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Oilers v. Avalanche - 2 Samuel 23:20-23

There was also Smytty who bled Oiler blue, a valiant warrior from Banff. He participated in many heroic events, including the destruction of the Stars and Avalanche, and then the Red Wings many years later. Another time during that wonderful spring, he scored four points in one game against the Sharks in a glorious Oiler victory. Once, with nothing but a stick and an unseemly attitude, he drove a man completely insane. It's events like this that made Smytty as famous as the team's mightiest warriors, and though he was not a member of the dynasty, he was and will forever be equally beloved.

Edmonton Oilers (26-35-6) @ Colorado Avalanche (35-30-4)

Pepsi Center, 1:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

When the Colorado Avalanche traded their first-round pick to the Washington Capitals this summer, I thought that they were foolish to do so. That the Avalanche might actually have more points than the Capitals at this point in the season seemed nearly impossible. But here we are with both the Avalanche and the Caps fighting for their playoff lives. Unfortunately for Colorado, the playoff threshold in the Western Conference is likely to be a wee bit tougher than it will be in the Eastern Conference. While the Capitals are sitting in 8th in the East with 72 points, the Avalanche are 11th in the West with 74. With Matt Duchene going down to injury (again), their road to the playoffs also just got a little bit tougher. The one thing working in their favor is their schedule. The Avalanche have just 13 games left in the season, but six of those games are against teams on pace for less than 90 points, and they've got a couple more against teams that they'll need to catch (San Jose, Phoenix) in order to make the cut. To be totally honest, I don't much like their chances, but unlike the Oilers, at least they've still got hope.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (26-35-6):

Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Omark - Gagner - Hemsky
Smyth - Horcoff - Jones
Hordichuk - Belanger - Petrell

Smid - Petry
Whitney - Potter
Peckham - Schultz


Colorado Avalanche (35-30-4):

Downie - O'Reilly - Landeskog
McGinn - Stastny - Jones
Mueller - Olver - Hejduk
McLeod - McClement - Connolly

O'Brien - Johnson
Hejda - Wilson
Elliott - Hunwick


By the Numbers:

  • Linus Omark scored his first goal of the season in Edmonton's last game against Montreal. That brought his career shooting percentage up to 6.8%, which is almost certainly lower than what he'll be able to do over the long term. The Oilers have a real opportunity here to sign Omark to a contract that will provide them with strong value going forward.
  • Ryan Smyth was playing at a point per game pace through the season's first twenty-six games, but he has just sixteen points in the forty-one games since then. That doesn't sound great, but considering the fact that I've lopped off the best-performing part of his season, it's actually not bad at all.
  • I think we can all agree that Darcy Hordichuk is a goon, and as such, is a pretty terrible hockey player. So it's remarkable that he's actually not dead last on the club in Relative Corsi. Lennart Petrell, a guy who's counted on for his ability to actually play the game, is worse. Much worse. Hordichuk's Relative Corsi is -11.7. Petrell's is -17.9. This is not a player that should be in the NHL.
  • Tom Renney says some really bizarre things. In one recent interview he said, "If I was playing these kids, say, 24 minutes a night, I don't think I'd have any of them to finish the season." The complete list of forwards who have averaged 24 minutes a night in any of the last three seasons: Ilya Kovalchuk. So yeah. What a strange hypothetical.
  • Another quote from that interview: "I can't tell you every day why I make the decisions I do. I don't coach that way, but I'll take full responsibility for what I do." This is another strange thing to say. I hope that he means he won't explain his decisions to people like Jim Matheson every day because it's important to keep some things confidential. I worry that he means he can't explain his decisions rationally because he's making them based on gut feeling. That would explain more than a few choices in recent days, notably his decision to play Nick Schultz as a third pairing defender (Schultz has averaged just 16:56 per game in his five games with the Oilers).