GDB 55.0: BACK-TO-BACK ON EVEN GROUND

Jason Gregor
January 27 2014 01:54PM

For the second time this season the Oilers will face a team where both of them of are playing on consecutive nights. The Oilers lost 5-4 to the Blackhawks earlier this season. Last night while the Oilers were dominating the Predators 5-1, the Canucks defeated the Coyotes 5-4 in OT, and tonight the Oilers will look to improve their ugly record in back-to-back games.

The Oilers are 1-5-2 in the second game of back-to-backs while the Canucks are 5-4-2. Dallas Eakins will play the odds and give Ben Scrivens the night off, despite a solid performance last night, and start Ilya Bryzgalov. I understand why he is going with Bryzgalov, most goalies Sv% is lower the second night, but I thought he might roll the dice and go with Scrivens.

Scrivens played back-to-back once this year with LA, winning both games and posting a shutout on the second night. Last season Scrivens played consecutive games once, shutting out Florida the first night, but then he allowed 4 goals on 13 shots in 46 minutes vs. Tampa the following night.

Those are the only two times in his career he's started back-to-back, and while the odds say it is better to give your goalie a rest on the 2nd night, I would have went with Scrivens, mainly due to Bryzgalov's brutal play so far in 2014.

In six starts in 2014 he is 1-4-1 and his numbers in those starts aren't very good:

January 03rd vs. Ana... 5-2 L with a .865Sv%
January 05th vs. TB..... 5-3 W with a .889Sv%
January 07th vs STL.... 5-2 L with a .862Sv%
January 14th vs. DALL.5-2 L with a .862Sv%
January 18th vs WGP.. 3-2 L with a .923Sv%
January 24th vs. PHO. 4-3 L with a .862Sv%

He has an ugly .877 Sv% in his last six games, and he needs to find some consistency in his game. I haven't seen anything from Bryzgalov that would suggest the Oilers will be interested in re-signing him, and if he has aspirations of signing with another team in the summer he needs to improve.

He will need to be much better tonight if the Oilers want to win two straight for the first time in a month.

While Eakins is playing the odds, the Canucks will start Roberto Luongo for the second straight game.

Luongo has started both games of a back-to-back twice this season, and he's 1-1 and played great in both. He had a solid .931 SV% in a 2-1 loss to Chicago and a sparkling .951SV% in a 6-2 drubbing of the Bruins. 

It is interesting to note that Luongo and his back up, Eddie Lack, have almost identical number, yet the Canucks will go with the veteran. 

In 37 starts Luongo has a .922Sv% and a 2.23 GAA.
In 20 appearances Lack has a .922Sv% and a 2.18 GAA.

With Chicago coming to town on Wednesday, I wonder if the Canucks feel tonight is a game they must win, thus going with their starter? Prior to this season the last time Luongo started on consecutive nights was November 20th and 21st of 2010. He got pulled the first game vs. Chicago, and then lost the next night vs. Phoenix and both games his sv% was below .890.

Under Tortorella he has played very well in the 2nd game, albeit a very small sample size of two games, so it will be interesting to see which coach looks better after the game. Eakins for playing the odds or the Canucks for going with their starter.

LINEUP...

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Perron-Gagner-Yakupov
Hendricks-Gordon-Jones
Gazdic-Smyth-Joensuu

Marincin-Petry
N.Schultz-J.Schultz
Belov-Potter

Bryzgalov

Smyth's line had a very strong game last night. They were very good on the cycle and gave the Oilers an early boost on the J.Schultz goal. We'll see how often Eakins uses them tonight, but if they get off to a good start he'd be wise to give them 8-10 min of ES time.

Martin Marincin continues to play very well. He is poised, smart and usually he has very good positioning. It was only a few months ago that people were ripping Stu MacGregor for his draft picks outside of the top-ten. I've mentioned it many times, but it is worth repeating, you usually wait five years after a draft class to accurately evaluate picks outside of the first round. If Marincin keeps playing like this, and Pitlick keeps developing, the 2010 class could turn out to be outstanding. We'll see.

QUICK HITS...

  • I asked Smyth his thoughts if MacTavish approached him about a trade. "It is out of my control, because I don't have a no-trade clause, but if he approached me I'd listen. It would be tough, because I love playing in Edmonton, but..," said Smyth.

    In the past few weeks I've exchanged texts with a few GMs and scouts and asked their thoughts on Smyth.  "He could add some depth in your bottom six. He can kill penalties and he is still good in front of the net on the PP. I think he's better when you monitor his icetime," said one scout.
     
  • Smyth should benefit nicely from the Olympic break. He'll have a chance to rest, and I believe a few teams will inquire about him. Last year many scoffed when the Blackhawks picked up Michal Handzus at the deadline, but he ended up playing top-six minutes for them in the playoffs and was a valuable asset during the Cup run.

    I don't see Smyth playing top-six minutes, but teams love experience and guys who know how to compete every night. Smyth does that, and I could see him being moved before the deadline likely for a mid-round pick. 
     
  • A player people need to go watch and potential free agents....Read here.

TONIGHT...

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers struggles in back-to-back games continue with a 4-2 loss.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Eberle continues his recent hot streak and scores on the PP.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Early in the second period Bieksa fires a shot from the point and it deflects off a stick into Zack Kassian's grill. He is bloodied and as he skates back to the Canucks bench, Sam Gagner stands up on the Oilers bench, stares at Kassian but says nothing and sits down. David Perron leans over to talk with him, and you can see Gagner say, "Karma."

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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#151 pkam
January 28 2014, 08:22AM
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The most encouraging thing in this game is the players didn't quit and didn't go panic even the Canucks tied the game twice with fluke goals. Looks like the players are more confident than before.

Even a few weeks ago, I believe the players would shake their heads in disbelief and throw in the towel after the 2nd fluke goal.

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#152 CaptainLander
January 28 2014, 08:23AM
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michael clarke wrote:

Great to wake up to an Oilers win. Perron with 3 goals. Whhhat? Perron makes that 2cd round pick insignificant with his play and his ability to score. Feel for MP.

MP has a chance to be on a cup contending team.

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#153 oilersd
January 28 2014, 08:45AM
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I really like the way Perron talks about playing the game the right way. The way he talks about looking the opponent in the eye is exactly this team needs to hear. And the idea that even though they are not a playoff team there is a right way to play the game and that it is the only way to gain ground on the ones that are. This dude is a keeper. He's gritty and skilled and walls with some of that swagger you need to really be a champ. Perrons mouth and yaks elbows are gonna go a long way to making this team harder to play against.

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#154 wellsy
January 28 2014, 09:02AM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

Any chance Ryan Jones could/will play like this consistently if we signed him to a one year deal? Or is he just playing unsustainably desperate right now?

Trash this if you think he's just playing for a contract.

Prop this if you think he would play this well/physical on a regular basis if we resigned him.

Ryan Jones has finally done the math...4th liner on a 29-30th place team that looks like it has less and less need for him. If a last place team doesn't need him, who does?

He knows that they desperately need grit in the line up, which is what he was brought here for in the first place.He is FINALLY willing to pay the physical price (for now) to try and save his hockey career.

If he doesn't continue to play like this, not only will he be out of the NHL, but likely will be out of hockey in two years.

I love listening to the guy in an interview,he's a decent quote in the paper and says the right things after every loss, but I lost respect for his compete level a long ,long time ago...5 games playing like he should have been playing the whole time doesn't change that.

Excusing his eye-injured time(which is certainly understandable) he hasn't played this way consistently since ,well, ever. Which begs the question....did he not realize the need to play gritty for this team,or did he refuse to play gritty because it hurts physically to play that way?

Nope, Ryan Jones is part of the problem, not part of the solution...give him a new contract and watch him disappear in the line up yet again.

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#155 Doctor Smashy
January 28 2014, 09:32AM
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Notes from last night:

1. I love that Nuge is getting angry and mixing it up more.

2. Eberle takes too long to shoot (often no shot).

3. Hall shoots too fast (the puck often winds up in the shin pads or in the netting).

4. When Joensuu has the puck he looks like he is trying to stickhandle a pigeon.

Overall a very good game. Everyone tried hard and it was obvious again that we have some very good players on our team. I also liked that Eakins appeared to speak to both the players and the ref.

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#156 Oiler Al
January 28 2014, 09:32AM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

For some reason I really haven't seen Gardiner play much. Is he physical enough to meet the Oilers needs?

Gardiner is pretty much a carbon copy of Justin Schultz. Remember they were linemates in college.

Gardiner might be a tad better defensively but not much.

I know he has his short comings, but I would trade Sam for Kadri, if you are talking Toronto. Better Kadri then some 2 rounder.

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#157 Marcus
January 28 2014, 09:34AM
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@Ed in Edmonton

Awesome news. Calling Oiler office now for playoff ticket info.

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#158 Oiler Al
January 28 2014, 10:02AM
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Even though with limited talent from these guys, the third and fourth lines have inspired this team to play spirited and .. we cant quit hockey ....in the last couple of games. The results are self evident. Keep that second line together , they are pushing the first line.

If he continues to trend upward, cant wait to see what Marcinin will look like two years from now. Reminds me of a young Larry Robinson.

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#159 Rick Stroppel
January 28 2014, 10:08AM
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CaptainLander wrote:

Didn't Jones recently have a baby?

MAN GIVES BIRTH!

Jones had a BABY??!! Wow, that must have been painful! And he didn't even miss a game!

I think you meant to say HIS WIFE had a baby.

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#160 pkam
January 28 2014, 10:44AM
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Oiler Al wrote:

Even though with limited talent from these guys, the third and fourth lines have inspired this team to play spirited and .. we cant quit hockey ....in the last couple of games. The results are self evident. Keep that second line together , they are pushing the first line.

If he continues to trend upward, cant wait to see what Marcinin will look like two years from now. Reminds me of a young Larry Robinson.

Just a couple of weeks ago, fans here still complained that MacT didn't pull the trigger for Schneider.

Just think about what we will give up for Schneider, our 1st rounder, 2nd rounder and Marincin. So our 7th overall got us Nurse. Our 2nd rounder almost landed us Fucale, but at the end got us two 3rd round picks in Yakimov and Slepyshev, and three 4th round picks, a total of 5 mid-range picks.

If you have a chance to do it again, will you still trade Nurse, Marincin, Yakimov, Slepyshev and 3 3rd round picks for Schneider?

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#161 pkam
January 28 2014, 10:54AM
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Oiler Al wrote:

Gardiner is pretty much a carbon copy of Justin Schultz. Remember they were linemates in college.

Gardiner might be a tad better defensively but not much.

I know he has his short comings, but I would trade Sam for Kadri, if you are talking Toronto. Better Kadri then some 2 rounder.

What is in Kadri that is missing from Gagner? Looks to me very similar players except Gagner is more mature.

So we trade a more finished product for another project?

If we keep doing trade this way, we will never be a cup contender.

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#162 Dave
January 28 2014, 11:03AM
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I will admit that Bryzgalov played a better game than I had anticipated and Sam Gagner made a nice play that resulted in a goal.

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#163 Oiler Al
January 28 2014, 12:12PM
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pkam wrote:

What is in Kadri that is missing from Gagner? Looks to me very similar players except Gagner is more mature.

So we trade a more finished product for another project?

If we keep doing trade this way, we will never be a cup contender.

Both players have had there moments and not always good. Thinking more of change of scenery might do both players some good.

Iam not one of the anti-Gargner fans, but Kadri plays a more rugged game, which was suit the Pacific Conf better. Numbers are not that far apart, although Kadri stg % is 13.5 vs Gagners 7%. They are both minu players K-10 and G018.

Cap wise its $2.9 million vs Gagners $4.8.

No likely Leafs would want take on diff of $2million bucks though.

This is more of a Swap than a Bold move.

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#164 Harry
January 28 2014, 12:51PM
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toprightcorner wrote:

Wins are not a very accurate stat to rank the quality of a goalie. How good was Detroit with Osgood in net all those years, he was an above average goalie but not elite. The team that scored the most goals in the game wins, so a team that scores alot of goals, their golie automatically has an advantage over a goalie whose team struggles to score goals. Therefore, the more shots a goalie saves the better becasue he doesn't know how many goals his team is going to score on a given night.

I will let you decide what stat is more important by using last season's stats so there is a full season used. Out of theses 8 goalies who you would say the top 4 are?

Rask Nabokov Lundquist Backstrom Howard Holtby Niemi Emery

Pretty easy to pick the top 4 as Lundquist, Rask, Niemi and Howard

How about we look at wins per games played - winning % listed best to worst of the group. Your idea of wins being most important stat, the goalie with the most wins in the least amount of games is the best goalie

Emery 17/21 - 80.1% Holtby 23/36 - 63.8% Backstrom 24/42 - 57.1% Nabokov 23/41 - 56.1% Lundquist 24/43 - 55.8% Niemi 24/43 - 55.8% Howard 21/42 - 50% Rask 19/36 - 52.7%

Based on wins per start, are the goalies you chose to be the best still the best or are they actually the worst?

So who are you going to take? Nabokov over Howard Holtby over Rask?, Backstrom over Lundqvist?, Emery over Niemi?

Wins is a not a very accurate stat. Nabokov had a lot of wins becasue his team scored a bunch of goals so he doesn't need to save as many, Rangers can't score goals to save their life. So are the wins indicitive of the goalie himself or does the team in front of him play a big part on that?

Teams can score alot of goals, teams can have a tough time scoring. Some teams give up a lot of shots, some hardly give up any.

You can't win if you dont score and typically whoever saves the most shots will win. So whoever saves the highest % of shots has a better likelyhood of winning, even if they are out shot from time to time.

The goalie is in sole contol of how many stops he makes from the shots he sees. The more shots he stops, the better chance the team has to win. The goalie cannot control how many goals his team scores, Edmonton does not score an abundance of goals so it makes sense to get a goalie that can save the highest % of the shots he faces.

Here is the list again rated by save%

Rask .929 Lundquist.926 Niemi .924 Howard .923 Emery .922 Holtby .920 Nabokov .910 Backstrom .909

Think I would rather use save % to pick my goalies than the wins they get.

Your on crack if you.think Howard is top 4 out of that group

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#165 shaddup
January 28 2014, 12:56PM
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Rick Stroppel wrote:

MAN GIVES BIRTH!

Jones had a BABY??!! Wow, that must have been painful! And he didn't even miss a game!

I think you meant to say HIS WIFE had a baby.

Clearly, you don't have children. How are you enjoying eighth grade?

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#166 Thumby
January 28 2014, 01:10PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

So I wonder what it is? ......a lot of guys have looked a little better lately......J Schultz, Jones, Yak, Marincin,....even Smitty........what's up?

Did Ference play the last couple games?

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#167 Not Gonna
January 28 2014, 03:03PM
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Gored 1970 wrote:

I hope Gadzic doesn't fight Kassian because if he looses the Oilers will be the laughing stock of the league and will have nothing for the rest of the year. At least now the Oiler nation can thump their chests and make threats but if Gadzic looses there's nowhere to hide.

Won't even be close, so no need to worry about that. Bully the bully ....

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