Arise, O Edmonton! Let your young stars shine for all to see!
For the glory of Lord Stanley will be your crown!
Soon, a great darkness will touch every city in this league,
and God's favor for Edmonton will be obvious to all.
Fans of every team will look at you with envy in their hearts,
and it will be opposing players who wish that they could switch sides.
First Niagra Center, 5:00 p.m. MST
The Race to the Bottom (It's Happening Again):
Visiting Team Scouting Report: As you can see from the standings, this is a big game in the race to the bottom, so it's hardly surprising to see both teams starting their lesser goaltender. Fans of Ryan Jones will argue that it's also the reason Edmonton's sitting The Flow, and haters of Linus Omark will point to Omark's rise up the Buffalo lineup for this game as proof positive that he's terrible. Let the tanking continue!
Edmonton Oilers (18-33-6):
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Perron - Gagner - Yakupov
Hendricks - Gordon - Hemsky
Gazdic - Smyth - Joensuu
Marincin - Petry
Ference - J Schultz
Fraser - N Schultz
Buffalo Sabres (15-31-8):
Ott - Hodgson - Girgensons
Omark - Ennis - Stafford
Foligno - Flynn - Varone
D'Agostini - Konopka - Ellis
Tallinder - Myers
Ehrhoff - Sulzer
McBain - Weber
By The Numbers:
- Martin Marincin is averaging 18:02 per game through his first 19 NHL games, but that number is on the rise. Marincin hasn't played less than 19 minutes in any of the last six games, including Edmonton's last game against Boston when the club welcomed Andrew Ference back from injury and Mark Fraser to the team for his first game after being traded. It seems to suggest that Marincin is likely here to stay.
- Opportunity is a funny thing. The Sabres are widely regarded to have won the trade that saw Zack Kassian go to the Canucks for Cody Hodgson, and that's probably a reasonable sentiment given Hodsgon's success in Buffalo. But how much of that is just opportunity? Sure, Hodgson is scoring better as a Sabre (0.63 points per game as a Sabre compared to 0.49 as a Canuck), but how much of that is the extra five or six minutes per game he's getting? And if Buffalo's forwards aren't awful, does Hodgson get that kind of ice time? How much better is Hodgson than, say, Mark Arcobello?
- I'm asking it about Hodgson, but could easily be asking the same thing about Sam Gagner who has scored reasonably well in the NHL, but has also been put in situations where that's likely to be the case. Gagner is a bit off his career average in terms of scoring (0.52 points per game this year compared to a career average of 0.61), and his defensive shortcomings have been highlighted by an unholy number of pucks finding the back of the net (the Oilers have an .892 save percentage during five-on-five play with Gagner on the ice), but the question is an important one: if Sam Gagner isn't driving the play in the right direction, can the Oilers really afford to pay him almost $5M per season?