Come on, you wild animals of the fields!
Come on, you wild animals of the seas!
Come and devour us!
The leaders of our Oilers,
God's chosen and treasured team,
are blind and ignorant fools!
They are like guard dogs
that won't make a sound when danger arrives.
They love having responsibility, but hate following through.
They are like nursing mothers
that care about nothing but themselves.
"Come," they say, "let's get the booze flowing!
Let's celebrate our new children!"
But the children themselves starve,
their needs entirely unmet.
Phoenix Coyotes (35-26-11) @ Edmonton Oilers (28-36-7)
Rexall Place, 6:00 p.m. MDT
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
I don't know which line qualifies as Phoenix's top unit, but they've either got Raffi Torres or Gilbert Brule playing on it. Kind of fun that those two have ended up on the same team, but it's baffling that they find themselves in the playoff picture. If for some reason they miss the playoffs and Dave Tippett is let go, the Oilers (not to mention a whole bunch of other teams) would do well to scoop him up. Some might accuse him of playing a boring defensive style, but the Coyotes actually have a fair amount of action in their games. They've averaged 60.6 total shots per game (shots for + shots against), which is good for eighth in the league. The Oilers, for what it's worth, are fifth-last with just 57.4 shots per game, with the discrepancy coming mostly in the shots for department.
Edmonton Oilers (28-36-7):
Jones - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Petrell - Gagner - Hemsky
Smyth - Horcoff - Hartikainen
Hordichuk - Belanger - Omark
Smid - Petry
Whitney - Schultz
Peckham - Potter
Phoenix Coyotes (35-26-11):
Torres - Langkow - Doan
Whitney - Vermette - Brule
Korpikoski - Gordon - Pyatt
Boedker - Pouliot - Bissonnette
Yandle - Schlemko
Ekman-Larsson - Rozsival
Klesla - Stone
By the Numbers:
- Teemu Hartikainen was back in the Oilers' lineup in their last game against the Flames, and he had his best game of the season playing alongside a wide variety of linemates. He only played 11:41, but a lot of that was spent up against the duo of Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay. Hartikainen was nevertheless able to break even on the scoring chances (4-4), post an assist, and a +1 rating.
- Edmonton has fallen to second in the league in power play percentage at 21.2%. Nashville is now in first place at 21.4%. That number is both encouraging and a little bit scary. In past seasons, the Oilers have been so bad in every area that it was reasonable to expect them to be better in the following season. In the case of the Oilers' power play, that's not really the case next season. For example, in 2010-11, six teams had a power play percentage of 20% or better. All six teams have a lower power play percentage this year than they did last. In 2009-10, seven teams were at 20% or better, and four of the seven had a lower power play percentage in 2010-11. So it's not like there's regression every time, but there's a pretty good chance that the Oilers will be getting worse in that area and will need improvements elsewhere just to get back to where they are today in terms of overall quality.
- Taylor Hall will miss this game with a concussion, and given the uncertainty around recovery, there shouldn't be any rush to get him back in the lineup. If he ends up missing the rest of they season, he'll have played about 6% less games this year than he did last. If he continues at that pace, Hall will play just 44 games during the 2016-17 season.
- Lennart Petrell is playing with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky. Linus Omark is playing with Darcy Hordichuk and Eric Belanger. If that's not a joke, it's one (1) very, very bad idea.
- Forty-seven goaltenders have made at least fifteen starts in the NHL so far this season. The average even strength save percentage among those goaltenders is .921 while the median is .922. Devan Dubnyk is at .925. I get that the PK numbers are crappy, but Dubnyk has certainly outpaced my expectations this year to the point that, right now, I'd be happy to plan on having him back as one half of next year's tandem.