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Oilers v. Predators - Proverbs 15:18-20

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A vindictive person only makes things worse;
patient, deliberative action will lead to many blessings.

The way of the slug is blocked by the smallest obstacle,
the way of the upright is a highway.

A wise young man brings joy to his fans,
a fool traipses off to Mother Russia.

Nashville Predators (26-15-6) @ Edmonton Oilers (14-25-7)

Rexall Place, 6:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

Before the season began, I thought that the Predators would be a pretty bad team and predicted that they would finish the year with a goal differential of -10 and be 9th overall in the Western Conference. So far, they've been much better than that. The Predators are sitting pretty at 4th in the West and have a very healthy +17 goal differential to go along with it. So what aspects of the team did I underestimate? The team's possession metrics at EV (all hovering around even) are about what I expected, but the goaltending has been much better. I thought that the combination of Anders Lindback and Pekka Rinne would provide nearly league average goaltending, but they've done a lot more than that. Lindback has been great at EV, posting a .930 save percentage, and Rinne has done the same. On the PK, Lindback has been porous (.829), but Rinne has been (preposterously) good (.924), which has helped elevate him to second place in overall save percentage behind only Tim Thomas. That number is almost certain to track back somewhat, and I don't expect the Predators to win quite as often from now until the end of the season as they have to this point, but they've won enough games already that even average goaltending from here on out should be good enough to get them into the postseason.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (14-25-7):

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

Jacques - Fraser - Stortini

Peckham - Gilbert
Smid - Petry
Vandermeer - Foster


Nashville Predators (26-15-6)

Wilson - Legwand - Hornqvist
Kostitsyn - Goc - Erat
Spaling - Smithson - Ward
Dumont - Mueller - Halischuk

Suter - Weber
Klein - Sulzer
Franson - O'Brien


By the Numbers:

  • After winning afternoon games both yesterday and today, the New Jersey Devils have now pulled into a tie in points with the Oilers and have passed them in goal differential. A few weeks ago this didn't seem possible - the Oilers had a ten-point and twenty-two goal differential lead at Christmas - but one should never underestimate the Oilers' ability to suck (well, that and the expected regression of both teams, but you know, whatever).
  • The lowest total for a leading scorer in Oilers' history (ignoring the 48-game season from Lockout Part 1) is Petr Klima's 48 points in the 1992-93 season, but there's a real danger of seeing that record fall this season. Dustin Penner is currently tied for the team's scoring lead with Ales Hemsky at 29 points. Hemsky's points per game is actually pretty good, he's hurt again, and the number of games he'll play from here on out is in doubt. Penner is healthy, but he's only on pace for 52 points. Is this the year the Oilers set a new record?
  • Strangely, the Predators leading scorer, Shea Weber, also has 29 points on the season so far. The Predators are getting by with a group that has scored largely by committee with eight players scoring twenty points or more. That said, they've scored the fifth fewest goals in the Conference, so I would expect them to try to add some offense between now and the trade deadline.
  • As you might have guessed from the previous paragraph, the Predators are getting by with great defense. They've allowed fewer goals than any other team in the league, and while they've allowed an average number of shots, a much larger than average number of those shots are coming at even strength - the Predators have only been short-handed 162 times this year, good for 5th in the NHL.
  • One player who hasn't helped in that department is new addition Shane O`Brien who has the worst penalty differential on the team at -0.9/60 minutes of EV ice time. Theo Peckham is bringing up the rear among Oiler regulars at -0.8/60 minutes.