Meanwhile, Steve and Kevin had gone to the home of Daryl - a man who was treated by many in Edmonton as a leper because of some of the things he had said and done - for a party. While the guests were eating, a man younger than Steve and Kevin but considered old for his profession came to them to tell them how wonderful he thought they were. He said that they were building something really special, and that he'd love to be a part of it. So Steve and Kevin promised him a new $1.5M contract.
Some of the other guests were indignant. "Why waste so much money on an old goon like that?" they asked. "That money could have been used to buy the best college free agents, or invest in an ice plant, or any number of other much more useful endeavors!"
But Steve and Kevin said, "Would you like us to have a zamboni double-park you? Why be critical just because this man understands our vision? There will always be college free agents, and there will always be building maintenance, but we may not always be around. He has done what we could to remind us of how smart we are, and I tell you the truth, he deserves to be held in high esteem because of it."
Edmonton Oilers (30-36-9) @ Columbus Blue Jackets (24-43-7)
Nationwide Arena, 1:00 p.m. MDT
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Home Team Scouting Report:
The Columbus Blue Jackets went on a brief run before they last played the Oilers, but have since gone back into the tank, but since that clutch loss to Edmonton, haven't come close to keeping up with the two-time defending champions. With a loss today, the Blue Jackets will actually clinch last place with seven games to spare, a pretty impressive showing. So impressive, that it looks like Scott Howson will eliminate Steve Tambellini in the quarter-finals of the Not-So-Sweet Sixteen, proof that "What have you done for me lately" applies to losing every bit as much as it does to winning.
Edmonton Oilers (28-36-9):
Jones - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Hartikainen - Gagner - Hemsky
Smyth - Belanger - Omark
Hordichuk - VandeVelde - Eager
Smid - Petry
Whitney - Schultz
Peckham - Potter
Columbus Blue Jackets (24-43-7):
Nash - Letestu - Prospal
Umberger - Brassard - Atkinson
Russell - Johansen - Dorsett
Gillies - Boyce - Boll
Johnson - Savard
Moore - Lebda
Nikitin - Johnson
By the Numbers:
- The Oilers have called up Chris VandeVelde to fill in after Shawn Horcoff was injured. It's a move that's somewhat surprising given the amount of time that Anton Lander spent in the NHL to start the year, but I think leaving Lander down in the AHL for the duration is the right choice. That said, VandeVelde isn't going to be a long-term solution for the Oilers. He turned 25 on March 15, and has just 22 points in 65 AHL games as well as - for the second consecutive season - the worst +/- on the team (-5 this season, -17 last season).
- The Oilers have earned at least a point in six consecutive games, one off their season-high of seven, which was established from October 20 to November 3. They're also within six points of seven different teams. We've been talking for a while like the Oilers will have the second overall pick, but with a strong run to end the year, they may well end up outside the top five.
- Of the players who have played 15 games or less for the Oilers this season, the leaders in Relative Corsi are somewhat surprising. Here's the full list: Philippe Cornet (+20.3 per sixty minutes); Milan Kytnar (+9.9); Josh Green (+9.6); Alex Plante (+3.1); Teemu Hartikainen (-4.9); Linus Omark (-6.0); Taylor Chorney (-27.8). I'd probably have been less surprised if the list was in the exact opposite order!
- Sam Gagner has done a lot of things well this season, but one thing that he hasn't done is draw penalties. During five-on-five play, Gagner has drawn just three penalties in sixty-eight games. He's done much better than that in his other seasons, so it's a huge long-term concern, but it is a bit curious.
- A rather large number of the English-Canadian players on this team have first names that are used for both men and women: Jordan, Ryan, Taylor, Ryan, Sam, Ryan, Darcy, Ryan. Both Jordan and Taylor were among the top 100 girl names of both the 1990s and 2000s. Neither here nor there, I guess, just kind of a weird thing.