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Oilers v. Canucks - Matthew 2:1-6

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was drafted by Edmonton in Minnesota at a time when the Canucks ruled over the Northwest division. When a group of scouts arrived from the East saying, "Where is the new king of the Northwest division? We watched all year as his star rose in the WHL, and now we have come to worship him on Ryan-Nugent Hopkins Day."

Mike Gillis was deeply disturbed (for several reasons) when he heard this, as were all of the fans of the Canucks. So Gillis brought in his own scouts and asked, "Is this kid really going to be any good? The math doesn't look as promising as usual."

"He will," they said, "in order to fulfill what was written by the prophets: 'And you, O Edmonton, will not always be least among the cities of Canada. For a great man will come to you and lead his people to victory four times."

Edmonton Oilers (15-16-3) @ Vancouver Canucks (21-12-2)

Rogers Arena, 8:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West

More analysis after the jump...

Home Team Scouting Report:

The Canucks were off to a slow start, but have since recovered and are once again one of the best teams in the NHL. They have fantastic possession numbers (their Corsi percentage with the score tied is 56.2%), and they have one of the best goaltenders in the NHL (and one of the best backups too). Coach Alain Vigneault approaches the game with a specific (and effective) game plan night in and night out. They're certainly not the most likable team in the league, but they're just as certainly one of the best.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (15-16-3):

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

Smid - Gilbert
Whitney - Potter
Peckham - Petry


Vancouver Canucks (21-12-2):

Sedin - Sedin - Burrows
Raymond - Kesler - Higgins
Malhotra - Hodgson - Hansen
Ebbett - Lapierre - Weise

Hamhuis - Bieksa
Edler - Salo
Alberts - Sulzer


By the Numbers:

  • Although the Oilers are currently 24th in the official league standings, they're actually 11th in goal differential at +2. It's easy to see that and brush it aside by remembering games like that 9-2 thrashing of the Blackhawks, but the Oilers are also one of just ten teams with a winning record in games decided by two or more.
  • Most of us already know that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is leading all rookies in scoring, but it's probably worth mentioning that Jordan Eberle is leading all sophomores with 36 points, five more than Boston's Tyler Seguin.
  • The Oilers have certainly been a better team on the power play so far this season, but they're still in the bottom third of the league in generating shots five on four. Their saving grace has been a 16.8% shooting percentage, the second highest in the league.
  • As for the penalty kill, there have been some major improvements. One of the reasons is the team's use of six regular forwards, and none has been better than Lennart Petrell. The Oilers allow the fewest shots against when Petrell is on the ice, and among players with at least one minute per game of four on five ice time, Petrell has the 15th best shots against per sixty minutes in the league. Now it's just a matter of using him more on the PK, and hoping that he can get some results at even strength.
  • Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Taylor Hall have all started a lot of shifts in the offensive zone, but all three have done a good job of holding territory. We should expect each player's ZoneFinish to regress toward even by 70%. That puts Eberle's expected ZoneFinish at 55% compared to an actual ZoneFinish of 60%, Nugent-Hopkins' expected at 55% compared to 59% actual, and Hall's expected at 53% compared to 59% actual.