Please don't forget, dear fans, how hard we've worked for you. We toil night and day to earn a better living for ourselves, and so that we will no longer be a burden to you when the name of your favorite hockey team comes up in casual conversation. You yourselves are witnesses - and so is God! - of our improvement this season. And you know that we have treated all of you as friends by responding to your messages on Twitter and granting an audience to many females after each game. So tonight we encourage you, urge you, even plead with you to cheer in a way that God considers worthy. For he has called you to solidarity with us even when we are overwhelmed because he knows that by sharing in each moment of the building of this team, you will also have a full share in the glory that is to come.
This is why we never stop thanking God that when you heard that our team was not financially viable over the long term, you didn't understand those words as simple human thoughts. You accepted that what was said was the word of God - which, of course, it is - and now this word will continue to work in all those who believe.
Edmonton Oilers (4-2-2)
Rexall Place, 7:30 p.m. MDT
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The Washington Capitals are off to a pretty heady start with seven consecutive wins - the last one a 7-1 drubbing of the Red Wings on Saturday night - but the shots data at even strength isn't quite as flattering as you might expect. In their first seven games, the Capitals have a Fenwick percentage of just 50.7% (+247 -240) at even strength (excluding empty net situations), and just 48.0% (+171 -185) when Alex Ovechkin is sitting on the bench. Of course, that differential implies a dominant Fenwick percentage with Ovechkin on the ice (+76 -55 for 58.0%). When I first saw that, I immediately checked Ovechkin's zone-start ratio, since you'd probably expect one of the league's best offensive players to get many more starts there than the rest of the team, which would help to explain the gap. But that isn't really the case. Ovechkin has started twenty-eight times in both the offensive and defensive zone, which puts him in the middle of the pack. The guy is just a dominant force. A dominant force that will line up against Ryan Jones if Tom Renney continues his practice of matching lines. So... should be fun!
Edmonton Oilers (4-2-2):
Smyth - Horcoff - Jones
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Paajarvi - Belanger - Gagner
Eager - Lander - Petrell
Smid - Gilbert
Peckham - Potter
Sutton - Barker
Washington Capitals (7-0-0):
Ovechkin - Backstrom - Brouwer
Semin - Johansson - Knuble
Chimera - Laich - Ward
Hendricks - Halpern - Perreault
Alzner - Carlson
Hamrlik - Wideman
Schultz - Collins
By the Numbers:
- The Oilers have some conflicting data right now with regard to their play at even strength. The team has earned 52.9% of the goals and 52.6% of the scoring chances, but just 48.3% of the Fenwick events and 45.7% of the Corsi events. These numbers all tend to come together over the long term, so it will be very interesting to see where things settle.
- With Jordan Eberle off the schneid, Magnus Paajarvi is the team's new "shots on goal without a goal" leader. Paajarvi has been credited with 17 shots on goal so far, good enough for 20th in the NHL among players who have yet to score.
- But Paajarvi's got nothing on Ladislav Smid. Smid's career shooting percentage of 1.8% is the seventh-worst among players who began their careers in the 1967-68 season or later (which is when they began assigning shots on goal to individual players) and who played at least 300 career regular season games. But Smid has a long way to go if he hopes to pass Christian Laflamme. The former Oiler had a terrible 0.8% career shooting percentage, which means that Smid will need to take 272 shots without a single goal in order to catch him. But that's not to say he can't do it; Smid is currently riding a streak of 110 consecutive games and 71 consecutive shots without a goal.
- The Oilers have held the lead after the first period four times so far this season. They lost the game all four times (0-2-2), missing out on six points in the standings. Last season, the team also surrendered six points in games where they held the lead after the first period with a record of 15-1-4.
- The line of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is getting put into optimal offensive situations, which often leads to a lot of cautioning about how good they really are in places like this. That kind of caution sometimes loses track of how well they're doing with that time. All three guys are at or close to a point per game, and they have a wide lead on the rest of the team's forwards in Corsi numbers as well. So while it's important to know that they're getting sheltered, it's equally important to remember that they're having success and that their success is one of the biggest factors in the Oilers' recent ability to win some games.