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Oilers v. Canadiens - Jeremiah 5:14-19

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Listen to what Yahweh, the God of the heavenly armies has to say:

"Because this people is filled with foolishness,
and makes declarations about four years in the wilderness,
you have my word that it will be forty.
I will bring a distant nation against you," says Yahweh.
"It is a mighty nation,
an ancient nation with a great history,
a people whose language is so screwed up
that not even they can understand it.
But their coach is intelligent,
and their players are skilled.
They will devour this hopeless goaltender,
and mock the young defense.
They will feast on these inexperienced forwards,

and mock the fans as they leave.
They will completely embarrass this team.
It's that simple.

Even still, I will not destroy this people fully," says Yahweh. "But when people ask, 'Why has God rejected us completely? Why are we rebuilding forever?' You must tell them the truth: it is because they have rejected God's good plan of trying to win, and have entrusted this team to men who try to lose."

Les Canadiens de Montréal (31-20-7) @ Edmonton Oilers (17-32-8)

Rexall Place, 7:00 p.m. MST
Television: CBC

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

Les Canadiens play in the worst division in hockey this season, and it's been an absolute boon for their chances of making the playoffs. Against the Northeast, they have a record of 12-4-2, but against the rest of the league, they're only 19-16-5. Their goal differential against the Northeast is +18. Against the rest of the league, they're -11. This makes it seem like the club is cleaning up against the weaker sisters and getting mauled by the stronger teams in the NHL. Interestingly, that's not really the case. Against teams with a goal differential of +20 or better on the season (the Canucks, Kings, Hawks, Wings, Pens, Bruins, and Flyers), les Canadiens are 8-6-0 (6-6 in regulation) with a goal differential of +1. Maybe I'll just say that the club's effort level is inconsistent... that's code for, "I don't know", right?

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (17-32-8):

Penner - Horcoff - Hemsky
Hall - Cogliano - Eberle
Paajarvi - Gagner - Omark
Jacques - Reddox - Jones

Peckham - Gilbert

Smid - Chorney
Vandermeer - Foster

Khabibulin

Les Canadiens de Montréal (31-20-7)

Kostitsyn - Gomez - Moen
Pacioretty - Plekanec - Gionta
Pouliot - Desharnais - White
Eller - Halpern - Darche

Hamrlik - Wisniewski
Picard - Subban
Weber - Nash

Price

By the Numbers:

  • As of February 11th, les Canadiens had the seventh highest percentage of Corsi events with the score tied (52.6%) in the NHL behind only the Canucks (55.2%), Blackhawks (54.3%), Devils (53.6%), Red Wings (53.4%), Flyers (53.3%), and Penguins (52.9%), which is pretty impressive company. It also reminds me of why I'm hoping against hope that the Blackhawks sneak into 8th place in the West and give the Canucks a run. Out East, the Devils are actually the best team by this measure; if by some miracle they make it into the playoffs, they have as good a chance as anybody to win the pennant.
  • Montreal's power play is running at an efficiency of 19.1% so far this season, good enough for ninth in the NHL. This has been a strength of Montreal's game for what seems like forever. Since the lockout, the club has finished 5th, 1st, 1st, 13th, and 2nd. As an Oiler fan, it's hard to imagine what that would be like. The Oilers have finished 14th, 27th, 21st, 22nd, and 18th in that same time period to go along with their near-certain 30th place finish this season.
  • Dustin Penner is playing in his 400th career game tonight, and his 298th as an Oiler. Since coming to the Oilers at the start of the 2007-08 season, Penner is tied for 81st in the NHL with 183 points, and tied for 43rd in the NHL with 92 goals. A lot has been made of Penner being an "underlying numbers" star, but those counting numbers are pretty good too.
  • Ales Hemsky has started a lot in the offensive zone this season, with 54.2% of his end-zone draws taking place beside the other team's net. It's the nature of hockey that when you start a lot in the offensive zone, the puck will find its way back to the defensive zone, and that when you start in the defensive zone, it will find its way back to the offensive zone. This makes Hemsky Zone Finish particularly impressive: 55.4% of his shifts that end in either the offensive or defensive zone are ending up in the offensive end. Of the ninety-five players with a Zone Start equal to or more favourable than Hemsky's who have played at least forty games, only two others have been able to gain territory (Tyler Myers and the incomparable Jesse Winchester)
  • Montreal has been winning this season despite having a hard time scoring goals. At the moment, they're 24th in the league in goals per game with 2.60, and they have just 1.84 goals per game at EV. Just how bad is that? The Oilers are better; they've scored 1.92 goals per game at evens.