Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 25: Grime Time

Looking over the Wild roster I can't help but think that there is zero chance in any universe the Wild finish anywhere close to number 1 in the west. For starters, this is a team that sports a +5 goal differential, of which I'm sure at 3 least 3 of the +'s are SO goals versus the Oilers (unless I'm not mistaken those are counted). It's been fairly well established that goal differential is a solid indicator of actual team ability, and their 12th ranked goal differential is probably a hell of a lot closer to the their ability than what the standings indicate.

The list of how lousy Minnesota is in their underlying numbers is a long one:
  • 1.0 5v5 GF/GA, 13th
  • 14.4% PP, 23rd
  • 83.9% PK, 14th
  • 26.2 shots for a game, 27th
  • 31.3 shots against a game, 24th
  • 33 Points, 1st*
*one of these things is not like the other

Does that look like the number one team in the league? Not a chance. This is a mediocre team which almost assuredly will crash back to earth. They have 22 of 27 players who sport an on-ice 5v5 save percentage of over 930.

Really at the end of the day I'm only pointing out how overachiever the Wild are to frame my disappointment for this loss. This is not a team that should be beating the Oilers in our own barn after we built a 2 goal lead on consistently superior play. Their defence is mostly a whiskered, low-cost, lunch-pail brigade, and their offence is mostly cast-aways and checking forwards. It frustrates me to no end that teams like that are reaching such success by grinding out every last little bit of free-flowing joy from the game (perhaps I'm being a bit sensational, but no one is ever going to mistake the Wild for an exciting team).

Some other notes from the game:

  • The reffing was a cross between ringette and beer league reffing. Soft calls all over the place and a complete lack of consistency. I'd say Jackson and Hebert need some remedial reffing lessons.
  • Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, and Smyth are magical wood fairies in the offensive zone. Nuge is a lubricated trojan out there, screwing everyone with his slippery moves. Eberle is an incredible cycler and soft-spot deliverer. Smytty is Smytty
  • Peckham continues to struggle to find a balance between sucking and not sucking that much. Still too much suck in his game.
  • Whitney still is nowhere near his old ability level. His defence has become something of a liability, and I'm getting more concerned as he plays more games and his level does not seem to rise.
  • Sam Gagner is coming on strong after a bell-end first quarter, and he was snake-bit this game on a couple of close chances. If he keeps this up, he may still have a shot at 40 P's.
  • Nikolai Khabibulin is a lousy shootout goalie. Stop. The indians are in the gorge. Full stop.
  • Belanger seems like he should be an effective player with his wheels and puck smarts, but when is the last time you remember him making a great offensive play? How many great offensive plays has he made all season? How much more power play time can he possibly fucking receive until Renney realizes Belanger is raping my eyes with his suck. This is a guy on pace for 20 points. Stop the madness already.
Some singletons after the gap and then a denouement.
Sam Gagner - Gosh he has played a lot better recently. Still no results but he really seems close to at least playing some decent offensive hockey. A lot of this is a direct result of having more capable line mates in my opinion, which just goes to show if we want a team built to win the cup, we will need guys like Sam Gagner making up the depth of the team. He had 3 SOG in 18:29 and was -1.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - We are not worthy of his edges. Tightest edges in the league possibly. I think he's twistier and slipperier than Kane, and that is saying a lot. He's tied for 4th in league scoring, and we are talking about an 18 year old cutting his teeth in the NHL. Eberle and Smyth are certainly smoothing the path, but the kid is contributing just as much, if not more, than anyone else on that line -- and doing it with solid defensive work to back it up. Calder. There, I said it. I'm not superstitious. Calder.

Ales Hemsky - Is still not quite pulling the trigger forcefully enough. He really needs to shoot more and start making Dmen respect his shot. Hemsky has an atrocious 20 shots in 14 games, and his 8 points reflect the lack of results being generated by him. I will say this: he's played top unit power play most of his career, and that is certainly hurting his production right now. The second unit it a god-awful mess. When Hall gets back we should hopefully see a boost to his 5v5 production at least -- that or Gagner will start pumping rubber into the scorecage.

Ryan Whitney - Hrm, something does not sit right with me regarding Whitney. He has become such a tentative defender in his own zone, almost like he doesn't trust his own body any more. He is rarely accepting contact to make a play, and at least twice last night I saw him avoid contact and leave the puck for a forechecker when he clearly had other options. If R-W's Mojo is all dried up, this would be a seriously good time to think about shoring up our D core with a swap or two. I still will give him a few more games to ramp up, but I think his time is running out with this writer.

Andy Sutton - Can actually dangle a bit with the puck, and in his case it's kind of like sec with a petite woman so your package looks... Scratch that, a huge defenceman making finesse stick-handles with the puck just looks out of place. His seeing eye pass to the Nuge was a thing of beauty, and Sutton played a surprisingly decent all around game tonight. Not bad for a guy who has been on ice most of the season.

Magnus Pajaarvi - Pony had 6 shots on goal in about 13 minutes of ice, and was really moving his feet tonight. As a member of the official 'I'm sad for Maggies Sophomore Slump' club, it was slightly heartening that he was able to draw penalties, take some shots, and look like a guy who actually had a shot of hitting more than 4 points on the season (which is roughly his pace, incredibad). Everyone is pulling for the kid, but at some point he just needs a change of scenery, i.e. OKC.

Nikolai Khabibulin - Has never been a great shootout goalie, but he was especially lousy in tonight's SO. Every trick in the book went in, and Cullen hit a post as Khabi backed right back into his goal line. His regulation play was fine -- not much garbage from him, and the goals were both junky that no goalie would be expected to stop. A decent game, and was not really responsible for the OTL one way or another.


The Wild won it in Grime Time to take over the first overall spot in the league. Minnesota got mostly outplayed, and was somewhat lucky and helped by lousy reffing. Not a bad game by the Oil, but a bit more desperation in their game would have been nice. Oh well, I will sit back and rub my hands with glee as the Wild fall back to earth.


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