April 19 2013 09:00AM
The Oilers have lost six consecutive games – and the list of individual players excelling and faltering in that stretch is an interesting one.
All of these totals need to be considered in context: it’s six games; that’s a short span of time. With that caveat, here’s what I found interesting:
- Shawn Horcoff and especially Nail Yakupov have weathered the storm nicely. Eight points, a plus-one rating, and 17 shots even as the team as a whole dropped six in a row? Impressive.
- Taylor Hall has 29 shots, more than any other two players on the team combined? I don’t care if he has just two points and a minus-4 rating, this is clearly a streak where he deserves better results than he’s gotten. I’m not worried about him even a little bit.
- The top line as a whole – Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins - has combined for 50 shots and no goals. That’s ridiculous and will not continue.
- Two of the three most-used fourth-liners – Jerred Smithson and Mike Brown – have combined for zero shots over these six games. Ryan Smyth, the other most-used fourth-liner, has nine. Shot totals aren’t the be-all and end-all of analysis, but if I was picking the single useful player off a fourth-line that’s been humiliatingly dominated by the opposition over this stretch, it would be Smyth.
- Brown often gets a free pass because he hits things and punches things but he has 12 shots in 33 games this season. He’s averaged at least a shot-per-game in each of the last four seasons, and he needs to get back to that level – it’s great that he’s physical but he can’t be a total non-entity with the puck.
That second pairing is getting killed, both in plus/minus and in scoring chances. By eye, I haven’t been that impressed with Nick Schultz this season but I don’t think he’s to blame – Justin Schultz looks to be having a total defensive meltdown at this point in the season.
Corey Potter is a deserving lone ‘plus’ on the Oiles blue line over this stretch. With him on the ice, the Oilers have out-chanced the opposition 14-8 in the four games he played; with him off the ice in those games they were +20/-40 in even-strength scoring chances. Playing third-pairing opposition helps, but even so that’s impressive. Potter is also the only Oilers’ defenceman to have a positive on-ice scoring chances number over this stretch of games
The plus/minus numbers for the other defenceman also broadly reflect the scoring chance numbers. Whitney’s been a little in the red, Fistric more so, and the Smid/Petry pairing is having trouble in the top-pairing role.
Goaltending numbers are almost useless in the short-term, but I was surprised to see Devan Dubnyk’s save percentage above 0.900, given that he’s allowing over three goals per game. Still, he’s averaging 35 shots against per game over those four, so despite the number of goals against it’s not like he’s the primary problem.
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