My dearest friends, how can you claim to have faith in the Oildrop if you look longingly at other teams? For example, suppose you're watching a game against the Canucks, a team with a winning record, excellent players and a short-term history of superb management. If you give special attention to that team, and say, "My oh my, I wish our team was like that one", but then look at your own team and say, "Why even bother? This team is awful", doesn't that show you that your motives are torn between good hockey and true devotion?
Listen to me, dearest friends. Hasn't God chosen the fans of truly terrible teams to be the richest in faith? Aren't they the ones who band together the most? And when they start winning, don't they become completely intolerable? I mean, just look at what's happened with the Red Sox! So you should be thankful for the terrible team you have; they will keep you humble, test your devotion, and teach you to persevere, which will make you better men and women in every part of your life.
Edmonton Oilers (23-43-11) @ Vancouver Canucks (52-17-9)
Rogers Arena, 8:00 p.m. MDT
More analysis after the jump...
Home Team Scouting Report:
I thought that when Manny Malhotra went down with an injury, Alain Vigneault would end up giving his top line more reps in the defensive zone. Up until March 15th, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Alexandre Burrows had taken a ridiculous number of draws in the offensive zone, leaving the defensive duties to Malhotra. Here's what the top nine forwards looked like at that point in the year:
What surprises me is that things for the Sedins haven't really changed. Here's what the top nine forwards have done since Malhotra went down:
Obviously there hasn't been much time spent without Malhotra, but Vigneault's strategy seems pretty clear. Instead of changing the split for the Sedins, Ryan Kesler and the rest of his group have been asked to carry a lot more of the defensive responsibilities. Part of what made Malhotra's signing so good for the Canucks was that it allowed Kesler to play a more offensive role. That's no longer the case, and while I think Vigneault's decision here is a good one, putting Kesler back into a primarily defensive role is likely to hurt the Canucks' offense at even strength, particularly if they're playing against another strong possession team like the Blackhawks in the first round.
Edmonton Oilers (23-43-11):
Eberle - VandeVelde - Hartikainen
Paajarvi - Cogliano - Omark
Jones - O'Marra - Reddox
Jacques - Brule - MacIntyre
Smid - Gilbert
Vandermeer - Petry
Peckham - Foster
Vancouver Canucks (52-17-9)
Sedin - Sedin - Burrows
Higgins - Kesler - Tambellini
Torres - Raymond - Hansen
Glass - Lapierre - Oreskovich
Ehrhoff - Salo
Rome - Bieksa
Ballard - Sauve
By the Numbers:
- With a seven-point lead in the scoring race on Martin St. Louis, Daniel Sedin is a virtual lock to take down the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top scorer, but with "just" 100 points so far, it's very likely that he'll end up with the lowest point total to win the trophy since 2003-04 when St. Louis won it with just 94. The Lightning, of course, went on to win the Cup, one of two times in the last six years that the league's leading scorer was also a Stanley Cup Champion.
- One of the least valuable roles in the playoffs is that of back-up goaltender since teams almost always play their starter for every game. Thanks to Cory Schneider, this is an area where the Canucks have been excellent, his .930 save percentage standing second in the NHL among goalies who have seen at least 500 shots against. But in the playoffs? It's an advantage the Canucks won't be able to take advantage of unless something goes wrong.
- Liam Reddox continues his assault on the record book tonight looking to become the forward with the most shots in a single season without scoring a goal. After picking up three shots against the Wild, he now has 76 on the season, just eight shots back of Craig Adams' record of 84.
- The Sedins are both putting up big numbers at even strength, with Henrik scoring 2.87 points per sixty minutes on the year, and Daniel scoring 3.17. Unbelievably, this is a huge decline from last season when Henrik clocked in at 3.96 points per sixty minutes, and Daniel had 4.04.
- If we look at just even strength play, the Canucks actually look pretty vulnerable to teams like the Blackhawks, Red Wings, and Sharks but one big advantage that the Canucks have over both of those clubs is superior special teams. The Canucks' goal differential on special teams this year is +35, compared to just +15 for the Blackhawks, +14 for the Sharks, and +13 for the Red Wings.