Chara stood in the opposing bench and taunted the Oilers. "I am the Bruin champion, but you are only the midgets of MacT. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he defeats me, then we will be disheartened and lose the game, but if I defeat him, the momentum will be on our side, and you will be embarrassed in your own rink! I laugh in the face of MacT's midgets! Send me a man who will fight me!" When MacT and the Oilers heard this, they were terrified.
"Don't worry about this Bruin" said the Huggy One to MacT. "I'll go fight him."
MacT answered the Huggy One, "You can't go and fight this Bruin. You're too young and inexperienced—and he's been in the fighting business since before you were born."
The Huggy One said, "I've been in the OHL and watched over the boys. Whenever an Ice Dog or Colt came and took a rookie from our midst, I'd go after him, knock him down, and rescue the lamb. If my adversary turned on me, I'd grab him by the throat, wring his neck, and kill him. Ice Dog or Colt, it made no difference—I killed him. And I'll do the same to this Bruin pig who is taunting the Oiler bench. Yahweh, who delivered me from the teeth of the Ice Dog and the limbs of the Colt, will deliver me from this Bruin."
MacT said, "Go. And God help you!"
Boston Bruins (35-19-7) @ Edmonton Oilers (20-34-8)
Rexall Place, 6:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet Edmonton
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
I liked Boston coming into the year, and I still think that they have a good team, but my goodness are they ever getting a ridiculous season from Tim Thomas. His .939 save percentage will be the best save percentage (min. 1,000 shots against) ever if he can hold it until the end of the season (Dominik Hasek holds the record with a .937 save percentage in 1998-99). His next closest competitor this season is at .928. Over the 1,401 shots he's faced this season, that amounts to 16 extra goals. Compared to average (which this year is around .912), it's an extra 38 goals, or almost the entirety of Boston's positive goal differential. Tim Thomas is having one amazing season.
Edmonton Oilers (20-34-8):
Penner - Horcoff - Hemsky
Hall - Cogliano - Eberle
Paajarvi - Gagner - Omark
Jones - Brule - Reddox
Smid - Gilbert
Vandermeer - Foster
Peckham - Strudwick
Boston Bruins (35-19-7)
Lucic - Krejci - Horton
Marchand - Bergeron - Recchi
Peverley - Kelly - Ryder
Seguin - Campbell - Thornton
Chara - Boychuk
Seidenberg - Kaberle
Ference - McQuaid
By the Numbers:
- Seven of Boston's regular forwards have a shooting percentage of at least 10% so far this season: Milan Lucic (20.8%), Brad Marchand (17.6%), Patrice Bergeron (13.0%), Michael Ryder (11.9%), Gregory Campbell (11.7%), Mark Recchi (11.6%), and Nathan Horton (11.0%). This season's number is a career high for all of Lucic, Marchand, Bergeron, and Campbell.
- The Bruins' team leader in shots on goal is Zdeno Chara who has taken 208 shots so far this season, good enough for 16th spot in the NHL. Chara is one of four defensemen in the top thirty (the other three are Dustin Byfuglien, Shea Weber, and Kris Letang), and of those thirty players, the defenders rank 30th, 29th, 27th, and 26th in shooting percentage. Joe Pavelski is the sap in 28th.
- Chara's primary role, however, is at the other end of the ice. Chara has taken 46.2% of his end-zone starts at EV in the offensive zone, and is taking on the most difficult competition according to all three of Gabe Desjardins' quality of competition metrics. Despite the tough sledding, he has the best Relative Corsi (Corsi per unit of ice time with the player on the ice minus Corsi per unit of ice time with the player on the bench) among Bruins' defenders. Meanwhile, Wade Redden is playing for the Connecticut Whale. It's hard to believe that just five years ago, which one to keep was a tough call.
- It's no surprise that Zdeno Chara is also among the league leaders in ice time. Right now, he's sitting in fourth place with 25:52 per game. What is a little bit surprising is that the Bruins have another player in the top thirty: Dennis Seidenberg has played 23:37 per game. The majority of that ice time is actually away from Chara, which gives the Bruins a solid anchor for their second pairing. The Oilers, meanwhile, also have two players in the top thirty, the injured Ryan Whitney (8th with 25:20 per game) and Tom Gilbert (14th with 24:33 per game).
- Ryan Jones has now played just over 19:30 on the power play so far this season without registering a single point. Gilbert Brule (welcome back to the lineup!) is coming up on 6:30 minutes on the penalty kill without the opposition scoring a single goal. Between that small sample and the nice faceoff percentage in limited reps, it would be nice to use the guy on the PK for the rest of this year, since he's likely around next year too, and the club will need him to find a way to be useful.