Monday, November 17, 2014

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 18: The Ghosts of Oilers Past


28 SOG
34 SOG
The Oilers were visited by three ghosts on the night: Devan Dubnyk, the Ghost of Oilers Past, Sam Gagner, the Ghost of Oilers Present, and Tobias Reider, the Ghost of Oilers Future. The ordering of course determined by the year in which the Oilers drafted each ('04, '07, and '11 respectively). The verdict is out on what kind of impact each player will have over their NHL careers, but in exchange for Hendricks, Purcell, and Kale Kessey, it's still hard to say how the swap will sway each teams success going forward. At least on the Sunday - in the ceremonious return of Mr. Heartbeat of the Local Sports Team - Dubnyk was the gangly giant tipping the scale.

The Oilers played a sound game, and generally outplayed and outchanced the Arizona squad. Unfortunately, the puck gods ordained that the Oilers would get absolutely nothing, and it probably didn't help that Pouliot took a stupid penalty in the dying minutes of the third. There were other small problems contributing to the 'Yotes win: another slimy bounce in the third to go down two, Justin Schultz's inability to conjure up his Norris quality offence in his 5 PP minutes, and a general lack of scoring prowess among the entire team.

The Oilers have the 24th ranked offence in the league at 2.44 GF/Game (2.08 5v5), and it just seems night in and night out they can't quite figure out how to put pucks in the old point-collector. I'm guessing - will verify later - that teams by the quarter mark illustrate their offensive ability, as long as it's adjusted for shooting percentage.I'll have a post later today regarding this, but suffice to say the Oilers are probably a much better offensive team than they have shown recently.

Back to the game, like Eakins I felt like the Oilers were just a bounce away, and as hinted at above, the Almighty Bastards of Bouncy Bullets decided that tonight was not the night. Dubnyk was OK, but I also didn't think Big Easy was particularly brilliant. He made the stops he should, and a couple were higher quality, but nothing stand-out-ish. Still the Oilers playoff chances aren't powered by Hero Cookies, and has the Oilers with a measly 5.9% chance to make the playoffs, leading only the 0% Buffalo Sabres. It's grim, but at least the Oilers have been absolutely hosed in terms of puck luck. Their 97.03 5v5 PDO is second worst in the league, and fueled by 23rd ranked shooting percentage, and a 28th ranked save percentage. It has to rebound, doesn't it? Doesn't it?!

Some players after the hop.

Dubnyk vs Hendricks
This game:
Slight edge Dubnyk, Hendricks and the fourth line played decently though.
Short term: Edge Hendricks, especially considering that Dubnyk has only done this a few games.
Long term: Coin toss. Dubnyk got sent to the trash heap, but if he regains #1 form...

Gagner vs Purcell
This game:
It's a wash. Both played 12-13 minutes, Gagner had 2 shots, Pucell one.
Short term: Purcell maybe, just because Gagner had a poor start to the season.
Long term: Gotta be Gagner. He's about to play 500 games and he's not even 26.

Reider vs Kessy
This game:
Reider by a mile ;) (Kessy would actually have to make the NHL first)
Short term: Reider by a good amount - but Kessy has been better this year.
Long term: Almost certainly Reider. Probably going to be a bad trade for the Oilers.
Mark Arcobello is the primary scapegoat on the two Arizona goals, but unlike the Edmonton Journal boys, I don't think he really made stupid plays. Lousy plays sure, but it's the kind of full-speed mistake that anyone would make. The Oilers having the ability to score on their PP, or generate second chances 5v5 are a much bigger worry than Arco giving up the puck after receiving a suspect pass in his own zone.

Justin Schultz played a team leading 22:15, and once again was not a catalyst on the PP that the Oilers need. I should rephrase: he made some better decisions in simplifying his shot selection, but it's pudding, and the proof is in it. Had a hit, an apple, and 4 shots, and was OK in his own end most of the night. Like I've said in the past, we can live with his defensive shortcomings when he's actually generating offence. So far, there's simply not enough offence.

Taylor Hall returned from injury, and had 5 shots and a goal. He looked somewhat tentative for a couple shifts, but his game started rounding back into form as the game progressed. That's definitely not 100% Hall, but let's hope that is simply a bit of anxiety over his strained knee. Another game should solidify his inner confidence regarding his health.

Jeff Petry continues to be the Oilers best defenceman, hands down. There was a play where he carried the puck with speed into the offensive zone, swooped behind the net, fended of the forward checking him, and wheeled and snapped a quick shot on Dubnyk. It was a high-speed, high-skill play you might expect from a skilled winger. Petry still hasn't truly realized how good he can be, and let's hope the Oilers don't ruin that. He's only 26, and some Dmen don't truly find their stride until they are 28 or 29.

Leon Draisaitl continues to get minimal ice time from the coach, and that is pushing him way below the radar. You notice him less - good and bad - and it's becoming a trend with Eakins that he's getting about 25% of his ice on the PP, and a miniscule amount of even strength. In 8:53, his stat line was literally a row of zeros. He's going to have to really push himself to raise his intensity so that Eakins will ahve no choice but to notice him. Otherwise...

Nail Yakupov was also given minimal ice, a measly 11:51, which is also insane when you compare that to Tobias Reider's 17:41. Reider played that almost all at evens, and Yak got 3:27 of PP! If you would have told me last year that in game 18 of the Oilers 14-15 season that Rieder would have 10 more even strength minutes in a game than Yakupov, I would probably tell you that future version of the Oilers was probably in big trouble...

Ben Scrivens wasn't at fault here. You hate seeing point shots go in, but it was off the far post with some velocity, so it may very well have been completely unstoppable. The second goal was a slight deflection to an opponents stick -  a real bang-bang your dead play - and while stoppable it would have been stopped mostly by fluke or natural size I think. He stopped 26 of 28 pucks for a .929 save percentage. Normally good enough to win, but with the Oilers offence in time out, wasn't good enough.


Call it bad puck luck, call it coaching, call it whatever you want: it's disheartening for the Oilers to play a strong, solid game, and get zip for it. The problem is, they don't have the breathing room for bad luck right now.


  1. I will tell you what's wrong, it's the coaching, simple as that. Eakins is to coaching is what ISIS is to humanity. Once again Eakins with his stupid face and that dumb ear piece looking like he has no clue what it takes to be a coach, ices the wrong team, wrong line combos and limits Yak's ice time after saying how well he is doing. How in the world are the flames better then us....

  2. Can supply your roads doesn't invariably want therefore results.
    ultimate team coins