While Gretzky was among us, he offered spontaneity and greatness, as well as loud cries of joy and heartfelt tears to the one who could save him from the death of his Stanley Cup aspirations. God heard his prayers, but because God's plan was greater than Gretzky himself, the Great One was willing to leave Edmonton and suffer many defeats at the hands of mortals. In this way, he was God's perfect high priest, a mediator to the heathen who did not know him because they neither cared for nor understood God's great game. Through this sacrifice, Gretzky became the source of life for many when whole teams were created because of his works.
Edmonton Oilers (28-36-8) @ Nashville Predators (42-22-8)
Bridgestone Arena, 6:00 p.m. MDT
Television: Sportsnet Oilers
More analysis after the jump...
Home Team Scouting Report:
The Nashville Predators have gotten a lot better over the last few weeks. They added Hal Gill before the deadline, Andrei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad at the deadline, and they'll be getting Alexander Radulov very soon indeed. David Poile has made a big bet on this group (after the trade deadline, he said "we're all-in"), but... the thing is... they kind of... aren't a very good team. At least, they haven't been if we look at the season as a whole: their Fenwick percentage with the score tied is the worst in the league at 44.6%; their PDO during five-on-five play overall is second-best in the league at 101.6. This is basically the Minnesota Wild on a less ridiculous but much longer run. When you've got an excellent goaltender, those runs can happen. It's even possible that this run continues through the playoffs. It's much more likely that the Predators get bounced by the Red Wings in the first round.
Edmonton Oilers (28-36-8):
Jones - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Hartikainen - Gagner - Hemsky
Smyth - Horcoff - Petrell
Hordichuk - Belanger - Eager
Smid - Petry
Whitney - Schultz
Peckham - Potter
Nashville Predators (42-22-8):
Kostitsyn - Fisher - Erat
Kostitsyn - Legwand - Hornqvist
Tootoo - Spaling - Halischuk
Yip - Smith - Bourque
Suter - Weber
Bouillon - Klein
Gill - Hillen
By the Numbers:
- One thing that I didn't mention above that might give Predators' fans reason for hope: last season, the team was quite good with a Fenwick percentage of 51.1% during even strength play with the score tied. The team hasn't changed all that much, so it's possible that their true talent is better than what they've shown so far this season, even before the additions.
- Despite the team's struggles, there are actually a few Predators with a positive Fenwick percentage during even strength play with the score tied. Among players with at least 20 games played we've got: Ryan Ellis (56.1%), Gabriel Bourque (51.8%), David Legwand (50.8%), and Patric Hornqvist (50.2%).
- After earning 16 points through his first 35 games, Corey Potter has just 4 in his last 20. The Oilers haven't had quite as many power plays over the latter period, but that's an awfully steep drop. It'll be very interesting to see what the Oilers do with Potter next season.
- Going by ice time, Potter certainly still seems to be a part of the Oilers' plans. Over those same twenty games, Potter has averaged 19:27 per night, and that includes ten games where he played more than 20:00. If he's pretty consistently a top-four guy now, it's hard to see him being out of the top seven altogether next season.
- Darcy Hordichuk hasn't gone a season without scoring since 2002-03. So far this season, he doesn't have any goals on his 18 shots. He also has just 45 penalty minutes in 34 games or 1.19 penalty minutes per game, the lowest rate of his career.