Don't you realize that even though every team wants to win the Stanley Cup, only one of them actually wins? So if you want it, the least you can do is put in the work! The athletes are disciplined in their training - you couldn't get them to lose on purpose no matter how much you tried! So why don't those who play from the pressbox and are charged with the big picture also act in this way? At the very least, discipline yourselves like the athletes so that you aren't made to look foolish making trades and signing players in free agency. You have spent a lifetime working up to your current position, so don't throw it away now!
Edmonton Oilers (21-26-5)
Air Canada Centre, 5:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Home Team Scouting Report:
The Maple Leafs are, in many ways, not so different this season compared to last. Their penalty killing is still awful, their possession game is still poor, and their goaltending is still questionable (mostly below average with the exception of James Reimer who has one of the oddest EV and PK save percentage combinations I've ever seen at .940 and .792 respectively). So what's keeping them in the thick of the playoff race? Mostly some hot shooting. The Leafs have the third best shooting percentage five-on-five (9.3%), and the fourth best shooting percentage five-on-four (14.8%). If the playoffs started today, they'd be riding those percentages to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. That they have another thirty games to go would be a lot more concerning if there were more strong contenders. As it stands, the Leafs need to beat out just one of the Senators, Panthers, or Capitals, and even though the Leafs are likely fourth of four on that list in terms of team quality, they've probably got a better than 50% shot at making it in.
Edmonton Oilers (21-26-5):
Hall - Gagner - Eberle
Horcoff - Nugent-Hopkins - Hemsky
Smyth - Belanger - Jones
Petrell - Lander - Eager
Smid - Petry
Whitney - Potter
Barker - Gilbert
Toronto Maple Leafs (27-19-6):
Lupul - Bozak - Kessel
MacArthur - Grabovski - Kulemin
Lombardi - Connolly - Crabb
Brown - Steckel - Armstrong
Gunnarson - Phaneuf
Liles - Franson
Gardiner - Schenn
By the Numbers:
- The Oilers have won their last three games, and have earned a point in five straight. That's the longest streak of either kind since the Oilers won six in a row from October 22nd to November 3rd, and earned a point in seven consecutive games from October 20th to November 3rd.
- Devan Dubnyk is scheduled to make his seventh consecutive start tonight, which is easily the longest streak of his career. His previous high (accomplished several times) was four, which suggests that Tom Renney has had a significant change of mindset with the young goalie.
- Jordan Eberle leads the league in points per sixty minutes of five-on-five ice time at 3.60. That's way ahead of Brad Marchand, who sits second with 3.12, and has been bested just four times in the last four years. The list of guys who have been better: Daniel Sedin (2009-10; 4.04), Sidney Crosby (2010-11; 3.98), Henrik Sedin (2009-10; 3.96), and Alex Ovechkin (2009-10; 3.70). In other words, it's pretty darn good!
- Tom Gilbert makes his return to the lineup tonight after rehabbing the second significant injury of his career, and he's a welcome addition to the lineup. Much more welcome than you'd expect from a player with a -27 rating over his career. In fact, looking over the list of defensemen who were -25 or worse over their career, Gilbert might be in the top ten. The guys I'd have in front of him for sure are Jay Bouwmeester (-43), Sandis Ozolinsh (-44), Phil Housley (-53), Roman Hamrlik (-58), Randy Carlyle (-135), Rob Ramage (-171). After that, it's guys I've never seen play (the Leo Boivin family) or guys for whom it kind of depends on how much credit you get for being pretty good for a really long time (the Luke Richardson family).
- I know that the focus for the last couple of games has been on Sam Gagner, but Taylor Hall also had a bit of a slow start to the year from which he's rebounded nicely. Hall had just two goals and ten points in his first fifteen games, but in the 27 games he's played since, Hall has 16 goals and 28 points, a very impressive turnaround.