GDB 53.0: HOME COOKING...BAD

Jason Gregor
January 24 2014 12:48PM

The Oilers have played 23 home games. They have only won eight of them.

Last year they won 9 of 24 home games.  The last season the Oilers and their fans left Rexall place in a good mood more often than a bad one was in 2007/2008 when the Oilers won 23 of 41 home games.

Since October 2008, the Oilers have played 213 home games and they've won 86.

The Oilers have 18 home games remaining this season, and hopefully for their sakes and the fans, they can find a way to start winning on home ice.

When the Oilers finished dead last in 2010  they were at least competitive at home winning18 and losing 23 (OT loss is still a loss for me), so there is no reason this team shouldn't be able to match 18 wins or better it.

It won't be easy with 14 of the 18 games against western opponents.

They play the Kings, Ducks, Sharks and Flames twice and the Coyotes, Avalanche, Wild and Canucks once. The Senators, Rangers, Islanders and Sabres will visit from the East. Ten of those games will be against teams currently in the playoffs, but if the Oilers are going to start improving eventually they need to be a few playoff caliber teams, especially at home.

The Oilers won't make the playoffs, but they need to start building a foundation for the future, and one of those bricks needs to be molded into a good home team.

Of the current 16 playoff teams, only the Rangers have a losing record at home winning 12 of 28. Of the 14 teams not in the playoffs only three, Washington, Phoenix and Dallas have won than half of their home games. Winning at home doesn't guarantee you a playoff spot, but it increases your chances significantly, especially if you can be a dominant team at home.

The Oilers need to start creating winning habits at home, and since I highly, highly doubt Dallas Eakins gets fired at the end of the season, it is up to him and his team to start finding a winning formula on home ice.

HITS...

After Tuesday's loss to Vancouver Dallas Eakins made reference to "the perfect game."

Do you know what the perfect game is? The perfect game is no hits. Do you know why that is? It’s because you have the puck. You don’t have to hit anybody; you have the puck. 

That statement got some people excited. Many believe hitting doesn't help you win games, mainly due to the reason Eakins outlined above. In theory that makes sense, however, practicality and reality often offer up different outcomes.

There is no such thing as the perfect game, no hits, and many successful teams use their physical play to help them win. Here is a hit chart for this season. Playoff teams are in bold.

Hits Team Hits/game
1768 Toronto 33.3
1662 Los Angeles 31.9
1569 Ottawa 30.7
1519 Columbus 30.3
1397 Winnipeg 26.8
1323 Phoenix 26.4
1263 Buffalo 25.7
1263 Colorado 25.7
1300 Pittsburgh 25.4
1313 Philly 25.2
1232 Boston 25.1
1307 NYR 24.6
1298 NYI 24.5
1264 Anaheim 23.8
1181 Washington 23.6
1153 Carolina 23
1178 Edmonton 22.6
1093 Florida 21.8
1076 Calgary 21.1
1048 St.Louis 20.9
1047 Montreal 20.9
1049 New Jersey 20.5
1030 Dallas 20.1
1029 Tampa Bay 20.1
1030 Nashville 19.8
1015 Vancouver 19.5
963 San Jose 18.8
1001 Detroit 18.5
898 Minnesota 16.9
888 Chicago 16.7

I think we all agree that hit charts from building to building can be subjective. The Leafs have 1099 hits in 28 home games, but only 669 in 25 road games. Are they magically that much more physical at home or do the statisticians in Toronto consider every rub out a hit?

That being a team like Columbus has virtually the same amount of hits on the road as they do at home. I'd say it gives us a general idea of which teams are more physical than others.

The chart proves that some teams win by being more physical, while others don't need to.
Nine of the top-14 teams in hits are in the playoffs, while seven of the 11 teams with the fewest hits are currently in the postseason.

My issue with Eakins comment is that he tried to deflect the issue of contact and brought up the unattainable "perfect game" scenario. No team is perfect, but the suggestion that being physical will automatically decrease your chances of winning is somewhat misleading.

Of course you want your team to have the puck, but both teams want it, and I find many of the successful teams are not only good at controlling the puck, they are excellent at getting it back.

Many consider Pittsburgh to be a puck possession team, and they are, but they also are top-ten in hits/game. Delivering a hit hasn't hurt them, and clearly they win despite not playing a "perfect game."

A major benefit from being physical is that your aggressive play will force teams to move the puck quicker than they want, which often leads to turnovers. Having players who can separate opponents from the puck through body contact is also valuable and a significant part of the game.

The problem with the Oilers is that their overall skill isn't good enough to be a puck possession team, and right now they aren't very good at retrieving the puck once the opposition has it.

I'm sure Eakins will strive to build his team to become more of a puck possession team, but I'd hope he realizes that until they become great at protecting the puck and not turning it over, they will need to improve their puck retrieval skills at the same time, and often pressuring the puck carrier, hitting and being physical is the best way to create turnovers.

I respect that he wants his team to have the puck, but I felt bringing up the notion of the "perfect game" was an attempt to deflect attention away from an area of their game, physicality and aggression, that has been lacking for years.

LINEUP...

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Smyth-Gagner-Perron
Hendricks-Gordon-Jones
Joenssu-Arcobello-Yakupov

Ference-J.Schultz
Marincin-Petry
Belov-Potter

Bryzgalov

Hemsky is still nursing a deep bone bruise, but Nail Yakupov returns to the lineup.

The optics don't look great having Yak on the fourth line and Smyth on the second, but I doubt they stay that way very long. They were hoping Hemsky was ready and he'd be playing there.

Gazdic hasn't had a fight in 13 games and while Eakins stressed being a healthy scratch wasn't performance-related, I wonder if his lack of aggressiveness recently is the reason he is in the pressbox? If your job is to play physical and get the opposition's attention, then you have to find a way to do it. However, Eakins defended him in the post-game presser on Tuesday saying he tried to do his job.

So either he isn't doing it well enough or he is sitting because Phoenix rarely dresses a tough guy. What do you think?

QUICK HITS...

  • I would have liked to see Eakins put Gazdic on the ice more often against Kassian. I never expected him to jump him, but had he been on the ice more often the chances of a "heat of the moment" altercation would have been higher.
     
  • I don't buy the Bertuzzi/Moore argument as a reason why Gazdic couldn't have done something to Kassian. That happened a decade ago, and since then many teams and players have found ways to send a message to the opposition without being suspended.

    Andrew Ference didn't ask Lee Stempniuk to fight earlier this year. He dropped his gloves and Stempniuk had no choice but to eat a few rights or defend himself. In the past week I've seen Milan Lucic and Tom Sestito go after Jordan Nolan instead of waiting for him to politely oblige their request to fight.

    Sestito and Lucic went after Nolan after he hit one of their teammates earlier in the game. Had Gazdic been on the ice for more than one and a half shifts against Kassian, he would have had a much better chance of engaging him.
     
  • I wouldn't have worried about Gazdic taking an instigator or even worse a 7-minute penalty like Sestito did in LA last week. Was getting the win that important in the overall picture? The Oilers are in 29th, had the won they'd still be in 29th and out of the playoffs in late January.

    Whether they like it or not, the perception from players around the league is that teams can take liberties with the Oilers skilled players without fear of retribution. If Gazdic had got a hold of Kassian and landed a few shots that wouldn't have stopped every team from trying to hit the Oilers in the future, but at least it would show that if you do there will be some consequences to your actions.

    If the Oilers were in a battle for a playoff spot, I could understand being worried about giving up an extended powerplay, but that wasn't the case on Tuesday and it won't be the rest of the season. I'd hope the next time someone cheap shots one of the Oilers skilled players, Eakins will at least give his physical players an opportunity to try and even the score; in a manner that won't lead to a suspension like Lucic or Sestito managed to do. 
     
  • It is smart not to rush Hemsky back. You want him healthy for the deadline.

TONIGHT...

GAME DAY PREDICTION: I'm taking a night off. The first person to tweet @jasongregor their GDP I will add it to this post. Look deep into your crystal ball.

Update...Courtesy of @JaredGorbahn GDP: Oilers 4-1. Bryz forced to stand on his head and Hall adds 2 assists.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Yakupov and Arcobello combine to score and many will suggest they should be playing with Perron.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Eberle ties a career-high with goals in four consecutive games, but it is his game celebration that surprises many. After the game he sends Wanye a tweet, "I know yesterday was difficult for you with the Biebs' arrest. Don't worry I won't let you down. I'm not getting traded." Wanye promptly retires from twitter saying his life can't possibly get any better. 

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#251 Robert (AKA Hockey Fan)
January 24 2014, 08:03PM
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@Sketchy

Didn't work......well the Coyotes scored lol

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#252 Robert (AKA Hockey Fan)
January 24 2014, 08:11PM
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The hole is getting deeper boys come on!

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#253 SylvanLaker
January 24 2014, 08:15PM
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@THRNHJE

THANK YOU....and I so agree, who cares if he does not want to I ain't asking......and that is what is missing, or one of the things....Thank you....I am not alone

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#254 SylvanLaker
January 24 2014, 08:21PM
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@The Real Scuba Steve

First two lines can be worthy, and will only get better....but the third and fourth....oh that's right in Edmonton we don't believe in a third and fourth line....Who scored the winning goal against the Islanders....to initiate the first cup win.

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#255 Sketchy
January 24 2014, 08:22PM
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The Real Scuba Steve wrote:

I wonder if any NHL teams still want to swap rosters with us.

Kevin Lowe would no matter what team he was sinking, cuz if anyone knows about winning....

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#256 SylvanLaker
January 24 2014, 08:52PM
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WELL I have now decided it is time to praise the Management, keep them till the season ends, finish last and go for Aaron Ekblad......Immediately after the season clean house.....This season is done, and the only thing positive I can think of is maybe a shot at another first round pick.

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#257 RexHolez
January 24 2014, 09:15PM
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RexHolez wrote:

how is this an epic fail? were we gonna make the playoffs with Dubnyk in net?

we got Hendricks for Dubnyk you knucklehead. we're a better team with Hendricks and without Dubnyk in the long run than we were if we kept Dubnyk and got nothing for him when we let him walk at the end of the year as a free agent. Think a little bit before you blab nonsense.

Final warning…one more personal non-sports post and you will be blocked. Signed, Nation Editor.

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#258 TayLordBalls
January 24 2014, 02:42PM
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Yes - Go Oilers

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#259 outdoorzguy
January 24 2014, 03:11PM
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MessyEH wrote:

I am looking forward to only one Oilers hit;

The one were Lowe hits the unemployment line.

Just to be clear, Fire Lowe.

I think the much more prudent move at this point is the coaching staff!!

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#260 I AM KEVIN L.
January 24 2014, 04:09PM
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pkam wrote:

If you want to make a trade suggestion, at least do some research. We don't have our 2014 2nd round pick any more. Anyone who thumbs up your post is an idiot.

I was not aware of this, pkam. Thank you. How about our 3rd, or 4th? Would that be good for immediate improvement? Would you pull the trigger?

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#261 camdog
January 24 2014, 04:33PM
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sleighbells wrote:

"Yes, you guys have a story to write about that sells your brand of journalism"-bang on bud. nail on the head!

If this was any other hockey market not in canada, where the city had a population over 1 million, this wouldnt even be news! The media here is probly a huge reason that makes it difficult to play here (Canada). Just look at the whole twitter fiasco with Scrivens' wife when he got traded here. The media (tsn/sportsnet/cbc/bloggers...) have way too much airtime that they are forced to drum up stories for the sake of viewers and a lot of it is just plain silly.

Are you referring to the Twitter fiasco that was started by a Leaf guy from Toronto, whom was throwing jabs at an ex Leaf and Edmonton in the same boat?

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#262 Robert (AKA Hockey Fan)
January 24 2014, 08:03PM
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@Sketchy

Didn't work......well the Coyotes scored lol

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#263 SylvanLaker
January 24 2014, 08:17PM
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@J.R.

After a concussion type injury......I mean I almost fainted when I saw the line up....This makes no sense....no it is insane...sigh

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#264 SylvanLaker
January 24 2014, 08:56PM
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I am not watching only listening....is anyone playing tonight....and has Yak played much...

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#265 Zamboni Driver
January 24 2014, 08:59PM
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Totally think Hall and Eberle got jobbed not making the Olympic team.

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#266 D-Unit
January 25 2014, 09:59AM
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Ed in Edmonton wrote:

Contract inflation will make Hendrick's contract look better in future years. So you seem to be arguing against yourself.

Really, until the league minimum is near 1.8 million, it is far too much money for a 4th line player.

The way the cap works, is the top guys get the big money, and 4 th liners get league minimum, or slightly more.

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#267 Serious Gord
January 25 2014, 11:07AM
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Ed in Edmonton wrote:

Contract inflation will make Hendrick's contract look better in future years. So you seem to be arguing against yourself.

Every dollar counts. And 1.85 of 70 (est new cap) is about 2% or a very good fourth liner and Hendricks likely won't be in the nhl this time next season - at least not on a decent team.

Take a look at how much has been/will be committed to the four of the top six and add in what it's going to cost for the other two spots plus two good defense men and and goalie and there will be precious little left to fi all of the other spots.

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#268 DisappointedFan
January 24 2014, 02:19PM
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@J.R.

Problem is, he consistently played with the second line and still didn't produce points...but brings his team mates down. If he were a pure offensive talent he'd be putting the puck in the net when he gets the chance out there. But he wasn't and he was a defensive liability, so they demoted him. I'd send him to OKC to play on the 1st line, because in the NHL he looks lost whether it's on the 1st line or the 4th line.

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#269 DisappointedFan
January 24 2014, 02:23PM
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@J.R.

Just for the sake of some evidence, give this a look to see how he performs. http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/showplayer.php?pid=1684&withagainst=true&season=2013-14&sit=5v5

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#270 hall the time
January 24 2014, 02:47PM
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@Hall the time

edit(trying)

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#271 pkam
January 24 2014, 04:23PM
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Tikkanese wrote:

Not sure Montreal would. I believe they have the same issue as the Oilers with to many small & soft forwards in the top 6.

In terms of top 6 size, Montreal beat us hand down.

Other than Pacioretty and Galchenyuk, is there anyone else that weight even 180 lbs?

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#272 Twiggs
January 24 2014, 04:24PM
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Best NSOGDP ever. I would want to see Wanye's face in that situation!

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#273 camdog
January 24 2014, 04:41PM
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Stompinstoms wrote:

We don't have our own 2nd, 3rd, or 4th; we have San Jose's 4th, so that will be a deep 4th.

In other words, we don't have a lot of picks to be throwing around that will bring anything of meaning back.

Mact can still trade our 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 picks.Don't worry we have lots of picks for Mact to dangle this off season, just not at the trade deadline... lol

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#274 Robert (AKA Hockey Fan)
January 24 2014, 07:16PM
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@Rick Stroppel

Add Kassian goon dividing....with score cards for artistic talent!

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#275 SylvanLaker
January 24 2014, 08:06PM
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@Dog Train

There is one word that I think sums up, the team and has for many years....NO TENACITY. We now have two lines that will only get better.....but our third and forth lines are a joke....I suggest anyone go back and look at our third and fourth lines when we were winning....I agree put Smyth in from of the net, where he has scored most of his goals....and SHOOT. We need a good coach...sort of like a 6'4 center who wins 80% Face Offs, plays tough, finishes checks, works hard every shift, and a low salary.....LOLOL So where do we find this man.......

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#276 D-Unit
January 24 2014, 08:18PM
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@SylvanLaker

I would support that move.

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#277 Doctor Smashy
January 24 2014, 08:21PM
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I can't be bothered to google this clown so can someone tell me what Jeff Marek's deal is? Why is he holding a pen all the time? Does he this he is Brian Williams or something? I have a terrible feeling we are going to be seeing alot more of him with the new tv deal..

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#278 Doctor Smashy
January 24 2014, 08:26PM
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Also...is anyone playing a drinking game based on how many times Marek says "off the schneid"?....i mean, I know what it means but when did this become a thing?

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#279 ?
January 25 2014, 12:40PM
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CHI last in hits, just like last season. Amazing

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