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Oilers v. Blue Jackets - 2 Kings 10:30-36

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Then Yahweh said to Howson, "Because you have followed my instructions and kept the coach who had that insufferable nimrod fired, I will bless you with the leadership of this team for four seasons." But shortly thereafter, Howson did not do what was right in the eyes of Yahweh. The percentages were bad, and as a sacrifice to the hockey gods, he fired the coach on whom Yahweh's blessing found rest. Yahweh was angry at this idolatrous act, and so he turned against him, allowing him to engage in incredible foolishness. Many teams came into their home and defeated them in that final year, including the Wild, Canucks, Flames, and Avalanche. At the end of the season, Howson would be fired after ruling for four complete seasons; he made the playoffs once, although the team didn't win a single game. He would be remembered as the second best manager in club history, well ahead of that insufferable nimrod and just behind "vacant".

Edmonton Oilers (15-27-8) @ Columbus Blue Jackets (22-20-7)

Nationwide Arena, 5:00 p.m. MST
Television: CBC

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

You can tell that Scott Howson was once an Oiler because when the Blue Jackets had an obvious problem staring them in the face during the off-season, Howson figured the best course of action would be to let it fester. In 2009-10, the Blue Jackets boasted the duo of Mathieu Garon and Steve Mason, and those two provided an overall save percentage of .902, including an EV save percentage well below average at .910. Now, neither guy had proven to be an average NHL goalie over his career, so it would seem prudent to pick up a more established netminder to play with the young goalie and go from there. Even if it costs a couple million, it's probably worth it. Howson's response? Spend the money on Ethan Moreau and come back for 2010-11 with the same two goalies, and give Mason a big fat raise on a contract extension ($2.9M cap hit over two years) before he's proved he can carry the mail. And the result? More bad goaltending. They've been better - though not average - at even strength (.914), but overall they've been worse (.900), and worst of all, Garon has been the better of the two goalies. Yes, my friends, Scott Howson was once an Oiler.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (15-28-8):

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

Peckham - Gilbert

Smid - Petry
Vandermeer - Foster

Khabibulin

Columbus Blue Jackets (24-22-5)

Voracek - Brassard - Nash
Calvert - Vermetter - Umberger
Dorsett - Pahlsson - Clark
Murray - MacKenzie - Boll

Tyutin - Methot
Stralman - Hejda
Clitsome - Russell

Mason

By the Numbers:

  • The Blue Jackets are having some trouble on special teams. Their penalty killing efficiency (79.5%) is 23rd in the league, and their power play efficiency (13.5%) is 28th. Still a lot better than the Oilers though, who are 30th (73.3%) and 30th (12.3%). If the Oilers finish last in both categories, it would be the first team since... oh... last year. Way to go Toronto.
  • Rick Nash has earned at least a point per game in only two of his seven complete seasons. Rick Nash has just as many seasons with 30 or fewer goals as he does with 40 or more. Rick Nash has never scored more than 41 goals in a season. Since the lockout, Rick Nash is tied for 24th in league scoring with Mike Ribeiro, just one point behind Ray Whitney. There are four players in the NHL with a higher cap hit than Rick Nash.
  • At the 2007 draft, there was some debate about whether the Oilers should select Sam Gagner or Jakub Voracek. As it turns out, both players were great picks, and so far this season both have been valuable contributors on poor teams. Voracek's has scored 9-23-32 to sit fourth in team scoring, while Gagner has scored 12-19-31 to sit third in team scoring. Which player would you take in a re-draft?
  • Speaking of Gagner, his shots per game have taken a dip after rising consistently through his first three seasons in the NHL. In 2007-08, Gagner took 1.71 shots per game, followed by 2.05 in 2008-09 and 2.50 in 2009-10. This season, Gagner is back down to 2.12 shots per game, which is somewhat disappointing, especially since he's getting more ice time this season than he has in any of his previous three.
  • I love records, and Nikolai Khabibulin has a chance to tie one tonight (I think). Since the lockout, I believe the most consecutive regulation losses for a goaltender is Antero Niittymaki's thirteen straight from December 8, 2006 to January 18, 2007 (book-ended by overtime losses, naturally). Nikolai Khabibulin sits on twelve straight coming into tonight's game. Is this the year?