GDB: 21.0: WELCOME TO SMASHVILLE

Jason Gregor
November 22 2011 01:47PM

The Oilers woke up in Smashville (Nashville) this morning, but they probably felt like they were there last night. The Stars punished the Oilers physically last night, and the Oilers were unable to handle it. The biggest farce in the NHL is the inconsistency from building-to-building regarding hits. Whoever was tracking them last night gave the Stars 47 hits and the Oilers 33. That is ridiculous.

Of course the "hits" statistician in Dallas is the most overzealous/bias/kool-aid drinking in the league. For the past five years no NHL team has had a bigger margin of hits-at-home to hits-on-the-road than the Stars. From 2006-2011 the Stars had 564, 482, 209, 452, 492 and 416 more hits at home than on the road.

It is embarrassing that the league doesn't send a memo to Dallas to understand what a hit is. They are so out of whack it's mind-blowing.

           Season         Hits at home            Hits on road              Total hits
DALL 2006                    1163 (+561)            559                         1722
EDM  2006                     602                         601                         1203
DALL 2007                    1076 (+431)            594                         1670
EDM  2007                     645                         653                         1298
DALL 2008                     914 (+396)             705                         1619
EDM  2008                     520                         610                         1130
DALL 2009                    1264 (+640)            812                         2076
EDM  2009                     624                         769                         1393
DALL 2010                    1416 (+659)            922                         2338
EDM  2010                     757                         809                         1566
DALL 2011                    1314 (+405)            898                         2212
EDM  2011                     909                         885                         1794

The road numbers are fairly close between the Stars and the Oilers, but the difference at home is frightening. Did the Stars really deliver 405 more hits at home last year, yet only 13 more on the road than the Oilers. No chance. If the NHL wants people to take their stats more serious, then they need to have better guidlines and ensure they enforce those guidelines.   

That being said, even with a statistician who thinks every bump is a hit, it was clear the Stars out hit the Oilers last night.

The sad reality for Oiler fans is that likely won't change any time soon.

Please don't expect Darcy Hordichuk, in five minutes of icetime, to somehow stop the opposing team from delivering clean, hard hits. It won't happen. Hordichuk had three hits in five minutes, and Colten Teubert once again led the hit parade with 6, but the fact is the Oilers don't have many physical players.

Expecting your fourth line to match the physical play of the entire other team is wishful thinking.

The Oilers don't have anyone in their top-nine who is a consistent physical player, so you can't expect the Oilers to respond physically. The Oilers will beat teams with their speed, quickness and skill, but if they get into a physical game they are overmatched.

Last night's outcome could have changed on one play. Had Ryan Smyth been able to bury that wide open wraparound, the game would have been tied at one. Steve Ott wouldn't have scored on the ensuing rush, because the faceoff would have been at centre, and who knows what would have happened. The Oilers will be in games because they have skill, but no one should expect them to respond with lots of physical play, because they just don't have the manpower for that.

Teubert has looked good, and he'll be a guy who hits everyone like Mark Fistric did last night, but right now he's only playing 11-12 minutes a night. Theo Peckham was that guy last year, but he is struggling mightily right now. Andy Sutton is physical, but if he's in then one of Peckham or Teubert will be out, and that still only leaves two guys who play more than ten minutes/game.

The frustrating part of a rebuild for the fans is when reality sets in like in did last night. The Oilers have filled a few voids, improved special teams and faceoffs, but it's impossible to fill all the voids in one summer. The Oilers management has to realize that this team is not built to be a playoff contender, because they strictly aren't big enough, and they will need to rectify that in the coming years; likely through the draft.

Teemu Hartikainen, Tyler Pitlick and Curtis Hamilton are all skilled guys with size, but only Hartikainen might be ready next year. Pitlick could surprise and be ready, but Hamilton isn't a regular in the AHL yet, so it will be a few years before we see him.

When the Oilers come across an opponent like the Stars, and the possibly the Predators tonight, their PP has to score for them to stay in the game. The Oilers were outshot 30-12 at EV last night, but they had over 10 minutes of PP time and couldn't score. They've been very good with the man advantage this year, especially at home, but when they face an aggessive team they need to make them pay with the extra attacker.

So far this year the Oilers have 17 EV/SH goals at home and 16 on the road, but they've scored 13 PP goals at home compared to only 4 on the road. This team will stay competitive this year because on the PP they can use their skill, and don't have to worry as much about being hit.

QUICK TURN AROUND

The Oilers don't have time to feel sorry for themselves, because they are in NashVegas tonight to take on the surging Predators. The Preds are 6-1-3 in their last ten, with all three of those OT/SO loses coming in OT.

Rookie Craig Smith leads the Preds in points with 15, despite this awesome missed goal last week. 

I'm sure the Preds have been giving him the gears ever since, but the rookie has been solid. The Preds are still led by their big three: Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne. Weber leads the league at +19, has 14 points and plays 26:33/game. Suter is +15, has 13 points and plays a bit more at 27:16/game. No team uses their starting goalie more than Rinne. He's  started 18 of the Preds 19 games and he'll start tonight against Devan Dubnyk.

Khabibulin has come back to earth. He wasn't awful last night, but three weeks ago Toby Petersen wouldn't have scored. Dubnyk hasn't started since he gave up six in Boston on November 10th. He came off the bench v. Ottawa last week, but he hasn't had a great game since he stopped 40 of 41 in a victory over Colorado on October 28th. Dubnyk needs a solid outing, and the Oilers need him to play well if they want to avoid their 2nd loss in 24 hours.

LINE UP

Outside of Dubnyk we will see a few other changes. Taylor Chorney was sent back to OKC today, and Alex Plante has been recalled to take his place. Chorney isn't big enough to be a regular NHL D-man. If he had lots of offence you could overlook his size, but he doesn't. Plante has played 8 NHL games and registered 2 points and is an even player. He is still a prospect/suspect at this point, but he's still only 22. At least he'll bring some needed size and muscle. His footspeed is an issue, but he has really improved his competitive play the past few years.

The Oilers won't skate this morning in Nashville, so we won't know who is in or out for sure until closer to game time, but I expect Renney to juggle his roster. I could see him putting Paajarvi back in on the 3rd line and he'll maybe insert Eager. Unless he plays his 4th line more than 5-8 minutes no one should expect the Oilers to be a more physical team tonight.

QUICK HITS

  • Ales Hemsky needs to start shooting more. I know that's nothing new, but in the previous five years he's averaged 2.33 shots/game. This year he has seven shots in 8 1/3 games. (he only played a period v. Minny) He has to start becoming more of a factor in games.
     
  • I'm not saying the Oilers can't muck and grind it with other teams, but they just don't have enough big forwards who can lean on the opposition.
     
  • I understand why Renney uses Belanger to win faceoffs on the PP, but once Ryan Whitney and Corey Potter return I hope he's not out there anymore. Especially if the are changing on the fly and you don't need him to win the draw, because he doesn't have a big enough shot from the point to be effective there. Or at least, he hasn't shown it yet.
     
  • I'm curious if all those who said,"Ryan Jones is an awful hockey player," still feel that way. I find it interesting how few of them have admitted those comments might have been a touch off-base. We've all been wrong before, but I find it interesting how we haven't heard much from that camp. Or the camp who said Nugent-Hopkins was a bad pick because he only had 27 goals last year. It's okay to be wrong, I've been there, but don't think I haven't noticed how those who love to point out when others are wrong haven't said boo about their own misguided projections.
     
  • Kyle Turris might want to hire a new agent. Turris sits out training camp, the preseason and misses the first 19 games of the regular season to get $2.8 million over two years. A $1.4 cap hit sounds about right. He held out to get what he could have got in the summer. Asinine.

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Only Colorado has few home wins than the Predators, and the Oilers will have a much better effort tonight, and they'll win 3-2. Hemsky finally makes an appearance.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The cameraman will pan to Carrie Underwood at least four times, not that I'm complaining. We'll also see the TooToo Train take some healthy runs at the Oilers. Tootoo is the exact type of player the Oilers need. He plays hard, hits hard and plays over 13 minutes a night.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Sam Gagner scores his first goal of the season. I have no idea why, just a hunch. 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#201 A-Mc
November 22 2011, 08:41PM
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Gj boys. I can go to bed in a good mood: 32 shots makes me happy.

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#202 Quicksilver ballet
November 22 2011, 08:56PM
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Extend Horcoff NOW, before this gets way outta hand.

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#203 Wäx Män Riley
November 22 2011, 09:11PM
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Chris. wrote:

Game Day Prediction: Oilers win big tonight: 6-1. Yeah... I said it. Yeah... I know who Pekka Rinne is.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: Principe will wear a cowboy hat during the pregame broadcast.

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Gregor was absolutely correct yesterday when he predicted Hall/Eberle would disagree about who was the prettiest Dallas cheer team member. That debate will expand tonight on the plane when Peckham suggests Nashville has a better looking overall squad than Dallas. It's fun to talk about pretty girls when you're winning hockey games.

Yaaaaa.....Props fo' sho'. I'll give you a pass on the score since that last one was so weak (well, at least it sounded like it on the ol' radiotelegraph.

Bob mentioned that the players came over to Dubnyk at the end of the game in an apologetic manner.

6 goals..... OK, are our forwards (RNH, Hall, Eberle, Hemsky, Horcoff, Smyth) actually as good as they look? I have been to a few games and seen a few more on TV this year, and they actually look good.

Is it just me?

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#204 Wäx Män Riley
November 22 2011, 09:14PM
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Krusher wrote:

Game Day Prediction deserves full props. Wow!

I would have bet my left nut that a 6-1 score wouldn't be possible.

Whew.... you're safe!

...for now.

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#205 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
November 22 2011, 09:19PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

well... that sucked. how many nuts and bolts can we trade for Weder? all of them?

~~i would give at least 2 super cheese donairs and a warm diet coke for a guy who has a name that makes me think of weed for some reason.

is he at least a good player?~~

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#206 Wäx Män Riley
November 22 2011, 09:22PM
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Warning... internet slang comin'...

O n BTW WTF sup wit TO????ZOMG!!!!

They blow a team out....we blow a team out.

Lose....lose

They Blow one out again....We blow one out again?

It's a league conspiracy. My second cousin's dentist's best friend plays golf with a guy that mows Colin Campbell's lawn.

He is paying off refs I know it.

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#207 Rip van Winkle
November 22 2011, 09:52PM
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Bobby44 wrote:

WTF is with Kevin?? Gags makes a great pass and he says"that was Sedin like". If yoiu want to hurt the guy just kick him in the nuts and get it over with..

Riddle me this, did Gagner make a pass knowing that Horcs was there or was he blindly centering the puck after finding himself running out of space. I'd like to think it was more like that backhand pass to Cogs for that overtime goal back then............

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#208 OilFan
November 22 2011, 10:06PM
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@Wanyes bastard child

Agreed he seen Horcoff

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#209 VK63
November 22 2011, 10:13PM
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@Rip van Winkle

IMO it was blind, but theres no pictures on the scoresheet so maybe its a sign of his fortunes changing. Yesterday it might have sent Steve Ott in on a breakaway..... today.... HELLO!

Now if MPS could just get one to bounce in off his head or something his fortunes might change.

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#210 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 22 2011, 11:09PM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

~~i would give at least 2 super cheese donairs and a warm diet coke for a guy who has a name that makes me think of weed for some reason.

is he at least a good player?~~

I'm going to leave the typo there just for you! A Smythmas miracle!

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#211 russ99
November 23 2011, 07:50AM
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Wäx Män Riley wrote:

Warning... internet slang comin'...

O n BTW WTF sup wit TO????ZOMG!!!!

They blow a team out....we blow a team out.

Lose....lose

They Blow one out again....We blow one out again?

It's a league conspiracy. My second cousin's dentist's best friend plays golf with a guy that mows Colin Campbell's lawn.

He is paying off refs I know it.

I doubt there's any conspiracy, but those refs in Dallas the other night didn't call much, unless it was overt. Plus we couldn't do anything on the PP.

Probably a bit of home team bias, especially considering Dallas' style of play.

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#212 michael
November 23 2011, 07:51AM
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MP looked involved in the play last night. Hemsky also. Tuebert needs to be careful on the penalty parade. I thought that overall the Oilers played a much simpler road game than in Dallas. RNH reminds me so often of WG that its scary. End of the night you look at the scoresheet and the guy has 2 assists. You ask yourself when did he get those. He is so smooth, sublime, pick an verb. Its that he is so quite about the way he goes about his play on the ice. Nothing too flashy. He just makes the right play and is in the right spot on the ice more often than not. No wasted effort.

Contrast him to Eberle and Hall. Flash and Dash. Those 3 are going to be nightmares for teams in a few years. Eberle is on a sick tear right now. I told mu wife last night that he looks like a young Joey Mullen. The kid has the same wheels and the same grit and sense of the moment. If he is ever as good as MUllen we'll be laughing our way to the SCF more often than not. Eberle is in the zone.

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#213 A-Mc
November 23 2011, 09:33AM
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So we need to win 3 of the next 4 games of November to come out .500 on the Month.

I think it's about time for a 5 game winning streak (Counting last nights win).

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#214 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
November 23 2011, 11:11AM
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Oilers21 wrote:

On the topic of admitting when you're wrong about someone, I'll stand up and admit that I was totally wrong about Tom Gilbert. His constant giveaways and outright refusal to engage physically made my eyes hurt. All the credit in the world to him for making great strides this year. Someone I was right about was Ryan Jones...I literally didn't understand why some folk felt there wasn't a spot for a player who brought crazy energy every night and contributed 15-20 goals. To me that's the very definition of a perfect third/fourth line player. The only scenario would be if we had someone who was better in that role, which clearly we don't (yet).

that deserves a props!

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