GDB 05: NEED EV SCORING

Jason Gregor
January 28 2013 01:14PM

In four games the Edmonton Oilers have a whopping two goals while playing 5-on-5. Jordan Eberle scored one v. Vancouver and Taylor Hall potted the other against the Sharks. NHL.com says they have four goals at EV, but two of them came with an extra skater in the final five seconds of the game, Nail Yakupov v. LA and Sam Gagner v. Calgary, so to me those are 6-on-5 goals and come with an EV asterisk.

The Oilers have played almost 165 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey and they have a paltry two goals, and to make matters worse they've given up nine at even strength.

If the Oilers are going to stay competitive in the western conference they need to start scoring at EV, and their top line needs to produce more.

Many of you might be wondering why I said the first line needs to score more at EV, when they have the only two goals, but when you break down their minutes, Eberle, Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are getting the most EV icetime. Of course the 2nd and 3rd lines need to be much better than they have, but if Ralph Krueger continues to dish out icetime like he has in the first four games the Oilers success will rest on the shoulders of their best players.

Which is how it should be. 

Player  Pos  GP  ES TOI/G SH TOI/G  PP TOI/G  TOI/G 
Justin Schultz D 4 17:41 1:25 4:55 24:02
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins C 4 16:28 0:49 5:13 22:31
Taylor Hall L 4 16:20 0:04 4:30 20:55
Jordan Eberle R 4 16:02 0:45 4:58 21:46
Ryan Whitney D 4 15:02 0:41 3:38 19:21
Jeff Petry D 4 14:44 5:43 0:24 20:53
Nick Schultz D 4 14:06 3:50 0:01 17:57
Sam Gagner C 4 13:04 1:24 3:52 18:21
Ales Hemsky R 4 12:49 0:00 3:44 16:33
Ladislav Smid D 4 12:43 4:20 0:03 17:06
Corey Potter D 2 12:43 3:27 0:02 16:13
Nail Yakupov R 4 11:52 0:00 3:19 15:11
Mark Fistric D 2 11:14 4:03 0:00 15:17
Ryan Smyth L 4 8:20 3:38 2:54 14:53
Shawn Horcoff C 4 8:07 3:30 3:53 15:31
Magnus Paajarvi L 3 8:05 2:07 0:00 10:13
Eric Belanger C 4 7:33 3:58 0:02 11:34
Teemu Hartikainen L 3 7:02 0:00 0:31 7:33
Ben Eager L 1 6:18 0:00 0:00 6:18
Lennart Petrell L 4 5:22 3:15 0:00 8:37
Darcy Hordichuk L 1 1:11 0:00 0:00 1:11

No one can suggest Krueger isn't playing his best players the most. You all wanted the kids to play 20 minutes a night last year, and now they are doing that.

They have been very good on the powerplay with 6 goals on 22 opportunities, 27.3%, which is tied for 5th best in the league. If the Oilers can find a way to start scoring at EV the games will become much easier.

Obviously the Horcoff and Gagner lines need to do more EV, and I wonder if Krueger will look at switching them up, but ultimately this team will start winning consistently once their top line become more effective at EV. The good news for the Oilers is they are 2-2 in four games, despite little production EV.

Eberle has shown he can be productive at EV. Last season, 73.6% of his points came at EV, which was 5th best amongst the top-20 scorers in the NHL. (The first column shows were they finished in league scoring)

 

  Player  Team GP  G  A  P ESP  EV%
20 Loui Eriksson DAL 82 26 45 71 56 78.8
18 Martin St Louis TBL 77 25 49 74 58 78.3
2 Steven Stamkos TBL 82 60 37 97 72 74.2
13 Ray Whitney PHX 82 24 53 77 57 74
16 Jordan Eberle EDM 78 34 42 76 56 73.6
15 Marian Gaborik NYR 82 41 35 76 55 72.3
6 Phil Kessel TOR 82 37 45 82 59 71.9
4 Jason Spezza OTT 80 34 50 84 60 71.4
12 Marian Hossa CHI 81 29 48 77 54 70.1
8 John Tavares NYI 82 31 50 81 56 69.1
1 Evgeni Malkin PIT 75 50 59 109 75 68.8
14 Joe Thornton SJS 82 18 59 77 53 68.8
9 Henrik Sedin VAN 82 14 67 81 54 66.7
11 Erik Karlsson OTT 81 19 59 78 50 64.1
7 James Neal PIT 80 40 41 81 51 62.9
17 Anze Kopitar LAK 82 25 51 76 46 60.5
19 Jason Pominville BUF 82 30 43 73 44 60.2
5 Ilya Kovalchuk NJD 77 37 46 83 49 59.1
10 Patrik Elias NJD 81 26 52 78 45 57.6
3 Claude Giroux PHI 77 28 65 93 53 56.9

Now let's take a quick look at how the Oilers produced at EV last year.

 

Player  GP  G  A  P  ESP EV% EV TOI
Jordan Eberle 78 34 42 76 56 73.6 14:24
Ryan Smyth 82 19 27 46 38 82.6 14:26
Sam Gagner 75 18 29 47 35 74.4 14:40
Taylor Hall 61 27 26 53 32 60.3 15:06
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 62 18 34 52 29 55.7 14:33
Ales Hemsky 69 10 26 36 27 75 15:25
Ryan Jones 79 17 16 33 24 72.7 12:06
Shawn Horcoff 81 13 21 34 21 61.7 14:03
Jeff Petry 73 2 23 25 19 76 17:59
Ladislav Smid 78 5 10 15 14 93.3 17:28
Ben Eager 63 8 5 13 13 100 8:29
Corey Potter 62 4 17 21 10 47.6 16:36
Ryan Whitney 51 3 17 20 10 50 17:49
Eric Belanger 78 4 12 16 10 62.5 11:11
Lennart Petrell 60 4 5 9 7 77.7 8:29
Magnus Paajarvi 41 2 6 8 6 75 11:56
Nick Schultz 82 1 6 7 6 87.5 16:55
Teemu Hartikainen 17 2 3 5 5 100 12:59
Darcy Hordichuk 43 1 2 3 3 100 4:20

You will notice that the top-line was the most productive at EV, but the Oilers got some solid production from Ryan Smyth and Sam Gagner.

I expect the Oilers top line to carry the bulk of the offence, but until the 2nd and 3rd lines show up it is going to be difficult to win.

So far Smyth, Horcoff, Hartikainen, Paajarvi, Hemsky, Gagner and Yakupov have zero points 5-on-5. Gagner and Yakupov did score with an extra attacker on the ice late in games, but as a pure EV tally those seven forward don't have a sniff through four games.

If the Oilers are going to put any sort of win streak together, the entire team needs to show some sort of pulse offensively during five-on-five play.

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Yakupov-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Horcoff-Petrell
Hartikainen-Belanger-Paajarvi

Smid-Petry
N.Schultz- J.Schultz
Whitney-Potter

Dubnyk

I'm a tad surprised Fistric is out considering how well he has played on the penalty kill. Krueger said the Potter is in because he doesn't want guys sitting around very long. He also juggled his 3rd and 4th lines, and is hoping that Hartikainen and Paajarvi can find the chemistry they had in OKC.

The Avalanche is struggling to score with only nine goals in four games. The Duchene/Parenteau duo has looked good with both of them scoring a pair of goals, but the Avs really miss Ryan O'Reilly. Greg Sherman is standing firm on his stance that O'Reilly won't get much more money, if any, than Matt Duchene.

Gabriel Landeskog won't play tonight, but the Avalanche didn't want to say why he was out. Some are assuming he has a concussion, but the Avalanche, like most teams, didn`t want to say what his injury was. Rumblings suggest he injured his leg and head during the hit. 

 QUICK HITS

  • It is very early and it's only been four games, but Ryan Smyth has looked a half a step behind so far this season. He's been solid on the PK, but at EV he hasn't generated much. He was very productive at EV last season, and the Oilers desperately need him to get back on track. He didn't play during the lockout and at his age, not playing for almost eight months could be contributors to his slow start.
     
  • Krueger addressed the Oilers EV scoring woes by saying they need to be more composed and cut down on their turnovers. He also preached patience, since there hasn't been a training camp and some players haven't played in eight months. Many don't want to accept the latter, but in many cases the difference between guys who were playing and guys who weren't is pretty obvious.
     
  • The Oilers have been shorthanded 13 times in the first period so far this season, most in the NHL. It is hard to get any sort of momentum five-on-five early in a game when you are killing off that many penalties. Toss in their PP time in the first frame and that likely has played a factor into their dreadful EV scoring.
     
  • The Oilers will make a decision regarding Nikolai Khabibulin tomorrow according to Krueger. He has been practicing and if he feels good he will go on the road trip as the backup and Yann Danis will return to OKC.
     
  • Theo Peckham is on a conditioning program right now, and I'd guess that when they feel he is in game shape they will send him to OKC on a conditioning stint, and place Ben Eager on the IR to free up a roster spot.
     

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers will score two goals EV and win 4-3. Horcoff scores his first off the season.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers are the only team in the NHL who has yet to score the first goal of the game, so obviously they will score first tonight. Why, because they scored first in five of the six meetings with the Avs last year. 

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nail Yakupov scores the go-ahead goal with four minutes remaining. His celebration is very subdued compared to his knee slide; however, just after he scores he pulls a cherry out of his sock and crushes it with his skate. When asked after the game if the cherry represented Don Cherry he asks, "Who is Don Cherry?"

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

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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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#51 Rama Lama
January 28 2013, 07:17PM
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It's hard to score even strength goals when you rarely play at even strength!

The NHL has changed their minds this year and the refs call everything they can think of and if that is not working.....they make penalties up!

I understand there is a new penalty this year.......if you do not like the team you are refereeing, then just penalize them for being young.

I guess we won't get any breaks until the kids can grow their beards.........three more years!

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#52 Chaz
January 28 2013, 07:23PM
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Here's to Dubey NOT letting in a softie tonight. Always takes the wind out of our sails, and he's let in a softie in 3 out of the 4 games. Starting NHL goalies can't do that and expect their team to win. Get it together DD!

GOilers!

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#53 justDOit
January 28 2013, 07:27PM
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@Oilers Coffey

As has been pointed out elsewhere, Krueger said that they have 4 games coming up this week (with 3 on the road), and didn't want to rest Potter too long. He's trying to manage a 'big picture' perspective that we on the GDBs don't usually account for.

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#54 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
January 28 2013, 07:28PM
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Just win, baby

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#55 justDOit
January 28 2013, 07:33PM
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@Jordan Nugent-Hallkins

Justwin Schultz?

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#56 Clyde Frog
January 28 2013, 08:06PM
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Le sigh... Anyone else getting bored of penalties?

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#57 Clyde Frog
January 28 2013, 08:30PM
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PS who needs ev scoring when you have HEMSKY

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#58 Clyde Frog
January 28 2013, 08:31PM
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And EBERLY

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#59 Oilertown
January 28 2013, 08:32PM
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What shooting percentage Ebs coulda had two there lol

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#60 Oilertown
January 28 2013, 08:34PM
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Another thing I guess we finally get to see how they play WITH the lead.

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#61 Oilertown
January 28 2013, 08:39PM
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Wow what a deal Habs got on PK 5.75 for 2 years holy. Could have got 4.5 a YEAR anyway. Didn't help him to sit out.

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#62 Shaun Doe
January 28 2013, 09:01PM
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Liking the work ethic and puck possession of Harti and PRV down low in this game. Now if all their hard work could be passed off for a goal that would be great.

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#63 Clyde Frog
January 28 2013, 09:07PM
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Shaun Doe wrote:

Liking the work ethic and puck possession of Harti and PRV down low in this game. Now if all their hard work could be passed off for a goal that would be great.

Ditto, but I'm also happy they are penning up Colorado's #1 and 2 lines as well as they are!

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#64 StHenriOilBomb
January 28 2013, 09:10PM
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Shaun Doe wrote:

Liking the work ethic and puck possession of Harti and PRV down low in this game. Now if all their hard work could be passed off for a goal that would be great.

They've changed the whole momentum of this period with two shifts of grinding, puck possession hockey. This is what we've been hoping for from the 'grinders'.

...and it leads to a pp, and a pp goal!

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#65 Clyde Frog
January 28 2013, 09:11PM
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Yeah... This PP is about 100 times more effective than a goon. Just gonna throw that out there, also HORCOFF

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#66 Oilfan69
January 28 2013, 09:11PM
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holy crap I think they kids just found out how to make horcoff score, bank it off the pylon and in :)

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#67 DSF II jr.
January 28 2013, 09:25PM
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Yak is playing very poorly, can we please trade him. Same with Petry. Dubnyk is solid, looking like Lundquist.

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#68 Mike Krushelnyski
January 28 2013, 09:35PM
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Just saw this GDB, title was a lie.

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#69 DSF II jr.
January 28 2013, 09:44PM
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Also Nug sucks, like how many giveaways has he had on the PP? Trade him please.

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#70 @Oilanderp
January 28 2013, 09:56PM
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Infinibuild™!

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#71 Mikey
January 28 2013, 09:59PM
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New rule. Harti and MPS must play together.

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#72 @Oilanderp
January 28 2013, 10:00PM
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Well... there's Dubnyk's 1 weak goal.

I'm liking Petrell with Horc and Smyth too.

edit: Also, the people who chant Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu when Dubnyk makes a save need to be systematically rounded up and shot without remorse.

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#73 Dog Train
January 28 2013, 10:31PM
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We didn't score any even strength goals but our PP is really clicking right now. Both units have all of the elements necessary to make the PP work. Other than a pretty sloppy 3rd, that was a tremendous effort all around. We always play well against the Avs so that bodes well for us with 5 games against them this season.

Obviously the first line was awesome tonight but the fourth line was also very effective. Hartikainen's dogged determination along the boards along with Paajarvi's speed make them tough to handle on the cycle. Belanger adds some defensive responsibility to that line and allows the dmen to pinch in order to keep plays alive.

Dubnyk was very good as well. I felt like he could have done a better job on the goal against but he shut the door on some tough shots in the 3rd and didn't allow the Avs to get right back into the game. Now we have to build off of this game and get a win on Wednesday. GO OILERS GO!!

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#74 m3sh
January 28 2013, 10:49PM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

Well... there's Dubnyk's 1 weak goal.

I'm liking Petrell with Horc and Smyth too.

edit: Also, the people who chant Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu when Dubnyk makes a save need to be systematically rounded up and shot without remorse.

Amen to fanocide (though I think they're saying "doob") of anyone that seeks to emulate those fails known as Canucks fans.

We could at least be a bit more innovative and shout "WEED" or something. :) At least it sounds like cheering instead of boos.

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#75 Citizen David
January 28 2013, 10:56PM
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We need to cut back on turnovers but that all that I'll say that's negative. We should be pleased with the win.

Our first line is awesome.

Very pleased with Gagner, tons of effort to win that puck battle and dish it to Yakupov. Two points on the night, six in five games. Why on earth we would want to trade this young player is beyond me.

Yakupov looks like he needs time. That's fine with me, he'll be good.

When Jones and Eager get back we should trade Hemsky for a d-man. Move Paajarvi or Harti up to the second line. They were great today especially Harti. I liked them and Belanger being out there way more than Horcoff, Smyth, and Petrell. Hemsky has skills but he is the right piece to move.

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#76 The Soup Fascist
January 28 2013, 11:30PM
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Okay. Gotta say it. Shane O'Cryin' is the biggest poser in the league. He was when he was with the Canucks and he has not changed. Dude is to gutless what Ebs is to shooting %.

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#77 Sanaa Montana
January 28 2013, 11:32PM
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@Mikey

.wIth Lander.

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#78 Sanaa Montana
January 28 2013, 11:34PM
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Citizen David wrote:

We need to cut back on turnovers but that all that I'll say that's negative. We should be pleased with the win.

Our first line is awesome.

Very pleased with Gagner, tons of effort to win that puck battle and dish it to Yakupov. Two points on the night, six in five games. Why on earth we would want to trade this young player is beyond me.

Yakupov looks like he needs time. That's fine with me, he'll be good.

When Jones and Eager get back we should trade Hemsky for a d-man. Move Paajarvi or Harti up to the second line. They were great today especially Harti. I liked them and Belanger being out there way more than Horcoff, Smyth, and Petrell. Hemsky has skills but he is the right piece to move.

What year are you in on the EA-NHL13 GM mode?

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#79 Citizen David
January 29 2013, 06:34AM
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Sanaa Montana wrote:

What year are you in on the EA-NHL13 GM mode?

Haven't played it. Just been watching the games.

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#80 Number 2 line
January 29 2013, 06:20PM
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To me the chemistry of the second line just doesn't seem right.

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