Friday, November 7, 2014

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 14: Dead Buffalo Jump

A Buffalo Jump is a cliff formation which Native Americans historically used
 in order to hunt and kill plains bison in mass quantities.




Eventually our team herded the Buffalo to the cliffs edge, and with a concerted effort, sent them tumbling off the cliff into the NHL basement below. It took 52 shots for, 2 posts against, and a couple of stellar saves by Mr. Fasth Lane. For a club desperate to avoid the dubious distinction of dwelling at the deepest depths of the standings, the one-goal win would be enough. When you are looking for your first road win 14 games into the season, that's sort of an understatement.

Against the gutter slime of the league, the Oilers managed a massive 85 snot attempts (versus 51 for Buffalo), and spent long stretches buried in Buffalo's red zone. Buffalo is so bad that if they finished the season with their current 5v5 Corsi close - 36.4% - it would not only be the worst number ever recorded, it would be the worst by almost 5% ('13-'14 Buffalo had second worst at 41.0%).  They are so bad right now that they should probably start sewing the Connor McDavid jersey (the kid is outpacing Crosby in his draft season, 2.8 pts/game vs 2.7).

Regardless of entering the soup kitchen of the league, the Oilers still will take the handout, and even though the Sabres held a lead into the last 10 of the game, they really deserved to beat the Buffaslugs. When Arco potted the tying goal with 8:18 left, the Oilers followed through by really ratcheting up the shot attempts, and the constant pressure came through with a Gordon winner off a nice pass from Edward "Butter" Purcell. I have had lots of negative things to say about the Neufie's neutered nastiness, but blue line in he has some above-medium mitts.

Other noteables in the game features a flying first-goal scoring finn, Iiro Pakarinen, who had a monster opening to the game with 6 shots and a "popped cherry" (seriously Eberle said this in a live interview). In his first real minutes of the season he had a mildly positive impression, although I think the shot totals and the goal were probably more a product of fortune than a premiere performance. His numbers become a little more impressive when you consider he played a measly 7:40 EV minutes in the game. He's young, and not much to fault on his coming out party, double so if we consider that there is still a large range of possible players Pakarinen could become.

The other major player of note bumped his G-streak to two, and Arco's 7 shots paced the team. For a diminutive and crafty player, he continues to prove his worth at the NHL level. He's the only regular plus-player in the lineup aside from Hall and has had two clutch goals in two games. His strong play is something that might allow MacT to send Drai down at 39 if he can acquire a real 2C. Arcobello certainly is playing well enough to be a solid 3C on most teams in the league.

A couple more players after the hop.

Victor Fasth had a bounce-back game - his first win of the season? - and made the key saves when he was required. Buffalo still managed to fire 31 pucks his way, and he was up to the challenge in making the "Grant Fuhr" stops: the saves that have to be made to win games. He managed a .935 save percentage which should help boost his atrocious season-so-far number up to averagely abyssmal.

Iiro Pakarinen  has finally been typed by me enough times to get his spelling straight - god damn finnish names - and like mentioned above was an exclamation point to open the game, but was stapled to the bench as the Oilers chased and Eakins double-shifted. Assuming he stays in the bigs, a couple of extra at bats should give us a greater appreciation for the asset.

Martin Marincin had a middling to poor game, and the man he replaced, Klefbom, had been making mistakes that Marincin made: attempting to maintain puck possession even when there was no play there. Marincin happens to be a bit better at maintaining than Klebom at this point, but he (obviously) has a lot to learn about making the simple play once and a while. He'll be in again next game, and I feel like he's the sort of player he gets just a bit better every outing.

Nikki Nikitin played marginally better than the trainwreck-that-collided-with-a-shipwreck game he had the night before. Somehow, he had the most ice of any Oiler, and as incomplete as Jultz's game is right now, he's still a better #1 option than Nikki Quickie. He's going to need to string together a few dozen games to repair any semblance of trust between Nikki and the fanbase.

Jordan Eberle is still sniffing for some scoring, but 6 shots, and a couple of nice curl and hurls at the net were a better showing from our number one right winger. Nuge and Ebs both received 17 and change, and I though their game looked aggressive and cycle-heavy regardless of the low standard of competition.

Leon Draisaitl had one of the smallest time totals since the season started - 10:57 - and it wasn't one of his better outings. After we've seen him ramp up the "pace of his game" recently, I think this game was a small step backwards for the German goliath. He's got lots to learn, and its games like these that give fuel to the "ship him to the small time" soothsayers.

Boyd Gordon scored the winner on a tap in and had a patented Gordon-like game: at least 2 plays where he gets clobbered for a scoring chance, faceoff attempts lower than a limbo, and some gritty own zone work to deflate opposing offence. In the turmoil of a team finding it's identity, Gordon, and his side-saddle squaddie Hendricks are providing a stable presence night in and night out.


I can't even imagine the fan base if this had been the capital L tonight. Rioting in the streets, squad cars turned over, donair shops raided. The wrath of the orange and blue has been avoided, temporarily.

Let's hope there's more where that came from.


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