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Oilers v. Devils - 1 Chronicles 21:1-14

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It was in 2003 that Lou rose up against the Oilers and incited Lowe to trade him his draft pick. So Lowe said to Prendergast the leader of his scouts, "Go and tell the scouts that I've traded picks with Lou and get them to tell me who we should pick now that we have two draft picks instead of one." But Prendergast replied, "Are you sure you wouldn't rather keep the one higher pick? Why are you doing this? If it doesn't work out you will cast blame on us as well as yourself."

But it was the general manager who had the final say, and so it was that Prendergast went to confer with the scouts about who the Oilers should select with their two selections. When he came back to Lowe he gave him the names. As the draft went along it became apparent that they had settled on Pouliot and Jacques. Prendergast had omitted the names of Kesler and Richards because he was so upset with Lowe for the original trade. And it wasn't just Prendergast that was repulsed. God himself was very angry at Lowe for his sin.

After that selection God decided that the Oilers would miss the playoffs and when they did Lowe became aware of his sin. So Lowe came to God and said, "I have sinned. I should not have coveted lots of assets and should have instead been satisfied with the grace you had given. I shouldn't have been counting the number of picks and relying on large numbers. I should have relied instead on your favour. I beg you, take away my guilt. My actions have been foolish."

So Yahweh said to Howson, Lowe's seer and the one who heard Yahweh most clearly, "Go and tell Lowe, This is what Yahweh says: I will give you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you."

So Howson went to Lowe and said, "This is what Yahweh says: 'I am a God of compassion and will grant you a brief moment of favour but then you must make a choice to atone for your sins: four decades without a Cup, four years without playoffs or four months without a word of praise from the media. Choose one of them and I will make it happen.'"

So Lowe said to Howson, "What am I to do? I want to win a Cup before I die but I also love praise and five years without playoffs will see me fired. But perhaps I will find a way to keep my job! Give us the five years without playoffs!"

So it was decided and Yahweh punished the Oilers with four years out of the playoffs because Lowe had shown that he did not trust in God's favour by accumulating two picks instead of trusting in God with the one pick that he had.

New Jersey Devils (38-22-3) @ Edmonton Oilers (20-38-6)

Rexall Place, 6:00 P.M. MST
Television: Sportsnet West

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report: Since the addition of Ilya Kovalchuk, the Devils haven't really played all that well going 3-4-1 in the eight games since the trade. But that has more to do with goaltending and/or team defence than Kovalchuk. The team's EV save percentage in those 8 games is .891 compared to .929 beforehand. And just to make sure that we don't blame the struggles in goal on Kovalchuk's penchant for poor defensive play, Devil goaltenders have been much better (.907) when Ilya is out there. Kovalchuk himself seems to have played well by the numbers with the Devils both outshooting (58-54) and outscoring (7-5) while he's on the ice. As a team, the Devils have actually improved their outshooting numbers since acquiring Kovalchuk. With the score close, the Devils have outshot their opponents 103-88 (53.9% of total shots are shots-for) compared to outshooting opponents 881-816 (51.9% of total shots are shots-for) before the trade. Looking at total shots only makes that improvement more apparent. So yeah. The Devils were a good team at EV before the trade and the evidence so far suggests that they're probably a bit better at EV today.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (20-38-6):

Penner - Gagner - Nilsson
Cogliano - Horcoff - Comrie
O'Sullivan - Potulny - Pisani

Brule - Pouliot - Stortini

Gilbert - Whitney

Strudwick - Chorney
Johnson - Peckham


Backsides

New Jersey Devils (38-22-3)

Parise - Zajac - Langenbrunner
Kovalchuk - Zubrus - Elias
Niedermayer - Clarkson - Rolston
Pandolfo - MacAmmond - Zharkov

Greene - Salvador
White - Mottau
Salmela - Fraser

Brodeur

Behind the Numbers:

  • With Patrick O'Sullivan taking over the lead from Shawn Horcoff (and Joffrey Lupul) for the worst plus-minus season ever, the world feels back in order and at -33 he's well ahead of Lupul's season already (-29). There are actually three Oilers among the worst twenty Oiler seasons in history by plus-minus: Patrick O'Sullivan (-33), Shawn Horcoff (-28) and Robert Nilsson (-20).
  • Before tonight's game Fernando Pisani is tied with Dave Lumley for 31st on the Oilers all-time career regular season games played list with 386. If he makes it into the top thirty I might need to relent and consider Pisani the first significant Oiler to play his whole career in Edmonton. Right now 30th place belongs to Janne Niinimaa with 399.
  • The New Jersey Devils last won two consecutive games on January 9th and 12th. The Edmonton Oilers last won two consecutive games on February 1st and 3rd. Clearly, the Oilers are the better club.