Boyd Gordon: Shawn Horcoff, minus the baggage

Jonathan Willis
October 04 2013 07:53AM

Looking at the Oilers’ centre depth chart, it always seemed likely that newcomer Boyd Gordon was going to get his share of defensive assignments and then some. Dallas Eakins seemed to confirm that on Tuesday, when he slotted Gordon in the most thankless role on the team: Shawn Horcoff’s old job.

Time on Ice & Faceoffs

There are plenty of similarities between Gordon’s work on Tuesday night and Horcoff’s deployment during the 2012-13 season; the following are the latter’s per game averages stacked up against Gordon’s numbers from Tuesday.

The faceoffs are a little higher for Gordon than Horcoff, though the absence of Gagner and Nugent-Hopkins from the lineup might have something to do with that (as might the fact that it’s a single game). The other item is that while Horcoff played regular minutes on the power play in front of the net, Gordon appears to be on the ice solely as a faceoff man. Gordon had all of three power play shifts in game one, and he took a faceoff on each:

  • 17 seconds (ended in goal)
  • 11 seconds
  • 19 seconds

Interestingly, Gordon and fellow centre Will Acton were the only forwards to average 30 seconds or less on the ice per shift; penalty killing work had a lot to do with that but so did Gordon getting faceoff-and-gone shifts.

History

There are, in my view, three reasons for the Oilers to have chosen Gordon over Horcoff for the defensive specialist role – a role which tends to destroy the numbers of whoever fills it:

  • Age: Gordon’s five years younger
  • Baggage: Gordon doesn’t have it in Edmonton
  • Contract: While the dollars are similar, Horcoff’s cap hit is much higher

There aren’t huge differences in size or style of play; if anything Horcoff’s scoring history gives him the edge as a player today. This was simply a case of bringing in a fresh face that counts for a bit less against the salary cap and is less likely to decline over the next few seasons.

Somebody has to take the important faceoffs, kill penalties and start shifts at the wrong end of the rink. Will Acton and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner might get some of that work, but the most likely candidate for the majority of it has always been Boyd Gordon.

Recently around the Nation Network

Check out StreakCred, the addictive hockey game that both helps charity and includes loads of awesome prizes.

At Jets Nation, Kevin McCartney goes into the anatomy of a shift. He looks at Winnipeg's James Wright's performance against Edmonton and breaks down exactly what happened before offering the following summation:

This is a 38 second shift in which James Wright touched the puck twice without pressure, and the Jets lost possession both times to sub-optimal plays. It's a shift in which Wright makes two poor defensive plays (bad angle in the neutral zone, getting trapped deep on his own turnover), and is the singular reason the Jets lose possession on the breakout to his side. To my eye, that's 5 wrong decisions in fewer than 40 seconds of hockey.

Click the link above to check it out, or feel free to check out some of my recent stuff below:

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Dog Train
October 04 2013, 03:49PM
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Gordon is a better fit on this team right now. Horcoff needed a change of scenery. Gordon's role is clear and he understands it. Hopefully guys like RNH, Hall and Gagner can help shoulder the burden of taking all these faceoffs.

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#52 TigerUnderGlass
October 04 2013, 04:05PM
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pkam wrote:

I haven't seen Gordon plays enough to compare him to Horcoff, but that defection by Gordon is a beauty. I don't remember any defection from Horcoff ever, does anyone?

Impossible. No one could forget that wondrous day when S. Horcov defected from the motherland to sleep in a pile of money.

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#53 TigerUnderGlass
October 04 2013, 04:09PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Younger,cheaper,no baggage,bigger,meaner, stronger ,a better player at this point in their careers.Other then that exactly the same.

Must be four days between games.

He is neither bigger nor stronger than Horcoff. This whole discussion is beyond belief.

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#54 Rama Lama
October 04 2013, 04:22PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

He is neither bigger nor stronger than Horcoff. This whole discussion is beyond belief.

Pull out the Supertramp album......."Crime of the Century", there is a song written for people like you........called Dreamer.

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#55 TigerUnderGlass
October 04 2013, 04:25PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

Pull out the Supertramp album......."Crime of the Century", there is a song written for people like you........called Dreamer.

I'm confused. Are you saying you believe Gordon is bigger than Horcoff?

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#56 Top Cheddar
October 04 2013, 04:27PM
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The best thing is that Boyd won't tell the kids that they don't owe the city anything like the fan abused former #10 did. It was best for everyone for him to move on. Love Boyd's effort and he'll fit in beautifully.

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#57 ginganinja
October 04 2013, 04:42PM
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Oilers recalled Hamilton apparently. Do the Oil drop Smytty to the fourth line insert Hamilton into the third and bring Joensuu to the top six? Thats probably what I would do. But I'm a moron

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#58 Ducey
October 04 2013, 06:04PM
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ginganinja wrote:

Oilers recalled Hamilton apparently. Do the Oil drop Smytty to the fourth line insert Hamilton into the third and bring Joensuu to the top six? Thats probably what I would do. But I'm a moron

Maybe they plan to rumble with Vancouver and want some more beef - although you would think they would go with Eager? Good question.

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#59 Cynic
October 04 2013, 07:02PM
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Boyd Gordon is playing at least 2 lines above his talent level. But hey, you'll find out soon enough.

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#60 Harlie
October 04 2013, 07:59PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

Pull out the Supertramp album......."Crime of the Century", there is a song written for people like you........called Dreamer.

I love Supertramp. Or at least did back in the 80's. Kinda embarrassing as they are basically the world's first boy band. But some good tune's..so I dig the reFerence.

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#61 madjam
October 04 2013, 08:04PM
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Flames get another 2 points on road trip tonite , despite not having perhaps their two best centers in Cammallerri and Colbourne . They are leaving us in the dust , as they play to top of conference . What could be worse ?

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#62 madjam
October 04 2013, 08:42PM
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Error on Colbourn as he was playing , but Stajan was out . Whats our excuse ? Jets taking it to Kings tonite .

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#63 Gkpoil
October 04 2013, 08:53PM
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madjam wrote:

Flames get another 2 points on road trip tonite , despite not having perhaps their two best centers in Cammallerri and Colbourne . They are leaving us in the dust , as they play to top of conference . What could be worse ?

We're missing our two best centers AND an NHL caliber goalie.

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#64 David S
October 04 2013, 09:24PM
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madjam wrote:

Flames get another 2 points on road trip tonite , despite not having perhaps their two best centers in Cammallerri and Colbourne . They are leaving us in the dust , as they play to top of conference . What could be worse ?

*Slap*

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#65 The Last Big Bear
October 04 2013, 09:40PM
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1) Stajan and Backlund are the Flames 2 best centres.

2) The Flames dressed career-backup Joey MacDonald tonight, so not having an NHL calibre starter is not an excuse.

3) Washington's offence tore Calgary's defence apart last night. Because if you don't have legit 1st-pairing defenders (like another team in Alberta that I could mention), then the likes of Ovechkin, Backstrom, Johanson, Green, and Grabovski are going to rip you a new a-hole. You can have 15 NHL-ready defenders if you want, but you can only ice two of them at a time. And if those 2 aren't good enough to shut down the other team's top players, you're going to have a bad time.

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#66 madjam
October 04 2013, 09:53PM
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We are in our 8th year of rebuild and Flames about 8 months ? Where did we go wrong ? How can Flames be above us already ? Must be our weather . Flame fans , what are you hiding ?

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#67 StHenriOilBomb
October 05 2013, 12:45AM
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@madjam

Man, you're not even good at this. I'm falling asleep.

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#68 Cowbell_Feva
October 05 2013, 04:24AM
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I would take the Flames defense over the Oilers. I love Justin Schultz's offense but in my mind, the rest of the Oilers defensemen are 5,6,7,8 guys trying to fill 1,2,3,4 spots.

It has been their achilles heel for many years in a row now, and a few KHL exiles and Ference are very minor upgrades of what the team iced last year.

Add bad goaltending and you have a recipe for basement dwelling for years on end, no matter how good the fowards may be. Eventually a team will get hemmed in their own zone. Playoff teams have Dmen that can outlet the puck tape to tape or skate a player open. Brodie, Russel, Giordano and Wideman can do that, and they still aren't a playoff team. The Oilers have J.Schultz and then.....??

Don't get me wrong, I hate the Flames, and the Oilers will finish slightly above them, but I can't see the Oil making the playoffs with the current blueline and goaltending.

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#69 Cowbell_Feva
October 05 2013, 04:26AM
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Oh, and I take Gordon over Horcoff anyday. Horcoff scored some points nearly a decade ago. I take the smaller cap hit and better faceoff percentage along with some offense. That tip the other night for example.

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#70 BeeKayDub
October 05 2013, 10:13AM
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madjam wrote:

Flames get another 2 points on road trip tonite , despite not having perhaps their two best centers in Cammallerri and Colbourne . They are leaving us in the dust , as they play to top of conference . What could be worse ?

Wow, they've played two games. Get a grip.

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#71 Rama Lama
October 05 2013, 03:35PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

NO........simply a superior hockey player.

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#72 TigerUnderGlass
October 05 2013, 11:20PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

NO........simply a superior hockey player.

To be clear, you believe I'm dreaming when I say Gordon is not bigger than Horcoff because Gordon is better at hockey?

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