My dear Oilogosophere, tempting as it is to cheer for another club - the Caps or Hawks or maybe just to prove a point you'd even be willing to cheer for the Wild - you must flee from idolatry. You are all sensible people, so I suppose you can judge for yourselves the merits of staying or going but is not the suffering that we undergo today a part of the very same history that holds the best seasons or Gretzky and Kurri and Messier and Fuhr? And is not our continued devotion to that same franchise an act of remembrance for such tireless men of faith as Smyth and Grier and Murray and Marchant? For there is but one Oildrop that all played for and still one Oildrop that we who are many will cheer for as one.
Consider the people of Winnipeg: did they not love hockey? Of course they did! But their team was poor and so many followed other clubs. Now, that's not to say that the Hawks or the Caps are anything really but if your devotion is given to the Hawks or Caps or any other idol and not to God's chosen team, how then can you really be participants with God. You cannot drink from the water bottle of God and also from the water bottles of idols; you cannot sit faithfully in God's skybox while secretly idol-watching on the television. Or are you trying to make God jealous? The Jets weren't even God's true chosen but he still snuffed them out when the people turned their backs on their birth-team. How much more will his anger fall on those who reject his one true chosen hockey team?
Minnesota Wild (31-27-4) @ Edmonton Oilers (19-38-6)
Rexall Place, 7:00 PM MST
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report: The Minnesota Wild are in a very interesting position in the standings. On the one hand, they're only four points out of the playoffs and have at least one game in hand on every team ahead of them. On the other hand, they're in 13th place in the official Western Conference standings and only seven points out of 3rd last in the league. On deadline day, there was a reasonable case to be made to go for the playoffs and another to be made for selling off assets with the idea of getting a high draft pick. The Wild decided to trade Eric Belanger for a 2nd round pick and... that's it. Pretty underwhelming non-decision in my opinion although the Wild had already made a nice "future" move when they acquired Cam Barker from the Blackhawks before the Olympic break. I think that they were probably in the mix for Wojtek Wolski at the deadline too but were either outbid by Phoenix or found that Colorado was unwilling to move Wolski within the division. Either way it's too bad becasue he would have been a perfect fit with the age of their core group.
Edmonton Oilers (19-38-6):
Penner - Gagner - Nilsson
Cogliano - Horcoff - Comrie
O'Sullivan - Potulny - Pisani
Jones - Pouliot - Brule
Gilbert - Whitney
Strudwick - Chorney
Johnson - Peckham
Minnesota Wild (31-27-4)
Brunette - Koivu - Miettinen
Latendresse - Brodziak - Havlat
Nolan - Ebbett - Clutterbuck
Earl - Sheppard - Boogaard
Zanon - Zidlicky
Burns - Hnidy
Schultz - Barker
Behind the Numbers:
- Ryan Jones was once a very promising "power forward" prospect. As a 21-year-old sophmore he scored 22-13-35 in 39 games. As a junior he scored 29-19-48 in 42 games and as a senior he scored 31-18-49 in 42 games. Last season he played 25 games in the AHL and scored 22 points. He's had a very poor year offensively so far this season but it seems to me that there's enough offence in his game that he could be a very good fourth line player and potentially a third line player if he continues to develop defensively. A good low-risk gamble from the Oilers.
- Among defenders with at least forty games played Tom Gilbert has taken the third fewest penalties per unit of ice time. Among forwards with at least forty games played Derek Boogaard has taken the second most penalties per unit of ice time. He also takes far more penalties than he draws which, I would suggest, is probably how he costs his team the most.
- Kyle Brodziak has played over fifteen minutes per game with the Wild so far this season, a career high. Unsurprisingly he's also on pace for career highs in shots and points. He has the most difficult faceoff ratio of any Wild forward (183 OZ and 266 DZ) and takes some pretty tough minutes (fourth among Wild forwards). He's a -2 so far this season five-on-five which is pretty respectable given the circumstances and especially considering that he only cost the Wild a late draft pick (Kyle Bigos!).
- With Visnovsky traded and Souray injured the Oilers now have zero defenders with a positive Corsi rating. The leader is Tom Gilbert at -5.34/60.