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.

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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, 04:14PM
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1)kings 2)Sharks 3)Oilers 4)Canucks 5)Coyotes 6)Ducks 7)Flames

This is how I picture the Division playing out. Biggest losers Ducks. Biggest Winners Oilers. Canucks get a wildcard slot. (The Canucks have some ??? On the year. I see Them as Calgary 4 years ago. Aging team. One or two injuries away from not making the post season.)

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#52 MessyEH!
August 25 2013, 05:15PM
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@DSF

"Vancouver will also be looking at a better season from Kassian as well as hoping that Brendan Gaunce or Bo Horvat can play #3C.They also added Brad Richardson as C insurance so they can avoid a situation like last year when they had to use Andrew Ebbett in that position."

"Vancouver has solid goaltending, a great defensive core and should get back to being one of the highest scoring teams in the league if their PP recovers."

Vancouvers goaltending is not as solid as it was last year.

I don't think it's reasonable to think the Sedins are going to continue putting up great numbers into there mid 30's

There defense is one of the best in the league.

So Vancouver doesn't have a bonafide NHL 3rd line centre.

I see a lot of magic beans in your predictions

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#53 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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#54 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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#55 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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#56 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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#57 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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#58 justDOit
August 25 2013, 01:09PM
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I would be happy with the Oilers just playing a FULL first season, instead of taking 15 - 23 games off sometime after the Christmas break. But I guess that would then probably lead to the second season...

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#59 yawto
August 25 2013, 03:51PM
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Dsf. The point is this. You bank on every prospect or player coming up on the oilers to fail and every player in other systems to succeed. Maybe for once if you could take the rose colored glasses you view every other team in the league on and look at the oilers through them you would see what LT and the rest of us see.

For the last umpteen years you have pounded on the Oilers and Horcoff and his ability and his cap hit for his position. Now he goes to Dallas with Seguin and peverly and they have such great depth. It is a contradiction. If Edmonton was going into the season with Horcoff and peverly behind the Nuge you would be tearing them apart. But Dallas did it and shows great depth. I for one would take Nuge over seguin. I for two would take gagner over Horcoff. Gordon and peverly are a wash.

It's an example like that which shows you complete bias against Edmonton.

Finally, nobody knows a horrible team like an oilers fan does. This isn't a horrible team. This is a challenging team. This is a team with promise. Selling your idea that a signing like Grabovski is the difference between taking a step forward or cellar dwelling for a team is laughable. Which you have actually insinuated in the past few weeks for Calgary.

Selling that a team that boasts young talent like Nuge, Hall, Ebs, Yak City, Gags, Schultzy, Petry and Perron is on the precipe of something big is not. In fact, if I was a betting, this would be the year I return my bets to my team.

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#60 MessyEH!
August 25 2013, 04:23PM
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Central

1)Blackhawks 2)Blues 3)Wild 4)Stars 5)Preds 6)Jets 7)Colorado

Biggest losers Jets Biggest winners Stars The Jets may be the darkhorse in the central.

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#61 MessyEH!
August 25 2013, 04:37PM
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@DSF

The Oilers and Canucks seem to be were we disagree. I see the Oilers improving in alot of key areas, and the Canucks have not improved their team.Their stars have there best years behind them.

The Oilers do need to restock the forward depth. Something that can be done at the trade deadline.

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#62 DonDon
August 25 2013, 05:20PM
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It certainly promises to be another interesting year for the Oil. There is a big difference of opinion by posters on the Oilers' outcome as to playoffs.

Some of us hope that MacT wakes up from his deep sleep and fixes holes on forward before the season begins, starting at centre. But where are the bodies to fill the holes? Coming from Oklahoma? UFAs?

Please, let the games begin.

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#63 TeddyTurnbuckle
August 25 2013, 05:33PM
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No chance Bo Horvat plays next year. The Canucks will be in a dog fight to make the playoffs. I'm not all that excited about the oilers either. Like Mac t's moves but center and toughness is week. Probably going to have to move Hall to center for the better of the team. Hopefully Eakins can dramatically change things and then and only then we have a chance for the playoffs. Mac T wil have to be busy all season improving the oilers.

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#64 TeddyTurnbuckle
August 25 2013, 05:39PM
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Biggest improvement of the summer is getting rid of Ryan Whitney. Anyone remember when he fell down in the corner by himself in the first period of the first home game against San Jose. I remember thinking "wow, Whitney looks he can't skate". Turns out he couldn't skate all year. I can't remember seeing a player fall down so much trying to pivot. In the end it was all about him and blaming other people for his crappy play.

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#65 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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#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 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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#70 Woodguy
August 25 2013, 03:25PM
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DSF wrote:

"1. Chicago 2. St.Louis 3. Edmonton ;) 4. San Jose 5. Nashville 6. Colorado 7. LA 8. Minnesota 9. Vancouver 10. Anahiem 11. Phoenix 12. Dallas 13. Winnipeg 14. Calgary

Your post is as confused as you seem to be.

Who is finishing 15th?

14 teams in the West.

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#71 Woodguy
August 25 2013, 03:41PM
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1) Do you think the Oilers will finish ahead of Los Angeles, San Jose, Vancouver or Anaheim in the Pacific Division?

They can finish ahead of Anaheim. Like you mentioned they rode the percentages hard and are worse on paper this year.

You mention rookies, but rookies rarely impact on the positive side, regardless of how good they are.

See you predictions last year for Grandlund for more info.

2) If the answer is no, they will be playing for a wild card spot and will most likely have to finish ahead of Phoenix and also be battling several teams in the Central Division for a playoff spot (I've ceded the top two spots to Chicago and STL in the Central Division),

For sake of argument let's have LAK, SJS, VAN in PAC and CHI, STL, MIN in CEN

3) So, I would think the Oilers have to finish ahead of Phoenix, Minnesota, Dallas, Nashville AND Colorado. Is that reasonable?

Remove MIN. There are two wild cards, so they have to be top two among:

EDM, DAL, PHO, NAS, COL, WIN, ANA, CAL.

4) Have any of those other teams also improved in the off season and by how much? I would suggest the Dallas Stars, who finished last season ahead of the Oilers are the most improved team in the WC, They've added 3 quality NHL centres in Seguin, Peverley and Horcoff, Valerie Nichushkin on RW and are moving Jamie Benn back to his natural RW position. Not to be overlooked is the addition of Sergei Gonchar on D. While he's older than dirt, he is still a fabulous puck moving defenseman and one of the best PP quarterbacks in the league. (27 points in 45 games last season, the same # of Points as J. Schultz) They also have a raft of youngsters who should improve in Radek Faksa, Alex Chiasson, Brett Ritchie, Brendan Dillon and Jordie Benn. Do you think the Oilers have improved more than the Stars?

I like what Nill has done and have DAL as a wildcard team.

5) The Colorado Avalanche haven't been sitting on their hands either hiring Joe Sakic (the real one) and Patrick Roy to run the show. They, of course added Nathan MacKinnon to their ridiculous centre depth and will have full seasons from Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O'Reilly while adding Alex Tanguay for secondary scoring. Their D is questionable but they did add Corey Sarich and Tyson Barrie is turning into a beast. If Erik Johnson ever delivers on his promise, they could be much better. Have the Oilers improved more than Colorado?

We have watched gifted youngsters get drown due to having meh D behind them in EDM. Same will happen in COL. They don't make it.

They will be very good in a few years, but only if they improve the D and certainly won't be this year.

6) The Jets are hard to get a read on since they played all their games in the east last season but they did have a winning record against every other division. They also made a couple of decent acquisitions in Michael Frolik and Devin Setoguchi so should have more firepower especially if Mark Schiefle can make an impact. Your take?

Decent team, poor goaltending will sink them as well as lack of depth on D.

7) Phoenix didn't do much but the addition of Mike Ribiero, a top 20 scorer last season should certainly give them a boost and, of course those young stud D they have should continue to improve. Considering the Coyotes finished 6 points ahead of the Oilers last season and actually scored an identical number of goals despite their D first system, is it reasonable to expect the Oilers to finish ahead of them?

Tippett always seems to make chicken soup out of chicken shiatzo.

The Oilers pass PHO in goals for this year.

Smith only posted a .910 last year with Labarbara posting a .923.

You know where Labarbara is now.

Less goals for, more against. They get close, but no cigar.

Its a 3 way race in the wild card with EDM/DAL/PHO with ANA just behind imo.

8) And, finally, one of the most active teams in the past two off seasons has been the Minnesota Wild. While shedding a few vets, they've added Jason Pominville, Matt Cooke, Nino Niedereiter, Keith Ballard and Jonathan Blum. With last years rookies Brodin, Granlund, Coyle, Zucker likely to take a step forward and the possible addition of Matt Dumba and Jonathan Blum on D, they should be better. Given that the Wild finished 10 points ahead of the Oilers last season, is it reasonable to expect them to beat them this season?

As stated earlier, let's slot them in the #3 spot in the Central

9) So, who they gonna beat?

PHO, ANA, WIN, CAL, COL, NAS

The joy of playing in the Western Conference is only having to beat 6 teams to make the playoffs.

THANKS GARY!!!!

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#72 John Chambers
August 25 2013, 04:02PM
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Reason #4 - Detroit and the emerging Columbus Blue Jackets move East, while the soon to be exposed Jets come West. Fewer teams to climb over to get to the dance.

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#73 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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#74 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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#75 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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#76 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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#77 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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#78 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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