphia Flyers (28-23-3):
Gagne - Richards - Hartnell
Powe - Carter - Briere
Carcillo - Betts - Laperriere
Van Riemsdyk - Giroux - Asham
Pronger - Carle
Timonen - Krajicek
Bartulis - Coburn
Edmonton Oilers (17-31-6):
Penner - Gagner - Cogliano
Moreau - Horcoff - Comrie
Potulny - Brule - O'Sullivan
Jacques - Pouliot - Stortini
Grebeshkov - Gilbert
Chorney - Visnovsky
Strudwick - Plante
Behind The Numbers:
- The Oilers winless streak is over. The win against Carolina left the club one loss shy of tying the team record for futility. I find myself oddly disappointed.
- The guys taking care of nhl.com recently changed their standings page. Instead of the "Streak" column (1W for the Oilers, baby!), they now have a "Goal Differential" column. Tonight's opponent, the Philadelphia Flyers, currently sits in 10th overall with a GD of +14. The Oilers are tied with the Maple Leafs for dead last at -45. Now if only we could convince them to remove the shootout goals.
- Chris Pronger is currently 6th among NHL defenders with 20 power play points and 7th in overall points with 38. He leads the team in ice time (but he's only second on the team at EV) and faces the opposition's best forwards. He also had his brother write a blog (now inactive) for his website. If you haven't read "The Journeyman" blog, it's one that I'd recommend.
- Fernando Pisani is going to be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game tonight. In Pat Quinn's postgame news conference after the win against Carolina he mentioned that Pisani was the first player they decided to sit and then Ryan Potulny ended up sitting out due to illness. I find it hard to believe Fernando Pisani is the 14th best forward on the current roster but that seems to be the opinion of the coaching staff at this time.