Of what value is a gigantic blow-up shark mouth?
Or a mascot playing pranks?
For the one creator has made them both and all other things besides.
His love is for his own holy people, the sons of Orange and Blue.
Edmonton Oilers (14-14-3)
HP Pavilion, 8:00 p.m. MST
More analysis after the jump...
Home Team Scouting Report:
The Sharks are a good team yet again this season, and for the second season in a row, a lot of what makes them so good is their performance on the power play. Unlike last season, they haven't really seen the fruit of their power play labors. Even though the team leads the league in shots per sixty minutes of five-on-four ice time, they're well back of the leaders when it comes to power play goals because of a dreadful 8.0% shooting percentage in those situations. As the season progresses, I expect that shooting percentage to improve substantially, and for the Sharks to climb to the top of the Pacific division.
Edmonton Oilers (14-14-3):
Smyth - Gagner - Hemsky
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Horcoff - Belanger - Jones
Eager - Lander - Hordichuk
Smid - Gilbert
Whitney - Petry
Peckham - Potter
San Jose Sharks (16-10-3):
Mitchell - Thornton - Pavelski
Clowe - Couture - Marleau
McGinn - Handzus - Havlat
Winchester - Desjardins - Murray
Vlasic - Boyle
Demers - Burns
White - Braun
By the Numbers:
- With just one goal in twenty-five games Martin Havlat seems to be struggling offensively. Of course, a lot of that has to do with an abominable 1.6% shooting percentage (the one goal has come on sixty-one shots), and having thirteen assists alongside certainly helps from taking too much criticism.
- The Oilers have seen a huge turnaround in goal differential from last season, but it hasn't really translated into more standings points. On this date one year ago the Oilers were 12-14-5, good for 29 points but had a goal differential of -24. Hard to believe that an improvement of 25 goal differential has only been worth two measly points.
- A loss tonight would see the Oilers' points percentage drop below 50% for the first time this season. On the one hand, it's great that we're thirty games into the season and haven't yet seen them fall below that mark after so many years of awful. On the other hand, it's not a very high standard, and the Oilers are the verge of not meeting it.
- There are still twenty players in the NHL (min. 20 GP) on a point per game pace, and two of them are playing in Edmonton. I don't know if Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can keep this up over a full season (only thirteen players manage to play fifty games and score at a point per game pace last season), but even if they falter, Taylor Hall isn't exactly far off. So no matter how discouraged I may get from time to time at the way the team is shaping up today, the young core of a very good offensive players means that this team could be a real treat to watch going forward. Heck, from time to time, they already are!
- Sending Magnus Paajarvi to the farm while Anton Lander continues to ply his trade in Edmonton is an odd decision, but it pretty clearly has something to do with role each guy plays on the team. Paajarvi never really found his footing this season, while Lander has become a mainstay on the Oilers' penalty kill. In terms of shots against per sixty minutes of four-on-five ice time, Lander is second on the team among forwards, behind his regular partner Lennart Petrell.