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Oilers v. Predators - Ecclesiastes 9:13-18

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I then saw an example of earthly wisdom that was so very impressive. There was a small city with only a few people. Powerful teams would gather around them with mighty payrolls and stars of some stature, but in that small city there lived a man who didn't have much money but was very wise, and he saved that city by his wisdom. But it seemed that when the playoffs came, nobody much remembered the poor man. And so I said, "Wisdom is greater than money, but this poor man's wisdom is despised because of his lack of playoff success."

The quiet words of the poor wise man are more important
than the shouts of the rich fool.
A good power play does more good than a hundred goons,
but a fool loves to roll around in his own folly.

Edmonton Oilers (15-29-8) @ Nashville Predators (28-18-7)

Bridgestone Arena, 6:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet Edmonton

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

The Nashville Predators are in an interesting position. On the one hand, they're only five points out of the division lead. On the other hand, they're only five points ahead of the 11th-place Blackhawks. Yes, the margins in the Western Conference are razor thin, so things like a solid backup, being average instead of well below on faceoffs, and a lucky starting netminder on the PK might make all the difference in the world. For the Predators, a weak power play might be what costs them. At only 14.7%, it's one of the least efficient units in the league, and it's not hard to see why. The Predators simply don't have much in the way of high-end offensive talent. A lot of the time, prices at the deadline are way too high to justify, but for a team like the Predators, an extra point or two between now and the deadline could end up being very meaningful indeed.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (15-29-8):

Penner - Horcoff - Hemsky
Omark - Gagner - Paajarvi
Hall - Cogliano - Eberle

Jones - Fraser - Reddox

Peckham - Gilbert
Smid - Petry
Vandermeer - Foster


Nashville Predators (28-18-7)

Wilson - Legwand - Hornqvist
Kostitsyn - Goc - Erat
Sullivan - Spaling - Dumont
Ward - Smithson - Halischuk

Suter - Weber
Franson - Sulzer
Klein - O'Brien


By the Numbers:

  • No Nashville forward has more points than Sergei Kostitsyn's thirty in forty-nine games. That's pretty darn good value for the UFA rights to Dan Ellis and the RFA rights to Dustin Boyd (Montreal elected not to give him a qualifying offer). Kostitsyn's total is more than a little bit inflated by his 24.1% shooting percentage (that's the highest in the league among players with at least fifteen shots), but that's still a pretty incredible trade.
  • Derek's mentioned Pekka Rinne's incredible goaltending earlier today (his .927 PK save percentage is among the best in the league, and is the very best among goalies who have faced at least 100 shots), but backup Anders Lindback hasn't been too shabby himself. His EV save percentage of .929 is tied for third out of the twenty-one goalies who have started between ten and twenty games (i.e. regular backups). Given the difference between hosting playoff games and being out of the playoffs entirely, that kind of unexpected contribution can go a long way.
  • Shea Weber is only one point away from 200 for his career, and given the state of the Oilers' penalty killing, I'd say that there's a pretty good chance that he gets there tonight. He's also only twelve points away from breaking into the top ten on Nashville's all-time scoring list, and given the state of the Oilers' penalty killing...
  • After getting an assist on Dustin Penner's goal against the Blue Jackets, Ales Hemsky is now tied with Kevin Lowe in tenth on the Oilers' all-time list with 383 points. Sam Gagner, meanwhile, moved into a tie for 32nd with Rem Murray in that self-same contest. I knew we were reminiscing about that guy for a reason.
  • It's hard to believe, but the Oilers penalty killing percentage and power play percentage are worse than last year's Maple Leafs. As some of you know, I do love my records (Khabibulin's not starting tonight, but boy am I looking forward to his next one!), and I have a feeling that the Oilers may well be in the process of setting a record for the worst Special Teams Efficiency (85.7) ever.