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Oilers v. Flames - James 5:1-4

Listen up, you who manage the Oilers: you should be weeping because of all of the misery that you have caused. The goodwill of the city is rotting away as another talent looks set to leave in short order. You have hoarded high picks in these days, but many of them are losing their shine, and as they continue to dull, their continued presence will eat at your flesh like fire. Those who still sparkle are crying out to the Lord for more wages! Their cries have been heard, and they will get what they deserve soon enough, whether it be from you or from someone else.

Edmonton Oilers (14-12-3) @ Calgary Flames (13-13-2)

Scotiabank Saddledome, 8:00 p.m. MST
Television: CBC

More analysis after the jump...

Home Team Scouting Report:

If the Flames win tonight, they'll essentially be tied with the Oilers in the mushy middle of the Western Conference standings, but the sentiment around the two teams is completely different. The Flames have an older roster that needs to make hay now, so being stuck between 9th and 12th at this point in the season is a huge disappointment. The Oilers, by contrast, have taken a huge step forward by moving into that group, and even though the last run of games at home was somewhat disappointing, fans are generally pretty excited about the direction of this team because they know that the time to win will roll on for several years in the future. The two teams - to my surprise - aren't that far apart, but context and expectations mean that the fanbase of each team is in a very different mood coming into tonight's contest.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (14-12-3):

Smyth - Horcoff - Hemsky
Gagner - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Eager - Belanger - Jones
Paajarvi - Lander - Hordichuk

Smid - Gilbert
Whitney - Petry
Peckham - Teubert


Calgary Flames (13-13-2):

Glencross - Jokinen - Iginla
Tanguay - Morrison - Bourque
Comeau - Backlund - Stempniak
Kostopoulos - Stajan - Jackman

Bouwmeester - Butler
Hannan - Brodie
Smith - Piskula


By the Numbers:

  • Last night's game against the Avalanche was a return to the early days of the season when one defense pairing and one forward line were doing all of the heavy lifting. There were only five players who started more in the defensive zone than they did the offensive zone last night, but they did so in extreme fashion: Ladislav Smid (11 DZ 4 OZ), Tom Gilbert (11 DZ 4 OZ), Shawn Horcoff (12 DZ 3 OZ), Ales Hemsky (12 DZ 2 OZ), and Ryan Smyth (12 DZ 2 OZ) provided a lot of shelter for the rest of the team.
  • And the rest of the team took advantage! Sam Gagner had one of his best games of the season registering two goals and an assist in his first game alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. It was Gagner's first three-point game of the season, and his first three-point game since last March against the Avalanche!
  • It was also probably the best game for the Oilers' third line. Ben Eager, Eric Belanger, and Ryan Jones managed to score the team's second goal, but more than that, managed to play solid hockey all night long. The line ended the night with a positive Corsi number, and each player went +8 -3 in the scoring chance battle. Maybe it was just one good game, but I'd certainly like to see them get a few games together.
  • But it wasn't all sunshine and lollipops. Magnus Paajarvi played just 10:07 last night, and continues to struggle to find his place on this team in his sophomore season. Interestingly, whatever Paajarvi's struggles, the Oilers seem to do okay when he's on the ice. Paajarvi is one of just three forwards with a positive Corsi number (the others are Ales Hemsky and Taylor Hall), and just hasn't seen much action around either net (the Oilers are +4 -6 in five-on-five play with Paajarvi on the ice so far this season).
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins begins the day tied for fifth in scoring in the NHL with 32 points, just one point back of... Joffrey Lupul. If you'd have told me before the season that Nugent-Hopkins would be just one point behind Lupul in the scoring race, I'd have thought that reasonable. Both guys in the top five? Not so much.