Turn Off The Lights. The Season Is Over.

Jonathan Willis
October 05 2013 11:29PM

Based on the reaction to tonight's game on Twitter, I've arrived at an inescapable conclusion: the season is over. Thanks, Craig MacTavish, for trying to fix the Oilers, but now you need to go back to the drawing board. The good news is that you have just under 12 months to completely overhaul the team before the 2014-15 season starts.

In All Seriousness

Devan Dubnyk has now had two very bad games. It's fair to note that, it's fair to say that he needs to be better, and it's fair to be concerned about what happens next. What's crazy is writing him off after two bad games. 

If the last 20 years of NHL history have shown us anything, it's that people judging goalies based on their short-term results are going to be burned very, very badly. Brian Boucher has the NHL record for the longest consecutive minutes without allowing a goal - longer than Patrick Roy or Dominik Hasek or Martin Brodeur. He didn't do it during a good run, either - the record came in Phoenix, where Boucher was (outside of those five games) miserable for two and a half years. 

Oilers fans can probably recall something similar - Jeff Deslauriers' miracle run in 2009-10. He went 5-0 on a five-game road trip, posting a 0.938 save percentage. He posted a 0.895 save percentage the rest of the way. Last year, he was a 0.902 save percentage goalie in the ECHL

It works the other way, too. Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best goalies in the game - a guy with a far better track record than Dubnyk - and through two games with New York last year he had a 0.865 save percentage.

These runs happen. They're basically meaningless.

While judging individuals like Dubnyk or Taylor Hall - playing out of position - over a pair of games is foolhardy, that doesn't mean it's too early to say a few things.

For one, Vancouver's casual dominance in almost every category stands out. The Canucks out-shot Edmonton 44-to-23, and when the game was still in question the ratio was 22-to-8. If it was close, we might say things like 'it was close' and 'the Canucks are a good team.' But when one club ragdolls another like that, it seems reasonably clear that what's going on right now isn't working and isn't likely to work.

Dallas Eakins has time - I'm not sure Twitter knows this, but there's something like 80 games left in the season - and on Monday he gets Ryan Nugent-Hopkins back. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

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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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#52 Turnover
October 06 2013, 12:51PM
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Power Engineer wrote:

I have to admit that I am a fan if Dubnyk. I think he can do the job we need him to do. That said, the pressure of playing in Edmonton, with such a temperamental fan base, no doubt makes it tougher. Should the time come he needs to be traded/asks to be traded/needs to be demoted, do you think there could be a deal for Reimer out of Toronto? Patience needs to be exercised but is in short supply around here and understandably so. To me this is a deal that could be done straight across. Reimer just seems like he has his stuff together just a little more, and we would not have to gut our team for improvement at the goaltender position. JMHO.

Reimer(Mr.Rebound)? Haha. Sad. Nothing better then an unreliable backup.

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#53 Death Metal Nightmare
October 06 2013, 01:00PM
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listing off numbers does not tell the entire story of how a goalie plays his position. the realm of numbers isn't a full translation of reality.

Dubnyk is terribly positioned a lot of the time. he looks plodding and lazy. he's 6'5" and plays with a 5'8" goaltender effectiveness. his ability to find close pucks in front of the net after rebounds is terrible. his ability to lasso in pucks from similar plays and rebounds always looks like a toddler exploring the world for the first time. he has the confidence of a beaten down teenager. he's been letting in soft goals for ages. his numbers are bloated from facing tons of low percentage shots last season. advanced stats dorks: get the numbers on how well he is against legit scoring chances or high percentage shots: otherwise im not interested in his save %.

give me precise attributes you see in this dude that make you believe he is going to be a legit goaltender that leads to a cup.

beyond all this: the team is still a bunch of wimps. any team with moderate size and knowledge can dominate these pretenders and it showed last night.

the seasons not over: but this roster already has shown it's ultra glaring holes at executing as a unit.

this team is a high finesse team with average-to-dumb defense and ultra sketchy goaltending.

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#54 Joy S. Lee
October 06 2013, 06:00PM
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** wrote:

Jonathan, the Canucks did not dominate every category, both faceoffs and hits were more for the Oilers. And yet the team was never in the game.

How the Oilers won the hit battle is beyond comprehension. I saw how the Canucks literally skated around in the Edmonton end of the ice. I don't recall one of them being knocked off balance, let alone on their keesters.

How can you outhit someone when you don't throw a hit? Oh, yeah, Mike Brown and co in the O-zone, I guess. But the team as a whole never laid a lick on a Canuck inside the Oil blueline. Oh, they bumped people a couple of times. But they never eliminated anyone, never pinned someone on the boards, never 'took a man' and took care of business. It was atrocious.

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#55 Joy S. Lee
October 06 2013, 07:40PM
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Nina russo wrote:

If a goalie sees a shooter and has the time to get set and put his body in front of the puck, he must stop it. That is what he is paid to do. He is a professional goaltender. If he wants to play in the best league, as a starter, he better do a hell of a lot more than that. He better stop the ones he doesn't get a clear look at. He is not there mentally. If he isn't the problem, fire Freddy Chabot, because the job is not getting done.

I personally believe this is THE telltale year for Dubnyk, but I also believe we have to give him at least half the year before we pass any kind of final judgment. And make no mistake, that's the tone of most discussion around Dubnyk, that this is somehow his 'epitaph' being written.

I've heard a lot of Dubnyk bashing lately, but at least these comments are fair; as a pro, he has to make those stops, simple as that. And, it DOES seem Dubnyk is mentally unprepared. Yet, I would advocate that he has a strong mental capacity. Smart guy. Well spoken. Calm. Comfortable in his own skin.

I think it's almost an anomaly we're witnessing here, and that the meltdown is due to him preparing for the season with thoughts of having to be the difference, of this being his last chance, etc. Thoughts that put stress on the player, and cause him to do precisely what he wanted to avoid. I still think the guy is mentally strong, and can bounce back from this. Maybe better than ever, letting it be a lesson learned. But it'll be interesting watching, one way or the other, and I'll just add that I'm pulling for him.

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#56 Joy S. Lee
October 06 2013, 08:17PM
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Bloodsweatandoil wrote:

I know....have patience.This is getting very old and embarassing.

Don't be too embarrassed. Give them 8+ games (10%) to figure out what they're going to be. Then talk of being embarrassed. If they shellac New Jersey next game, are we to plan the parade route?

Not trying to single you out, I'm just blown away by the massive swings in emotion over single, solitary games.

It's the START of an 82-game season, after an off-season of massive change at ALL levels. Let's give it some time, folks, before we jump off any bridges.

Hell, I still think this season's going to be a blast. Hall, RNH, Yakupov, Eberle, Perron, Hemsky, Schultz, those 7 guys alone are going to be so much fun to watch once they find their collective game. The entertainment's going to be there, no matter how bad the record. Maybe we can relax a bit in knowing that. The wins? That's obviously up for debate. Could - and often does - ride on a few highly-touted players learning to dominate hockey games. I believe that's what this is really about. All of the Dubnyk, Ference, Eakins talk....is moot, and the real pressure falls to we all know where. The rest of the club will jump on those coattails fast, and the momentum will build, if our most talented players deliver.

Sure, I'm watching Dubnyk, and Eakins, and Ference, and so on, but what I'm really watching FOR is that really, really big 'if' I just spoke of.

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#57 Joy S. Lee
October 06 2013, 08:31PM
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dw wrote:

I don't think MacT decided to fill the goaltending position "from within". I remember him making a push for Schneider before NJ swiped him. This isn't fantasy hockey. You don't just get to pick players you want. Not only do you have to come up with a package the other team agrees to but you also have to beat out all the other offers that you don't necessarily know they have. Not as easy as you allude to in your posting. McT has tried to fill the spot with candidates outside the organization but when the well went dry and Dubnyk was the best option left he did the right thing and threw his support behind him. Lamar brad (sp) looked decent in relief so let's start him next game and see what he can do.

Well said. Was in on Bernier, too, apparently. But, the armchair makes it look easy. I think the spelling you are looking for was, Labarberra.

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#58 Joy S. Lee
October 07 2013, 08:28AM
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Ryan2 wrote:

As much as people are piling on Smyth and Schultz (both were done as effective every day players 2 - 3 years ago IMHO), the team was set up to rely on Hall, Eberle, Nuge, Yakupov, Gagner, JSchultz and so far they are struggling to find their games.

One thing that is a concern, though, is the lack of defensive awareness and effort from the young guys thus far. They go hard on offense, and float on defense. Look at the effort levels on the first goal the Nucks scored shorthanded yesterday. Hemsky's pass from the corner was anticipated by Hansen and he picked it off. J Schultz is slow to react and they chip it past him. Yakupov is out of position on the other point, who knows where. Hall is 15 feet away standing still and watching the play as the Nucks chip it out and take off. Hemsky takes off from the corner and almost catches up, beating both JSchultz and Hall back, both of whom had a 15-20 foot head start on him. Hall could have easily caught up to pressure/ride out the Vancouver goal scorer, but he stands and watches as if he does not care/it is someone else's job to do.

Two games in I have noticed the same pattern with the young guys - nobody is paying any attention to defensive details. It is fine to play a pressure/possession game, but as Detroit has shown you need to put the same effort in on defense as you do with offense. Two games in, the skill forward that has done this the best is.......Hemsky. If the coaching staff can't get the young guns to buy into this then it will be a long season as our defense is not good enough to be left on its own.

Total props to this statement, the truth is in the pudding....or something like that.

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#59 Joy S. Lee
October 07 2013, 08:31AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Having more hits is generally a sign you don't have the puck - that's why hitting actually has a slight correlation with losing games.

Funny, I don't remember that many "hits" in that game, unless they're counting fluffy board rubs as hits...especially in our own zone.

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#60 R.Chauvette
October 07 2013, 10:42AM
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We don't need a marathon runner for a coach.Wheel Scotty Bowman in with a wheelchare.idk.Who is picking these coaches.The last 2 could be public speakers or politicans but have no head coaching experience in the NHL. Eakins obviously feels Yak,Nuge,Ebbs and Hallsie need to be put in their place but he has picked the wrong place.They need confidence !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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