Gary Bettman found us celebrating in the early hours of the morning and said, "What are you doing?" And so we replied, "We have run away from the Oilers so that we might cheer on Team Canada in the Olympics; watching them has been an absolute delight!"
But Bettman said, "This is good and I'm glad you've enjoyed yourselves, but it's time for you to return to the NHL, your true master, and to submit yourselves to the team God has ordained for you." Realizing this wasn't much of an offer, he quickly added, "After suffering for so long, you now have enough young talent that you will one day have more playoff victories than you can count!"
Rexall Place, 7:30 p.m. MST
The Race to the Bottom (It's Happening Again):
Visiting Team Scouting Report: The Minnesota Wild are in a good position to make their second consecutive appearance in the post-season. Even though they're currently sitting in seventh in the Western Conference, they've got a substantial lead on the cluster of teams behind them. They should make it. But between now and then, the Wild are definitely going to need to find a way to play better hockey on the road. The club has a regulation road record (W-L-T) of 6-14-9, which is pretty terrible. Their goal differential over those 29 games is -23 (+59 -82) and their shot differential is -104 (+774 -878) despite playing from behind for more often than they are with a lead. On a per game basis, that means the team is scoring 2.0 goals per game while allowing 2.8 and generating 26.7 shots per game while allowing 30.3. Given that they'll be playing some pretty good home teams in the playoffs (the Blues, Blackhawks, Ducks, and Sharks have 18 home losses in regulation combined), the Wild are going to need to be much better on the road if they hope to make it through the West.
Edmonton Oilers (20-33-6):
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Yakupov
Hemsky - Gagner - Eberle
Hendricks - Gordon - Perron
Gazdic - Smyth - Jones
Marincin - Petry
N Schultz - J Schultz
Fraser - Ference
Minnesota Wild (23-21-13):
Parise - Granlund - Pominville
Heatley - Coyle - Fontaine
Cooke - Brodziak - Niederreiter
Mitchell - Haula - Veilleux
Suter - Spurgeon
Brodin - Prosser
Ballard - Stoner
By The Numbers:
- The Oilers have spent 42.1% of their five-on-five ice time trailing so far this season, 33.3% of their time tied, and just 24.6% of their time leading. That's a pretty extreme split, and even from a learning perspective, you'd like to see the club get into more situations where they're playing with the lead.
- Hard to believe Matt Cooke is just six regular season games away from 1,000. If he makes it (he will), he'll become the 286th player in NHL history to reach that mark. In terms of points per game, on that list, he'll rank 225th, just a few spots ahead of several players who spent some time with the Oilers (Mike Grier, Dave Manson, Kevin Lowe, Kelly Buchberger, Kirk Maltby, and Steve Staios).
- Like most of his Slovakian teammates, Martin Marincin didn't have a great stat-line in the Olympic tournament. Marincin was on the ice for six of Slovakia's fifteen goals against and two of Slovakia's five goals for, 40% in both instances despite playing just 17:04 per game (29.4%), fifth most among Slovakia's defenders.