Friday, October 10, 2014

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 1: Jerseygate

Two early Flames goals dipped every Oiler brain into a vat of angst-y tears stored up over 8 years of futility. Apparently that salt-water bath was too much for one fan, who decided to throw their jersey onto the ice. Bravo, nameless fan, you have redefined the urban dictionary entry for "knee jerk reaction", emphasis on JERK.

Starting with the obvious, the Oilers almost completely dominated the Flames in the possession game. The shot attempts were 75 to 39 for Edmonton, and aside from a nearly even third period the Oilers looked generally like a much better team. Not that it was all good, obviously. The 4 EV goals against speak to a team that still struggles with fundamental defensive deficiencies. The D core didn't look in synch with their goaltender, and some key assignments were missed. All in all, not worthy of $260 of that guy's hard earned dirty-oil-rig-dollars. If you want a silver lining, the Calgary Flames are paying DERYK ENGELLAND to play defence on an NHL team! Engelland had a lofty CF% of 16.3% (which means 83.7% of the shot attempts while he was on the ice were against his goalie).

The Good:
  • Naheel Yakupof - Despite only getting ~14 minutes of ice, I thought Nail played an incredibly smart game. He constantly made good decisions to *not* force the puck into stupid spots on the ice. He looped, pivoted, and danced to find smart outlets and he had some nice Yak's Touch Pass Magic™ on the first PP goal.
  • Jeff Petry - Quickly reminded us why he was last years best Dman. Unlike Schultz, he actually skates the puck into the offensive zone (seriously Justin, why do you stop behind the net every time?). Aside from one eyelid-twitching pass he made in the third (tape to tape with a Flame), he's the one guy you see drives play positively for the Oilers. Should have had J.Schultz's EV mins.
  • Puck possesion - The Oilers owned the biscuit for most of the night, and you could see that when the Oilers put their head down, they were a clear cut above the Flames. Granted it's possibly the NHL McDavid destination, but still encouraging. Probably because I still think the Oilers can pass better than they did.
The Bad:
  • The top line - Here are the three throat noises that describe their performance: pffbblt. Hrmmph. Blechh. Y'know, they didn't play terrible (hence why they aren't in The Ugly section below), but they were a combined -6, and didn't dominate play as much as they should. Their entries and cycle game was lacking, and aside from an Eberle solo-generated pipe clanger, I was underwhelmed to the extreme. They are going to be better, folks.
  • Justin Schultz - I really don't understand how this guy lead the Oilers in overall ice time by almost 3 minutes. He's not currently at performance level befitting a first pairing defenceman. He may never be. Specifically, he wasn't physical enough, didn't skate the puck out of the D zone enough. It's early, so maybe this mystical norris caliber, Coffey 2.0 is still lurking behind that petulant little face of his, but I'm really beginning to doubt it. He always looks so smug, doesn't he?
  • Andrew Ference - This isn't really a knock on the guy. He really does exemplify leadership qualities, and pours his steaming guts onto the ice every game. The problem is that the Oilers are playing him when there are better defencemen on the team, right now, who should be playing his minutes. I have unlimited doubt that the Oilers would ever have the balls to say "Andrew, we're sorry, you just aren't good enough to be in the regular lineup." Unfortunately, I think that day is today.
The Ugly:
  • 4 EV goals against - Last years 23rd ranked 5v5 goals for team pumped 4 EV goals past a pretty good goaltender, and this was EXACTLY the trend that must be stopped for the Oilers to be successful this year. These weren't flipflop, jamjob, luck of the gods goals either. Missed assignments, brain cramps, and poor defensive intuition all lead to the goals. The Oilers will not survive if they remain this inept in their defensive zone coverage.

Take a deep breath. That's all you need to do. Let the hate flow out, and good vibes flow in. If last nights contest tells us anything, it's not going to be that bad this year.


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