One day, a young assistant general manager and expert in the Collective Bargaining Agreement came up to Kevin and said, "Teacher, what must I do to build a team just as you do?"
"Well Howsy," he replied, "What does the Bible tell us?"
So Scott replied, "To love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself."
"You have answered rightly. Do this and you will never be fired."
But Scott was confused. He knew that hockey was a violent and competitive game, so he asked, "And who is my neighbor?"
Kevin replied: "There was once a team travelling between Anaheim and San Jose when they who had been mauled by animals. Their next contest was with their California brethren, but they too treated them unjustly; the Sharks outshot them greatly, but came away with nothing: no goals and no standings points. Next, some men came from the Center of the Universe whose fans are everywhere, but they too did not show compassion. Instead, they looked upon their fragile state and sent a goon out to maim one of their young stars and increase the Sharks' misery. But then a young team from faraway Edmonton came to town. They took pity on the team that was built to win, dressed an inferior lineup, and enabled the Sharks to get back on track. Which of these three do you think was that team's neighbor?"
The CBA expert replied, "Well, I suppose the last one, but I don't think..."
"Go to Columbus and do likewise."
Edmonton Oilers (13-21-7) @)
HP Pavilion, 8:30 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet Edmonton
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The Sharks were a decent team getting great goaltending last season. This season, only one of those things has remained the same. The Sharks are still a decent club, although they do miss the contributions of Rob Blake and Manny Malhotra dearly. Both players were key components of last year's squad, and neither was really replaced adequately, but by far the biggest difference has come in goal. The Evgeni Nabokov replacements have been something less than replacement level, and Nabokov himself hasn't had a year to remember. I've got to think that both parties wish they could have a do-over with the $4M that San Jose decided to spend on goaltending for this year.
Edmonton Oilers (13-21-7):
Penner - Hall - Hemsky
Omark - Gagner - Paajarvi
Reddox - Cogliano - Jones
Jacques - Fraser - MacIntyre
Chorney - Gilbert
Peckham - Foster
Smid - Petry
San Jose Sharks (21-18-5)
Marleau - Thornton - Setoguchi
Clowe - Couture - Mayers
Heatley - Mitchell - Ferriero
Mashinter - Nichol - McGinn
Boyle - Murray
Vlasic - Huskins
Wallin - Demers
By the Numbers:
- Only two players have been among the league's top fifteen scorers for the last five years: Alex Ovechkin and Joe Thornton. Ovechkin's there again this year and looks poised to run his streak to six consecutive seasons, but Thornton is currently tied for 26th with "only" thirty-seven points.
- This is, of course, still pretty darn good, but Thornton is going to turn 32 this July, and highly-paid teammates Dan Boyle (35 in July 2011), Patrick Marleau (32 in Sept 2011), and Dany Heatley (30 in Jan 2011) aren't exactly young by hockey standards. All four men are signed through the 2013-14 season and while none of those men are really the problem with this year's Sharks (although Marleau's had a tough season), they'll need a better and better supporting cast to win as the years move on. If the Sharks really aren't very good now (a -1 goal differential isn't exactly inspiring), they may never get there.
- Seven of the twelve forwards and three of the six defenders dressing for the Oilers tonight have played in fewer than 150 career NHL games, eight of those ten players haven't yet hit the century mark. You know your team is young when it's relying on the "experienced" Sam Gagner, who's just a few months younger than Sharks' Rookie of the Year candidate Logan Couture.
- Only Washington's Mike Green gets more ice time per game on the power play among defenders than Dan Boyle, but Boyle is only 26th in terms of point scoring per unit of ice time. He's obviously still a good player, and the Sharks are likely wise to have him out there that much if their goal is winning games, but it is very convenient that, should the club falter badly, all that power play time will serve as a nice pump if Doug Wilson decides that he needs to make a salary dump.
- The Sharks have lost their last five consecutive games and have been outscored 14-6 over that span, which looks really bad except that... despite winning one of their last five games, the Oilers have been outscored 17-9. The thing about being a bad team is that there are no slump-busters. You are the slump-buster.