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Oilers v. Avalanche - Psalm 107:17-20

Some have become fools in these last days,
supposing that injuries are the reason for this team's fall.
They loathed anyone who would say that the team was just poor,
and longed for something to point to.
But even when these ones cry out,
Yahweh is quick to listen.
He will send a saviour with the first overall selection
who will rescue this team from the grave.

Colorado Avalanche (43-29-7) @ Edmonton Oilers (25-46-8)

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

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

Oh, the Avalanche. They're not good. But they're in. It's like an alternate reality where the 2007-08 Oilers made the playoffs. And you know what? That would have been pretty sweet. We'd have had at least four more games of the Crosstiniaks, four more games of the Kid Line when people were excited about it, four more games of Joni Pitkanen (that one might have only been three since he'd probably have a hangnail for one of them), four more games of both Marty Reasoner and Jarret Stoll on the roster. We would have cheered and cheered as Detroit pummeled them. Or, who knows, maybe they would have won. At any rate, I think I'll just lay off the Avalanche and their fans - at least until the official numbers section - congratulate them on making the playoffs and encourage their fans root unabashedly for that "who knows" I mentioned above... not that they need any encouragement from me to put their faith in unlikely outcomes (I was that close).

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (25-46-8):

Moreau - Horcoff - Pisani
Penner - Potulny - Cogliano
Nilsson - Pouliot - O'Sullivan

Jones - Comrie - Stortini

Gilbert - Whitney

Strudwick - Chorney
Johnson - Arsene


Colorado Avalanche (43-29-7)

Galiardi - Stastny - Stewart
Yip - Duchene - Hejduk
McLeod - O'Reilly - Porter
Hendricks - Yelle - Tucker

Hannan - Quincey
Cumiskey - Foote
Liles - Wilson


Behind the Numbers:

  • Congratulations to the Edmonton Oilers! Thanks to their victory over the Wild they have moved past the 2006-07 Flyers in total points and will not end the season with the worst record since the lockout. The Oilers need 61 points to avoid setting a new franchise low for points in a season and 62 points (in the form of two wins) to fulfill the words of this prophecy. Let's get it done! Another prophecy that's awfully close to reaching fulfillment is this one about the Flames. Praise be to God! Indeed, how beautiful is the annihilation of Calgary, its 'achievements' presented for mockery and its 'leaders' for derision.
  • Peter Mueller is really getting hopes up in Colorado with 20 points in 15 games since coming over from Phoenix. But, as has been the case for so many Avalanche players this season, a lot of that is percentages that just aren't going to be sustainable over a longer period of time. Mueller's personal shooting percentage stands at an amazing 25.7% in his time with the Avalanche including an astonishing 23.1% at EV (no EN goals included). That said, Mueller has some track record as a scorer in junior and is getting a lot more ice time since coming to Colorado and is still just 21 years old so he still has a lot of room to grow. Unfortunately for the Avs, Mueller is currently out of the lineup with a concussion and may well be done for the year.
  • For the second consecutive game the Oilers will be playing a team on the back end of back-to-back games. In both instances the visiting team also needed to fly in from Vancouver. Last season there was a significant impact on teams who needed to play in back-to-back games on the road with the road team's point percentage dropping from .452 in non back-to-back situations to .410.
  • At this point, all of our readers know how badly the Avalanche have been outshot this year so I thought it might be worth pointing out that Justin Mercier has actually managed a positive Corsi rating in his nine games with the Avs this season with a Corsi differential of +5 (+41 -36). It's a very small sample considering Mercier only played about seven (sheltered) minutes per game but that's still pretty impressive considering his team context. Right now Mercier is playing in the AHL and has 22 points in 61 games at the tender age of 22, which doesn't look so promising. On the other hand, he has a +/- of +2 on a team with a -18 goal differential. I do wonder if he could be useful at the NHL level despite the poor offence.
  • But I still can't resist. The Avs have a shot differential of -4.1 per game. Earlier this year I looked at teams that were outshot by 4.5 or more per game since the lockout. None of them made the playoffs. The Avs just need to survive three more games without getting shelled to keep that stat in tact. The only teams who have been outshot by 4.5 or more per game this season? The Florida Panthers (-5.5 per game) and the Edmonton Oilers (-4.5 on the dot) but the Montreal Canadiens are also dangerously close (-4.2)