Skate on your outdoor rink and look around. Who created the ice and snow that are needed for this great game? Each flake falls at its appointed time, like a disciplined army that human wisdom is unable to predict. The snow and ice are a symbol of God's great power and strength, they are elegance unsurpassed yet have the power to destroy.
O Edmonton, how can you say that Yahweh doesn't see your troubles? How can you say that God ignores your cries for help? Are you unwilling to hear? Do you refuse to understand? Yahweh is eternal, the Creator of the heavens and the earth! There is no situation too small, no game too meaningless to avoid his gaze.
He is the one who gives strength to the weak; he is the one who gives power to the powerless. Would you rather trust in youth? Even the young grow tired or get injured or leave for money! But those who trust in Yahweh will be delivered. They will fly through the playoffs like eagles through the air, they will resound with praises at every goal, and rejoice with thanks at every save.
The Avalanche are a much better team this season than they've been for several years. Their Fenwick percentage with the score close is much improved, going from 47.6% last season and 46.9% the year before that to 51.3% this year. You'd think that, along with a top ten power play (at least in terms of PP%) would be good enough to cement them in playoff position. Unfortunately for the Avalanche, the goaltender that they spent their first-round pick acquiring has been awful. He's one of six goaltenders in the league to have played in at least 20 games and post a save percentage below .900. The Avalanche have made up for that somewhat with a 7-0 record in the shoot-out, but if they hope to make the playoffs, they'll either need to get better goaltending from Varlamov or give more starts to Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Edmonton Oilers (18-26-5):
Hall - Gagner - Eberle Smyth - Horcoff - Hemsky Petrell - Belanger - Jones Cornet - Lander - Eager
Smid - Potter Whitney - Petry Peckham - Sutton
Colorado Avalanche (26-23-2):
Mueller - Stastny - Jones Landeskog - O'Reilly - Hejduk Winnik - McClement - Kobasew McLeod - Galiardi - Van Der Gulik
Hejda - O'Byrne Quincey - Wilson O'Brien - Johnson
By the Numbers:
So Philippe Cornet is in the NHL and Magnus Paajarvi isn't. Definitely not something I would have guessed before the season, and even today, I was very surprised to hear that Cornet got the call. He does have 20 goals so far in the AHL, but he's also shooting 30.3%, which is awfully high, though I'm sure he's not complaining that he's been able to ride some sharp shooting all the way to the NHL. Tom Renney even talked about giving the young man power play time earlier today, presumably in front of the net, which is where he usually plays for the Barons. As a late-round pick, Cornet isn't going to get too many chances like this in his career. Here's hoping he can take advantage.
Lennart Petrell is also up with the big club after a brief stint in Oklahoma. He didn't have much offense there either in terms of goals and assists, but he did register 2.78 shots per game in his nine AHL games, good enough for tops on the Barons so far this season.
Ryan Whitney made his return to the lineup before the All-Star break, playing 18:27. That total was about three minutes less than any other defenseman on the team, and it's fair to say that Whitney looked somewhat limited out there. But it's not like he was so bad that he doomed the team when he was on the ice. The Oilers had six scoring chances for and seven against with Whitney on the ice in that one, and I'm still hopeful that with more consistent game action his play will improve substantially.
I'm not about to argue that the Oilers are good team, but over their last ten games, they've gotten a bit of a raw deal during five-on-five play. They've earned 48.7% of the Fenwick events, 46.7% of the Corsi events, and 42.3% of the scoring chances. All of those numbers are bad, but all pale in comparison to 30.8%, which is their five-on-five goal percentage over that same stretch.
Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff, and Ales Hemsky are back together, and after several days of rest, I'd like to think that they'll be a formidable line tonight. In that we may have less than a dozen games left to enjoy watching Hemky play in Oiler silks, I plan to enjoy them. Let's hope these three can help to make that process just a little bit easier.