Meaningful Games in April

Jonathan Willis
April 09 2013 08:48AM

One of the items that the optimists watching the Edmonton Oilers have pointed to as a sign of progress is the fact that the team is playing meaningful games this late in the season. They were still in it at the deadline and they were still in it in April; these are big improvements over previous years.

Or are they?

It Isn’t A Normal Season

The fact is, with the compressed schedule, being in the hunt in April of this year is roughly akin to being in the hunt in January if last year; at 40 games, the difference between the also-rans and the nearly-ins and the barely-ins is a lot smaller than it is after 80 games.

That becomes pretty clear when comparing the Oilers’ record this season after 39 games to the Oilers’ record last season after 39 games:

  • 2013: 16-16-7, 39 points, minus-7 goal differential
  • 2011-12: 16-20-3, 35 points, minus-4 goal differential

It’s a four point improvement, but in terms of wins and losses the Oilers are actually in the exact same position as they were one season ago; the difference is entirely the result of four losses taking place after regulation rather than in 60 minutes. The Oilers slumped in the last half of 2011-12, while in 2013 there is no last half of the season to slump in. Ultimately, though, they’re at a pretty comparable place to where they were a year ago.

The difference is that the 39th game a year ago was the start of January; this time it’s the start of April.

The Shot Numbers

Another item to consider is goaltending. The single-biggest factor in the Oilers’ late season slump in 2011-12 was Nikolai Khabibulin’s implosion, just as the single-biggest factor in their early season dominance was Khabibulin’s brilliance. He went 11-8-3 with a 0.932 save percentage before Christmas, then 1-12-4 with a 0.881 save percentage afterward. In other words: the team’s early success and late failure was distorted first by Khabibulin’s excellence and then his struggles.

This year, the goaltending’s been solid throughout, giving the Oilers an advantage last year’s team didn’t have. If we remove goaltending from the equation, and just look at shots for and shots against, how does this year’s group compare to last year’s?

  • 2013: 1055 shots for, 1281 against; Oilers take 45.2% of all shots
  • 2011-12: 2186 shots for, 2518 shots against; Oilers take 46.5% of all shots

Basically, although individual players (hello, Taylor Hall) have taken significant strides, the team as a whole isn’t doing any better at out-shooting the opposition. That’s a problem, and suggests that the improvements the team has made are only skin deep. If not for Devan Dubnyk taking the starting job and running with it, there might be some uncomfortable questions being asked of the management group right now.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, 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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#51 bleedingoil
April 09 2013, 11:59AM
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i would like to see the other 9 teams below us compared to themselves. We are no better, there are just 30 teams that are worse than comparables last year. Take our stats in the league last year and we are in a lottery position. Dont kid yourself, this team still sucks, does suck and will suck until massive changes happen. The 7 "untouchables" need to be touched before we see northern directions in standings. One or two of Hall, RNH, Ebs, Yak, JS19, PRV and Gags need to be moved for our first and hell, even one or two of our 2nd rounders. We need legit size in our top 6, a tough guy that can put the puck in the net, a Left handed stud and sorry DD, but we need a legit #1 starter. We all know who needs to go so why did we not let them go at the deadline? Now we have Hemsky injured again and Whitney will be a hard sell in the summer with a few better UFAs out there. The Oilers are an embarassing franchise, totally embarassing. RK? not doing it. the MacT line blender was used way to often.

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#52 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
April 09 2013, 11:59AM
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Jon wrote:

The problem with losing out the season for the sake of draft picks is that it is a perpetuation of our current situation. Yes, it will land us a nice rookie, but until this team is competitive nobody is going to want to play here. You can forget about FA's or players waiving NTC's to come be the stabilizing veteran presence this team needs (especially on D). This team needs to play hard, kick the crap out of some tough teams, and become a legitimate threat.

For me, this is one of the bigger questions, "Does this management team think/beleive that they are going to be faster and more talented than all the others and that this will carry the day?" How else do you explain the current roster?

Go through the entire roster...really not a single tough player…(other than Mike Brown)

Smid and Fistric are our version of tough defenseman…..really?

Who upfront is tough? NO ONE….not one guy! We all hope that maybe Hall will be Messier some day…but I doubt it?

We hope that Paajarvi will grow into a tough guy……like most of these young guns, he’ll get stronger and more physical….but will he get tougher and meaner? Messier had a mean streak. Not only didn’t he care if he hurt you….he often was trying to do so. That's how you create room for yourself and others.

Go down the list Nuge, Ebbs, Yak, Gags, Hemmer, etc…..NOT ONE TOUGH GUY. And no hope that they ever will be.

Our version of a tough guy is a guy who blocks shots…most of the guys on our team do this….or a little guy like Gagner who lands a couple at waist level in a mock fight…..Hell, a guy as soft as Jones looks tough on this team…..

We have NO tough guys…..guys who hammer you in the corner…..guys who run over you…not around you….guys who drop the gloves if you look at them the wrong way.

Now maybe this is the new NHL but I still think the good teams have some fear of each other. Fear that if you don’t keep your head up or if you go into the corner or into the crease your going to pay a price…

I think the Oilers have ZERO fear factor…..and worse yet….I’m concerned that they are building a team for what they perceive is or will be the new NHL….a team whose idea of putting fear into you is their threat to score on the PP if you try and play too physical against them. Too me that’s a big gamble as a game plan for a rebuild. You truly do risk becoming the Tampa Bay Lighting.

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#53 Smokey
April 09 2013, 12:02PM
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Oilcan wrote:

I think a full season and a training camp would have done alot more to help improve this team. Yes they have holes, but a training camp would have helped Schultz and Yakupov way more, longer season means more practice time and for a rookie coach this could have been huge.

I do think the Oilers need to stop hoping players can fill a spot and succeed and put them in a position where they know they can succeed.

I would love to see a 3rd line of Paajarvi-Horcoff-Hartaikenen.

I think the second line needs a retooling, I liked Gags development this year but I think he needs to go for a top pairing dman (make a hockey trade) and I would trade Hemsky for a 2nd line Center. Play Yakupov on the RW for the 2nd line.

NO MORE HORCOFF, move on, buy him out, let the ship sail...

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#54 Lochenzo
April 09 2013, 12:13PM
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Small differences go a long ways. It's all relative! 10 points more and the Oil would be division leaders or very close to it. 10 points less, and we'd be battling Calgary and Colorado for last in the league.

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#55 Clarko
April 09 2013, 12:16PM
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bleedingoil wrote:

i would like to see the other 9 teams below us compared to themselves. We are no better, there are just 30 teams that are worse than comparables last year. Take our stats in the league last year and we are in a lottery position. Dont kid yourself, this team still sucks, does suck and will suck until massive changes happen. The 7 "untouchables" need to be touched before we see northern directions in standings. One or two of Hall, RNH, Ebs, Yak, JS19, PRV and Gags need to be moved for our first and hell, even one or two of our 2nd rounders. We need legit size in our top 6, a tough guy that can put the puck in the net, a Left handed stud and sorry DD, but we need a legit #1 starter. We all know who needs to go so why did we not let them go at the deadline? Now we have Hemsky injured again and Whitney will be a hard sell in the summer with a few better UFAs out there. The Oilers are an embarassing franchise, totally embarassing. RK? not doing it. the MacT line blender was used way to often.

Agree with a lot of what you said, except for the part about Dubnyk. I'm not sure what more this guy can do to prove he is a #1 goalie. He has a .923 save percentage which ranks 6th among goalies who have played in at least half of their team's games. Sure, he has let in a few "soft" goals, but when a team has mediocre defense that gives up a ton of high quality scoring chances, I will take a .923 save percentage all day.

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#56 Ducey
April 09 2013, 12:17PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

Any monkey (lobotomy included) could have selected the proper first overall pick.......hell the pundits do that for you.

Apparently not. Some have suggested the Oilers should have taken Seguin, Larsen and Murray.

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#57 vetinari
April 09 2013, 12:25PM
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"Meaningful games in April"? It is only because of the shortened season that we were even close to a playoff spot at the trade deadline, but man, do we still suck.

I think management's decision-making on trade deadline day was, "hey, we don't have to be better than average for more than 10-15 games to get into the playoffs, and then anything could happen", so they stayed pat and only added Smithson to the mix (seriously-- how can this guy have played close to 600 NHL games and still be almost unknown by every hockey fan in Western Canada?). In the meantime, trade deadline day passed and we discovered that unless our next 15 opponents are the Calgary Flames, we still have major problems that were unaddressed and expose us to nightly abuse by most NHL teams.

The theme for the 2012-2013 season has been, "let's fix the third and fourth lines" because that, obviously, is our biggest problem. Granted, they were not very effective last year, but our biggest problems still revolve around cutting down our opponent's scoring chances and shots on net, and our positional needs of another top 2 centre, another 1 or 2 top 4 defenceman, and oh yeah, why don't we do something to address the need to replace "leaky Nicky" Khabibulin and his 87 year old back?

Instead, management and coaching tried Plans A, B, and C on the bottom six forward lines featuring various combinations of Jones, Hartikainen, Smyth, Hordichuk, Eager, Belanger, Lander, Paajarvi, Horcoff, Smithson, VandeVelde, Arcobello and others to little or no success. In the meantime, our top 2 lines are erratic and inexperienced. When the forwards on your top 2 scoring lines have, combined, less games played under their belts then the other team's top defensive pairing, that's not a recipe for a winning team. And don't get me started on the Peckham-Potter-Whitney-Fistric merry-go-round.

By the way-- has anyone looked ahead to the remaining games? We play 6 games in 9 nights from April 19th (Colorado) to the 27th (Vancouver)... THAT does not look promising as we are likely to have to start Khabibulin for at least 2 to 3 of the games, and I doubt that we can pick up more than 3 or 4 wins, at best, during that stretch.

We are now at the point where we can't even win and be in-- instead we have to run the table AND count on some other team (or two) going on a massive losing skid in the interim and we can't count on that because they don't have our management team in place!

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#58 2004Z06
April 09 2013, 12:29PM
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Is everyone forgetting half our team has played damn near 80 games already this year?

You cannot use this year as a comparison in any way. Just too many significant differences. Justin Shultz is burned out from too many minutes too soon in the year. RNH's shoulder clearly isn't right.

The veterans had no training camp and as such took 20 games to even get up to game speed. Hell some of them still aren't at game speed. New coach/system

The compressed schedule has been murder due to decreased practice time and rest days.

As much as I would like to be able to see if there is legitimate improvement or not, this season cannot be used as a measuring stick in the overall evaluation.

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#59 vetinari
April 09 2013, 12:37PM
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2004Z06 wrote:

Is everyone forgetting half our team has played damn near 80 games already this year?

You cannot use this year as a comparison in any way. Just too many significant differences. Justin Shultz is burned out from too many minutes too soon in the year. RNH's shoulder clearly isn't right.

The veterans had no training camp and as such took 20 games to even get up to game speed. Hell some of them still aren't at game speed. New coach/system

The compressed schedule has been murder due to decreased practice time and rest days.

As much as I would like to be able to see if there is legitimate improvement or not, this season cannot be used as a measuring stick in the overall evaluation.

HEY, EVERYONE! 2004Z06 says that "...this season can't be used as a measuring stick in the overall evaluation." Thank you, 2004Z06 and thank the hockey gods.

So could everyone please just destroy all references to 2012-13 and we can all get on with our lives because no development, measurement or assessment can be or should be performed on this edition of the Oilers. Free pass for Tambellini and Co.!

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#60 Spydyr
April 09 2013, 12:38PM
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Will wrote:

"Free spot on their bingo card", wow.

30-30-29

Soon to be out of the playoffs for 7 years.

Say 25 this year.

One of the softest teams in the NHL to play against.

Yes, free spot.

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#61 Quicksilver ballet
April 09 2013, 12:40PM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

You're saying that all three #1 picks have been the wrong choice?

Wow, I'm no Tambellini fan, but the one thing he's managed to do right is walk up to the podium on draft day and pick the consensus best player.

Please re-read and try and comprehend what was said. See the AND (as in BOTH)between the names mentioned, big difference between what I mentioned and what you accused me of saying. Edumacation is your friend, my friend.

If one of those deals had been made, the Oilers would be better off today. Old useless vets out, new blood in. It's almost to the point of no return now. If this isn't corrected lickity split, i suspect one of the fab 5 asks to be moved before too long. Hanging onto these tired, overpaid and oft-underachieving veterans is killing this team. Those two possible 2nd rounders Whitney may have fetched look pretty good now don't they Mr. Tambellini?

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#62 2004Z06
April 09 2013, 12:43PM
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Vetinari....

What is your justification for mocking my opinion? This is why people stop participating in these types of forums.

You don't have to agree with my opinion, but I would appreciate you not mocking it.

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#63 The Beaker
April 09 2013, 12:46PM
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Smokey wrote:

NO MORE HORCOFF, move on, buy him out, let the ship sail...

People still think this?

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#64 2004Z06
April 09 2013, 12:48PM
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I agree that management has done essentially nothing this year to improve the team going forward.

The context of JW's article is "It isn't a normal season"

Using that premise, you cannot make the comparison.

I am in no way suggesting management gets a free pass!

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#65 vetinari
April 09 2013, 12:49PM
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2004Z06 wrote:

Vetinari....

What is your justification for mocking my opinion? This is why people stop participating in these types of forums.

You don't have to agree with my opinion, but I would appreciate you not mocking it.

@2004Z06 -- you're entitled to your opinion, and I was over-the-top in my response because I thought your statement was too black and white and extreme in its position. For my part, I apologize on the sarcasm but the point remains that I think that your position is too extreme and counterproductive. Reflection, adaption and change is what is required to move this team forward, not "get out of jail free" cards.

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#66 Quicksilver ballet
April 09 2013, 12:54PM
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2004Z06 wrote:

Vetinari....

What is your justification for mocking my opinion? This is why people stop participating in these types of forums.

You don't have to agree with my opinion, but I would appreciate you not mocking it.

Always wear your can when here 2004Z06. It's in your HFD handbook you were given when you joined ON.

Like in a dressing room, always be aware of the characters around you. Flying off the handle is what we do best here.

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#67 Chainsawz
April 09 2013, 12:56PM
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2004Z06 wrote:

Is everyone forgetting half our team has played damn near 80 games already this year?

You cannot use this year as a comparison in any way. Just too many significant differences. Justin Shultz is burned out from too many minutes too soon in the year. RNH's shoulder clearly isn't right.

The veterans had no training camp and as such took 20 games to even get up to game speed. Hell some of them still aren't at game speed. New coach/system

The compressed schedule has been murder due to decreased practice time and rest days.

As much as I would like to be able to see if there is legitimate improvement or not, this season cannot be used as a measuring stick in the overall evaluation.

This true but it also true for the other 29 teams in league (with the exception of the new coach). Since the Oilers are being evaluated on their performance against these teams, this season is a valid measuring stick.

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#68 2004Z06
April 09 2013, 12:57PM
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Thanks Oil Change, I will bring my cup from now on....ha ha.

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#69 Rama Lama
April 09 2013, 01:01PM
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@Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

I'm with you all the way..........your points are sound, but the main problem is that Lowe and Tamby see the NHL in a totally different light.

Their MO has always been smaller faster.......the new NHL according to these two clowns.

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#70 Ogie Oilthorpe
April 09 2013, 01:02PM
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Ducey wrote:

How did that work for the Avs?

They traded Shattenkirk and Stewart for a "#1" defenseman in Erik Johnson, and Mclement. They have not been the same since. It has set back their rebuild years.

People need to have some patience. You don't trade young players just so you can try and make the playoffs.

I live in Denver and that trade has pissed me off for years.. However, I'm not suggesting we trade Shultz and Magnus for a struggling former #1 pick. I am just saying at some point management needs to evaluate our young core and trade one those guys + picks, hemsky, whoever, and bring in some pieces to the puzzle. I am not an advocate of trading young talent away to try and make the playoffs, but also not an advocate of a 10 year re-build. At some point you have to trade to fill roster need, to continue to improve the team in the long run, we have a lot of similiar talent. Diversity is needed.

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#71 2004Z06
April 09 2013, 01:03PM
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Let me pose the question to the group:

If RNH and Eberle were even in close to the same ppg pace as last year, would we be in?

I think we would be.

I continually see a lot of people here bashing the Whitney's, Potters, Belanger's, Horcoff's on the team yet I rarely if ever see anyone holding Eberle or RNH accountable this year.

If you want to compare this team to last years team, don't you have to look at everyone's performance?

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#72 Will
April 09 2013, 01:06PM
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Spydyr wrote:

30-30-29

Soon to be out of the playoffs for 7 years.

Say 25 this year.

One of the softest teams in the NHL to play against.

Yes, free spot.

Not disagreeing, I just thought it was funny.

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#73 Lochenzo
April 09 2013, 01:19PM
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There are games where they look like the same team from last year. Dubnyk and from time to time, Khabby, saved their bacons after getting outshot by a margin of 2:1. But then there are games like during the 5 game winning streak where you're like, "Wow!" this team should be in the top 8.

I think that's the one difference that we have seen. Actual moments on the ice where we see what this team can be. Just got to see more of that. consistency is a problem for young players so it's not unexpected, despite our hopes of something more this year.

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#74 Will
April 09 2013, 01:22PM
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Do people think the NHL is like the crappy game EA puts out every year? I understand we're all getting a little sick and tired of losing, but would anyone here trade the team we have now for anyone of the teams we had in the last decade, including the team that went to the cup?

We have legitimate future / current superstars on our roster. And not just one or two like some teams, but 5. 5 Future super stars.

The future leader of our team is in the same breath as Toews, Stall, Ovechkin, Getzlf and Kane. Our rookie defenceman is averaging the most minutes on the entire team and is about seven or so points away from the rookie scoring lead.

Our goalie has a .923 save percentage, and has almost played the most amount of games out of any goalie this year.

We are five wins away from top of our very competitive division. Can anyone here think of five games a more experienced team would have closed out? It has been forever since we made the playoffs, and even longer since we were considered a cup contender, but doesn't it seem like we are one, two, or three pieces away from being that team. And if so, well then try and realize those pieces don't arrive because we package up Omark and Peckham. I'm not asking for patience, just some expectation management.

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#75 HugThePost
April 09 2013, 01:23PM
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There are no uncomfortable questions being asked of the team at all because there are no empty seats at Rexall.

We'll see what happens this summer (haven't we been saying that for several years now??), but all of the dithering and putting lipstick on the pig indicates that the team feels zero pressure to ice a better product.

They are happy to make a big commotion about little win streaks here and there and how cute the young guns are......but what we really need is someone on the team to come out and be like JS Giguere and tell it like it is:

this team goes nowhere unless they get more horses to back up Hall and The Gang.

Until then, we will just keep looking forward to the draft and have Braveman Tencer give us all the Twitter Beatdown any time a fan voices any displeasure.

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#76 Spydyr
April 09 2013, 01:30PM
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2004Z06 wrote:

Is everyone forgetting half our team has played damn near 80 games already this year?

You cannot use this year as a comparison in any way. Just too many significant differences. Justin Shultz is burned out from too many minutes too soon in the year. RNH's shoulder clearly isn't right.

The veterans had no training camp and as such took 20 games to even get up to game speed. Hell some of them still aren't at game speed. New coach/system

The compressed schedule has been murder due to decreased practice time and rest days.

As much as I would like to be able to see if there is legitimate improvement or not, this season cannot be used as a measuring stick in the overall evaluation.

Every other team had the same compressed schedule. If anything having the kids play in the AHL before the lockout should have given them a flying start.

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#77 madjam
April 09 2013, 01:35PM
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Economics And Horcoff's contract make it almost impossible to move him and replace him adequately . Next year he has a no trade contract, so that means we are stuck with him . Buyout or pay another team a portion of his pay might work if he agrees to trade with , i believe, 10 other clubs . Those both seem to indicate losing of his effectiveness and economic loss . Lets face it he is still effective for us or someone else at a reduced rate of say half his salary now .

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#78 Spydyr
April 09 2013, 01:37PM
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Lochenzo wrote:

Small differences go a long ways. It's all relative! 10 points more and the Oil would be division leaders or very close to it. 10 points less, and we'd be battling Calgary and Colorado for last in the league.

A 20 point swing is not a small difference. No more Kool-aid for you.

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#80 Will
April 09 2013, 01:41PM
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@2004Z06

I don't think the problem is with our top line not producing, or getting bad luck in the beginning of the year, which is good news. Nor is it usually with our goal tending. He's stolen some games, and cost us some, it would be greedy to ask for more considering other top goalies around the entire league are in the exact same boat.

The problem really seems to be balancing out the rest of the team. It's the same problems that have persisted for a few years now, and they better get fixed soon. It's nice to see players like Magnus finally getting some quality ice time and making the most of it. Yet sad to see players that are counted on to disappear for games at a time. Again, I really hope they address defence, and size this off season with meaningful acquisitions instead of just hoping someone else's trash will suddenly Ryan Jones out of nowhere.

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#81 GVBlackhawk
April 09 2013, 01:41PM
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The Beaker wrote:

People still think this?

Yes, people still think it but they do not present any valid alternatives to replacing him. Just get rid of Horcoff and PRESTO!...the team will be contenders.

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#82 Will
April 09 2013, 01:43PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Willis I like the premise of your article and I understand what you're getting at. Do you think (and I know this is hard to project) a longer season would have helped or hindered the Oilers standings?

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#83 2004Z06
April 09 2013, 01:45PM
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Fair enough JW.

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#84 Mike Krushelnyski
April 09 2013, 01:50PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

Oh I see, you're saying we should have traded for the #2 pick. Still dumb, but in a different way.

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#85 2004Z06
April 09 2013, 01:51PM
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Spydyr....

Yes the other teams are also playing a compressed schedule.

My point was more to the fact that the Oilers had the most NHL players playing elsewhere during the lockout than any other team.

And certainly more of their top end talent playing than anyone else.

You are absolutley right this should have been an advantage at the beginning of the year, but it is also a disadvantage at the end.

They didn't take advantage early in the season and that may have been partly due to the new coach/system and lack of practice time/pre- season games with which to learn a new coach's system.

I am not trying to make excuses for the team, I just don't think an accurate comparison can be made against last year is all.

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#86 Quicksilver ballet
April 09 2013, 01:54PM
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GVBlackhawk wrote:

Yes, people still think it but they do not present any valid alternatives to replacing him. Just get rid of Horcoff and PRESTO!...the team will be contenders.

You must just be in your glory now that the Oilers have Horc 2.0 in Smithson eh? Okay on the dot, but not much else in their toolbox.

Hopefully Smithson is Horcoffs replacement next season. Calgary may need Horcs contract next season to reach the floor perhaps. If they want an overpaid underachieving first line minute muncher, then, Horcs their guy.

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#87 RexLibris
April 09 2013, 02:00PM
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2004Z06 wrote:

Thanks Oil Change, I will bring my cup from now on....ha ha.

At least as Oilers fans, we have enough to go around!

ba-dum-ching!

*looks down the QEII...

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#88 Bonvie
April 09 2013, 02:01PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

You must just be in your glory now that the Oilers have Horc 2.0 in Smithson eh? Okay on the dot, but not much else in their toolbox.

Hopefully Smithson is Horcoffs replacement next season. Calgary may need Horcs contract next season to reach the floor perhaps. If they want an overpaid underachieving first line minute muncher, then, Horcs their guy.

Hopefully they let Smithson retire, lest we forget the Hordichuk signing. Oilers need some major changes in management tambelina was very good at finishing last and winning lotteries but nothing else.

Before the playoffs end the Oilers should have a new GM and hire Nelson as the coach.

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#89 GVBlackhawk
April 09 2013, 02:02PM
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2004Z06 wrote:

Let me pose the question to the group:

If RNH and Eberle were even in close to the same ppg pace as last year, would we be in?

I think we would be.

I continually see a lot of people here bashing the Whitney's, Potters, Belanger's, Horcoff's on the team yet I rarely if ever see anyone holding Eberle or RNH accountable this year.

If you want to compare this team to last years team, don't you have to look at everyone's performance?

RNH and Eberle have performed 'reasonably' well considering the fact that they have played tougher competition this year. They have both been putting up points, just not at the same over-inflated rate that they did last season.

Saying that RNH and Eberle are the problem is kind of like having a blown engine in your car, but you are worried about a tire being a bit flat.

The biggest weaknesses should be addressed first. The defense was a huge question mark to start the season and management's response was to bring in Fistric. He is a 6-7 Dman who has been a healthy scratch on numerous occasions. He provides no offense or puck moving ability. A poor choice imo. Management overlooked the seriousness of Ryan Whitney's ankle injury and did not act to upgrade on him. Management got stars in their eyes when they saw JSchultz in the AHL and, consequently, threw him to the wolves in the NHL (a rookie defenseman leading the team in TOI for the majority of the season -- this is f'kn crazy).

The other big weakness is a lack of secondary scoring from the 3rd and 4th lines. The 3rd line has had a bit (thanks to Horcoff) but the 4th line has almost zero production. They get out-shot and out-chanced every game, but they still manage a combined 20 minutes per game. This just does not make sense.

The Oilers still need two top 4 defensemen and three or four bottom 6 players who can play 5v5 and provide a modicum of puck possession and offense.

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#90 Quicksilver ballet
April 09 2013, 02:04PM
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Bonvie wrote:

Hopefully they let Smithson retire, lest we forget the Hordichuk signing. Oilers need some major changes in management tambelina was very good at finishing last and winning lotteries but nothing else.

Before the playoffs end the Oilers should have a new GM and hire Nelson as the coach.

Agreed on the GM thing, rather see Dougy Weight than that Pit Boss looking Nelson in charge.

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#91 GVBlackhawk
April 09 2013, 02:12PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

You must just be in your glory now that the Oilers have Horc 2.0 in Smithson eh? Okay on the dot, but not much else in their toolbox.

Hopefully Smithson is Horcoffs replacement next season. Calgary may need Horcs contract next season to reach the floor perhaps. If they want an overpaid underachieving first line minute muncher, then, Horcs their guy.

Smithson is not Horc 2.0. Horcoff can actually play some hockey but Smithson, once again, has almost no offensive ability.

I would get rid of Smithson. He was brought in as a 'defensive specialist' but it doesn't appear that his defense is very special. The advanced stats are not kind to him -- he bleeds shots and chances against. By eye, he lost his check in front of the net on LA's second goal in his first game, then lost his check in front of the net on Anaheim's second goal in his second game. He did not do anything on offense in either game.

If the Oilers keep him (and I'm sure they will), he should take a faceoff and beeline it to the bench -- similar to Maholtra's use in Vancouver.

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#92 Jasmine
April 09 2013, 02:17PM
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Smokey wrote:

NO MORE HORCOFF, move on, buy him out, let the ship sail...

That's the problem with Oilers fans. They hate veterans and want Oilers to buy them out or trade them for prospects and draft picks. Oilers fans hate the playoffs and love prospects and draft picks. Prior to season starting, Oilers fans were talking about draft instead of upcoming seasons.

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#94 Quicksilver ballet
April 09 2013, 02:20PM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

Oh I see, you're saying we should have traded for the #2 pick. Still dumb, but in a different way.

...and your way is working out soooo well. Sitting and doing nothing has us where, anticipating yet another lotto pick almost 3 yrs later?

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#95 Quicksilver ballet
April 09 2013, 02:47PM
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GVBlackhawk wrote:

Smithson is not Horc 2.0. Horcoff can actually play some hockey but Smithson, once again, has almost no offensive ability.

I would get rid of Smithson. He was brought in as a 'defensive specialist' but it doesn't appear that his defense is very special. The advanced stats are not kind to him -- he bleeds shots and chances against. By eye, he lost his check in front of the net on LA's second goal in his first game, then lost his check in front of the net on Anaheim's second goal in his second game. He did not do anything on offense in either game.

If the Oilers keep him (and I'm sure they will), he should take a faceoff and beeline it to the bench -- similar to Maholtra's use in Vancouver.

I dunno GV, Horcs 8 pts, against Smithsons 5, granted Shawn did miss a game or two with a hangnail or sumfim. Neck and neck really, one strong game from Jarred and they're tied.

Could the Oilers taking Smithson off of Dale Tallons hands be setting up a larger off season deal? Don't see why the need to even offer Smithson another deal, huh, eh, nudge nudge wink wink, especially if Edmonton is so married to that Horcoff albatross. Both do the same thing really. This certainly was no Sather/Willy Lindstrom type deadline deal. Perhaps it was in Tambellinis mind (being in a playoff spot at the time) though, I guess, no?

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#96 Oiler Al
April 09 2013, 03:35PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I doubt it would have helped, but I don't know that; nobody does.

Personally I don`t think it had any real effect on the results for the Oilers, or any other team for that matter.

They all play the same number of games, all have B to B games.etc. If anything travel for the Western Conf. was easier on this shortened season.

The pro-longed road trip might have cost the Oilers 2 games at most, but that still wont put them in the playoffs.

I think most teams focus on 5 game segments, so it matters not if you play 48 or 82 games.

If you are not winning it in 48, not likely to happen in 82.

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#97 Wäx Män Riley
April 09 2013, 03:55PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Please re-read and try and comprehend what was said. See the AND (as in BOTH)between the names mentioned, big difference between what I mentioned and what you accused me of saying. Edumacation is your friend, my friend.

If one of those deals had been made, the Oilers would be better off today. Old useless vets out, new blood in. It's almost to the point of no return now. If this isn't corrected lickity split, i suspect one of the fab 5 asks to be moved before too long. Hanging onto these tired, overpaid and oft-underachieving veterans is killing this team. Those two possible 2nd rounders Whitney may have fetched look pretty good now don't they Mr. Tambellini?

My issue is that those deals were not there to happen.

Is any team going to take Horcoff (which would cripple the team, as we have seen), Jones, and Omark to give up Adam Larsson.

Not happening.

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#98 Mike Krushelnyski
April 09 2013, 03:57PM
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@Wäx Män Riley

That's clearly unrealistic! It would take at least Hemsky, Pitlick and Plante!

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#99 2004Z06
April 09 2013, 04:17PM
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GVBlackhawk.....

When did I say that Eberle and RNH were the problem?

My point is that everyone on the team not named Taylor Hall or Devan Dubnyk underperformed this year (rookies exempt). Everyone need to be held equally accountable, not just the "B" rated players.

I saw every game this year and I would say that on many nights the issue was not necessarily what players were on the ice, but the lack of effort/production of said players.

We saw games where the Oilers played very well (At Dallas for example). That is what is so frustrating because had this team applied themselves consistently then I think it would be fair to say there was improvement.

But they didn't and as such there wasn't

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#100 2004Z06
April 09 2013, 04:23PM
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I love the comments asking them to get rid of Smithson....

"no offensive ability"

These are 4th line guys! If they were offensive juggernaugts, they wouldn't be 4th liners.

4th line players are supposed to be high energy/specialists/crash and bang grinders/shut down players.

If they get a goal here and there, it's a bonus.

There are much bigger problems with this team than who is on the 4th line.

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