Now, there was a time when the whole hockey-world spoke English and communication was easy. People had started settling down out East and they played hockey for fun; it was a fantastic sport! Then one day they got together and said, "Let's start playing indoors, and we'll put a Cup on the line!" Of course, they still weren't allowed to make forward passes, but it was still hockey. Then they said, "We should start a league, we'll invite teams from all around to come and compete for the Cup, and in that way we'll make a name for ourselves! We'll be worshipped like gods!"
Now, Yahweh was drawn to the fantastic game and so he came on down from heaven to take a look to see what these crazy people had gone and invented this time. And then Yahweh said to himself, "This is amazing! If, because they all speak one language, they were able to create this magnificent sport, imagine what else they might create that will cause them to be worshipped!" So Yahweh spoke to his divine friends and said, "Let's get down there and make sure to throw the French into the mix; heck, let's make them the best players! It will be like consolation for when we helped the English take control of their land."
And so Yahweh gave power to the French who dominated the game for many years and the English couldn't understand why they could no longer win at the game they'd invented. And that's why the French call a goal a "but" - Yahweh may have given the English control of their land BUT he helped the French win at hockey.
But now Yahweh has taken his divine empowerment for hockey-ability and scattered it all over [the world]* because the French no longer go to church. Yahweh's punishment began in 1967 and has gotten harsher and harsher ever since.
* some ancient manuscripts read "North America and parts of Europe"
Edmonton Oilers (21-39-6) @ Les Canadiens de Montréal (33-29-6)
Centre Bell, 5:00 P.M. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
Montreal really isn't a very good team. Their Corsi rates are horrendous (+2931 -3324) at EV and they take a lot of penalties. They can make up for these deficiencies somewhat with very strong goaltending and good special teams efficiency, which is why they're in 8th overall. Well, that and some good fortune in overtime where the team is 14-6. On the other hand, they've had some bad luck with injuries. Important players like Markov, Gionta and Kostitsyn have all missed significant time due to injuries (Oiler fans can relate!) and Mike Cammalleri is still on the shelf. Nonetheless, if I were the Washington Capitals I'd be licking my lips at the prospect of facing these guys in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Edmonton Oilers (21-39-6):
Penner - Horcoff - Pisani
Pouliot - Gagner - Nilsson
Comrie - Potulny - Stortini
Minard - Cogliano - Brule
Gilbert - Whitney
Strudwick - Chorney
Johnson - Peckham
Les Canadiens de Montréal (33-29-6)
Pouliot - Gomez - Gionta
Pyatt - Plekanec - A. Kostitsyn
Moen - Moore - S. Kostitsyn
Maxwell - Metropolit - Darche
Hamrlik - Spacek
Markov - O'Byrne
Gill - Gorges
Behind the Numbers:
- Tomas Plekanec will be the man with the most points appearing in this game. Right now he's 22nd in league scoring with 63 points on the year. Edmonton's leading scorer, Dustin Penner, is tied for 59th in league scoring with another Hab, Mike Cammalleri. Each of them have 48 points.
- Benoit Pouliot has provided a lot of offence since joining the Canadiens in a trade with the Minnesota Wild, accumulating 19 points in only 25 games. 14 of those points are goals and Pouliot's shooting percentage currently sits at 20.6% since joining the Habs. Mike Knuble leads the NHL this year at 21.2%. Pouliot was drafted 4th overall in 2005 - two spots ahead of Gilbert Brule - and is a restricted free agent at the end of this season.
- Before being expelled from the team Georges Laraque started in the defensive zone 43 times compared to 28 offensive zone starts, the most challenging ratio on the team. The guy clearly isn't the hockey player he once was, which wasn't much to begin with, but that's not exactly putting the guy in a place to succeed.
- It's incredible to think about but Les Canadiens have a worse shot differential per game than the Oilers. The Oilers stand at -4.4 per game. Les Canadiens are at -4.6. Other teams on the East playoff "bubble" include the Panthers (-5.2) and Thrashers (-3.6) although the top eight have begun to create some distance.
- Montreal has taken 318 minor penalties so far this season, the fourth highest total in the league. As a result, despite ranking 10th in penalty killing percentage and 2nd in power play percentage the Canadiens have scored and allowed the exact same number of goals on special teams (53).