Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 28: Oil Futures Plummeting

What will be lower, the Oilers point total, or the price of Oil?

27 SOG
24 SOG

The Oilers have been playing a much more consistent brand of hockey. Unfortunately, there are still some "heart and soul" guys who are still finding their way into the lineup and not providing quality minutes. Not that I necessarily blame Eakins for playing Ference 20:55 - not a lot of selection for him - but I am going to go out on a limb right now and say that straight up replacing Ference for Marincin with no other changes would improve the Oilers ability to win hockey games. It also wouldn't hurt to see a guy like Anton Lander playing Gazdic's 9 minutes, since the guy is about as effective as a string cheese sword.

The consistent brand of hockey mentioned in the leading sentence was on display for most of the game, a game in which the Oilers outshot and out-corsied the Sharks, and once again the Oilers were killed by a couple of key mistakes. Coach Eakins talked about the Oilers needing to finish and "putting themselves into better spots to finish"; it was in stark contrast to the oppositions chances that were emphatically cashed by the cold fish of San Jose. A glorious Deutschland dangle from Draisaitl was almost a leading goal and a game changer in the second, but after the stop by Stallock, another game winner via tip-in topped the terrible team from Texas North.

In the land of glass is half full, Klefbom came within inches of hammering a howitzer of a first NHL goal, and was an extremely strong defenceman otherwise. He lead the team with 23:22 and was the only plus player for the Oilers. Aside from that, Jultz once again wandered into the 22+ territory, and I thought he had a couple of lousy plays in the game that gave the Sharks chances that another Oiler defenceman might not have given up. The chrono-demotion of the Universe's Best Defenceman seemed to be in line with the Oilers playing better defence, so I'm not sure why Eakins chose to only give Aulie a bit over 10 minutes and boosted the Jultzian One. It just speaks to a coach not trusting to play his D lineup in a balanced fashion, which is something the GM needs to address: Marincin.

The Good

  • Klefbom has stopped making the absolutely bone-headed decisions with the puck. As he was easing into this season, he was making some seriously suspect plays with the puck: 5 foot passes into traffic around the net and the like. He seems to have left those behind, and he is just playing rock-solid in big minutes. He played 23+, and was even in shots, corsi, goal differential, and saw plenty of the Sharks top forwards.
  • Perron continues to get rewarded for strong play.  When Pitlick was popped off the top line for the pesky Perron, the premier line perked up. Going forward it's an arrangement that I'd like to see the Oilers continue - Pitlick simply isn't getting it done and Hall and Hopkins have really struggled with "farm-boy strength" in the side-saddle.
  • Draisaitl was an offensive catalyst. The Oilers desperately need secondary scoring, and Dr. Drai had the kind of game that gives the Oilers hope for the future, and a bit of scoring for the present. He had 2 shots, an apple, and was solid over 17+ minutes.
  • The Oilers held their own versus a strong San Jose team. It's another entry filed in the who-cares-the-season-is-blown or score-effects-for-the-corsi-win category, but at least they look like a team that can play at the same level as top teams. Now if only they could actually find a way to, uh, score or stop pucks.
The Bad
  • Schultz had over 22 minutes, and Ference over 20. If those are key rearguards providing all-purpose minutes for a team, you might expect them to be a lousy team. I figure if I embed the word Marincin in the post enough (see above), it will cause a butterfly effect and get the kid re-inserted into the lineup. Marincin.
  • Top line scored as many points as Eli Porter in a rap battle. As mentioned earlier, the addition of Pitlick seems to have seriously slowed down the top line, although I think some of it is just the Eberle and flow of the season.
The Ugly
  • 0.792. That was Scriven's save percentage in this one, and while it's a team number, you just need more from the goalie and the defence in general. You aren't going to win anything except for early tee-times with percentages like that.

Thoughts on the draft after the hop.

I realize that some of the fans are now impossibly pining after one of two the god-like generational talents available in the entry draft, and I'm here to pour cold water on your inflamed genitals. There is essentially one good slot at getting one of the two stud centers, and it's 30th place and only thirtieth place. In 2015 the lottery has changed, and now the team that wins the lottery gets the first overall pick. This makes a huge difference, because all of the non-playoff teams behind 29 can now push the 29th team out of their slot. In other words, the CMJEP (Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel Percentage) is pretty ugly after 30th:

League RankCMJEPOdds Under Former Allocation

Call me an optimist, but I just don't see the Oilers as a 30th overall team. Over the past 5 seasons, the Corsi Close 5v5 rank of the 30th overall team has been 30th, 17th, 27th, 30th, and 29th. The one exception, the 2012-2013 Florida Panthers, was likely due to a lockout shortened season. In other words, it's very hard to be dead last in the league without also being one of the very worst possession teams in the league. Barring some serious & key injuries to the Oilers squad, or the Buffalo Sabres actively evading the NHL PED program, I don't see how the Buffaslugs avoid the NHL basement. Columbus, Arizona, Edmonton, and Colorado have outside shots but all will require some unluck.


Even if you are cheering for a tanked season, it's likely not going to mean the true game changing pick. I would suggest that it would be much healthier for the Oilers to take a shot at 80 points than somehow pulling off the miracle of a lottery win or a bottom 2 spot. Make no mistake, if the Oilers somehow managed to get close to 80 points, it would be an incredibly improved season even if it was miles away from a playoff spot. Problem is, you need 61 points in 54 games...


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