How far you have fallen in the standings,
O Stars, you enemies of God!
How swiftly you have been cut down to size,
you nemesis of his people!
Every year, you say in your heart,
"We will march to the Cup, and sit above God himself!
We will do with the Lord's Cup whatever we want!
We will rule over every team,
even those in the far reaches of the north;
we will squash resistance with contempt,
and make ourselves like gods."
But now you have been brought down to Sheol,
to the curse of mediocrity and the playoff bubble.
Those who remember you from of old will wonder about you:
"Is this really the team that made the Oilers tremble?
Are these really the ones who once mocked mediocrity?
Are they the ones who trapped teams to death in the slush
and sent thousands away grumbling,
vanquished in their own cities?
Is this really the team that never - not even once -
let us play Game One at home?"
Edmonton Oilers (16-21-3)
American Airlines Center, 12:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Home Team Scouting Report:
The Dallas Stars rode some hot goaltending to an 11-4-0 start, which gave them a huge jump on a playoff spot (no team since the lockout has amassed at least 22 points in the first 15 games and gone on to miss the playoffs). Unfortunately for them, they've gone 11-12-1 since, and that latter record is probably a better reflection of the team's level of play. On special teams, the Stars are 29th in the league at shot generation during five-on-four play, and 23rd in the league at shot prevention during four-on-five play. And they don't make up for those deficiencies at even strength. Their Fenwick percentage of 49.1% with the score tied isn't horrendous, but it's not going to make up for bad special teams very often either.
Edmonton Oilers (16-21-3):
Hall - Gagner - Hemsky
Smyth - Lander - Eberle
Horcoff - Green - Hartikainen
Jones - Belanger - Eager
Smid - Potter
Sutton - Petry
Peckham - Teubert
Dallas Stars (22-16-1):
Eriksson - Benn - Ryder
Morrow - Ribeiro - Ott
Benn - Wandell - Burish
Nystrom - Fiddler - Dvorak
Goligoski - Robidas
Grossman - Daley
Fistric - Pardy
By the Numbers:
- Sheldon Souray has been excellent for the Stars so far this season. During five-on-five play, he's faced the most difficult zone-start ratio at even strength while taking on pretty tough competition, and yet he's still managed to post a Corsi of +2.3 per sixty minutes of ice time, one of the best rates on the team. He's played an active role on the PK (over two minutes per game), and has been a mainstay on the power play, registering five points. It's enough to make you wonder how on earth he looked so bad to the whole league when he was on re-entry waivers... Oh yeah, he's injured again.
- I think it's fair to say that Eric Belanger has generally been pretty disappointing this year, but one area that he's delivered is in the faceoff circle. Among players with at least 200 draws, Belanger is tenth in the NHL with a faceoff percentage of 57.1% and is one of thirteen players with a faceoff percentage higher than 50% on the PK.
- At the other end of the spectrum, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has really struggled on the dot. His 37.4% faceoff percentage is the worst in the league among players with at least 200 draws despite the fact that he's taken none on the PK (that said, he's only taken 19 on the PP, so it's not like there's a huge imbalance).
- One thing that Colten Teubert hasn't brought with him to the NHL is his enormous penalty total. In 13 games with the Oilers, he's received just five 5 minor penalties. That compares to 14 minor penalties (none of which were coincidental) in 18 games with the Barons. His NHL total still isn't very good, but at least it's not scary.
- With Josh Green and Teemu Hartikainen now up with the big club, there are now ten players (not including goalies) who have suited up with the Oilers for at least one game this season and have yet to score a goal. Can you name the other eight without looking it up?