Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 3: Oil City Burning

This is nuclear waste on fire, which is an analogy of
how the Oilers played last night.
June 10th, 2013: Dallas Eakins proceeds to the Oilers branded podium, and speaks with a firm, clear voice. He's likeable, ruggedly handsome, and seems to be a born communicator. He talks about a commitment to "tactical hockey", and the collective Oilers soul nods in agreement.

Eakins said the right things, had the right pedigree, and the Oilogosphere roundly praised the move. Over the course of a flaming-hearse-launching-off-a-cliff 2013 season, my needle of appreciation went from "approval" to "skeptical". In the seasonal intermission it rebounded slightly to "cautiously optimistic". Then we had decisions to keep Will "Hack and Whack" Acton, and demote Martin "Corsi Masher" Marincin. Both were fairly inexplicable at the time, sort of like the design of single ply toilet paper. I could handle Acton being the 13th forward, since it should translate to a couple dozen games at max, and less once they realize he can't pass.

And then the needle finally edged towards "fuck", as in the way you swear when the realization dawns that you bought a shiny new sports car with a damaged, rusty 4 cylinder under the hood. The last little push I needed was the decision to healthy scratch Jeff Petry before last night's game. Here's his quote on this:
Petey hasn’t had a training camp. His game’s coming, and he continues to get better; we’re encouraged by that. But when we looked at the makeup of our D we need a couple of guys in there for power play. We’ve had a defenceman sitting around not playing; we want to get him in. When you started going to the pieces that you need in your lineup, when it comes to special teams, certain matchups, it ended up being Petey. Now I highly doubt it would have been Petey if Petey would have had a training camp and wasn’t just that little bit behind right now. We’re encouraged by Petey’s rehab, his commitment to getting better, commitment to getting up to speed. It’s a hard decision but at the same time it just made sense across the board.
Let's digitally dissect this, shall we?

1) Petey hasn’t had a training camp. - You know who else didn't have a training camp? Nikita Nikitin. Is he playing better than Petry? I don't know ANYONE who would say that.

2) But when we looked at the makeup of our D we need a couple of guys in there for power play. - As anyone can understand, you spend way more time 5v5 and PKing, and really good PKing is the same as a good PP. How effective is Brad Hunt on the PK exactly? Or 5v5 for that matter?

3) It’s a hard decision but at the same time it just made sense across the board. - This is a guy who preached puck possession, coaching on a team that made analytics hires, all in the name of the almighty Corsi. And yet, seems to disregard the fact that the defenceman he's scratching is also our best possession defenceman. Why hire analytics guys if you won't listen to their advice? Forget Corsi, has Brad Hunt looked effective in his own zone to ANYBODY? I dare say not.

That's a lot of wind up for an actual game, a 1-6 cluster-puck which went something like this:

A couple of players after the hop.

Brad Hunt - A (slightly) mobile tire fire. He did manage 4 shots in the closing minute of the game, which totally justifies Eakins continued love for the gap-toothed curmudgeon. -2/10.

Darnell Nurse - Nurse at least has the excuse of playing his first ever NHL game and was OK all things considered. You can see he's athletic and fairly strong for his age, let's hope the peak mental ability matches his peak physical ability.

Just-him Schultz - Justin Schultz led in ice time but generated no real offence: 2 shots, and no scoring chances by my eye. He finished -2, and continues to have this mopy, pouty face every time we see him on the bench. Is it wrong for me to question a guys character because of the way his face looks? It sounds like a question for Will Ferrell.

Viktor Fasth - Didn't look especially great in the net (3 goals, 11 shots including a long range top-mesh-tickler by Toffoli), and then said "ow my groin" (not belittling his injury, I'm sure that's real).

Rest of the D corp - Was 50 shades of garbage green.

Leon Draisaitl - Was 1 for 9 in the dot and -3, etc etc. Bad numbers everywhere.

I don't even care to comment on players any more for this game - because there was a lot of vulcanized-rubber-stench. Hall and Arco had a couple chances in the second after the LA Kings got high on score effects and lolly-gagged their way to the inevitable conclusion. Big whoop.

I can take the loss; we were missing two thirds of the top line, the silver-cup-champ Kings were at home and hungry for a W. What I can't take is the exhaustion of hope. I need to believe that it will better, which requires me to believe in the people leading the charge. That's what hurt tonight. Not the one-off 0 point affair. It was the continuation of bad coaching decisions, and the blow to my hope.

Is Eakins the right guy?


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