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Oilers v. Senators - Jeremiah 11:1-8

This is the word that came to Muckler, the prophet of Yahweh:

"Remind them of what I agreed to with you and remind the shameful Senators and all those who live in Ottawa of their betrayal. Tell them that this is what Yahweh, the God of Muckler has to say: 'Cursed is any man who does not live up to his word - doesn't anyone remember when Muckler brought this team up out of the wilderness of first round playoff defeats? It was my command for you to listen to him, one of my chosen people who was experienced with my hand of blessing. If you had simply followed him, I would have been with you. Yes, I would have fulfilled the oath that I swore to Muckler about winning the Stanley Cup.'"

And I, Muckler, said, "Amen."

Then Yahweh said, "Proclaim the words of my favour upon you to all who will listen in Ottawa and even on the streets of Edmonton. Listen to Muckler, this man of God, and follow him. From the time I put the Senators under his command until the time of Murray the usurper I blessed that team. But the blessing came with a warning: 'Do not betray my servant.' But Melnyk, that fool, he paid no attention and let Murray, that evil usurper swoop in. Yes the people of Ottawa now follow that stubborn and evil-hearted duo who are under a curse. I have given them a terrible coach, a terrible goaltender, sent an evil spirit into a star player and I even made them miss the playoffs. And now this year they will make an early exit like in the days of old - just as it was in the days of Johnston - and yet still Melnyk won't repent, fire the evil usurper and install my chosen servant."

And I, Muckler, said, "Amen."

Ottawa Senators (36-25-5) @ Edmonton Oilers (21-38-6)

Rexall Place, 7:30 P.M. MST
Television: Sportsnet West

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report: The Ottawa Senators are the kind of team that's played well against teams from both Conferences which enables me to respect them a little bit more. 8-5-1 against the West is a nice number. Overall, the Senators have done well outshooting their opponents at EV (1568-1404) but have been done in by some rather poor goaltending. I think a lot of the Senators' success has to do with coaching. Craig Hartsburg was awful, no question, but Cory Clouston would seem to be a very good coach. For instance, of the guys who have played at least ten games no one has a Corsi worse than Daniel Alfredsson's -2.79/60. And that's not meant as a slag on Alfredsson. The other players in the negative are Spezza, Volchenkov, Fisher and Phillips and we all know that these are at a minimum pretty good players. No, what Alfredsson's team worst Corsi suggests to me is that Cory Clouston is an excellent coach who is putting all of his players in a position to succeed. He puts his best players in the most difficult situations and then shelters his weaker players. It's a mighty fine system and one that the Oilers could surely learn from. To illustrate let's look at the zone-start numbers for two former UND defenders who have played some in the NHL this year despite probably not being all that ready for it: Brian Lee with 90 OZ to 50 DZ (easiest on the team) and Taylor Chorney with 67 OZ to 114 DZ (toughest on the team). I've said it before and I'll say it again: Pat Quinn should be fired.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (21-38-6):

Penner - Horcoff - Pisani
Pouliot - Gagner - Nilsson
Stortini - Potulny - Comrie

O'Sullivan - Cogliano - Brule

Gilbert - Whitney

Strudwick - Chorney
Johnson - Peckham


Ottawa Senators (36-25-5)

Alfredsson - Spezza - Michalek
Shannon - Fisher - Kovalev
Kelly - Cullen - Neil
Ruutu - Winchester - Donovan

Phillips - Volchenkov
Sutton - Karlsson
Carkner - Lee


Behind the Numbers:

  • Yesterday, the Senators signed defender Brian Lee to a two-year contract extension. It's a one-way deal with a cap hit of $875,000 per season. I was a bit surprised that Lee managed to get this contract. Lee has had a difficult season both in the AHL and in NHL. In 31 AHL games he has three goals and seven assists for ten points to go along with a -12 rating. He's supposed to be an offensive guy so those point totals are as concerning as anything. In 18 NHL games Lee has two goals and an assist for three points and a -2 rating. As you might expect, he's being sheltered in those NHL minutes, both in terms of com-pe-tition and in terms of where he starts his shifts. He's an offensive blueliner without offence and those guys don't stay in the league too long. Some Sens fans seemed surprised that Lee was re-signed, especially to a one-way deal, and I can't say that I blame them.
  • Ethan Moreau takes a lot of guff for his penalty-taking and well he should. He's last on the Oilers with a penalty differential (penalties drawn - penalties taken) of -1.0/60. If we look at only players with at least 20 games as an Oiler there's a tie for second: Ryan Stone and Zack Stortini are both at -0.4/60. The team leader in this category? Andrew Cogliano at +0.9/60, although newcomer Ryan Jones is fantastic at drawing penalties. His ratio is +1.8/60 so far this season.
  • Andrew Cogliano has a shooting percentage of 4.7% so far this season as well as 5 goals. Gilbert Brule has a shooting percentage of 14.0% and 14 goals. Cogliano has taken 106 shots compared to 100 for Brule. Maybe Brule is the better shooter though you wouldn't know it from their career shooting percentage numbers. Brule has shot 9.5% in his career while Cogliano is at 12.8%. Both of these players are RFA's at season's end. Cogliano has the better track record but Brule is having the better statistical season. It will be interesting to see what kind of contract each player gets this summer.
  • Jeff Deslauriers posted his third shut-out of the season against New Jersey, putting him into a tie for 12th. His .903 save percentage has him tied with Niklas Backstrom for 34th and his EV save percentage is now up to .907 as he approaches 1000 NHL shots. That's still pretty bad, but there are other goalies (plural!) in the league doing worse... like Pascal Leclaire.