Strengthen the team you love,
the city that you have chosen.
Then we fans will never turn our backs on you,
never secretly cheer for other teams while ignoring your chosen.
Send your heavenly armies for protection,
for they are more effective than goons.
For we know that if you are with us, we will be saved.
Edmonton Oilers (11-8-2)
Xcel Energy Center, 2:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Home Team Scouting Report:
The Minnesota Wild have gotten absolutely incredible goaltending so far this season. With a team Goals Against Average of 1.95, the Wild lead the league by a fair margin (the Bruins are second with a GAA of 2.10), but they're well down the list when it comes to allowing shots - the Wild have allowed 31.2 shots against per game, just 23rd in the entire league. Their shot differential is a terrible -5.0 shots per game. Over a quarter of a season, it's (apparently) possible for a team like this to be leading the league, but over the course of an entire season? Let's just say that it's awfully difficult for a team to rely on goaltending that much and still make the playoffs. In fact, no team has made the playoffs since the lockout with a shot differential of -4.5 or worse. Of course, the Wild have had the lead a tonne so far this season, so it's quite likely that they get over that hump when they start losing a bit more often, and given the quality of the team, I don't think we'll need to wait long to see it.
Edmonton Oilers (11-8-2):
Hall - Horcoff - Hemsky
Smyth - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Jones - Belanger - Gagner
Eager - Lander - Paajarvi
Smid - Gilbert
Whitney - Petry
Peckham - Teubert
Minnesota Wild (13-5-3):
Setoguchi - Koivu - Heatley
Bouchard - Cullen - Clutterbuck
Johnson - Brodziak - Powe
Gillies - Peters - Staubitz
Schultz - Prosser
Stoner - Scandella
Falk - Spurgeon
By the Numbers:
- Using Vic's handy timeonice faceoff script, and adding up the numbers for all of the games, we can see that the Wild have had a lot of defensive zone faceoffs to give out. Through their first twenty-one games, the Wild have taken 328 draws in the defensive zone at even strength compared to just 247 in the offensive zone, which means that, as a team, 57.0% of their end-zone draws have been in the bad of the ice.
- That kind of ratio makes it hard to hide anybody, which helps to explain why the only player on the team (min. 10 GP) with more offensive than defensive zone starts is Brad Staubitz. On that team, there's nowhere to hide.
- The Oilers, by contrast, have a much more balanced end-zone ratio. Through their first twenty-one games, they've taken 259 defensive zone draws at even strength and 250 offensive zone faceoffs, which means that, as a team, 50.9% of their end-zone draws have been in the defensive zone.
- With that kind of zone-start ratio, it's much easier to protect at least one line, and as most of you know, that's exactly what the Oilers did when Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were playing together. Even though that line hasn't been together over the last few games all three players still have one of the twenty-five easiest zone-start ratios in the league.
- Ryan Whitney returns to the lineup today, which is great news for the Oilers because most of these call-ups are looking pretty overwhelmed. None of them have played many games this year, but the Corsi numbers tell us that the team is having an awfully tough time moving the puck in the right direction when these guys are on the ice: Taylor Chorney has a Relative Corsi of -36.2, Colten Teubert's is -26.1, and Alex Plante's is... -3.8. Same story the last couple of years too. He only played in three games in 2010-11, but he had a Relative Corsi of +17.4, and four games in 2009-10 but emerged with a Relative Corsi of +14.5. But he just looks terrible. It's very odd.