As soon as some of our leaders are sent away, make sure to do your best to praise their accomplishments so that I will not look the fool for having signed them. Do everything you can to put them in a position to succeed so that they might be deemed valuable when teams look to fill each and every need. These leaders are good men, but must be sent away so that our people will learn to devote themselves to hard work and doing what is right in order that they might provide for the needs of our team every game and have productive careers.
The other men in upper management also wish to send you greetings and trust that you are happy with their work in the faith. Greet the other coaches for us. May the grace of God the Father and the peace of the Oilogosphere be with you always.
Edmonton Oilers (18-31-6) @ Minnesota Wild (27-25-4)
XCel Energy Center, 6:00 P.M. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
Visiting Team Scouting Report: After these two teams last met the Wild had a record of 18-16-3 and had rebounded nicely after an atrocious 3-9-0 start to the year. At the time, their underlying numbers didn't look nearly good enough to sustain the phenomenal 15-5-3 pace and since that time Minnesota has put up a rather disappointing record of 9-9-1. While the Wild aren't out of the race (another 15-5-3 run would probably be enough for the playoffs) they're sitting six points back on eighth spot and need to catch at least five teams in front of them. I sure wouldn't bet on it. The Wild aren't very good in games decided by two or more (9-16) and they've been slightly outshot five-on-five over the course of the year (1263-1219). The percentages won't be helped by the fact that both Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding are out with injuries (though third string starter Wade Dubielewicz does have a career NHL save percentage of .914 and two AHL seasons of .920 or better) and missing Pierre-Marc Bouchard for the entire season (concussion) hasn't helped one bit either. If the Wild play at a 100-point pace from now until the end of the year (which is probably a bit better than their true ability with a healthy lineup over 82 games) they'll end up with 90 points and would be a lock to miss the playoffs. To get to 95 points they would need to play the rest of their schedule at a 117-point pace... but streaks happen. And Wild fans still have hope which is more than we can say for the Oilers.
Edmonton Oilers (18-31-6):
Penner - Gagner - Cogliano
Moreau - Horcoff - Comrie
Potulny - Brule - O'Sullivan
Jacques - Pouliot - Stortini
Gilbert - Grebeshkov
Chorney - Visnovsky
Plante - Strudwick
Not Doobie. What a missed opportunity.
Minnesota Wild (27-25-4)
Brunette - Koivu - Miettinen
Kobasew - Belanger - Clutterbuck
Latendresse - Brodziak - Nolan
Boogaard - Sheppard - Havlat
Schultz - Hnidy
Stoner - Johnsson
Zanon - Zidlicky
Behind the Numbers:
- The Edmonton Oilers are riding a two-game winning streak and are undefeated in the month of February. They also haven't lost a game on February 4th since 1998 against the San Jose Sharks. Over a decade of dominance! The Wild, meanwhile, haven't lost on February 4th in the history of the franchise. Titans collide!
- Shawn Horcoff's points-per-game rate of 0.40 is his worst since the 2001-02 season when he was 23 years old and averaged under 12:00 per game.
- So far this season Tom Gilbert is averaging over 21:00 per game against some pretty stiff competition and has only taken five minor penalties. The only defenders with 50 GP or more and 5 minor penalties or less are Gilbert, Colin White, Trevor Daley, Wade Redden and Matt Gilroy.
- Among players with at least 100 shots, Minnesota forward (and soon-to-be RFA) Guillaume Latendresse has the 10th highest shooting percentage in the NHL at 16.2% and it's 19.2% since joining the Wild. That's an overpay waiting to happen.