Now Eventually You Do Plan To Have Power, On Your Powerplay, Right? Hello?

Jonathan Willis
December 19 2013 10:50PM

The game-winning goal in Thursday’s game was scored by the Colorado Avalanche, while the Edmonton Oilers were on the power play. That’s bad. That it’s just the way Oilers power plays tend to go these days is worse.

The Goal!

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Justin Schultz coughs up the puck at the opposition blue line.

This one isn’t especially complex; that’s the crux of it. The initial pass is inexplicable; Schultz had time and space but decided to force a pass to a covered Taylor Hall rather than hang on to it himself or pass it to the open man on the far boards.

That started a two-on-one. Hall did his level best to get back in the play and gained some ground but wasn’t able to get there in time. The Oilers would have been okay if Schultz had played the pass, like every defenceman defending a two-on-one ever is supposed to, but he didn’t and that left Devan Dubnyk hanging out to dry.

The Trend!

Here’s a statistic: In the last 13 games, the Oilers have surrendered 14 shorthanded chances. They have only managed to generate 11 themselves all season.

Here’s another one: in the last six games, Edmonton’s power play has been out-chanced 8-7.

Superficially, the power play ranks 16th in the NHL in overall effectiveness, with 23 goals on 130 chances (17.7%). However, after eight shorthanded goals are taken into account it slips to 25th overall in goal differential/opportunities. It’s a ludicrous number given the talent the team has at its disposal.

Edmonton plays games on Saturday and Monday, but then has a long-ish break before playing Calgary on Friday (Update: as Jason Gregor reminds me, there's a little-known holiday called "Christmas" in that stretch, which makes it somewhat less than ideal as a time for practicing things). That break might be a good time to completely reimagine the power play.

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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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#101 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 20 2013, 01:06PM
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bazmagoo wrote:

I'm wondering if that's what the issue is with J Schultz too, didn't Krueger convince him to come to E-town?

According to Sportsnet and which idiot is babbling at the time I have heard 5 different names in connection with landing him here

MacT Gagner Hall Krueger Lowe

I think i heard a couple of other ones as well. All depends on who's tires sportsnet is trying to pump at the time

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#102 Oasis
December 20 2013, 01:18PM
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Smokey wrote:

I'm preferencing my comment I like both players. A small undersized, defensively irresponsible, below average skater like Omark is not better then anyone in our top 6. Letting him walk for nothing is what he was worth. What would you expect for him, Weber?

Hemsky should be traded to a veteran team if this team is going to play Gagner. You got remove the redundant small skilled player. Hemsky is a way better player, Gagner should be traded in all respect.

I don't expect anything for Omark. My point is Hemsky was only going to be here for this year and at worst next year as well. I would have traded Hemsky and when we could have got something for him. Then I would have taken the 5 million in salary that Hemsky makes and put it towards a Free Agent defenseman that we need.

Omark could have filled in for one year for Hemsky and then you could cut him loose if he wasn't working out.

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#103 Truth
December 20 2013, 01:32PM
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The problem is the PP setup. Anybody capable of watching video realizes the Oilers play with one D man at the top and two wingers just above the half-wall. The three of them play pass no matter how difficult the passes are (through traffic). Once the pass gets picked off it's an automatic 2 on 1 for the opponent. I think the theory is to dummy the two forwards into cheating to pick the passes off while leaving the cross ice pass open from winger to winger or ideally the opposing d slides up and leaves the back door pass open. In the end only the Oilers get dummied.

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#104 DoubleDIon
December 20 2013, 01:36PM
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Arius Mumin wrote:

Eberle and Yakupov would be the best players on the Flames as soon as their plane landed.

Flames don't even have anything worthy to trade for Gagner, yet alone for Hall or RNH.

Give your head a shake and go back to talking about the nothing that is Calgary Flames.

Yakupov wouldn't be in the NHL in the Flames organization. Eberle would be sheltered, kind of like Hudler is.

Giordano is better than any player you guys have not named Taylor Hall.

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#105 Smokey
December 20 2013, 01:37PM
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Truth wrote:

The problem is the PP setup. Anybody capable of watching video realizes the Oilers play with one D man at the top and two wingers just above the half-wall. The three of them play pass no matter how difficult the passes are (through traffic). Once the pass gets picked off it's an automatic 2 on 1 for the opponent. I think the theory is to dummy the two forwards into cheating to pick the passes off while leaving the cross ice pass open from winger to winger or ideally the opposing d slides up and leaves the back door pass open. In the end only the Oilers get dummied.

The other problem is the point man never shoots and alwaws passes. That allows the box or diamond to collapse removing passing lanes and allows them to pressure the point and create turnovers.

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#106 DoubleDIon
December 20 2013, 01:41PM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

Wow. You guys are already talking about tanking next season. Do you ever plan on being relevant again?

I know, it's sad. This is why we shouldn't tank. It's like gonorrhea, the disease is hard to get rid of. Draft well, develop and hold players accountable. Bartschi is light years better defensively than Yakupov or Eberle and is held accountable in Calgary. I can't believe Yakupov is still playing in the top 6. At worst he should be sheltered as much as possible, not trotted out there to help a team lose every night.

The only possible explanation is that the Oilers are trying to accumulate even more loser picks, where they'll promptly draft another guy who plays one dimensional hockey. I bet Hall leaves ASAP.

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#107 Zarny
December 20 2013, 01:42PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

I always wonder about well coached teams.......it seems no matter who is out they find a way to win.

Why, you ask Zarny, well because they have a system of play that all players have bought into and they make it work.

It's called good coaching. We hired a rookie GM who made a rookie mistake and hired a rookie coach. The rookie coach though he was smarter than God......and still does.

Since we cant fire the President, GM, Asst. GM, the only one left is the coach.

We should have hired Brent Sutter in the first place.........he would have never made the STUPID mistakes that Eakins continues to make. Let's stop blaming the players as NOT being good enough. Every time we say that the player leaves only to shine on some other team.

That's nonsense. Torts, Hitchcock, Ruff, Maurice...tons of good coaches have had winning and losing seasons. They don't always find a way to win. That's a pure fallacy. That's why they get fired.

I like Sutter. Would't have had a problem with him at all. NJ struggled his first 20 games. Same with Oates in Wsh last year.

You say rookie like it's an actual point. Sutter was rookie when he was hired too. Bylsma was a rookie in Pit. Oates was a rookie in Wsh. Cooper is a rookie in TB.

Being a rookie has nothing to do with it.

It doesn't matter who the coach is there is no top pairing D. Literally. Any combination will fail. Not one D on this team is good enough to play against top F 25 min a night let alone 2.

The top 6 F all play the same and have the same flaws. It doesn't matter what combination you throw out there. And the spare parts on the 3rd and 4th line are useless aside from Gordon.

You take 3 or 4 names off that roster and it's an AHL team. That's the problem.

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#108 GriffCity
December 20 2013, 01:45PM
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I think i finally see what the problem is...I cant believe it's taken me till Christmas to figure this out...Klowe and MacT do you guys have you notepads ready? ok... Here goes: We just aren't any good. Thank you

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#109 Jay
December 20 2013, 01:57PM
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Life is so much better when you don't waste any time watching this sad sack of losers.

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#110 **
December 20 2013, 02:42PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

Remember Schultz played his brief minor league career on a unit with Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and RNH. It was all offence, all the time and seriously skewed his offensive numbers, and I think distorted the perception of his abilities, as well as leaving his clear defensive liabilities unexposed until he arrived at the NHL.

It is obvious he has lots to learn on his own side of center ice. Put him down in OKC with their current roster, and I bet you he wouldn't put up anywhere near the offensive numbers he put up last year.

I agree he has lots to learn, just not from the minors. Remember that yes, those guys were playing together, but they were playing against much tougher players against. There were plenty of NHLers in the AHL last season, and still Schultz stood out.

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#111 S cottV
December 20 2013, 03:37PM
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Zarny wrote:

That's nonsense. Torts, Hitchcock, Ruff, Maurice...tons of good coaches have had winning and losing seasons. They don't always find a way to win. That's a pure fallacy. That's why they get fired.

I like Sutter. Would't have had a problem with him at all. NJ struggled his first 20 games. Same with Oates in Wsh last year.

You say rookie like it's an actual point. Sutter was rookie when he was hired too. Bylsma was a rookie in Pit. Oates was a rookie in Wsh. Cooper is a rookie in TB.

Being a rookie has nothing to do with it.

It doesn't matter who the coach is there is no top pairing D. Literally. Any combination will fail. Not one D on this team is good enough to play against top F 25 min a night let alone 2.

The top 6 F all play the same and have the same flaws. It doesn't matter what combination you throw out there. And the spare parts on the 3rd and 4th line are useless aside from Gordon.

You take 3 or 4 names off that roster and it's an AHL team. That's the problem.

Disagree.

Some rookie coach scenarios make some sense.

This one doesn't. Young players trying to find themselves in this league being led by someone trying to do the same thing through trial and error? No way.

This is not a playoff team but its better than its current record and most importantly should be showing progress in areas of play, where you have a strong sense it will show in the record eventually.

What we have is chaos. No indication that anything is getting better and lots that is worse than last year.

We criticize on this site about those who accept moral victories and you look at what has gone on with coaching this team and dont think there is a problem?

I guess its a moral victory that Eakins has managed to navigate this team to 29th overall with the player group on hand?

Eakins is not getting the most out of these players and that is his job. His trial and error decisions and systems has cost this team at least 8 to 10 points and lost time just going down the wrong roads.

Tortz, Hitch, Sutter, Ruff - they are in a different league. Eakins aint there yet....

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#112 Cccsberg
December 20 2013, 05:12PM
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Smokey wrote:

Heads should roll. How can a President and GM watch the debacle of a powerplay with that much talent suck so mightily.

The Oilers dzone coverage and inability to defend is laughable. A top pairing of Smid Petry would look lovely right now. Not sure how Lowe and MacT could think a plethera of soft 180 pound defenders with no apparantly no defensive accumen could handle this load. Just pathetic.

They dumped Smid for ECHL goalie and a tweener so they could sign a goalie who they don't play. If your going to dump your only decent NHL defender then roll your goalie till he drops. Total headshaker.

Good on Hall and Nuge to play for pride. The only highlights last night.

Although I don't believe the Smid trade is as bad as many think, IMHO when he stated on camera that things were unacceptable, and defensive coverage must improve (implying the forwards...) I think his days with the Oilers were numbered. Management doesn't like anyone on the team going public about the golden boy "Fab5" even when it's perfectly obvious to one and all...

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#113 Hauk15
December 20 2013, 06:26PM
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Why did Dubynk get the start? Its not that he was bad, he was actually decent with 35 saves..but in my opinion Deven Dubynk lost his privilege to start games a month and a half ago. LET ILYA BRYZGALOF COME IN PROVE HES BACK IN THE SHOW!

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#114 nrXic
December 20 2013, 09:30PM
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There is more talent in Yakupov's left hand than there is in the entire Flames organization, let's not kid ourselves here.

He is absolutely horrid in his defensive play, but that is something that is learned. His shot on the other hand, is a skill and a G-d given talent that no Flames player will ever possess.

His defensive liability means little if he remains on the half-wall on the PP. Remember the PP? Y'know, the topic Mr. Willis is talking about?

Last year he scored 18% of the Oilers' PP goals.

This year, he has scored 17%. The only player to score more is Perron, at 26%. Hall trails Yak at 13%.

What makes that stat remarkable, is that Yak plays on the second PP unit, which affords him 66% of the opportunity these other guys get. There's another aspect to be considered which I'll mention later.

Hall and Perron average 3:30 min on the PP each game. Yak averages 2:34.

What concerns me more than those minutes, is how those minutes are spent. Rather than getting a chance to start in the offensive zone, where a faceoff win can lead to an immediate PP setup, which can lead to one-time opportunities...the 2nd line comes in usually on a on-the-fly change, or a faceoff (that isn't guaranteed to be in the opponent's zone). So as I said earlier, this has to be factored into Yak's performance. Offensive zone faceoffs matter when it comes to setting up a player who specializes in having a cannon shot.

There are more issues, no doubt, some of which were put rather well in the first page of comments. But what I see here is an issue with using the right knife in our Swiss Army Knife, for the job. This also includes where you would put a guy like Yak. You don't move him to the blue line, as we saw a couple times. He belongs on the half wall.

One aspect of Yak that coaching has under-estimated are his passing skills. His passes are hard (perhaps too hard in some cases) and accurate. No opponent stick in the lane is able to stop those passes. I can appreciate wanting a player maker like Nuge on that wall, he'd be far more suited to setting up Yak.

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#115 dow7500
December 21 2013, 12:24AM
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Saw the 2 on 1 on shultz. As an old plumber dman, Get on your belly and stretch and make for a tough pass. He was a pillon that did nothing for the play. FKN teach him basic junior B defense, someone, anyone...please.

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#116 DoubleDIon
December 21 2013, 03:05AM
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nrXic wrote:

There is more talent in Yakupov's left hand than there is in the entire Flames organization, let's not kid ourselves here.

He is absolutely horrid in his defensive play, but that is something that is learned. His shot on the other hand, is a skill and a G-d given talent that no Flames player will ever possess.

His defensive liability means little if he remains on the half-wall on the PP. Remember the PP? Y'know, the topic Mr. Willis is talking about?

Last year he scored 18% of the Oilers' PP goals.

This year, he has scored 17%. The only player to score more is Perron, at 26%. Hall trails Yak at 13%.

What makes that stat remarkable, is that Yak plays on the second PP unit, which affords him 66% of the opportunity these other guys get. There's another aspect to be considered which I'll mention later.

Hall and Perron average 3:30 min on the PP each game. Yak averages 2:34.

What concerns me more than those minutes, is how those minutes are spent. Rather than getting a chance to start in the offensive zone, where a faceoff win can lead to an immediate PP setup, which can lead to one-time opportunities...the 2nd line comes in usually on a on-the-fly change, or a faceoff (that isn't guaranteed to be in the opponent's zone). So as I said earlier, this has to be factored into Yak's performance. Offensive zone faceoffs matter when it comes to setting up a player who specializes in having a cannon shot.

There are more issues, no doubt, some of which were put rather well in the first page of comments. But what I see here is an issue with using the right knife in our Swiss Army Knife, for the job. This also includes where you would put a guy like Yak. You don't move him to the blue line, as we saw a couple times. He belongs on the half wall.

One aspect of Yak that coaching has under-estimated are his passing skills. His passes are hard (perhaps too hard in some cases) and accurate. No opponent stick in the lane is able to stop those passes. I can appreciate wanting a player maker like Nuge on that wall, he'd be far more suited to setting up Yak.

Yakupov has one even strength goal this year. He's tied with Mike Smith, a goaltender and Brian McGratton. That shot must really be working for him. More pucks have gone in off of Bertuzzi's ass then Yakupov's stick. Honestly, he wouldn't crack our roster. Not even close. He shouldn't be cracking yours either. On the PP subject, he should be getting much less time than Hall or Perron. He's not even in the same league as those two.

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#117 Wintoon
December 21 2013, 06:01AM
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The Oilers have a great deal of talent they can put out on the PP. The problem is that until they get a player, or train one, to have an agitating net presence they are going to have sub par results. At the NHL level a goalie is expected to make 100% of long range shots where there is no sceen in place (Dubnyk please take note). For some reason, I remember a player by the name of Craig Simpson. IIRC, he got 50+ goals for the Oilers one year being just that kind of player.

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#118 Rama Lama
December 21 2013, 10:45AM
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S cottV wrote:

Disagree.

Some rookie coach scenarios make some sense.

This one doesn't. Young players trying to find themselves in this league being led by someone trying to do the same thing through trial and error? No way.

This is not a playoff team but its better than its current record and most importantly should be showing progress in areas of play, where you have a strong sense it will show in the record eventually.

What we have is chaos. No indication that anything is getting better and lots that is worse than last year.

We criticize on this site about those who accept moral victories and you look at what has gone on with coaching this team and dont think there is a problem?

I guess its a moral victory that Eakins has managed to navigate this team to 29th overall with the player group on hand?

Eakins is not getting the most out of these players and that is his job. His trial and error decisions and systems has cost this team at least 8 to 10 points and lost time just going down the wrong roads.

Tortz, Hitch, Sutter, Ruff - they are in a different league. Eakins aint there yet....

You beat me to the punch.......very nice response! Makes too much sense to me.

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#119 HOFFFF
December 21 2013, 01:12PM
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The Oulers Franchise turns players into bad players.

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#120 nrXic
December 22 2013, 02:18PM
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@DoubleDIon

"Yakupov has one even strength goal this year. He's tied with Mike Smith, a goaltender and Brian McGratton. That shot must really be working for him."

I was very clear that his shot is an asset on the PP.

ES has a boatload of other factors that affect shooting and shooting percentage.

Again, you seem to be unwilling to talk about the topic at hand, which is the PP. Mainly because the facts contradict your viewpoints.

"Honestly, he wouldn't crack our roster. Not even close. He shouldn't be cracking yours either. On the PP subject, he should be getting much less time than Hall or Perron. He's not even in the same league as those two."

Again, the facts demonstrate that you are wrong. He has the productivity of a 1st line unit despite being on the second line which has to deal with zone entries (1st unit gets offensive zone faceoff to start) and line changes (which slows down the rush).

In regards to him being on the Flames roster, if you're going to argue that Yak wouldn't make the team, you should be arguing that 5 Flames currently playing shouldn't, as they have comparable stats. You're only kidding yourself here.

I know this may seem extremely harsh of me, and this may be the most insulting thing ever said on this website, but you really sound like a "Calgary Puck forum poster" here.

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