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Oilers v. Sabres - Deuteronomy 15:10-11

You must give points generously to poor teams as well as strong ones. If you hold back in your giving, then the Lord your God will not bless you with the kind of talent that you have become accustomed to once the season ends. There will always be some teams who are poor, whether it's Buffalo, Florida, Columbus, or someone else entirely. By giving points to these teams, you brighten their spirits and remind them to give thanks that things aren't worse rather than always being jealous of what they're missing.

Buffalo Sabres @ Edmonton Oilers

Rexall Place, 7:30 p.m. MST
Television: TSN

The Race to the Bottom (It's Happening Again):


Visiting Team Scouting Report: It wasn't that long ago that the race to the bottom was actually a race. Now? The Sabres have it on lockdown. Even if they won all of their last thirteen games, their point percentage would be just 43.9%, and (spoiler alert) given that the Sabres aren't going to end the year with a thirteen-game winning streak--their longest winning streak so far this season is three games--this team is going to finish in last place. Their current seven-game losing streak has been particularly important in establishing this as it includes losses to the Panthers, Predators, Hurricanes, Islanders and Flames. If tonight extends their streak to eight, the losing streak will include all of the teams ranked 29th through 24th in the league.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (25-36-9):

Hall - Gagner - Perron
Yakupov - Nugent-Hopkins - Lander
Hendricks - Gordon - Pitlick
Gazdic - Smyth - Jones

Marincin - Petry
Fraser - Schultz
Klefbom - Ference


Buffalo Sabres (19-42-8):

Conacher - Ennis - Stafford
Hodgson - Flynn - Foligno
Mitchell - Leino - D'Agostini
Deslauriers - Ellis - Scott

Ristolainen - Ehrhoff
Ruhwedel - Tallinder
McBain - Weber


By The Numbers:

  • Tyler Pitlick was recalled on an emergency basis for tonight's game in the midst of his best season as a pro. It's probably a stretch to say that his offense has bloomed this year, but it certainly has improved dramatically. Pitlick has posted 0.58 points per game and 2.63 shots per game in his 38 AHL games this season, which compares very favorably to the 0.34 points per game and 1.90 shots per game he registered over 135 games during the last two seasons.
  • I liked Rasmus Ristolainen just a little bit better than Darnell Nurse at the draft last year (and Nichushkin better than both of them), though the difference was small enough that seeing the Oilers draft Nurse wasn't really upsetting. Still, it'll be interesting to follow both players through their first few seasons. Ristolainen has played in 22 NHL games so far this season, and given that he's done it with the Sabres, it can't be too surprising that he's gotten bombed. The Sabres have a five-on-five Fenwick percentage of just 38.2% with Ristolainen on the ice. That's lower than the team average even though Ristolainen has had 49.2% of his end-zone starts in the offensive zone (that doesn't seem like much protection but it's he most favorable end-zone start percentage on the team).
  • In some ways, the coaching staff has been very careful with Oscar Klefbom in his first five games. Klefbom has yet to play more than sixteen minutes and has often been paired with veteran defender Andrew Ference. On the other hand, he's getting a lot of defensive zone starts, and he's seen almost as much time with known gong-show Mark Fraser as he has with Ference.