Then Yahweh spoke to Renney and said, "This season I will make you a great leader in the eyes of all fans. They will know that I am with you, just as I was with Sather when he coached my chosen people. Give this command to those who are lettered and who carry the toughest assignments: 'Go into the defensive zone shift after shift, and get the puck up and out.'"
And so Renney came into the dressing room and declared, "Come and listen to what Yahweh your God has to say to you. This season you will know that the living God is among you. He has stopped fucking convoluting our experience of him and now will help us to drive the Canucks, Wild, Avalanche, and Flames out of our home arena. Turn to our lettered men who are devoted to the God who rules over all the earth, and let them lead you into battle! They will carry all of the team's burdens, and Yahweh will smile upon them. It's that simple. Whenever their skates touch the ice, they will cut through the best the other side have to offer so that the rest of you can skate circles around the dregs like they're standing still."
Vancouver Canucks (4-3-1) @ Edmonton Oilers (3-2-2)
Rexall Place, 7:30 p.m. MDT
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The Canucks and Oilers meet for the second time this season, and just like the first time they met, the Oilers are the team with the better points percentage. But the Oilers lost that first game on a weak goal against in the third period. The shot data from that game also tells an interesting story: with Henrik Sedin on the ice at even strength (excluding empty net situations), the Canucks had a Corsi rating of +9; when he was on the bench, the Canucks Corsi rating dropped to -11. And things aren't getting any easier. The Sedins are still in the lineup, but the Canucks have added both Ryan Kesler and David Booth since these teams last met, which should make for a much improved team when the Sedins are on the bench. With the Oilers' checking line no doubt matching against the Sedins, it will be very interesting to see how (probably) Belanger's group handles a very difficult assignment.
Edmonton Oilers (3-2-2):
Smyth - Horcoff - Jones
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Paajarvi - Belanger - Gagner
Eager - Lander - Petrell
Smid - Gilbert
Whitney - Potter
Sutton - Barker
Vancouver Canucks (4-3-1):
Sedin - Sedin - Burrows
Booth - Kesler - Higgins
Malhotra - Hodgson - Hansen
Volpatti - Lapierre - Weise
Hamhuis - Edler
Ballard - Bieksa
Alberts - Salo
By the Numbers:
- The Canucks have been running with these defense pairings for the last couple of games, but in their last game against the Wild, they shifted to two pairings near the end of regulation, namely Hamhuis with Bieksa and Salo with Edler. I don't know if that will end up being typical, but if so, it's a very interesting way to use your top four defenders.
- Ben Eager's ice time continues to rise. In the Oilers last game against the Rangers, Eager played a season-high 7:57, all at even strength, and I'd guess that's about where we'll see him (and the rest of the fourth line) settle in.
- Nikolai Khabibulin makes his third consecutive start after getting a shut-out against New York. He came into that game with the second best save percentage in the NHL, and saw it improve to .969, which you'd think would be good enough to move into first place. It wasn't. Jonathan Quick posted his third consecutive shut-out that same night (Brian Boucher is shaking in his boots), and stayed atop the save percentage standings with a .972 save percentage through six games.
- The Oilers have scored six even strength goals so far this season, and guys named Ryan have scored all of them: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has three, Ryan Smyth has two, and Ryan Jones has one (plus an empty-netter).
- No one had more ice time against the Rangers than Cam Barker, who played 21:48. He hasn't looked good to me so far this season, but the Oilers staff must see something in him to give him that much ice time, and to focus their developmental attention on him instead of Theo Peckham who continues to gather dust in the pressbox.