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Oilers v. Wild - Joshua 4:13-15

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When the Wild had come to Edmonton for battle, Steve looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a giant sword in his hand. Now, Tambellini tried to assess the situation, but was having some trouble so he decided just to ask: "Are you my friend or my enemy?" he said. "Neither one," replied the figure, "I am the commander of the Lord's army." At this Tambellini fell on the ground before the angel and exclaimed, "Finally! Just tell me what to do and I'll do it! Making decisions myself is hard!" The commander of the Lord's army replied, "Make this team fall in the standings so that the Lord might give me the command I so desire; do so relentlessly until I ask you to stop!" And so Tambellini did what he was told.

Minnesota Wild (22-18-5) @ Edmonton Oilers (14-23-7)

Rexall Place, 7:30 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

The Wild have had a bit of a resurgence toward respectability going 11-7-1 in their last nineteen games after starting the season 11-11-4. The rest of the Conference has also been nice enough to let them catch up. When the Wild were 11-11-4 on December 4th, the team in 8th spot in the Western Conference was three games over ".500" Since that time, the threshhold has moved only slightly to six games above ".500". As you can see from their W-L record above, the Wild are now right there. That said, I don't think they make it. They're shot differential of -5.5 shots per game isn't that of a strong club; their goal differential is 13th in the Conference at -14, well back of most of the other clubs competing for the playoffs; and they've played more games at home so far this year than they have on the road (their road record happens to be better, but I have trouble believing that that means they'd prefer to play on the road). The club just isn't all that good.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (14-23-7):

Penner - Hall - Hemsky
Omark - Gagner - Paajarvi
Reddox - Cogliano - Jones

Jacques - Fraser - Stortini

Peckham - Gilbert
Smid - Petry
Foster - Chorney

Dubnyk

Minnesota Wild (22-18-5)

Brunette - Koivu - Miettinen
Bouchard - Brodziak - Havlat
Kobasew - Cullen - Clutterbuck
Nystrom - Madden - Staubitz

Zanon - Schultz
Burns - Stoner
Scandella - Spurgeon

Khudobin

By the Numbers:

  • After New Jersey's win last night, the Oilers are now only six points out of "first" place overall. If they manage to pull off a second consecutive last place finish, they'd be the first organization with two in a row since the Lightning did it in 1997-98 and 1998-99.
  • Martin Havlat had an off-year in 2009-10, but this year he's been both healthy and effective for the Wild. He's played in all 45 of Minnesota's games and leads the team in scoring with 39 points.
  • Despite missing the last nine games, Ryan Whitney is sitting alone in 14th in points among NHL defenders. The word from Dan Tencer today is that Whitney has had surgery and is likely done for the year, which is a real shame. If he had stayed healthy, Whitney had a decent chance at the non-Coffey Oiler record for points from a defenseman (which belongs to Risto Siltanen (63); big props for you if you knew that already).
  • The Minnesota Wild have a pretty bad shot differential, but the really astounding thing is their consistency. The Wild have only had at least as many shots as their opponents five times this season in 45 games. To provide a point of reference, the Oilers have had at least as many shots as their opponents twelve tmes in 44 games. The Wild are really committed to being outshot!
  • Through their first 43 games, only Taylor Chorney had a positive Corsi differential at EV (+26.27!). His former partner, Jason Strudwick, is right near the bottom of the list at -23.78. Now, we all make fun of Strudwick because he doesn't really belong in the NHL, but let me tell you, there are players who are even worse than him in terms of their Corsi differential: Steve MacIntyre (-25.31), Ryan O`Marra (a comically bad -38.55), and... Ryan Jones (-24.39). I know the guy has scored some goals this year, but... that's a real bad number.