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Oilers v. Senators - 1 Kings 20:1-4

It was once again the time of the season where the players were extremely discouraged. Paul MacLean mobilized his forwards, supported them with a mix of youth and experience on defense, and decided to use his starting goaltender. Then MacLean sent a messenger to the airport to meet the Oilers. The messenger found Tom Renney, and said to him, "I bear a message from Paul MacLean, coach of the mighty Senators! Tomorrow night, we will tear your team apart! We will not show mercy! Our men know that these points are critical for a spot in the playoffs, and they will stop at nothing to get them! Expect stick-work and taunting, and frankly, expect the better team to win!"

"We don't even want these points!" replied Renney. "We're aiming for the lottery! All I have to give is yours."

Edmonton Oilers (21-28-5) @ Ottawa Senators (28-22-7)

Scotiabank Place, 12:00 p.m. MST
Television: CBC

More analysis after the jump...

Home Team Scouting Report:

When I predicted that the Senators would be poor instead of horrendous before the season began, Derek said "This is the one I judge your entire series by." I can only hope that he's telling the truth because with a quarter of the season left, that prediction is looking much, much better than some of my other ones. Of course, there's still time for the Sens to tank, but I don't think that's going to happen. Their Fenwick percentage with the score close is a very respectable 50.2%, a bit better than I was expecting from them. That's been balanced out by some rather poor goaltending from Craig Anderson (EV Sv% of .913) and Alex Auld (EV Sv% of .896). Given the previous track record of the netminders, I think there's a much better chance that they'll be better the rest of the way than I do of the Senators as a team backsliding in terms of possession.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (21-28-5):

Hall - Gagner - Eberle
Paajarvi - Horcoff - Hemsky
Smyth - Belanger - Jones
Petrell - Lander - Eager

Smid - Petry
Whitney - Potter
Sutton - Gilbert


Ottawa Senators (28-22-7):

Michalek - Spezza - Butler
Greening - Turris - Alfredsson
Daugavins - Smith - Condra
Foligno - O'Brien - Neil

Kuba - Karlsson
Cowen - Gonchar
Phillips - Lee


By the Numbers:

  • I probably bring this up every time the Oilers play the Senators, but Jason Spezza has been an elite scorer in the NHL since the lockout. Among players with at least 200 games, Spezza is seventh in the entire NHL in points per game at 1.08. That doesn't, of course, mean that he's been the seventh best player over that time period, but honestly, he's probably one of the most underrated players in the league.
  • The argument against that is naturally that the guy has his struggles with injury, and that is true to some extent. Of course, Spezza is also in a tie for 45th in (regular season) games played over that same time-frame, which is, once again, surprisingly high.
  • The best Oiler on that points per game list? Ales Hemsky in 36th at 0.88. Should probably trade that guy. The health thing comes up as a concern again, obviously, but even Hemsky does fairly well by this measure, tied for 65th with 401 games played.
  • When I saw that, I figured there must not be very many guys who have played in each of the last seven seasons. I was surprised to find that the number of players with at least five games in each year was 274. Some of those guys are tweeners who have a hard time staying in the lineup, but others are just guys who have missed games because of injury. Maybe when it happens on the team you follow, you notice it more.
  • To follow up on that, there have been just 19 players who have managed to play 75 games or more in each of the last six seasons. If you lower the threshold to 60, the number jumps to 104. There just aren't that many guys both good enough and healthy enough to play a full schedule year after year.