GDB 23.0: A DATE IN DETROIT

Jason Gregor
March 07 2013 01:15PM

The Oilers skate into Detroit hoping to match the effort they played with last Thursday in Dallas. Over the last 18 years the Stars owned the Oilers, but the Oilers dominated them last week, and tonight they face a Wings team they've only beaten 24 times in their last 73 meetings.

Can they slay the dragon for the second Thursday in a row?

It will be a daunting task, but few people expected the Oilers to get a point in Chicago and two in Dallas, and that's exactly why we will all be watching tonight.

LINE UP

Hall/Nugent-Hopkins/Hemsky
Paajarvi/Gagner/Eberle
Smyth/Belanger/Yakupov
Jones/Vande Velde/Brown

The top lines stay the same, while Chris Vande Velde draws in and Ben Eager takes a seat in the press box. Krueger stated this morning the need to get all four lines going, but realistically I think he'd settle for getting two going.

If you are wondering why Eager is out, and why the Oilers acquired Brown, take a look at these sobering numbers that Micheal Parkatti graciously sent me when I asked for them. Parkatti does a recap of every game at boysonthebus.com 

Name While on ice Game 1 Game 11 12 13 G14 G 15 G 16 G 17 G18 G 19 G 20 G 21 G 22 Totals
Eager Shots Attempts For 6 6 2 1 13 9 9 14 4 7 5 1 9 86
Eager Shots Attempts Against 14 11 5 12 12 13 11 12 12 15 23 13 11 164
Eager Net Shot Attempts -8 -5 -3 -11 1 -4 -2 2 -8 -8 -18 -12 -2 -78
Team Net Shot Attempts 0 -16 -19 -4 25 -31 -3 2 -37 -17 -19 -8 -7 -134

The percent of net differential while Eager is on the ice is a mind-blowing 58%.

For non-believers of Corsi, that is incredibly high considering how little time he spends on the ice. Keep in mind that includes all shots attempts; shots on goal, blocked shots and shots that missed the net.

Someone might look at Eager's +/- and suggest he's only -4, but that is in 13 games with only 9:36 of TOI/game. Either way you slice it, it is brutal. And it explains why the Oilers added Brown. Brown isn't perfect either, but he hasn't been a defensive liability along the lines of Eager, and his reputation suggests he's more consistent in his physical play.

I want to be clear that Eager isn't the reason the Oilers are losing, but obviously he isn't pulling his weight. Krueger will be looking for more consistency out of his 4th line and hopefully some production. Jones has proven in the past he can score in limited minutes, so we'll see if he can produce on the 4th line.

Realistically if the Oilers are going to win tonight, their top two lines need to be good, and their PP needs to awaken from its recent slumber. They are 3 for 25 in their last 7 games, and in the three games where they scored a PP goal they won twice and lost in OT.

The Oilers lack of finish with the man advantage in Columbus cost them a point. If they score on that 4-on-3, they win and Eberle had two glorious chances. We all saw his reaction after he couldn't lift the puck over Bobrovsky's pads, but that is a shot Eberle has to make. Ideally you don't want all the pressure to win on the shoulders of your young players, but that's how it is in Edmonton and I guarantee you Eberle is livid he didn't score in OT.

Smid-Petry
N.Schultz-J.Schultz
Whitney-Potter

Petry has three goals and five points in the first five games of the road trip. He's had some luck by just putting pucks on net, and you wonder if his teammates follow suit. Whitney has two goals in the last three games and he's been much more involved offensively. The good news for the Oilers is that they are finally getting some production from their blueline.

Dubnyk

He is 2-0-1 with a 2.47 GAA and 0.931 SV% vs. Detroit. Yes, it is a small sample size, but he's got 5 of 6 points in his career v. Detroit. In fact, all three games have gone to OT. He's 1-1 in OT and 1-0 in the SO. His only start in Detroit he stopped 42 of 44 shots on March 11th, 2011.

QUICK HITS

  • Watched the entire Chicago/Colorado game last night. The Hawks are entertaining to watch regardless of who they play. They push the pace the entire game. They never sit back, and Toews has to be amongst top-five centres, if not higher, in the game. Very complete player.
     
  • If Patrick Sharp is out for any extended period of time, that would be a huge blow for them. He left midway through the 3rd favouring his shoulder. He'll miss some games, just not sure how many according to Quenneville.
     
  • If the Oilers continue their trend of turning the puck over at the offensive blueline, the Wings will dominate territorially and on shot attempts. Datsyuk is the best in the league at creating turnovers so the Oilers need to be smart with the puck.
     
  • Might only interest me, but in the limited games he's played Chris Vande Velde has faced the 5th toughest competition amongst Oiler forwards. And really it is 4th because he didn't play when Horcoff was in the lineup.

JUST BECAUSE

 

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Just when you think the Oilers are done, they surprise you with an effort like tonight. 3-2 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Datsyuk will have you sitting in awe at least once with one of his "sick" dangles.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Tootoo Train and Moustache Mayhem will collide at centre ice for one of the best hits of the season. The great part is that neither one will have had the puck, and neither fanbase will know who initiated the contact.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#151 Jay
March 08 2013, 10:58AM
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Reagan wrote:

This has been bugging me for a while. Yakupov needs to be put on the second line with Gagner and hall. I He is horrible with Smyth and the fact that he is way too slow. Yakupov speed and skill is being mismanaged. If you ask me the team is beyond deflated and looks horrible five on five.

My lines

91/93/14 4/89/64 94/20/28 55/54/13

15/19 2/5 6/44

Dubey

So you take hemsky out of the lineup?

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#152 vetinari
March 08 2013, 10:59AM
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Oiler games should now come with a "Surgeon General's Warning":

WARNING: The Surgeon General has determined that prolonged exposure to Edmonton Oiler hockey games may cause: sleepiness followed by irritability, paranoia that management is out to sabotage the team, uncontrollable verbal outbursts at tv sets, and in some causes, drunkeness and volatile diarrhea. Not to be confused with "Maple Leaf" syndrome that includes delusions of grandeur and unjustified boosts in self esteem and self worth.

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#153 rob
March 08 2013, 11:04AM
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Managment needs to be fired.we need to make trades to better this team.we need a goalie(dubbies not the guy)we need an team identity,remember when we had smith,torres,larauque,moreou?we had a much better line up then,we need to get the kids some help to start giving this team a chance!use a first round pick or 2,throw in hemsky,ganger,tuebert marcinin or combination and get us a flipping team.start using yaks in the top 6!if need be use klefbom as trade bait to!!!to do nothing is insulting to the fans and players!!!!how long till hall and ebs want to leave town (aka pronger)

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#154 pelhem grenville
March 08 2013, 12:56PM
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....but but V the leafs are doing so much better than us

WTF buddy

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#155 vetinari
March 08 2013, 07:40PM
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@ pelhem - every Leafs fan I know have parade routes planned out before the puck even drops in the first game of the season... and they also assume that I want to hear about their favorite team... over... and over... and over...

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