December 01 2013 08:24AM
The Edmonton Oilers have been tightening their defensive play under coach Dallas Eakins and it does appear to be working. In the club's last 10 games, the goals-against average for DD and Bryz is 2.52 compared to 3.24 for the entire season. The goaltending has improved, but what about the defense? Is it getting better? How can we tell?
In the last 10 games, the Oilers blue has posted the following boxcar numbers:
- Phil Larsen (IR) 5, 0-4-4 -4
- Justin Schultz 5, 2-1-3 +3
- Corey Potter 6, 0-2-2 -2
- Nick Schultz 10, 0-2-2 -1
- Denis Grebeshkov 2, 0-1-1 +1
- Jeff Petry 10, 0-1-1 +3
- Anton Belov 10, 0-1-1 -2
- Taylor Fedun 2, 0-0-0 -2
- Andrew Ference 10, 0-1-1 -1
It's an interesting look back, we can kind of see the point where Larsen went on IR and Fedun was sent down, and then the 5 games Schultz the younger has been back has coincided with an uptick in results (funny, that) for the team.
CORSI FOR % (5x5)
In the last 5 games, it's fun to see the list of defensemen who have been on the ice for good things:
- Anton Belov 78-62 55.7%
- Justin Schultz 66-57 53.6%
- Denis Grebeshkov 23-20 53.4%
- Jeff Petry 66-58 53.2%
- Nick Schultz 60-67 47.2%
- Andrew Ference 57-65 46.7%
- Corey Potter 30-44 40.5%
This is from Extra skater, and I'm listing Corsi For-Corsi against and the percentage and this is all 5x5. Now, it's important to note that we're not taking into account things like zone starts and toughness of opposition, this is straight Corsi at 5x5 over the last 5 games.
That said, it's fascinating to see four defensemen above 50% over that time (!!!!) and the 5-6 guys are not far from 50% (with only Corey Potter fading badly). We don't know if Schultz's return or Grebeshkov's callup are big reasons for the improved shot differential, we only know that in the last 5 games this group has been part of some good things.
And we also know the goals against in the last 10 games has been going down, and part of that is due to the puck being in the other end more often.
These are all nice signs for the club, and barring injury they should be able to repeat it (depending on quality of opposition, etc) and more wins should come as a result.
That's my guess, but I don't know why you'd change anything aside from the goaltender. That 4th line has been doing some nice things, and I'm betting the Nuge line will find a way to rock and roll in Texas later today. The young Russian likes the big stage, and everything's big in Texas, maybe he'll rip three rockets into the Dallas night.
- According to nhl.com, the Oilers have 4 rookies this season: Mark Arcobello, Taylor Fedun, Luke Gazdic and Tyler Pitlick. Anton Belov doesn't qualify.
- The Oilers leading scorer is Jordan Eberle (23 points) who is tied for 28th in league points. Last year, Taylor Hall finished 9th, but this year he and David Perron are tied at 61st overall.
- Craig MacTavish was in Oklahoma City last night, raving about Mark Arcobello in an interview with brilliant play-by-play man Jim Byers.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
WHO CARES? It's almost time for hurdles!!!!! Okay, fine.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers play the system and find their range on the powerplay, scoring twice with the man advantage in a 3-2 victory over the Stars.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ryan Smyth leaves it all out on the ice.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Shawn Horcoff channels himself as a rookie and sends a cross-ice pass that Yakupov shoots through the net for the winner.