GDB 4.0: LOOKING FOR MOMENTUM

Jason Gregor
October 10 2013 12:12PM

After a ferocious comeback led them to a shootout victory on Monday, the Oilers will be looking to carry that momentum into tonight's clash with the Montreal Canadiens. The Oilers have trailed by three goals heading into the 3rd period 285 times in franchise history, and Monday was only the 5th time they came back to win the game. Those types of comebacks are extremely rare, but the enthusiasm and confidence the Oilers gained from that game has been evident the past few days.

The players were more relaxed. This team is still quite young, especially their offensive leaders, and even though it was only eight periods of hockey, you could tell some of them were frustrated with their lack of production prior to the 3rd period explosion vs. the Devils.

Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov desperately want to lead this team offensively. They feel their primary job is to score goals, and you could see they were getting frustrated not doing it. They have high expectations, and since Monday's victory you could see the relief on two of their faces.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in his first game, so he wasn't feeling any frustration, but he's just as hungry to lead this team as the other three.

As they mature, they will realize that on nights where their offence is struggling they can still help the team by playing solid defensively. It is easy to say, but much harder to accept. Very few young offensive stars can accept that playing great defence is as important as scoring a goal. They were able to dominate at every other level, and most of their domination came offensively.

This isn't a knock or a criticism, just a fact in today's game. The best offensive players become some of the best two-way players if their teams want to win. Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Patrice Bergeron are excellent two-way players, and Nugent-Hopkins is constantly talking about wanting to emulate them.

Hall, Eberle and Yakupov are equally aware of it, but it will take time before they don't get frustrated when the offence dries up. Usually their slumps won't last very long, so it won't be a big issue, but even a two-game drought can frustrate young snipers.

Hall's third period goal was a huge relief, and even though Eberle didn't score a goal, he contributed with an assist and he too was more relaxed the past few days.

Yakupov loves scoring goals, and after scoring six goals in his final three games he was hoping to carry that momentum into this season. It hasn't happened, yet, and you can see the frustration in his game. It seems many in Oilersnation want to blame his linemates for his lack of production. That is a lame excuse, and not one that Yakupov is thinking about.

Elite players don't think that way. Yakupov can score regardless of who he plays with, and when I spoke to him yesterday he said he just needs to shoot more and react better to plays. He's played most of the season with Boyd Gordon, who has a point in every game, so the excuse of weak linemates is not only a cop out, but also inaccurate.

Yakupov needs to shoot more, but he also needs to work harder to get into better shooting lanes. It is only three games, and no one should be that concerned, but stop blaming his linemates. Gordon is playing the best offensive hockey of his career, yet he's an anchor for Yakupov? It doesn't jive.

Yakupov will start producing, and when he does it will likely coincide with him simply working harder in every aspect of his game.

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Perron-Arcobello-Hemsky
Smyth-Gordon-Yakupov
Gazdic-Acton-Brown

Ference-J. Schultz
Belov-Petry
Smid-N.Schultz

Dubnyk

I'm sure many will complain that Yakupov is playing with Smyth, but Eakins isn't afraid to juggle his lines, so I'm sure we will see Yakupov play with other duos as well. Eakins won't hesitate to switch up the lines if they aren't producing, but he stated yesterday he'd much rather keep his lines together, because that means they are playing well.

The Canadiens lost 3-2 in Calgary last night and didn't skate this morning, but Peter Budaj will get the start in goal for the Habs. Josh Gorges was injured and only played one shift in the third period last night, so he'll be a game time decision.

Galchenyuk-Eller-Gallagher
Pacioretty-Desharnais-Briere
Bourque-Plekanec-Gionta
Prust-Moen-White/Bournival

Gorges??-Subban
Markov-Diaz
Bouillon-Tinordi

Budaj 

QUICK HITS....

  • David Perron is another scorer who wants to be a main contributor. After a solid preseason, five goals, he too was pressing for his first as an Oiler. After he ripped one over Brodeur's right shoulder he admitted he felt a great sense of relief. It is nice to see a bunch of players who truly want to contribute and win. Once this team learns to play better away from the puck, I believe they will be a handful for opposing teams.
     
  • Last year many wrote how Eberle's shooting % was unsustainable, and he would clearly regress. It is interesting how none of those same people wrote similar stories about Yakupov. Yakupov had 17 goals on 81 shots for a sizzling 21 SH%. If Eberle's 18.9% wasn't going to be repeated, shouldn't those people expect Yakupov to regress as well?
     
  • Perception and human nature is a funny thing. It seems some have decided it is Eberle vs. Yakupov, instead of hoping that both have great success. I sense that some would rather see Yakupov succeed than Eberle, mainly because he was the #1 overall pick. After a 76-point season many stats guys wanted to show why Eberle couldn't maintain those numbers, yet after Yakupov's rookie campaign many automatically assumed he'd become a 35-goal man. Why was Eberle's season critiqued due to SH%, but Yakupov's used as a stepping stone to future success?
     
  • Lars Eller is off to a great start for the Habs. He has four goals and six points in three games, while Aex Galchenyuk has five assists. Eakins likes to go power on power so we could see the RNH line vs. Galchenyuk which should be exciting.
     
  • I loved Tomas Hertl's goal. It is extremely difficult to pull that off in a game, and outside of Adam Oates, it seemed most hockey fans appreciated it. I liked Hall's response when I asked him if he feels it was disrespectful. "I think it is more insulting if a team stops trying against you than if they run up the score or score a flashy goal," said Hall. 

THE ORACLE....

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers can't afford to go on the road with only one victory. They will play their best game of the early season and skate away with a 4-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Gordon has had four three-game point streaks in his career, but he's never had points in four consecutive games. He'll set a career high tonight with an assist, and make everyone forget about the dreadful two seasons of the Belanger Triangle.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Midway through the first period Alex Galchenyuk, the 3rd pick in the 2012 draft, will crush Yakupov, 1st pick in 2012, with an open ice hit. Yakupov is slow to get up, but on his next shift he rips a one-timer for his first goal of the season. Instead of a crazy celebration, he just stands still and raises his hands above his head with a big smile. After the game he thanks his former teammate for waking him from his early season slump.

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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#151 Hemmercules
October 11 2013, 08:10AM
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Well now that they are 1-3 I guess the season is over, with a measly 78 games left there is absolutely no hope of saving the season. Better trade the whole team and fire Eakins immediately before its too late!

Effort was better last night. Dubnyk looked ok from what I saw. Our skill guys need to start carrying the team a bit, score some goals already. Yak and Eberle look lost half the time.

I wonder if playing a third system in 3 years has anything to do with some of the struggles certain players are having??

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#152 Serious Gord
October 11 2013, 08:23AM
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Hemmercules wrote:

Well now that they are 1-3 I guess the season is over, with a measly 78 games left there is absolutely no hope of saving the season. Better trade the whole team and fire Eakins immediately before its too late!

Effort was better last night. Dubnyk looked ok from what I saw. Our skill guys need to start carrying the team a bit, score some goals already. Yak and Eberle look lost half the time.

I wonder if playing a third system in 3 years has anything to do with some of the struggles certain players are having??

Too early to cast a verdict on the season to be sure, but the signs thusfar are definitely cause for concern.

And arguably the toughest ten game stretch of the season starts tomorrow.

The stage is set for disaster. We shall if the players and the coaches can endure and make the corrections and still be in the playoff hunt on nov 3.

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#153 Serious Gord
October 11 2013, 08:33AM
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And regarding Eakins:

If the team is playing as uncohesively as they are now four weeks from now and the record is 4-10ish then it is entirely possible he is fired - along with most of his staff. Barry melrose got canned by Florida only 15 games in.

Clearly coaching isn't the only issue - but is one right now. Compare his lack of success to that of another rookie coach from the ahl - Patrick Roy.

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#154 Rotten Ron
October 11 2013, 08:36AM
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@Serious Gord

Roy was coaching in the QMJHL

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#155 Dan 1919
October 11 2013, 08:49AM
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Despite a loss last night, I like what I am seeing. We finally watched an NHL team lose last night, where as over the last few seasons it seemed when the Oilers lost, they did it in a fashion that made them look as if they didn't even belong in the league.

Dubnyk was OK and will still have to be consistent over long stretches to take the big "?" off him.

Eberle and Yak need to find their game and will.

Hall is all effort and his game will still improve quite a bit as he finds season form.

NUGE is looking like one of the most solid two way centres in the game developing in front of us.

Hemsky is the best right wing on the team, great to see him performing like he can.

I just hope this team buys into Eakins' plan and continues to compete even though they are off to a rocky start, because a team that competes like this with as many solid pieces as they have will be a force to be reckoned with once they start to GEL as a team.

All they need now is to maintain the compete level and time will take care of the rest.

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#156 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 11 2013, 09:38AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

And regarding Eakins:

If the team is playing as uncohesively as they are now four weeks from now and the record is 4-10ish then it is entirely possible he is fired - along with most of his staff. Barry melrose got canned by Florida only 15 games in.

Clearly coaching isn't the only issue - but is one right now. Compare his lack of success to that of another rookie coach from the ahl - Patrick Roy.

It's not Roy's coaching winning those games. Take a look at Colorado's team sv%:

http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/teamstats.php?disp=1&db=201314&sit=5v5&sort=SVPCT&sortdir=DESC

1st in the league.

If you think coaching has anything to do with that and that it is sustainable, I've got some nice "waterfront" property to sell you.

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#157 Hemmercules
October 11 2013, 09:49AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Too early to cast a verdict on the season to be sure, but the signs thusfar are definitely cause for concern.

And arguably the toughest ten game stretch of the season starts tomorrow.

The stage is set for disaster. We shall if the players and the coaches can endure and make the corrections and still be in the playoff hunt on nov 3.

I'm going to call it right now and say they wont be in a playoff spot November 3rd, very bold prediction I know. They have a chance at the playoff this year but it will be a scrape-in if they make it.

Over half the players on the Oilers are either new to the team or new to the NHL. Even the players that have been here a few years don't look like they have a ton of chemistry with each other at the moment. Combine that with average goaltending and a new system and they are in pretty tough this year.

No one is intimidated to play the Oilers, and why should they be?? This team has been soft for years. They have been throwing their weight around a bit more this year but it hasn't resulted in much so far. Even their top offensive threats aren't scaring anyone right now unless its a shootout or a breakaway

Eberle is the new Hemsky, he's getting flattened every time he turns around and I haven't seen much support from his fellow players following those hits. He will be concussed or into some shoulder surgeries before you know it.

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#158 PutzStew
October 11 2013, 09:51AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Poor Yakupov, he looks so lost out there right now, to blame a 19 year old for this teams problems is like blaming Dubnyk.

I agree with one of the posters, the Oilers are being out coached badly right now. They looked completely gassed by the end of the second, if you didn't know any better you would have thought the Oilers played last night.

This kid is a through bred and is being treated like a mule. He needs to be pushed, not held back. Hall was the same way when there were trying to "Protect him". Give him the ball and let him run. This is never going to happen on the third line.

I hope they trade him. Then I can cheer him when he is playing for a team that nows how to use him.

Also I don't except anyone on the ice to be accountable when the boobs in head office aren't. Change that and you have a winning team.

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#159 Serious Gord
October 11 2013, 10:31AM
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Rotten Ron wrote:

Roy was coaching in the QMJHL

You're right of course. Mental mistake on my part. The point still stands however.

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#160 Trolololo
October 11 2013, 11:40AM
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Fire eakins! Fire McTavish! Fire Lowe!Get an owner who wants to win not just hang around with boyhood idols.

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#161 Trolololo
October 11 2013, 11:52AM
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Furthermore, this smells like a George Burnett do over. The only question is, will oil management(oxymoron), give him the 35 games they gave Burnett.

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#162 Cold Hard Truth
October 11 2013, 12:01PM
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If this team was a horse, it would be shot.

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#163 trolololo
October 11 2013, 12:37PM
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0 for gregor , nice job

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#164 2004Z06
October 11 2013, 12:46PM
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I can only laugh.....Thought the effort was at least better tonight. Too many "superstars" ignoring the team concept.

Love the hate for Eakins already after 4 games. This is clearly not a coaching issue after 5 coaches you need to start looking for blame elsewhere. Doesn't matter who is coaching this team. Too many spoiled, entitled looking out for number one brats.

Every time Taylor Hall gets crushed, no one comes to his aid. Either the team is too soft, or they simply don't like Taylor Hall.

I hope it is the former. Time to shake this group up a little.

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#165 madjam
October 11 2013, 12:56PM
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" Tale of the Tape" - tidbits from Coppernblue . Acton , Gazdik and Brown on ice for 6 minutes giving up 12 shots against and only one shot for . Credit Dubbie for making them look better than what they were/are . Even Belanger and Petrell were not that bad . Ference on ice for every goal against last two games in all situations . That's not exactly making our defence any better than last year , now is it . Read coppernblue article , it is an eye opener for some .

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#166 Slats
October 11 2013, 01:07PM
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madjam wrote:

" Tale of the Tape" - tidbits from Coppernblue . Acton , Gazdik and Brown on ice for 6 minutes giving up 12 shots against and only one shot for . Credit Dubbie for making them look better than what they were/are . Even Belanger and Petrell were not that bad . Ference on ice for every goal against last two games in all situations . That's not exactly making our defence any better than last year , now is it . Read coppernblue article , it is an eye opener for some .

Chara and Rask factor can mask a lot of shortcomings.

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#167 spliff
October 11 2013, 09:43PM
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madjam wrote:

Oilers figured they could duplicate the old Oilers by drafting the most skilled player each year rather than conventional wisdom that most would use - shore up the backend first and center figuring they could fix that in other ways - which still has not happened to any usable degree . Size and grit was left on the after burners . Lowe and Oiler fans got what they wanted , and now have to suffer the consequences of that type of rebuild .

You could start another rebuild , but this time you had better get pieces that are upsized to NHL status rather than just gutting away personnel and contracts . It will certainly have to be better than last few years attempts that ended in downgrades all over the roster . A new vision and definitely one with more foresight . The rebuild turned into a disaster as results bear out -tough to argue otherwise . At least one positive is the club is financially strong despite the results of the club , and a fan base that does not seem to mind this poor resulting "Never Ending Story " .

Saying that Oiler fans got what they wanted is unfair. I remember begging KLoser to sign GX but he was too busy begging Hossa with 10 million and embarrassing the franchise. I remember when I heard that KLoser traded Greene and Stoll for Lubo and thinking "what the f*ck is he doing?" I remember when KLoser got too emotional about Comrie and let a god asset go for next to nothing. I remember when KLoser let Tambelini screw up the Souray situation. They could have dealt with the Souray situation much more pragmatically, and he could still be playing here. I remember when KLoser embarrassed the city and franchise begging Heatly to come here. I remember KLoser insulting the fanbase on national TV. KLowe is an overconfident, arrogant as*hole, who relies on his past glories and friendship with the owner to justify his position. He is the worst type of manager; unqualified, overconfident and uneducated for this type of job. When the people at the top are not competent, it sends a bad vibe through the whole organization and you end up with what we have now, which is a unmitigated sh*tshow of incompetence. Oh yeah, just noticed the Flames outshot and outworked another opponent, and were rewarded with 2 more points. Hey MacLoser, WHEN?

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