Since the season kicked off, I've looked forward to this game with equal measures of excitement and dread. I've always liked David Perron, and I'm glad to see him do well... but I have this gut feeling that he's going to be extra-motivated tonight. It'll be interesting to see what kind of night he has against his old team. Whatever he dishes out, I expect we can match in kind. Also, there may well be a similar drive to Magnus Paajarvi's game. I hope he can dish out some cold karma to his old team tonight, although they almost certainly did him a favor by sending him to St Louis. Some other extra-motivating factors: Alexander Steen is 3 goals shy of having 100 with the Bluenote on his chest. Patrik Berglund is sitting on 199 points in his NHL career, all with the Blues. While the San Jose game broke his streak, Chris Stewart has 5 goals and 1 assist in his last 5 games. With David Backes out (but traveling with the team - a good sign), this is a particularly good time to see him heating up.
The Edmonton Oilers have taken up residence in the basement of the Western Conference. Their record of 11-23-3 is setting up another shot at the draft lottery. They've gone 3-6-1 in their last ten games, and just wrapped up an 0-4 road trip that saw them get outscored 14-4. For the season, they've allowed 127 goals (worst in the league), which is 32 more than they've scored (worst in the West). It's almost like drafting forward after forward with their lottery picks has left them weak on defense. That's one thing I've never understood about the Edmonton front office. The much-abused Devan Dubnyk has a 9-15-2 record, with a 3.38 GAA and .892 save percentage. The Edmonton front office decided that the best solution was to sign "Mr Universe" free agent Ilya Bryzgalov, and his start has gone well - so far. In 5 starts, he's gone 1-3-0 and posted a 2.30 GAA and .936 SV%, including a shutout in his Oilers debut.
Obviously, the talent for the Oilers is all up front. They are led in points by Taylor Hall, with 13 goals and 17 assists. Next is Jordan Eberle at 11 goals and 18 assists, and then there is our old friend David Perron. Frenchie is the top scorer with 14 goals, and has 13 assists as well. While +/- is often considered a bullshit stat, it's worth noting that 3 of the top 5 points leaders for Edmonton are each -10. Aside from the call-ups and scratches, there is only one player on their "everyday" roster that is positive; rookie Luke Gazdic is a plus-one in 30 games played. He is the team leader in that stat.
The Oilers have had 5-game losing streaks on three occasions already this season, and they've managed to snap those before they got any worse. They find themselves in that position again tonight, and I'm sure they are hoping that returning to home ice will help them rise to the occasion again.
Taking a glance at the #FancyStats, I notice that there all of the Oilers players on the current roster are negative in 5-on-5 Corsi. Their top guy in that category would be rookie center Mark Arcobello at 49.4%. That would be followed by Eberle at 49.2% and Perron 49.1%. That's a demonstration that they aren't doing even the little things right. More than this, in the last ten games, the Edmonton power play unit has actually allowed more goals than they've scored. They have 3 PPG in that span, but have allowed 4 SHG, including the game-winner in Denver Thursday night. Combine that with the fact that the Blues have not allowed a PPG to the Oilers in the past 5 meetings, and tonight's special teams become increasingly interesting to watch.
Final Verse: As is usually the case with Western Canada road trips, it's a late game tonight. The opening faceoff is at 9:00 PM St Louis time. The TV broadcast is on Fox Sports MW, and the radio call is on KMOX 1120 AM. The GameDay Thread should drop just ahead of the puck. Until then, this is your pregame skate. Gather here, plan your home remedies for Cap'n Dave, finish your Christmas shopping, and trade your mall horror stories. Also enjoy these blasts from the past