Right now, this team is dead because of its many sins during this extended period of disobedience. It is enslaved by old ways of thinking, and its leaders have been fooled by demonic forces, the spirits at work in those who do not know God and who now have influence over their every move. Many of us are culpable too, running here and there after every loss, screaming and shouting about the incompetence present here, and not seeing that God's sovereign plan is being accomplished even in the midst of this suffering.
But God is extremely merciful. He is so full of love that even now with this team dead in its sins and many people beginning to lose hope, he has given us the promise of resurrection to new life when those who now follow after demons will be either cut off or redeemed, and when we will sit with him in the heavenly realms celebrating both our earthly victory and spiritual glory.
Columbus Blue Jackets (22-40-7) @ Edmonton Oilers (26-36-9)
Rexall Place, 8:00 p.m. MDT
Television: Sportsnet Oilers
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The Blue Jackets will all but clinch their last-place finish with a regulation loss tonight, and a passing glance at their lineup shows that they deserve it. When the season started this team seemed like it might be pretty good. So who's gone from that projected starting lineup tonight? Jeff Carter, Kristian Huselius, Antoine Vermette, Samuel Pahlsson, Fedor Tyutin, Marc Methot, and Radek Martinek, or four top nine forwards and two top four defenders. That's going to hurt. The Oilers will need a truly clutch performance to pull out a loss against what remains.
Edmonton Oilers (26-36-9):
Hall - Gagner - Hemsky
Jones - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Smyth - Horcoff - Omark
Petrell - Belanger - Hartikainen
Smid - Petry
Whitney - Schultz
Peckham - Potter
Columbus Blue Jackets (22-40-7):
Nash - Brassard - Umberger
Prospal - Letestu - Atkinson
Byers - Johansen - Boll
Russell - Boyce - Gillies
Johnson - Wisniewski
Moore - Lebda
Nikitin - Johnson
By the Numbers:
- Teemu Hartikainen is up from the AHL and will play tonight on the fourth line along with Eric Belanger and fellow Finn Lennart Petrell. Hartikainen's season in the AHL has been a little bit disappointing so far. He was injured for a time, and he hasn't shown much statistical progress in the games that he has played compared to last season (0.63 points per game in both seasons). One area that has gotten marginally better is his shot rate, which has increased from 2.00 shots per game last year to 2.38 shots per game this season.
- Some Oilers are great at drawing penalties, while others make themselves a detriment to the team by taking a ton. During five-on-five play, the players with the best penalty ratio per sixty minutes are Taylor Hall (+0.9), Magnus Paajarvi (+0.8), Darcy Hordichuk (+0.4), and Jordan Eberle (+0.4). No coincidence that they're all fowards. The worst players on the team are Colten Teubert (-1.7), Andy Sutton (-1.6), and Ben Eager (-1.4). I've generally liked Eager's play, but if you put your team shorthanded that much as a forward, it's awfully hard to provide value overall.
- One method that I like to use when determining whether or not a player is delivering value is by looking at how much money the player is making and then comparing the player to others in the same pay range. Shawn Horcoff, for example, has a cap hit of $5.5M, which is the 36th-highest of any forward in the league. The five players closest to that who signed their current deals when they were heading to unrestricted free agency are Martin St. Louis ($5.625M), Mike Cammalleri ($6M), Patrik Elias ($6M), Marian Hossa ($5.275M), and Brian Rolston ($5.063)... at least he's better value than Rolston.
- Including both his AHL and NHL performance, Ryan Jones has scored 69 goals on 497 shots for a shooting percentage of 13.9%. That's well above the league average, and actually very close to the 14.3% shooting percentage he had last season. Yet somehow I feel like I should be betting his career shooting percentage will end up lower by this time next year.
- Apparently the Ryan Smyth negotiations haven't been as smooth as some. The last time we heard this was with Ales Hemsky and that ended up being a great deal for the Oilers, so I'm not really worried. After all, if this team can voluntarily spend over $4M on Andy Sutton and Cam Barker this season, surely they can find room for Ryan Smyth next season.