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Oilers v. Stars - John 18:25-27

As Ben sat in front of his computer monitor, yet another one of his co-workers, a Stars fan, stopped by and said, "You're not an Oiler fan are you?" He denied it saying, "A fan of that bunch of losers! You must be crazy! I love football! And I'm sure as hell not talking about guys in big-ass helmets ramming into each other!" Then another man came over, a brother of someone he had dated - she had told her brother the story of Ben talking her ear off the entire night - and he challenged him, "My sister told me you spent W-A-Y too much time on that pathetic group of morons." But Ben denied it again saying, "I can see where she got 'pathetic group of morons' but I must have been talking about the Canadian soccer team. My God, they suck." Just then, the Oilers scored the most amazing goal, but Ben missed it having minimized the window because he was too ashamed to be associated with the Oilers.

Edmonton Oilers (24-45-7) @ Dallas Stars (34-29-14)

American Airlines Centre, 6:30 P.M. MDT
Television: Pay Per View

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

The Stars have been all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs at this point. With five games they can't earn more than 92 points and need to pass four teams on their way to eighth spot. It isn't going to happen. A loss in regulation tonight combined with an Avalanche victory over the Flames (aside: This is a great race for 8th; if the Flames make it the Avalanche will have completed an epic choke job, and if the Avs make it then the Flames miss the playoffs! It's fantastic!). I don't think either of those things is particularly likely but it goes to show the precarious position the Stars are in.

What's gone wrong for the Stars this season? A number of things actually but one of the areas that they can certainly improve is the penalty kill. The Stars are ranked 27th in the league in penalty killing efficiency. Even though they don't allow a lot of penalties and have a pretty decent PP, the poor PK drags down their overall special teams goal differential to -3. A big part of that is goaltending. At EV the Stars goaltending has been slightly above average (.921 compared to an average of about .917) but on the PK the team save percentage is only .857 (compared to an average of about .866). If they get better goaltending next season and add a piece or two to help reduce shots against on the PK this team could be substantially better. The Stars also tend to get outshot at EV which is never good but is likely a much more expensive problem to fix. If the Stars are intent to spend under the cap again next season, the PK is probably a realistic area they can look to for substantial improvement at a low cost.

Expected Lineups

Edmonton Oilers (24-45-7):

Moreau - Horcoff - Pisani
Penner - Potulny - Linglet
Jones - Pouliot - Brule

Comrie - Cogliano - Stortini

Gilbert - Whitney

Strudwick - Chorney
Johnson - Arsene


Dallas Stars (34-29-14)

Neal - Richards - Eriksson
Segal - Ribeiro - Morrow
Petersen - Modano - Lehtinen
Sutherby - Benn - Ott

Fistric - Daley
Grossman - Robidas
Niskanen - Skrastins


Behind the Numbers:

  • Ignoring the lockout season of 1994-95 the Oilers have never accumulated less than the 60 points they managed in 1992-93. With 55 points on the board and only seven six games to go it's looking more and more like a new franchise record will be set. The lowest point total since the lockout belongs to the 2006-07 Philadelphia Flyers who earned 56 points in their 82 games. But I figure two points in the next six games should be something the Oilers can accomplish.
  • Mike Modano returns to the Stars' lineup tonight. Modano has been a great player for a lot of years for that franchise. He leads the Stars' in seasons (20), games played (1454), goals (556), points (799), points (1355) and was a part of three of the four Stars' teams to make an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals including the only time they won the whole thing.
  • Patrick O'Sullivan is sitting out of the lineup tonight sitting on -36 a full seven goals against ahead of nearest competitor Joffrey Lupul. Dominance. For the record, the lowest score ever over four rounds on the PGA tour is -34. Tommy Armour III had better watch out.
  • Tom Gilbert has only taken 16 penalty minutes all season, a pretty impressive accomplishment. The Oiler record (min. 80 games played) is held by Blair McDonald who scored 94 points in 80 games in the 1979-80 season while amassing only 6 penalty minutes. But Gilbert does have a chance to tie the Oiler record for a defender currently held by Igor Kravchuk who only had 16 penalty minutes in 81 games in 1993-94.