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Oilers v. Avalanche - Isaiah 53:1-3

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Who will believe in this team now?
to whom has God's plan been revealed?

God's servant is growing up before our eyes,

a young seedling in the middle of the desert.
There's nothing beautiful about his bucktoothed appearance,
and his frame is still that of a young man.
He was despised by opponents and beaten;
a man now acquainted with sorrow, he grieved all this losing.
Yet with one decision, some jump to criticize him;
he was disrespected every game, and when he stands up for himself,
there are those who call out, "Restrain yourself!"

Edmonton Oilers (22-35-8) @ Colorado Avalanche (26-30-8)

Pepsi Center, 8:00 p.m. MST
Television: CBC

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

Well, it's no secret that the Colorado Avalanche are struggling. Their penalty killing is ranked 29th in the league, and just slightly ahead of the always-awful Oilers. They've improved their outshooting record compared to last season, but their goaltending turned and them, and that combined with several injuries to key players (including starter Craig Anderson) made it impossible for the Avalanche to recover. Now, I still think that Anderson is a good goalie, and that his injuries may have impacted his performance, but the difference from last season to this one is enormous. Last year, his EV save percentage was .926. This season, it was only .908 with the Avalanche, which is a difference of 14 goals on the 763 shots he faced. Peter Budaj's decline has been even worse. Goaltending. It's unpredictable, but it matters so much.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (22-35-8):

Paajarvi - Horcoff - Eberle
Jones - Gagner - Omark
Giroux - Cogliano - Reddox

Jacques - Fraser - MacIntyre

Smid - Gilbert
Vandermeer - Plante
Strudwick - Foster

Dubnyk

Colorado Avalanche (26-30-8)

Yip - Stastny - Jones
Porter - Duchene - Hejduk
McLeod - McClement - Dupuis
Winnik - O'Reilly - Koci

Holos - Liles
Johnson - Wilson
Gaunce - Hunwick

Elliott

By the Numbers:

  • The Colorado Avalanche may not be shooting the lights out like they did last season, but they do still have nine different players with at least fifty shots who have shot better than 10% on the season. Of course, two of those guys play for the Blues now (Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk), but the others are David Jones (19.0%), Tomas Fleischmann (14.8%), Kevin Porter (14.7%), Milan Hejduk (14.2%), Matt Duchene (14.0%), Paul Stastny (12.9%), and T.J. Galiardi (11.3%).
  • As for that blockbuster trade that sent Stewart and Shattenkirk to St. Louis, I was originally pretty critical of Colorado, but upon further reflection, I think that may have been wrong. Nothing has really changed, but Kent Wilson raised a great point in the comments about Stewart's possession numbers, and Johnson does have a much better pedigree than Shattenkirk. Plus, because of his high scoring totals, Stewart is going to want to get paid right away. There's a pretty reasonable chance that the Avalanche come out of this smelling like a rose, no matter what happens with the St. Louis first rounder next season.
  • The Oilers should make it a team policy to cut the four guys who have the fewest shots per game in any given season (no GP minimum). In 2008-09 that would have meant waving good-bye to Jesse Boulerice, Taylor Chorney, Steve MacIntyre, and Jean-Francois Jacques. Last year, we'd have been rid of Jason Strudwick, Zack Stortini, Ladislav Smid, and Chorney. So far this year, the leading candidates are Strudwick, MacIntyre, Jacques, and Ryan O`Marra. Seems like it would save a lot frustration.
  • With the Oilers on track to set a new record for futility in the faceoff circle, I wondered how much of that might have to do with all the youth the Oilers have on the wings, so I looked at what each of the four centers have done so far this year at even strength and compared it to what they did at even strength from 2007-08 through 2009-10 to see if there was a major pattern. Not so much (unless you count "they just stink" as a pattern): Horcoff is 51.3% so far this season and was 51.5% from 2007-08 through 2009-10; Gagner is 42.7% and was 43.6%; Cogliano is 42.3% and was 38.5%; and Fraser is 46.8% and was 48.9%.
  • The bottom five teams in the league seem to be pretty set with Florida, Colorado, Long Island, Ottawa, and Edmonton set to take part in the lottery. With the "big four" pretty set on most lists, finishing at the top of this group probably isn't so good for the long haul, and all it will take is one ill-timed winning streak (since the other teams will probably just keep losing). It's a totally screwed up system of incentives, but it does make Taylor Hall's injury a little bit easier to swallow.