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Scratch My Back: Blues at Edmonton Oilers Preview

A look at tonight's opponent, the perpetually rebuilding Edmonton Oilers

"I call Big Spoon !!!"
"I call Big Spoon !!!"
Derek Leung

On December 5th, Taylor Hall scored a hat trick in an 8-2 beatdown of the Colorado Avalanche. One fan celebrated by throwing her bra out on the ice, in lieu of the traditional hat. The last time the Blues played in Edmonton, the Blues won 6-0 and dealt the youngsters in Ed-Money their sixth straight loss. A fan expressed their frustration with the team by throwing his Ales Hemsky jersey out on the ice. So, you have to ask...

I wonder what article of clothing is going to be thrown tonight?

Since that game, the Oilers won the next two games, then lost 4 in a row, and then beat Tampa Bay 5-3 Sunday night. This puts them at 14-26-5 for the year, and those 33 points are second-fewest in the league (only out-sucked by Buffalo). They have scored 117 goals, but have allowed 156; that -39 differential is also second-worst in the league (you guessed it - Buffalo is -44). The team has sold the fans on hope for the future, but the fans' patience is running out of steam. The concern is not so much about the goal scoring, but rather about the number of goals they've allowed. No surprise, then, that all of their defensemen are below 50% in 5vs5 Corsi-For Percentage. In other words, in measuring even strength total-shot-attempts-for versus total-shot-attempts-against, every single Edmonton defenseman comes up wanting. In contrast, 5 of 8 Blues defenseman are over 50% (led by Kevin Shattenkirk at 56.5%), with 2 more at 49%... the low man on that totem pole is Carlo Colaiacovo, who has the least time on ice and therefore the smallest sample size. I don't know how that looks in your eyes, but to me that is a dominant -and deep- defensive corps.

The last line of defense, the goalie, has been another source of drama for the Oilers. They began the year with Devan Dubnyk as the starter. In his 30 games played, he has posted a 10-16-2 record and a 3.31 GAA and .895 save percentage. They brought in Ilya Bryzgalov to help out, and he's gone 3-5-2, with a marginally better 3.11 GAA and .908 save percentage. It was Bryzgalov that allowed a hat trick to Chris Stewart and all 6 goals in our last meeting. They need defensive help, huMANGous big time.

As for scoring, Taylor Hall leads the Oilers with 41 points (16g, 25a), followed by Jordan Eberle with 35 points (14g, 21a). Next is the goals leader David Perron with 17 goals and 16 assists for 33 points. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is right behind with 32 points (11g, 21a). Notable absence on this list is 2012 first-overall pick Nail Yakupov. His 16 points has put him in the role of team whipping boy. I'm sure Frenchie can help him out there, being familiar territory for him and all...

One interesting thing I found: Ryan Smyth is currently sitting at 124 power play goals. One more, and he ties Wayne Gretzky - and another one (126) would tie him with Glenn Anderson for the franchise record. Let's put that off for at least another game, eh boys?

Further Reading:

Copper And Blue

Oilers Nation

MC79Hockey (#fancystats heavy)

Final Verse: Back in Western Canada, tonight's game starts at 8:30 PM St Louis time. The TV broadcast will be on Fox Sports Midwest, and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120 AM. The GDT should drop shortly before the puck does. Until then, this is your pregame warmup. Gather here, trade snow horror stories, warm up the cocoa (or coffee... or irish coffee - we're not gonna judge), and look back fondly at Perron's days in the BlueNote: