FINDING THE SECOND SEASON

Lowetide
August 25 2013 11:53AM

I picked the Oilers to make the post-season in yesterday's Crystal Ball item, and have had a few emails and dm's asking about my reasoning. I have three main reasons--after the break.

DEPARTMENT OF YOUTH

Just like this baby turtle, the young Oilers--including three #1 overalls--are getting bigger and stronger all the time. Taylor Hall was pushing the river right out of the wrapping, and the other two are coming along as well. Here's what an impact player looks like, by age:

  • Taylor Hall 5x5/60 at age 19: 1.78
  • Taylor Hall 5x5/60 at age 20: 2.07
  • Taylor Hall 5x5/60 at age 21: 3.15 (6th in entire NHL)

Also, Hall's shot differential was in the black, one of three forwards (Ebs, Nuge) who could boast a positive CorsiOn from one year ago. I'm betting Hall

  • plays more this season, more 5x5 and 5x4
  • posts a strong offensive season (70, 37-45)

I think that's reasonable.

BETTER BLUE TO SHOULDER THE LOAD

I try not to confuse the issue with too many advanced stats, in my opinion most of the stuff we talk about can be seen with the human eye. Like Larry King--who didn't research to prep for interviews--you don't have to dig deep into advanced stats in order to know that one of these things doesn't belong:

Ryan Whitney--still out of work--was facing soft parade opps with reasonable help and getting crushed. Of the 210 NHL defensemen who played 20 or more games last season, Whitney ranked #208 overall (ahead of Buffalo's Mike Weber and Toronto's Korbinian Holzer) in Corsi On.

Craig MacTavish replaced Whitney (and Fistric) with Andrew Ference, Phil Larsen, Anton Belov, Denis Grebeshkov and possibly Oscar Klefbom.

Seems like an obvious upgrade. Right? No disrespect to Whitney--healthy, he'd be well clear of pretty much everyone on the list. However, there were issues, and those issues impacted the defensive sorties of the Edmonton Oilers in 2012-13.

Reasonable to suggest that the team will improve in this area in 2013-14.

SYSTEMS

This is really good stuff, but you have to be better than Larry King to get it (I'm trying!). Tyler Dellow's Big Oilers Data series is an ongoing look at what the hell happened last season, a year in which the Oilers shot differential went south in a big way compared to their own past.

Tyler focused on the 2line, specifically Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky, and their very bad time of it. The 12th article is here, I highly recommend reading all of them. The line below relates specifically to what happened with 89-83 after an OFFENSIVE ZONE FACEOFF WIN!

  • The weird thing is that Hemsky and Gagner completely went in the toilet this year following OZ wins. Gagner went from a 65.7% Corsi% to a 55.2% Corsi%. Hemsky fell from 66.7% to 54.5%.

I've spoken to Tyler several times on this point, and he's been narrowing it down to a 'systems' glitch that seems to surround a coaching decision about what to do after an offensive zone faceoff win. Krueger's system(s) seemed to result in possession, but with all three forwards in a very confined area--with very few options.

Fascinating stuff. And if Tyler's right--this was a Krueger creation--then returning to a more traditional NHL scheme (which seems likely) should provide an offensive uptick for that 2line (which should have an added offensive element in David Perron).

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Part of the improvement will be the kids growing up, part of it will be improved quality and depth on the blueline, and part of it will be strategy improved.

Playoffs? PLAYOFFS?

Yes. I believe so.

C2a6955161684b5e3189319acfa5ebe4
Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#51 MessyEH!
August 25 2013, 05:56PM
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Your a mess tonight DSF. Over the last 2 years Brad Richardson was out produced by Eric...............waitfor it......... Belanger. The Canucks and the Oilers are a lot closer then you care to beleive.

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#52 DSF
August 25 2013, 07:17PM
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MessyEH! wrote:

Your a mess tonight DSF. Over the last 2 years Brad Richardson was out produced by Eric...............waitfor it......... Belanger. The Canucks and the Oilers are a lot closer then you care to beleive.

Sorry Sparky.

Comparing Vancouvers 3rd line to the Oilers is like comparing a BMW to a Ford Pinto.

Jannik Hansen, the 3rd line winger scored 27 points...more than Horcoff/Belanger, Jones and insert stiff here combined.

That Chris Higgins chipped in with 10 goals and 15 points is just a bonus.

Even though Mason Raymond managed 10 goals and 22 points, the Canucks didn't sign him.

No idea why the Oilers haven't signed him.

He'd be a clear upgrade on what they have now.

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#53 Woodguy
August 25 2013, 07:24PM
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DSF wrote:

I think you've got it surrounded pretty well.

I agree about the top 3 in each division but I think you're being much too hard in marking Anaheim.

One of the major factors in their resurgence last season was the recovery of Getzlaf from the previous season.

He scored 49 points in only 44 games while notching only 57 in 82 games the previous season.

While I think they will miss Bobby Ryan's production somewhat, Silvferberg and Emerson Etem can likely make up the lost production and both Peter Holland and Kyle Palmieri are getting close.

The key will be replacing Souray's minutes and production so whether or not Sami Vatenen or Hampus Lindholm are ready to step up will likely be a determinant. They're both very highly rated.

Having said that, I handicap it this way:

PACIFIC TOP 3:

LAK

VCR

SJS

CENTRAL TOP 3:

CHI

STL

MIN

WILD CARD:

ANA (tons of depth)

PHX (because Tippet and Ribiero)

DAL (most improved by a wide margin)

EDM (relying on incremental improvement..severe lack of forward depth)

COL (weak D and questionable goaltending)

WIN (overall lack of top talent)

NSH (need forwards desperately)

CAL (lots of holes.)

I think you are over rating Ribero.

At 5v5 he scored 1.88pts/60, tied for 110th in the NHL.

Decent for a 2C, but not a 1C, especially given that he played with Ovechkin all year. (who scored at 2.3pt/60)

All Ribero's points came on the PP,(9.13pts/60 1st in NHL) again with Ovechkin, and he won't have near the PP in PHX, than he did in WAS.

He previous 2 seasons in DAL had him scoring 4.11pts/60 and 4.22pts/60 on 5v4.

That's with more talent than PHX will have on the PP.

McPhee was smart to let him go, and Malony usually never misses a beat, but a 4 year contract for Ribero will haunt him here with Ribero turning 34 in Feb.

He'll push Vermette down the depth chart, but its not great.

Ribero, Vermette, Hanzal don't hold a candle to RNH, Gagner, Gordon.

Ribero is basically Gagner with less historical success on 5v4 except last year's crazy year for him.

That being said, its a Tippett team, so I won't count them out entirely.

As for ANA:

Top 4 5v5 pts/60

Getzlaf 2.76 vs Hall 3.15 Palmeiri 2.37 vs. Ebs 2.31 Perry 2.32 vs Yak 2.20 Ryan 2.23 vs Gags 1.84

Move up Cogliano at 1.97 to replace Ryan.

It looks close, but RNH was a disastrous 1.29 last year with one shoulder. I expect him over 2.00 this year no problem.

Gags can improve to over 2.00 as well without the Krueger Conundrum neutral zone play and a proved puck driver in Perron on his left side.

Yak was a rookie, but I expect his numbers to normalize a bit (go down) as he shot the lights out.

Cogliano will surely regress. His previous 3 years were 1.33, 1.38 and 1.39. He shot the lights out too, and will come back to his normal.

Silfverberg was 1.45 last year in OTT. If he gets to play on the 2nd line, he should improve, but to expect a lot isn't wise. I like the player.

Palmeiri is a wild card. Unreal offensive season from the 4th line. He is coming along and might be ANA's replacement for Koivu on the 2nd line when he's done.

He has 2.22pts/60 in 18 games the year before. His history isn't long enough to project anything, but he coming into the NHL scoring points from the 4th line very, very well. (NOTE: This is why good kids and not "energy" players should be on your 4th line. For more evidence examine CHI's roster this past year)

So up front they've lost some and Cogliano is a lock to regress and they lost some on the back end as well.

ANA's "ton's of depth" isn't deeper than the Oilers on the back end, where depth can really count. I agree that their young forwards look good, but they are young and that doesn't help them this year.

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#54 G Money
August 25 2013, 07:51PM
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If we harken back a moment to last year (pre lockout) playoff predictions, my personal thought back then was that the Oilers playoff hopes hinged around four questions:

- Hall's health - would he be back in time (and consequently, would he be good, and would he stay healthy)

- Whitney's health - would a summer of rehab and training allow him to be a top-pairing D again, as he was for 35 games at the start of his Oiler career

- Dubie's goaltending - could he provide NHL-calibre goaltending for an entire season?

- Would Ralphie be able to continue the improvement trend started by Renney?

The answers of course were, Hell Yes, Hell No, Yes, and No. The end result: no playoffs, and a team that finished higher, primarily due to better goaltending, but looked worse everywhere else on the ice vs the previous year.

This years playoff questions are:

- RNH's health - when will he be back - specifically, how many games will he miss? I have no doubt that when he comes back healthy he'll be all-world, but the main question will be, how much will the Oilers suffer while he's out, and when he comes back, can he then stay healthy.

- D depth - will Ference/Belov/Grebs/Potter be a measurable improvement over Whitney/Potter/Fistric/Peckham?

- 3L - can Joensuu be a capable 3L? If he does, our third line (J, G, H) looks like it will finally stop the bleeding from last year, and also pushes Smyth and Jones back to fourth line, where they should prove competent. If Smyth or Jones are on the third line - ouch.

- 4C - can Lander prove to be a capable 4C?

If the answer to the questions is: first one more than 10 games, or the answer to any of the other three is 'no', then I can't see it happening.

Right now, I think it's too much to ask - c'mon MacT, find the cap room and sign a capable 3L and 4C FFS - and I'm preparing/predicting for another year out of the playoffs.

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#55 DSF
August 25 2013, 08:23PM
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Woodguy wrote:

I think you are over rating Ribero.

At 5v5 he scored 1.88pts/60, tied for 110th in the NHL.

Decent for a 2C, but not a 1C, especially given that he played with Ovechkin all year. (who scored at 2.3pt/60)

All Ribero's points came on the PP,(9.13pts/60 1st in NHL) again with Ovechkin, and he won't have near the PP in PHX, than he did in WAS.

He previous 2 seasons in DAL had him scoring 4.11pts/60 and 4.22pts/60 on 5v4.

That's with more talent than PHX will have on the PP.

McPhee was smart to let him go, and Malony usually never misses a beat, but a 4 year contract for Ribero will haunt him here with Ribero turning 34 in Feb.

He'll push Vermette down the depth chart, but its not great.

Ribero, Vermette, Hanzal don't hold a candle to RNH, Gagner, Gordon.

Ribero is basically Gagner with less historical success on 5v4 except last year's crazy year for him.

That being said, its a Tippett team, so I won't count them out entirely.

As for ANA:

Top 4 5v5 pts/60

Getzlaf 2.76 vs Hall 3.15 Palmeiri 2.37 vs. Ebs 2.31 Perry 2.32 vs Yak 2.20 Ryan 2.23 vs Gags 1.84

Move up Cogliano at 1.97 to replace Ryan.

It looks close, but RNH was a disastrous 1.29 last year with one shoulder. I expect him over 2.00 this year no problem.

Gags can improve to over 2.00 as well without the Krueger Conundrum neutral zone play and a proved puck driver in Perron on his left side.

Yak was a rookie, but I expect his numbers to normalize a bit (go down) as he shot the lights out.

Cogliano will surely regress. His previous 3 years were 1.33, 1.38 and 1.39. He shot the lights out too, and will come back to his normal.

Silfverberg was 1.45 last year in OTT. If he gets to play on the 2nd line, he should improve, but to expect a lot isn't wise. I like the player.

Palmeiri is a wild card. Unreal offensive season from the 4th line. He is coming along and might be ANA's replacement for Koivu on the 2nd line when he's done.

He has 2.22pts/60 in 18 games the year before. His history isn't long enough to project anything, but he coming into the NHL scoring points from the 4th line very, very well. (NOTE: This is why good kids and not "energy" players should be on your 4th line. For more evidence examine CHI's roster this past year)

So up front they've lost some and Cogliano is a lock to regress and they lost some on the back end as well.

ANA's "ton's of depth" isn't deeper than the Oilers on the back end, where depth can really count. I agree that their young forwards look good, but they are young and that doesn't help them this year.

I think you are under rating Ribiero.

He's been a consistent point producer wherever he's been scoring close to a PPG for the last 6 seasons.

While last year's production, based on a spike in his shooting percentage was an anomaly, he can score.

BTW, he played #2C in Washington behind Backstrom last season.

While I agree the contract may be toxic in the long run, we are talking about the upcoming season and I'd wager he will outscore Hopkins.

Saying Ribiero, Vermette and Hanzal don't hold a candle to Hopkins, Sammy Snowpants and Boyd Gordon is just ridiculous.

As for Anaheim, you've taken 4 players out of context without looking at who they are surrounded with.

A top 6 of Getzlaf, Perry, Penner, Koivu, Selanne and Silfverberg is very strong.

Suggesting Cogliano will be moving up isn't at all accurate.

The Ducks bottom 6 will include Winnik, Cogliano, Bonino, Etem, Palmieri, Holland, Smyth-Pelley, Belesky and Maroon in various combinations.

That group will eat the Oilers bottom 6 for lunch.

I agree their D depth is a question but certainly no more than the Oilers.

The Oilers don't have a top pairing but have 352 bottom pairing D.

Goaltending also favours the Ducks.

I'd expect the Ducks will finish at least 10 points ahead of the Oilers.

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#56 Rod from Viking
August 25 2013, 09:57PM
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Good Grief, 38 of the posts were either by DSF or a reply, not one comment about the Marlyn Monroe look alike, bring on hockey.

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#57 Harry
August 25 2013, 10:22PM
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DSF wrote:

Yeah.

You got me there.

Sasha Barkov

Drew Shore

Shawn Matthias

Marcel Goc

Scott Gomez

Nick Bjugstad

Quinton Howden

Vincent Trochek (scored 50 goals and 109 points in the WHL last season.

I'd take Anton Lander, Marc Arcobello and some guy named Andrew Miller over any of those guys.

Phhhttt.

If your saying a fuy who hasnt played a single NHL game, Drew Shore and Mattias are better than RNH Gagner and Gordon than you are quite simply an idiot. I dont know how else toput it.

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#58 Harry
August 25 2013, 10:27PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

Good Grief, 38 of the posts were either by DSF or a reply, not one comment about the Marlyn Monroe look alike, bring on hockey.

The guy is an absolute joke. He clearly has it out for edm. He repeatedly states time and time again that edms prospecta wont progress and everyone elses will.

Ive met what feels like a million Canuck fans exactly like him. Theure all the same so insecure with there own sh@/tty team that they cant even have an intelligent nonbiased hockey conversation.

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#59 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
August 25 2013, 10:30PM
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We have to give credit where it's due. DSF brings truth/reality to the Oilers situation on a daily basis.

A guy who cares this much about our hockey team, deep down inside, is very much an Oiler fan just like the rest of us. He takes his share of heat here no doubt, but the stuff he mentions is much closer to fact, than fiction.

Keep it coming high, hard and inside DSF. Saw your critics off at the fists, break their friggen hands.

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#60 DSF
August 25 2013, 10:30PM
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Harry wrote:

If your saying a fuy who hasnt played a single NHL game, Drew Shore and Mattias are better than RNH Gagner and Gordon than you are quite simply an idiot. I dont know how else toput it.

You might want to look up the meaning of "depth".

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#61 DSF
August 25 2013, 10:33PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

We have to give credit where it's due. DSF brings truth/reality to the Oilers situation on a daily basis.

A guy who cares this much about our hockey team, deep down inside, is very much an Oiler fan just like the rest of us. He takes his share of heat here no doubt, but the stuff he mentions is much closer to fact, than fiction.

Keep it coming high, hard and inside DSF. Saw your critics off at the fists, break their friggen hands.

It's like throwing chin music to third graders most of the time.

Occasionally, someone like Woodguy stops by to have a rational discussion even if we don't agree on everything.

Now, we have to deal with the assertion that the Oilers have centre "depth".

Good grief.

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#62 Harry
August 25 2013, 10:36PM
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yawto wrote:

You list all the additions but do not list subtractions. They are important as well. Sure they added seguin at the cost of Ericsson. Minnesota lost setaguchi.

You also bank on big improvements from up an coming prospects for these other teams yet seem to think these players improving will have such an effect on the other teams but give no credit for the improvement of three recent first overalls. I know that Hall is no granlund but expect to see him improve on his prior year. Probably Nuge, Yak city, Schultz and Ebs as well.

At some point you must admit that this team is like a fine wine that is only going to improve with age. And as each year passes expect the wine to improve significantly.

So I agree with LT. Yes the oilers are a better team than all the above listed and probably can find a way to get into the mix with Anaheim for the fourth spot in our division.

Hall is no Grandlund? What the heck does that mean?

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#63 Harry
August 25 2013, 10:54PM
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DSF wrote:

1) That's nonsense. I've always thought Hall, Eberle and Yak were fine young players (and they should be given their draft position.

I've never been a Gagner fan, thinking he is too weak to play #2C and my lack of faith in Paajarvi was confirmed this off season when he was shipped out of town.

2) I think you are severely under rating Tyler Seguin. He is among the elite Corsi players in the league (4th among regular forwards last season) and he has been among the best plus/minus players since he came into the league. He was also 10th in SOG last season so it;s not like someone else is driving his bus.

He likely a little behind Hall at this point but not by much and his return to his natural C position may work wonders. If hen centres Jamie Benn and Valeri Nicshuschkin as expected, watch out.

You might prefer Hopkins, but there is no evidence that he's abtter plater than Seguin. You can't compare their rookie seasons because Seguin was given spot duty due to the strength of the Bruins while Hopkins got thrown into the deep end.

In any event, I've also thought Horcoff was a very good 3rd line C and Peverley is a very good checking centre with some offense.

Also, AND THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT, Dallas now has tremendous depth at centre with Vernon Fiddler, Cody Eakin and Radek Faksa in the bull pen.

The OIlers have ZERO C depth in fact they don't even have 4 bonafide NHL centres while the Stars have at least 6.

3) No one said getting Grabovski would have made the Flames a contender but he would have made that team much better and they may have been good enough to challenge for a wild card spot. Doesn't matter...they didn't sign him.

4) Basing your rosy predictions on the Oilers having fine young players (and they do) is great but the Oilers aren't the only team with fine young players.

You need to look around more.

Ok stop everything. DSF, do you.honestly think that a Grabovski signing would allow the Flames to.challenge for the playoffs. Your credibility is taking a massive beating tonight.

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#64 Harry
August 25 2013, 11:08PM
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DSF wrote:

It's like throwing chin music to third graders most of the time.

Occasionally, someone like Woodguy stops by to have a rational discussion even if we don't agree on everything.

Now, we have to deal with the assertion that the Oilers have centre "depth".

Good grief.

Believe me they are amongst the worst at C depth in the league but what i said was their depth at C is better than FLA's. Your own list proved it nicely.

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#65 Harry
August 25 2013, 11:12PM
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@Harry

My personal opinion is that you know nothing about playing the game and are nothing but a stat geek.

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#66 MessyEH!
August 26 2013, 02:37AM
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DSF wrote:

Sorry Sparky.

Comparing Vancouvers 3rd line to the Oilers is like comparing a BMW to a Ford Pinto.

Jannik Hansen, the 3rd line winger scored 27 points...more than Horcoff/Belanger, Jones and insert stiff here combined.

That Chris Higgins chipped in with 10 goals and 15 points is just a bonus.

Even though Mason Raymond managed 10 goals and 22 points, the Canucks didn't sign him.

No idea why the Oilers haven't signed him.

He'd be a clear upgrade on what they have now.

Boyd Gordon, Ales Hemsky> Jannic Hansen and Brad Richardson. Insert whatever Vancouver stiff you want. (Pffft most likely Burrows)

The Canucks had a fine team, for many years. I give them the edge in starting goaltending.(Although Lou'$ .907 save % last year would have me worried. Dubnyks .920% has me feeling comfortable.)

I wonder how many fewer goals against Dubnyk would have if he had 7 actual NHL Dmen in front of him.

These teams are closer than most people think. (Two pendulums swinging past one another.)

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#67 MessyEH!
August 26 2013, 02:46AM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

We have to give credit where it's due. DSF brings truth/reality to the Oilers situation on a daily basis.

A guy who cares this much about our hockey team, deep down inside, is very much an Oiler fan just like the rest of us. He takes his share of heat here no doubt, but the stuff he mentions is much closer to fact, than fiction.

Keep it coming high, hard and inside DSF. Saw your critics off at the fists, break their friggen hands.

I am in agreement with DSF on a lot of his comments. Imho he is the anti-fanboy unfortunately he appears to be drinking the Vancouver water and it's clouded his judgement.

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#68 Oilbaron
August 26 2013, 04:12AM
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DSF wrote:

Why exactly, do you think Minnesota is a joke?

Be specific.

Sorry if I had more time in my day to parade Oilers blog sites I would have replied sooner.

I will be really specific. Signing Zach Parizeeee and Ryan Suter to the most outrageous contracts ever seen (IMO) as if they are the second coming of ... well I dunno who.

Good luck EVER winning a stanley cup with those contracts. Seriously. Never ever ever ever ever gonna happen. hahahahahahahahahahahah

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#69 Oilbaron
August 26 2013, 04:14AM
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get it? cause he held a press conference telling everyone his name was parisEEEEEEEE (extra emphasis on the eeeeeeee), yet no one seemed to care or listen.

aahahahahahahahaha, oh zach parisay

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#70 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
August 26 2013, 07:39AM
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DSF wrote:

It's like throwing chin music to third graders most of the time.

Occasionally, someone like Woodguy stops by to have a rational discussion even if we don't agree on everything.

Now, we have to deal with the assertion that the Oilers have centre "depth".

Good grief.

you should probably "deal with" the trail of misses you have laid out over the last little while. You know, rather than pretend you know what's going on.

something something credibility something something less than zero something something

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#71 Gaz
August 26 2013, 09:24AM
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@DSF

It terrifies me that anyone would say we have a deep group of centers.

I think the Oiler's hodgepodge of defensemen will work out this season, but the issue at center will be the reason that the Oilers stumble out of the gate and never recover.

We'd be flaying "Timid Tamby" if he was still driving this bus - why does MacT get a free pass? Because he's entertaining in interviews?

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#72 Hammers
August 26 2013, 10:23AM
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You only make the playoffs if Dubnyk has not a good year but a Great year .

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#73 Impartial Oilers Fan
August 26 2013, 01:13PM
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Why does no one bring up Taylor Halls UNSUSTAINABLE 94.3% IPP when talking about his PTS/G and how he did so well last year?? For a reference point, Hall had a 75.6% the year previously. The best superstars in the league are around 80-85% on a consistent year to year basis, and yet Taylor Hall projections are being based on a lot of "lucky" points that he received. Don't get me wrong, he's a tremendous player, but come on please, use a little perspective!!

(Individual Points Percentage - The percentage of goals scored by players team while player is on the ice that the player had a point on.

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#74 The_CWD_GarbageMan
August 26 2013, 04:01PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

We have to give credit where it's due. DSF brings truth/reality to the Oilers situation on a daily basis.

A guy who cares this much about our hockey team, deep down inside, is very much an Oiler fan just like the rest of us. He takes his share of heat here no doubt, but the stuff he mentions is much closer to fact, than fiction.

Keep it coming high, hard and inside DSF. Saw your critics off at the fists, break their friggen hands.

If it wasn't for "DSF" or "Quicksilver ballet" ... I don't think the "trash-it" button would ever get clicked.

So thank you two for keeping the lights on at CWD and turning our marketing idea into a success. If it wasn't for the two of you the "trash-it" button would be obsolete.

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#75 Harry
August 26 2013, 07:38PM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

you should probably "deal with" the trail of misses you have laid out over the last little while. You know, rather than pretend you know what's going on.

something something credibility something something less than zero something something

IE. Calgarys shot at playoffs if they would have signed Grabovski. The guy is a 100% stat geek

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#76 Oil timer
August 26 2013, 09:02PM
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WAY TOO MANY IFs

Not always completely right DSF is a realist. And you all bite every time.

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#77 Randaman
August 26 2013, 09:36PM
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Trust DSF to dominate and ruin a pretty good article. Only one point to make; I wonder if Seguin would have such good numbers if he was on any other team besides the Bruins? I thought not

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#78 Serious Gord
August 26 2013, 09:49PM
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DSF is approaching the analysis from the correct angle - when you consider who the oil have to beat to even get a wildcard - especially considering what most of them have done to improve their teams/address weaknesses and comparing them to MacT's, the oil are going to have to have a lot of things to their way to make the playoffs.

The weakness at centre remains unaddressed (amazing) A still sketchy starting goalie has even more sketchy backup and a full 84 game season to deal with. (And Dubnyks pads will be about 3 inches shorter each this year) The Defense has gone from abysmal to just poor.

Throw in a few injuries - and you know that every team sees hitting the oil as the key to victory - and the oil could be out of contention by New Years.

The oil more than any other team has ifs - rookies from upper management on down abound:

If Eakins can whip them into shape and run a dynamic and ever changing tactical game and

Dubnyk can prove both capable of making the big save (to hell with sv pctg) and durable and

The shultzes and the other d have career seasons and

The young guns stay healthy (and hall finds some scoring touch and adds some nuance to his game) and

MacT deals hemsky (and gagner) to get the 2c player this team needs

Then they make the playoffs.

But if just any one of these five things doesn't happen - they are out of the playoffs yet again.

AND if they fail yet again to make the playoffs - what is the fate of Kevin Lowe?

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