FINDING A SILVER LINING

Robin Brownlee
October 13 2013 05:59PM

I understand that fans of the Edmonton Oilers don't particularly want their ranting and raving about Devan Dubnyk interrupted by a "look on the bright side" item right now. Fair enough.

Dubnyk, after all, has earned much of the criticism and scorn directed his way through his first four appearances this season with a shockingly inept, sieve-like performance – an abysmal .829 save percentage and a hideous goals-against average of 5.43.

Likewise, I completely get it why fans, who've endured seven years out of the playoffs, have been venting since Dubnyk again soiled the sheets in a 6-5 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday, even if much of the venom directed his way is over the top, unreasonable and out of proportion.

"Dubnyk has stunk like ripe limburger so far." This is true. No question about it, and the TV shot at the end of the Toronto game of GM Craig MacTavish and Kevin Lowe after taking another big whiff of it served as an exclamation mark. "Dubnyk has always sucked and he always will suck." Not true. The second part, we don’t know yet.

There are no excuses for the way Dubnyk has played. He's the reason the Oilers are 1-3-1 and have three of a possible 10 points. He gets no pass and if he doesn't turn things around in a hurry he likely won't get the chance to turn them around at all – at least not as a starter in Edmonton. If Dubnyk doesn't do something, MacTavish must. All of this we know.

THE POSITIVES

All of the above said, and allowing that we're only talking about five games out of 82 going into Monday's game in Washington, the Oilers have been far better in some areas that have been a concern for several seasons. They've addressed some issues. They are doing things right that don't show up in that 1-3-1 record while everybody groans about Dubnyk.

. . . The Oilers have dominated in the face-off circles after being bottom feeders for far too long. Unexpected? You think? Boyd Gordon leads the way at 62.9. Mark Arcobello is next at 60.5, followed by Will Acton at 57.1, Taylor Hall at 52.8 and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at 50.8. Yes, again it's just five games, but if five games is enough to get in a frenzy about Dubnyk it's enough games to recognize, in context, what's been going right.

. . . After being outshot in all but 11 games last season, the Oilers have outshot their opposition in four of the five games they've played. All told, they've been outshot 150-147, meaning they're about dead-even overall despite being outshot 43-23 against Vancouver.

. . . The Oilers have scored nine goals five-on-five and two more while playing four-on-four, meaning they haven't been getting outclassed at even strength, as was the norm last season under Ralph Krueger. At the same time, the power play is clicking at a 5-for-20 clip.

THE WAY I SEE IT

While fixating on the goaltending the Oilers haven't been getting so far is understandable, the Oilers are playing better hockey under Dallas Eakins than they did under Krueger or Tom Renney. Not perfect hockey, not by a long shot, but better hockey.

If the Oilers keep holding their own on the shot clock and continue winning more face-offs than they lose, chances are we aren't going to see the majority of five-game stretches play out at 1-3-1. That's assuming, of course, Dubnyk or MacTavish address the issue in the blue paint.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Tyler
October 13 2013, 06:12PM
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I, for one, am reasonably confident that Dubnyk will shove it up the backsides of his critics. ;)

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#2 Woodguy
October 13 2013, 07:35PM
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DSF wrote:

They aren't getting better.

Ha!

A blind man in a dark alley can see they are getting better.

I would expect a Canuck fan in denial about the aging of the Sedins, injury-proneness (is that a word) of Kessler, and the disastrous (long term) implications of having to keep Lou over Schneider to miss it, but most wouldn't.

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#3 Woodguy
October 13 2013, 07:05PM
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More to the point about Eakins coaching, the big difference is in how they break out of the defensive zone.

Renney didn't have the horses that Eakins does, but Ralph for the most part did.

Eakins has given these guys a system which accentuates their biggest advatange, speed and skill.

Ralph having the DMen bank it off the glass or lob it to the neutral zone and the Oilers chasing the puck forever last year got old to watch in about 5 games.

That's not happening this year.

They a breaking out with speed and putting the other team back on thier heels.

They're getting better at this every day.

They're going to be pretty damn good at in by Christmas by my eye.

If they can get Dubnyk to be the average NHL starter that he has been for the last 2 years, they're a playoff team.

They don't even have their #2C back yet.

Its going to get better (in terms of points in the standings) in a hurry.

Bandwagon will be overfull by Christmas.

Book it!

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#4 G Money
October 13 2013, 08:49PM
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DSF wrote:

And yet you can come to the conclusion that the Oilers are better based on those same 4-5 games.

As you say, foolish at best and just dumb at the worst.

Yeah we get it, Drops Steaming Fudge.

The only statistics and sample sizes that count are the ones that support your point. But you're "objective".

A projected goal differential of -131 makes sense, a reversion away from a sv % of .800 does not.

A negative Corsi matters if the Oilers are winning, but a positive Corsi doesn't if they're losing.

As you say, "Good grief".

You may have minimal understanding of hockey or stats, but I will give you this - your ability to selectively (mis)quote them, and incessantly long-term troll this and other related boards is superlative. Unparalleled, actually.

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#5 Taylor Gang
October 13 2013, 10:01PM
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I don't think Dubnyk will pick up his game until there is no longer any pressure on him (ie the Oil out of the playoff race).

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#6 Jason
October 13 2013, 06:05PM
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Robin,

For me the big issue is that the guys in front of Dubey will get frustrated and discouraged if they know it is gonna take scoring 5 + goals a night in order to give us any real shot of winning!

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#7 Woodguy
October 13 2013, 06:57PM
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@Serious Gord

Certainly thusfar he hasn't gotten as much out of the young guns - Hall Eberle and shultz than krueger did in the early going last year - whether that is be cause of the coach is, i grant you, hard to say, but they certainly haven't improved their play under eakins.

I disagree with this.

The results of the first 5 games is that except for the VAN game, this team is outshooting the opponents.

That was a fundamental problem with this team for years, and finally a coach is fixing it. The dividends are coming.

If they have average goaltending this team looks like one that can rattle off 7/10 wins a couple times this year.

Also, Hall had a real slow start last year and is at a point/game clip early on, even after struggling at C for a couple games.

To be sure some things have been better this season than in the last, but where it counts - points - they are dead last in the west. Therefore the status quo trajectory is highly unsatisfactory. And doing the same things with the same people isn't likely to change it.

Results of the games sure, but the results of the play (outshooting, scoring a ton more 5v5)has improved immensely.

Outshooting and scoring well at even strength always end up showing well in the points column.

Some crappy goaltending has let them down.

This team could easily be 4-1 and should be 3-2 and these conversations aren't even happening.

After watching this team sink slower into the abyss over the last 7 years I can finally watch this team and *know* they have a chance to win every night.

If they can just get some average goaltending.

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#8 Woodguy
October 13 2013, 07:22PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Yes the TEAM of skaters is playing better, but hall despite more points in the early going has made far more errors/turnovers than last year and eberle and Shultz are playing much worse than they were early on last season.

Yes the team of skaters is playing somewhat better than last year - certainly under some stats (I wonder what the turnover stats were last year compared to this year?) but that positive is more than counterbalanced by poorer goaltending. Thus my point stands - the status quo will result in far too few points. Something has to change.

Sure.

The goaltending is almost guaranteed to get better because its almost impossible for it to get worse.

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#9 Racki
October 13 2013, 10:18PM
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Dear resident Oilers critic..

If you can take a few moments to pull your head out of your butt to read this, this might explain the situation here better:

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2013/10/13/tencer-goaltending-has-cost-the-edmonton-oilers-3-points/

Outshot the other team in all but one game, 3rd in faceoffs, 12th best in shots against, top 10 in goals for, yet dead last in goals against.

There may be the odd time where the defensive group falls apart on Dubnyk (happens to every team), but I'd be more inclined to say that the puck is the size of a marble to him right now. While I hate to pin games on one guy, he has cost the Oilers at least a couple of the games.

Currently the stats and the eye both say the Oilers are a better team so far, but goaltending has severely let them down. I didn't think they played as well as they should have vs. Vancouver and I wasn't too happy with their early play vs. Montreal (much better battle level in the 3rd though), but the other games have shown a different Oilers team.

One thing is certain though, 5 games does not tell the story enough (good or bad). It's unknown if they are a better team for the long term or not, but to say they're not an improved team because of the goal differential is ignorance... putting blinders on and not seeing the whole picture. The goal differential sadly rests a little more on one guy's shoulders than it should. Dubnyk is a boat anchor pulling this team down right now despite its rather honest effort to be a good team.

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#12 WhattaMike
October 13 2013, 06:59PM
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Maybe this gets trashed but who cares....I am a fan/an Oilers fan who wants this team to win, keep winning... and make the playoffs this year.

I agree with ya RB on that Dubnyk is playing like sucksville right now....but is five games gonna turn into ten? ten into 15?

Dubnyk should have prepared for being number 1 since July when Khabby was not resigned and LaBarbera was signed instead. It is now oct and training camp ended two weeks ago.

One bad game is not great, two bad games in a row is a issue, 3 is a bigger concern, but four now and counting? This is bad period....and there are 77 games left. The Oilers do not have a guy to really push Dubnyk...and IMO...Chabot is NOT doing good coaching right now (and BTW, has Chabot really ever done any wonders yet with all the goalies in the system since being with the team I will add).

I never saw any big goalie (Dubnyk) drop down so much...even before the shot comes...and always leave such a wide open top of the net for the shooters. Dubnyk is consistently committing this very bad error, as also he's letting in long shots, flopping around too much with pucks sliding thru him/under him, having very bad stickhandling the puck issues, etc. He is not only not protecting the net/the corners, he is also not being aggressive enough to come out against the shooters. (BTW, I was a goalie in AAA when young so I know these mistakes big time...from my coaches lol).

I think Chabot needs to address to the media of what he actually is teaching these goalies of the Oilers. To me he is not doing his job...at least not like Colorados goalie coach is (Avalanche/5 games - 4GA!!!!!!)

Now I will add too that I am loving the play of Gordon, Arco, Acton, and Joensuu. Perron has been good mostly as well. This team is doing excellent on faceoffs and playing good 5 on 5. I love that Hall is back on wing and RNH is back period. The defence is doing better at several things than last year but meanness/toughness is not up to par yet.

I see this team slowly getting better each game but goaltending needs to now, not later.

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#13 G Money
October 13 2013, 08:39PM
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Since clearly 5 games (4 by DD) are enough data to draw infallible conclusions about goalies, we must conclude the following:

- Semyon Varlamov is the best goalie in history and will win the Vezina easily. .970 sv %! Wow! Tuukka Rask is the second best goalie in history.

- What were those stupid LA Kings thinking?? Bernier (.946) is waaaay better than Quick (.905).

- Why oh why did we give up on Khabi?? He's only played one game, but his GAA is 2.0. Obviously the guy's better than Lundqvist, Schneider AND Rinne.

Yeesh.

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#14 Racki
October 13 2013, 10:25PM
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greg wrote:

at what point do we say enough is enough with Dubnyk. its about time we all face the facts here. we all know that Dubnyk is our starting goalie. and for the past 2-3 years he's been playing against backup goaltenders, and getting out played. yes he can be a solid as a rock at times, but wether this team wins or looses is based on wether he shows up or not. it sucks that we all really thought he could be the guy... but he can't. no more chances. we need a goalie and we have what it takes to get one. we have to look at moving Nail to get that goalie.

No thank you re: moving Yakupov for a goalie.

There's a case to move Yakupov as part of a package for a complete defenseman.. but for a goalie? No thank you. The UFA market in July is quite good. Some will get extensions before then, but it'll still be good.

I think your right that the Oilers do need a good goaltender finally, but they can get by with a bandaid solution for now, and they can permanently solve the goaltending situation (or long term, anyways) in July.

Bandaid solution would be either signing Bryzgalov, or try and trade for a goaltender that's average to above average.

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#15 CrazyCaptain88
October 13 2013, 10:56PM
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@Woodguy

If Arco can keep it up over the next couple of weeks and show this isn't just a hot streak he's riding. I would like to keep him at C at put Gagner on the wing and run lines something like this:

4-93-83 89-26-14 57-27-64 94-41-6

You can put 20 in if you feel the need for muscle and 94 and 6 can play up and down the line-up as struggles or injuries occur

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#16 DoubleA
October 13 2013, 06:11PM
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Dubey will get his act together soon enough. All it will take is a four or five game winning streak to quiet all this negativity.

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#18 G Money
October 13 2013, 09:43PM
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DSF wrote:

Neither a goal differential of -131 nor a save percentage of .800 "make sense".

But neither support Woodguy's assertion that the Oilers are getting better either.

There is no evidence to support that claim other than Corsi which could change in a heartbeat.

In other news, the Oilers' best player, Taylor Hall, has a Corsi ON on of +0.69....12th best on the team.

In the meantime, the Canucks best player, Henrik Sedin, has a Corsi ON of +30.11.

Does that tell you anything at all?

Yes, there a couple of straightforward processes you can use to help interpret the statistics in front of you.

They are called "observation" and "analysis".

We can for example "observe" that the Oilers, even as they have too many giveaways and abysmal goaltending, have been better in the overall flow of the game (in 4 of their 5 games so far) at preventing chances and creating chances, both over last year and over the other team. The Corsi indicates that this observation (even in a small sample) is supportable.

As an Oiler fan, we can "observe" that historically goaltenders have extremely high week to week variability in save percentage, we can "analyze" their long-term performance, and as a result we can conclude (a reasonable outcome from observation and analysis) that we can almost certainly expect the goaltending to improve.

We can also "observe" and "analyze" the giveaways and the defensive lapses, and conclude that it *may be* to some extent the whole "new system new players" narrative, which means that there is reason to expect it might improve but it is not nearly as certain as the goaltending.

Corsi can indeed change in a heartbeat, but your assertion that there is "no evidence" of improvement is demonstrably false. Again, we fall back on that new-to-you concept called "analysis".

The five game stretch the Oilers have put up from a Corsi perspective is better than *any* five game stretch they had last year. If you care to see the actual math, Parkatti has an analysis (that word again!) showing the statistical likelihood that this would happen if the Oilers had not improved at all from last year is very low (it is a single digit percentage). So the math, while not conclusive, even as a small sample supports the observation (that word again!) of improvement.

We can also "observe" that Taylor Hall struggled playing a new position for two games, then still seemed off for a game in his natural position, and (not coincidentally since RNH came back), observe that he seems to be back to his old self.

We can then use a concept in "analysis" called a "trend", where we can see Taylor Hall's Corsi was an abysmal 43% in both his first two games, then jumped to 48% on his return to left wing, then was a solid 54% and then a stellar 61% in his last game.

What that analysis (!) tells me is that my observation (!) that Taylor Hall is once again the best player on the Oilers is reasonable. We can also conclude from this combination of analysis and observation that we can expect Hall's Corsi to improve dramatically from here.

I hope that you have found this primer on "observation" and "analysis" useful. I look forward to your attempting to try them for the first time.

And as long as you work hard, I'm here to help you if you struggle, buddy. Like Taylor Hall, trying a new position like "being objective" can be tough.

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#20 YFC Prez
October 13 2013, 07:29PM
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@nick

One of my biggest issues with Renney and Krueger were not playing their best players enough.

It's a little refreshing seeing Hall and RNH being the go-to forwards.

I know he's not getting that much love right now but Eakins is a good coach.

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#21 Woodguy
October 13 2013, 07:29PM
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DSF wrote:

So much twaddle.

The Oilers next opponent is the Washington Capitals who are basically tied for 2nd in the league in SF/G with 34.

Following that game, they go into Pittsburgh and will face a team that has a +5 shot differential.

They won't be "outshooting" anyone by the conclusion of those two games.

No question playing back to back against WAS and PIT won't be easy.

The whole road trip isn't easy.

Every team they play made the playoffs last year.

Mind you, it was in the East so it doesn't *really* count, but point stands.

Its not twaddle DSF, its the sound of the hoofbeats of the the apocalypse coming for your middling Canucks.

The Oilers will pass them in the next year or two and the Dys will sink into mediocre purgatory still without a cup in the history of the franchise.

Oh well, maybe they can retire the crowd's number again or some player who wouldn't make the 2nd line on the Oilers again.

So you got that to look forward to while Oilers just keep getting better and better and better....

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#22 Woodguy
October 13 2013, 07:43PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Go pour yourself a stiff one (three fingers of something brown would be my recommendation) and take a look at the pacific standings.

Now that we have a bit of data on what our competition is looking like this year try and isolate the three teams we are going to put behind us to get into the playoffs. If Calgary is not a complete mirage, there is not one team IMO that we can confidently say the oil can out-point.

At the very least the pacific may have the best hockey of all the divisions...

Here are the standing at roughly the same point last year:

http://shrpsports.com/nhl/stand.php?link=Y&season=2012&divcnf=cnf&month=Oct&date=19

Here's the final standings.

http://www.nhl.com/ice/standings.htm?season=20112012&type=CON

Don't resemble each other very much at all do they?

Coming to conclusion based on standings of 4-5 games is foolish at best, and just dumb at worst.

(hat tip to Jonathon, took that from a tweet of his today)

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#23 BC BOY
October 13 2013, 06:11PM
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Still incredibly hard to win when your top guys that play 20+ are a minus every night

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#24 Woodguy
October 13 2013, 06:43PM
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Good piece Robin, I agree on all points.

Even strength scoring and shot differential are keystones of Fancystats in hockey.

Are you starting to become a True Believer? :)

Question for you: With Arcobello tied to the team lead in scoring and 2nd in faceoff percentage, what do you think the team does with him when Gagner gets back?

Joanne Ireland mentioned on twitter that Acton was told to "find a place in Edmonton"

From my seat Arco is a better option, even at 4C.

He hasn't been given a chance to kill penalties and Acton is on PK1, but he might do ok there too if given a chance.

Personally I keep both and move Brown. Gazdic does his job better than Brown and really he's not adding much.

Thoughts?

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#25 Dave
October 13 2013, 06:28PM
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The way I understand it, Dubnyk has new born child at home for the first time, which I believe is a big adjustment in your life. Also, does the team have a new goalie coach? If this is all true? I for one will wait until he figures it out, it also sends the wrong message to the players if you throw a guy under the bus every time he goes through a personal life adjustment.

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#26 Racki
October 13 2013, 10:44PM
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DSF wrote:

Dear Racki.

To date the Oilers have played ONE game against an actual WC contender...the Vancouver Canucks.

In that game, they were outworked, out shot (44-23) and outscored 6-2.

The rest of their games have been against the weaker EC teams and the pedestrian Winnipeg Jets.

Their only victory came against the sad sack NJ Devils who have yet to win in regulation and are -10 on the season.

And even then, the Oilers needed OT to beat them.

The Oilers are the only team in the WC with a losing record against the EC and upcoming games against Corsi Monsters like Washington and Pittsburgh don't bode well for them.

Can you imagine how they will look against the big boys in the West?

"The Oilers are the only team in the WC with a losing record against the EC".. as previously mentioned, they really have goaltending to thank for that.

The Canucks played a pretty perfect game vs. the Oilers. Credit to them for that. There are games that a team just isn't going to win, and that was probably one.. unless the Oilers also played a damn perfect game.

Again, by eye, and minus the one stat (goals against) which most agree has been largely due to poor goaltending, the Oilers have been showing improvement. Last year the Oil wouldn't have even showed up against those bottom feeding teams even. Time will tell if they really are improved or not.

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#28 Bryan in SK
October 13 2013, 06:56PM
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I like Dubnyk, and think he can be a capable #1. My question is: where does Frederic Chabot fit into this mess?

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#29 Rod from Viking
October 13 2013, 08:03PM
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Dave wrote:

The way I understand it, Dubnyk has new born child at home for the first time, which I believe is a big adjustment in your life. Also, does the team have a new goalie coach? If this is all true? I for one will wait until he figures it out, it also sends the wrong message to the players if you throw a guy under the bus every time he goes through a personal life adjustment.

I was not allowed to put in a sub par performance at my job when my first or any children were born and I sure as hell wasn't making $3.75 million. No goalie coach would tell him to not be square to the shooter, sit on your knees and wave your stick in the air, he is having one hell of a time handling the pressure of a #1 in Edmonton.

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#30 Mikey
October 13 2013, 08:06PM
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nick wrote:

Eakins is a horrible coach. He has got this attitude that he thinks he is Mike Babcock or something. Look at the minutes he is playing these guys and their minus numbers. Too much time on the ice for poor defensive players. What does he expect when the guys he has on the ice for half the game turn the puck over the most. I am afraid McT signed an unproven coach for 4 years and this will be a circus with egotistical Eakins running the show.

Sure you could just look at the box scores.

Or you old be an informed fan and watch the game. Then you would realize that +- means nothing when your goalie can't stop a puck. How would there +/- look if Dubnyk made saves on those 6-9 weak goals.

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#31 Mikey
October 13 2013, 08:12PM
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DSF wrote:

So much twaddle.

The Oilers next opponent is the Washington Capitals who are basically tied for 2nd in the league in SF/G with 34.

Following that game, they go into Pittsburgh and will face a team that has a +5 shot differential.

They won't be "outshooting" anyone by the conclusion of those two games.

I guess that's why they play the games

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#32 greg
October 13 2013, 10:05PM
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at what point do we say enough is enough with Dubnyk. its about time we all face the facts here. we all know that Dubnyk is our starting goalie. and for the past 2-3 years he's been playing against backup goaltenders, and getting out played. yes he can be a solid as a rock at times, but wether this team wins or looses is based on wether he shows up or not. it sucks that we all really thought he could be the guy... but he can't. no more chances. we need a goalie and we have what it takes to get one. we have to look at moving Nail to get that goalie.

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#33 D
October 13 2013, 06:32PM
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Fan of Dubnyk here. My question is regarding his ability to be a clutch performer when this team makes the playoffs (whether it's this season or one in the future).

Is there a risk that Dubynk is a serviceable regular season goaltender who won't be able to handle playoff pressure and step up his game to the level necessary to win in the post season? A comparable that comes to mind is Manny Legace.

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#34 Mikey
October 13 2013, 08:02PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Yes the TEAM of skaters is playing better, but hall despite more points in the early going has made far more errors/turnovers than last year and eberle and Shultz are playing much worse than they were early on last season.

Yes the team of skaters is playing somewhat better than last year - certainly under some stats (I wonder what the turnover stats were last year compared to this year?) but that positive is more than counterbalanced by poorer goaltending. Thus my point stands - the status quo will result in far too few points. Something has to change.

You're counter point is weak. So because the team is playing better but the stars aren't the team is worse off? Nope wrong. Poor goaltending, has nothing to do with the coach.

You really need to think threw what you are saying, you're embarrassing yourself.

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#35 admiralmark
October 13 2013, 08:17PM
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a) Dubnyk before this here has been known to let in a 1 bad goal per game on average.(indicates lack of focus) This year its 2 bad goals / game. b) Dubnyk lets in umpteen goals over his shoulders. (at 6'6" this indicates poor positional awareness) c) Dubnyk gives up on the play before the puck is even in the net.. OT goal against T.O. he pops a juicy rebound to opposing player and slumps before it even goes between his legs.( Lack of mental toughness)

Its time to turn the page. Maybe Oil have to keep him around for this year.. But heavy planning should be initiated to look for another answer in net. This guy cant handle the heat and doesnt have the physical attributes to cut it. Being Tall and having an easy going attitude does not equate to a winning goalie.

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#36 G
October 13 2013, 09:59PM
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BC BOY wrote:

Still incredibly hard to win when your top guys that play 20+ are a minus every night

Aren't our STARS going to be burned out by the second half of the season at this pace?

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#37 Serious Gord
October 13 2013, 06:42PM
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"Dubnyk has always sucked and he always will suck." Not true. The second part, we don’t know yet."

Just so I am understanding you Robin, You along with others - including me - thought that Dubnyk was a sub-par goalie all along?

If that is the case you obviously must have been concerned when MacT failed to find a goalie who truly was up to the task of being an NHL #1.

2. In regard to Eakins being a better coach than his predecessors, I think that is very debatable. There have been some key acquisitions - Gordon et al who have made his job much easier than those before him.

Certainly thusfar he hasn't gotten as much out of the young guns - Hall Eberle and shultz than krueger did in the early going last year - whether that is be cause of the coach is, i grant you, hard to say, but they certainly haven't improved their play under eakins.

3. And Have you been able to make sense of eakins defensive tactics? I sure as hell haven't and on several occasions it seems to have failed apocalyptically.

To be sure some things have been better this season than in the last, but where it counts - points - they are dead last in the west. Therefore the status quo trajectory is highly unsatisfactory. And doing the same things with the same people isn't likely to change it.

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#38 Thumby
October 13 2013, 07:09PM
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@Woodguy

I sure hope you are right!

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#39 Dog Train
October 13 2013, 11:20PM
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There is a lot to like so far this season. Every team gives up scoring chances. Some more than others but nonetheless, most games you expect your goaltender to make at least some difficult saves and not let in routine shots with any regularity. Our goaltending was been horrendous thus far and Dubnyk's numbers are largely by his own fault.

Everybody who has been anti-Dubnyk is taking this as an opportunity to say "I told you so" but even his biggest haters have to admit that he has never been this bad for this many games in a row. Mactavish said in the off-season that if you need to ask the question then you have your answer. If he had questions about Dubnyk back then, he must really be questioning him now.

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#40 Ari Gold
October 14 2013, 05:51AM
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Please, oh please, don't send Arco down when Gags returns. He's the true 2C we've been needing. Monster in the circle, great passer & he finishes his checks: the Oil haven't had an asset like this in a long while.

I'd also keep Gags at C and rotate 3 scoring lines with Gordo's Checking line. That'd be bada$$ depth.

Also, why isn't anyone talking about Belov? He looks like a veteran out there. He belongs in the NHL. Wait another 20 games & sign him to an extension. He'll be worth it. Great pickup.

As for Dub'er, next game he plays in better be a SO or 1 GA. Anything worse and he'll be crucified. If you want him to do well, do not play him against Wsh or Pit. Though if we truly want to see what he's made of, I don't mind throwing him into the lion's den.

I also don't mind a 1 year low-risk contract to Bryz. When he's incentivized, he plays well.

Lastly, I think Schultz Sr has seen his day. Bring in Larsen or another kid who'll be hungrier. Nick just can't keep up anymore.

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#41 Kodiak
October 13 2013, 06:29PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I'm inclined to agree SIUTBOHC is pending. Dubnyk has long had a habit of allowing bad goals, but his numbers when everything is tallied have been more than acceptable when you consider the group he's been playing behind.

I suspect he'll return to previous levels in terms of save percentage and goals-against if he's given the chance and allowed to ride it out.

That's the question: will MacTavish and Lowe be as patient now as they have been?

They don't have a choice. There are no reasonable alternatives right now. It's too early in the season for teams to be moving their number one goalies and why would we make a trade for anything less? Barbie will get a few more starts but bottom line is they will have to let Dubnyk play his way through this.

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#42 DSF
October 13 2013, 10:35PM
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Racki wrote:

Dear resident Oilers critic..

If you can take a few moments to pull your head out of your butt to read this, this might explain the situation here better:

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2013/10/13/tencer-goaltending-has-cost-the-edmonton-oilers-3-points/

Outshot the other team in all but one game, 3rd in faceoffs, 12th best in shots against, top 10 in goals for, yet dead last in goals against.

There may be the odd time where the defensive group falls apart on Dubnyk (happens to every team), but I'd be more inclined to say that the puck is the size of a marble to him right now. While I hate to pin games on one guy, he has cost the Oilers at least a couple of the games.

Currently the stats and the eye both say the Oilers are a better team so far, but goaltending has severely let them down. I didn't think they played as well as they should have vs. Vancouver and I wasn't too happy with their early play vs. Montreal (much better battle level in the 3rd though), but the other games have shown a different Oilers team.

One thing is certain though, 5 games does not tell the story enough (good or bad). It's unknown if they are a better team for the long term or not, but to say they're not an improved team because of the goal differential is ignorance... putting blinders on and not seeing the whole picture. The goal differential sadly rests a little more on one guy's shoulders than it should. Dubnyk is a boat anchor pulling this team down right now despite its rather honest effort to be a good team.

Dear Racki.

To date the Oilers have played ONE game against an actual WC contender...the Vancouver Canucks.

In that game, they were outworked, out shot (44-23) and outscored 6-2.

The rest of their games have been against the weaker EC teams and the pedestrian Winnipeg Jets.

Their only victory came against the sad sack NJ Devils who have yet to win in regulation and are -10 on the season.

And even then, the Oilers needed OT to beat them.

The Oilers are the only team in the WC with a losing record against the EC and upcoming games against Corsi Monsters like Washington and Pittsburgh don't bode well for them.

Can you imagine how they will look against the big boys in the West?

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#43 Devolution
October 14 2013, 12:00AM
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Advanced statistics aside (and I know they have meaning), one can clearly see they are getting better. The Leafs are a good young team and the Oilers played level with them the entire game.

I also understand the desire to be patient with Dubnyk; he was in fact average last year and could revert to average form.

It is a perfect storm situation though, Gagner out, Dubnyk struggling, 12 out of the next 16 on the road.

Gagner will be back soon, but if the Oilers don't start getting better goaltending, they will be done by mid-November. And we will be left with our wild playoff making scenarios and draft pick hopes.

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#44 MessyEH!
October 14 2013, 04:09AM
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The Gaa was never this bad, when snowpants was in the line up.

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#45 Ari Gold
October 14 2013, 06:11AM
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DSF wrote:

Really?

On pace for a goal differential of -131.

In the last full season, they were -27.

While I expect they couldn't possibly maintain that -131 pace, the fact remains they are being consistently outscored by the opposition.

You may recall that winning hockey games requires you to OUTSCORE the opposition, right?

If you want to raise the spectre of "small sample size", please apply that to your ridiculous assertion they are better due to their Corsi improvement.

Games against Washington and Pittsburgh will fix that right up.

The Canucks have their own problems but that has nothing to do how dreadful the Oilers are.

I know most of us love to hate DSF, but he's right on this one. The only credible teams the Oil have played do far have been the Habs & Nucks, they've been outscored 10-3 in those two games. They should've handily beat the Jets, Devils & Leafs.

The small sample size invites speculation. I'd suggest that DSF is bloody right this time. At a glance it looks like the Oil have improved but I think that argument cherry picks only half of the whole story. The other half has been terrible Dzone coverage, putrid Gtending & excessive giveaways.

I fear the Wsh & Pit games may be a bloodbath of copper & blue.

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#46 The Oilers Shot Clock
October 14 2013, 06:35AM
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We are going to win both games against Sid and Sasha and nobody is going to be able to make heads or tails what it means in regards to the season.

Back to Back wins coming up. Guaranteed.

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#47 nick
October 13 2013, 07:13PM
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@Serious Gord

Eakins is a horrible coach. He has got this attitude that he thinks he is Mike Babcock or something. Look at the minutes he is playing these guys and their minus numbers. Too much time on the ice for poor defensive players. What does he expect when the guys he has on the ice for half the game turn the puck over the most. I am afraid McT signed an unproven coach for 4 years and this will be a circus with egotistical Eakins running the show.

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#48 DSF
October 13 2013, 08:29PM
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Woodguy wrote:

Ha!

A blind man in a dark alley can see they are getting better.

I would expect a Canuck fan in denial about the aging of the Sedins, injury-proneness (is that a word) of Kessler, and the disastrous (long term) implications of having to keep Lou over Schneider to miss it, but most wouldn't.

Really?

On pace for a goal differential of -131.

In the last full season, they were -27.

While I expect they couldn't possibly maintain that -131 pace, the fact remains they are being consistently outscored by the opposition.

You may recall that winning hockey games requires you to OUTSCORE the opposition, right?

If you want to raise the spectre of "small sample size", please apply that to your ridiculous assertion they are better due to their Corsi improvement.

Games against Washington and Pittsburgh will fix that right up.

The Canucks have their own problems but that has nothing to do how dreadful the Oilers are.

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#49 Harry
October 13 2013, 10:50PM
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DSF wrote:

Dear Racki.

To date the Oilers have played ONE game against an actual WC contender...the Vancouver Canucks.

In that game, they were outworked, out shot (44-23) and outscored 6-2.

The rest of their games have been against the weaker EC teams and the pedestrian Winnipeg Jets.

Their only victory came against the sad sack NJ Devils who have yet to win in regulation and are -10 on the season.

And even then, the Oilers needed OT to beat them.

The Oilers are the only team in the WC with a losing record against the EC and upcoming games against Corsi Monsters like Washington and Pittsburgh don't bode well for them.

Can you imagine how they will look against the big boys in the West?

Oh the corsi!! The corsi!! What about the corsii!! Then theres the corsi!!

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#50 TM8Trent
October 14 2013, 12:05AM
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I wonder if part of the issue with Dubnyk is simply the type of goalie he is for the type of system and the type of team the Oilers are. MacT values puck-movers on the back end first and foremost, and a speed-first mentality when it comes to the forward group. You know, Oiler hockey -> Scoring on the rush, and attacking as the focus.

Combining this with the swarm defensive system Eakins is utilizing and you're going to give up a fair number of odd man rushes & open shooters; 2 on 1's and 3 on 2's.. It's simply inevitable.

Dubnyk is obviously not an athletic, reflex goalie. He's a big man & positional goalie who (tries) to have the shooter hit him. I don't know if these things jive too well. Is he really capable of making those incredible athletic saves needed when you're giving up good/great scoring chances? Those are the kind of saves this team is missing right now. I hate to bring up the 80's here but... Fuhr-like.

You look at offensive teams like Chicago & Pittsburgh and when they are/were successful it seems to me the tenders - Crawford, Fleury are more athletic & reflex goalie types, not the big positional guys like Dubnyk (& Labarbera).

Thoughts?

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