Comparing This Year To Last Year

Jonathan Willis
November 21 2009 01:21PM

2009 NHL Entry Draft, First Round

We’re far enough into 2009-10 to have a basic idea of what this year’s edition of the Edmonton Oilers is. Let’s look at this team and compare their projected numbers to the numbers from last season, and see if it fits with Steve Tambellini’s off-season moves.

2008-09/2009-10 Season Comparison

  • Record: 38-35-9, 85PTS | 34-37-11, 79PTS
  • Goals Per Game: 2.78 (18th) | 2.91 (16th)
  • Goals Against Per Game: 2.98 (22nd) | 3.04 (25th)
  • Power Play: 17.0% (22nd) | 21.7% (12th)
  • Penalty Kill: 77.5% (27th) | 78.8% (20th)
  • Shot Differential Per Game: -4.4 (27th) | -5.5 (27th)
  • 5-on-5 Goals For: 152 (16th) | 160 (9th)
  • 5-on-5 Goals Against: 150 (21st) | 168 (26th)
  • Faceoffs: 47.8% (27th) | 45.8% (30th)
  • Save Percentage: .908 (12th) | .906 (17th) 

Places where the Oilers rank lower than 20th in the league in bold; under 25th in bold and underlined.

What Steve Tambellini Did

Steve Tambellini would have known everything encapsulated on the left hand side above. His team was miserable on the penalty kill, at faceoffs, and at shot differential. They were simply bad at preventing goals 5-on-5 and on the power play, and sub-average at scoring goals. In fact, the only department where the Oilers were better than average was save percentage, thanks in large part to the goaltending of Dwayne Roloson. With that in mind, he made the following moves:

  • Quinn et al. in, MacTavish et al. out
  • Khabibulin in, Roloson out
  • Comrie in, Kotalik out
  • Brodziak out

Leaving aside the first move for a moment, the second and third moves are more or less washes, and the fourth move doesn’t do anything to help the team.

As for the rest of it, it’s probably fair to question if Pat Quinn’s more free-flowing style at even-strength is a better fit for the roster than Craig MacTavish’s line-matching. On the other hand, the power play has improved a lot, and the penalty kill is marginally better.

How would you rate Tambellini’s response to his team? Are you surprised by the results so far?

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 david oliver
November 21 2009, 01:30PM
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the health of the team so far this year has been vastly differant than last year. With Souray returning and stone and Jaques getting back in the lineup this team will be better suited to quinns style.

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#2 Petr's Jofa
November 21 2009, 01:31PM
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Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~Albert Einstein, (attributed)

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#3 Racki
November 21 2009, 01:35PM
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Tambellini gets a big ugly F from me for being unresponsive to any issues with the team. This "wait and see" approach is difficult to watch for even the most patient of fans, but granted I wouldn't call myself patient :P In the off-season, the team should have moved an offense d-man and traded/signed for a guy like Boynton who will hammer people in our zone and bring solid defensive hockey. I'm sure there are better examples of names out there too.

Secondly, the Oilers record at this point last season was 10-10-2, good for 22 points, compared to this year's 21 - one whole point difference.

Now, the Oilers have lost an incredible amount of man games to injury so far this year. Yes, it is an excuse, but it is a valid one that I gave MacTavish 2 years ago even, and the Oilers are on pace to demolish that record. So far we're averaging 5.5 men lost per game, compared to 4.2 per game in the record setting year. You really do have to take this into account. When the season started and Quinn was able to stick to his new gameplan, I thought things looked pretty good. And even with the significant rash of injuries this team has had good performances on some of the nights despite missing significant players.

Really, I think Quinn and Renney are the best things to happen to this team since Chris Pronger. But we unfortunately can't fully see what they're capable of just yet. Considering that this team still is in the mix (things really aren't THAT bad yet), I'm not too worried just yet. The team is still finding ways to beat teams like the Avalanche. I think they just need to find some consistency out of everyone and get some better work ethic out of some players.

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#4 Evan
November 21 2009, 01:40PM
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If you say "Kotalik out," you should have "OSullivan in." Guys played the same amount of time last season...And if you're going to do that you should include Erik Cole.

Word.

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#5 Eddie Shore
November 21 2009, 02:03PM
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I was going to give Tambellini the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was quietly working hard at improving this team. However, after 16 months of doing essentially nothing my faith in him is fading fast. There are just too many glaring holes in which he has either chose to ignore or failed to address completely.

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#6 Mitch
November 21 2009, 02:19PM
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With the penalty kill better as well as the powerplay you would think that Edmonton should have a better overall record. It looks as though oilers management would love to be the leafs of western canada. This will not happen over night but the best way to get this team to have any overall success for along period of time is GUT the roster except losing for 3 to 4 years we need high end prospects that are game breakers, then you fill in the blanks with the role players. This is not a easy task, but a must.In Edmonton we have salary cap issues, I don't understand why look at the oilers record. Hard tough desicions are made every day in life, Tambo it's time to get to work so Edmonton can start moving forward.

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#8 jeanshorts
November 21 2009, 02:31PM
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I'm definitely a little disappointed with the lack of hole filling(hee hee) Tambo has done so far, but he did make some moves so far that, when they first happened, looked to be upgrades; O'Sullivan for Cole, Comrie for Kotalik, Khabby is playing his balls off. I guess those are debatable as to weather or not they were in fact upgrades, but I think we need a little more time before we come to a conclusion.

And I'm still willing to cut him a little slack since he did inherit a clusterf*ck of a roster, contract wise. So unless a team desperately needs to get to the salary cap basement, I don't really see him being able to make a whole lot of moves without creating another hole in the roster, or sacrificing too much youth. I'm going to give him till next season before I decide if I really like him, or loathe him.

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#9 rubbertrout
November 21 2009, 02:46PM
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I'm going to be on the road for the GDB thread so here are my predictions.

Game Day Prediction: Oilers 4 Chicago 2 with an empty netter. Souray with 2 points and Sully with a goal (hey it worked last time).

Obvious Prediction: Gregor comes through with the heroin beer bet (how many guys would give their cell number to a random internet commentator?) but he becomes incensed when Sully scores again prompting him to throw the heroin beer over Hillary Duff and Tommy Salo's wife who are making out nearby.

Not so Obvious Prediction Vegas oddsmakers are scrambling to change the line after rubbertrout's predictions come out. Caesar's Palace goes Bankrupt. The Baccarat Casino steps up and buys the ashes leaving Katz with an empty lot to build a new rink. Everybody wins!

See you at the drugstore boys! I'll be the drunk guy with an Oilers shirt on.

Goilers!

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#10 Hemmertime
November 21 2009, 02:57PM
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Tambellini has proven himself to be little more than a seat warmer. When teams that win the Stanley cup or actually have good years pull off more moves than you have in two years combined, it' just sad.

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#11 Corsby31
November 21 2009, 02:58PM
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I'll give him an F+ I'm thinking it's time to DO SOMETHING!!!!

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#12 Dan the Man
November 21 2009, 03:06PM
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Not sure if everyone had a chance to read the article from Copper and Blue that Brownlee mentioned in the last thread. It's a pretty good read about how we should have kept Howson instead of bringing on Tambo as GM.

http://www.coppernblue.com/2009/11/20/1166763/flowers-for-scott-howson

I'm not on the Hate Tambo Train yet but there are some pretty good points here.

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#13 Ogden Brother
November 21 2009, 03:44PM
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Same group of players, same results... shouldn't be a shock.

Is Dominick Moore still unsigned?

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#14 Ogden Brother
November 21 2009, 03:44PM
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The most frustrating part is that alot of the teams holes are so cheap to fill.... yet it wasn't done.

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#16 jave_911
November 21 2009, 03:58PM
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i like the way tambi's doing things. Persistence. If at first you don't succeed, don't change much and try again. I guarantee that if we make no moves or trades and can't sign any UFA's, with the players in our system and draft picks we will one day make the playoffs. It's just hard to say when.

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#17 dunciano
November 21 2009, 03:59PM
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Give it time man.

Tambellini said he would first look to find what they need inside the organization. And they did that, promoting Stone, Brule, Jacques.

He also said that player development to him is "numero uno". He made some changes in that department. That is music to Oil fans ears because that is how championships are won.

But it takes patience.

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#18 Wanyes bastard child
November 21 2009, 04:07PM
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I asked before but with no answer, is Peca still sitting at home?

Face-off guy and pk...

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#19 dunciano
November 21 2009, 04:11PM
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@Wanyes bastard child

yup still unsigned

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#20 jeanshorts
November 21 2009, 04:11PM
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@jave_911

I think the 06 cup run has jaded a lot of people. It was so much fun that people want that feeling back again, immediately. But the fact is, especially with the cap being how it is, and the horrible contracts we are anchored down with, I think we are better off being patient, grooming our draft picks and promoting from within. Works pretty well for the Red Wings.

Obviously it would be amazing to land a big fish UFA, or at the very least bring in someone that can win faceoffs on a consistent basis, but I would rather not sacrifice future for a quick fix. One player isn't going to make this team a contender. There's a lot of things that need to line up correctly.

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#21 dunciano
November 21 2009, 04:12PM
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@Dan the Man

I don't read anything by that ridiculous Massey

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#22 Cool Beans
November 21 2009, 06:47PM
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It's just not that easy to make a trade anymore. How many deals have there been this year? Not many, with most teams cap restraints and lack of roster spots you just can't make trades. Who the hell is going to give you a big third line centre who wins faceoffs and kills penalties for Rob Nillson and Marc Pouliot? No one thats who. It was short sighted to not fill that role in the summer but it will be tough to fix it until the deadline. Two days of the year things get done - deadline day and July 1st.

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#23 The Real Scuba Steve
November 21 2009, 10:38PM
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@Mitch

I totally agree, I think Tambo should start working to get the team better, but which team is stupid enough to trade for some of our bloated player salaries? I'm afraid we are stuck with this team to the off season. This post lock out era has crippled the Oilers more than the Pre lock out days, it is harder to make trades in the middle of the season than in the off season.

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#24 Milli
November 22 2009, 09:49AM
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My faith in Tambo is running very low at this point. I am real concerned that our new organization philosphy is to try and hit a home run (big name free agent) and while it is exciting to try at times, what has it done to help our team? I do think that with Quinn and Renney at the helm, no one will be able to ingonre what they are telling mgmt we have for players, which seems to be small, soft and not as skilled as we all believed. Also, a real unwillingness to compete, not all, but more than a few of them.

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#25 MrOiler
November 22 2009, 12:31PM
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The injuries really mess up the assessment of this team, but we all know there are holes to fill. Prior to the season, I called changes by game 30 reasoning that it takes that long to assess the team, get the new coaches comfortable, and make some deals.

I'm sticking with that and until then will be staying clear of any 50 storey buildings.

Somewhere by the second week of December, we'll have some movement. I think some of the "fair haired boys" are going to be gone. This is win now time, not rebuild time.

Watch for it.

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#26 Dominoiler
November 22 2009, 09:48PM
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"Faceoffs: 47.8% (27th) | 45.8% (30th)"

"Brodziak out"

Well I guess we know what would happen if a bad face off team shipped out its second best faceoff man (and only semi-reliable secondary option) and continued on with the remaining players...

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