GDB 56.0: CONFIDENCE BUILDERS

Jason Gregor
January 29 2014 01:01PM

It is amazing how quickly confidence can appear or disappear in pro sports, and right now the Oilers have some. It is difficult to quantify exactly how much it helps, but when most of your players have a healthy dose of confidence your chances of winning increase.

I felt the Oilers played well against Vancouver (at home) and Phoenix, despite losing both games, but that good play carried over to wins over Nashville and Vancouver, and for only the fourth time this season the Oilers have won two straight games.

The Oilers will try to match their season-high three-game winning streak tonight when they take on the very good San Jose Sharks.

It is crazy to think the Oilers have only won consecutive games four times all season. It is hard to build any sort of confidence when you aren't winning, but the Oilers have played four solid games in a row, and despite only winning the last two they are starting to look like a better hockey club.

With games coming up against San Jose and Boston that could change quickly, but heading into tonight the Oilers are feeling good.

POSITIVES...

  • In Vancouver, it was the Canucks turning the puck over at the offensive blueline, twice, that led directly to Oilers goals. We've all witnessed the Oilers continually turn the puck over for the past couples of seasons, but in this short string of games they have cut down those costly mistakes.
     
  • The Oilers have had excellent back pressure from their forwards lately. That has made life much easier for their defenceman, and likely why we've seen fewer glaring mistakes from the D-men.
     
  • The second line won them a game without needing any help from the first line. If the Oilers are ever going to be competitive they need to rely on more than one line. Perron-Gagner-Yakupov was the best line in Vancouver, and they must continue that leading into the Olympic break.
     
  • Martin Marincin continues to play smart, controlled hockey. I'd argue that his simple game has had just as much, and maybe more. of an impact on Petry's play than Petry has had on him. It is a still a very small sample size for Marincin, but he's played well and he has been very active with his stick breaking up plays. He'll need to get stronger in the summer, and if he has to face Marleau or Thornton tonight it will be a very good test for him.
     
  • You need to remain cautious with Marincin. Remember Justin Schultz' first 20 games last year compared to his final 28. It is extremely rare for any young player to avoid a time where they struggle, but so far Marincin has been a pleasant surprise.
     
  • Two games with solid goaltending. Ben Scrivens was solid against the Preds and Bryzgalov played his best game in over a month in Vancouver. They don't have to steal games; they just need to be consistent. This team isn't strong enough yet to overcome weak goals, and for two games the goalies didn't allow a weak goal.
     
  • Some might not like the length of his contract, and that is a valid concern, but Matt Hendricks has increased the Oilers intensity level significantly. Not only does he play hard, he is very vocal and positive on the bench and in the room. Many of the young players have told me how much of a lift his energy and enthusiasm on and off the ice has given them. This team needs a few more vocal leaders, and it seems Hendricks is filling that void.
     
  • That type of contribution won't show up on the stats sheet, but it is vital for success. Not every player can be measured solely on his stats line. Intangibles help. Ask the LA Kings how much Matt Greene's off-ice leadership and humour helped them in their Cup run. He was vital to keeping Doughty focused and relaxed.
     
  • Sam Gagner is playing better. Many of us, myself included, underrated how much that injury impacted his play. I still believe MacTavish needs to change the mix in his top-six in the summer, and if Gagner can have a strong final 27 games that will give MacTavish another trading option.
     
  • Two games is still only two games. The Oilers better not relax or the Sharks will be up 3-0 before they know it. The Oilers must continue to build on their solid play. Like I said earlier, I believe they've played well for four games, and even if they don't win vs. the Sharks or Bruins they must continue to play smart and with some passion.
     
  • Further to Brownlee's article yesterday about the need for success. I agree, and the best part about it is that the Oilers can play well and not impact their draft ranking much at all. The Oilers sit 29th in the NHL with 40 points and 27 games remaining. If they go 14-11-2 they would finish with 70 points.

    Now let's look at who they are chasing.

    The 28th place Flames have 45 points and 29 games left. The Flames would need a combination of wins/OTL totaling 24 point or less for the Oilers to pass them, and that's if the Oilers win 14 games, which is unlikely. So the Flames need to go 11-16-3 or worse.

    Florida is in 27th place with 49 points and 29 games remaining. The Panthers would need 20 points or less for the Oilers to catch them. They'd need to go 9-18-2 or worse for the Oilers to catch them.

    The Islanders are in 26th place with 50 points and 27 games left. They would really need to tank it for the Oilers to gain ten points in 27 games. The Islanders would need to go 9-17-1 for the Oilers to pass them.

    Keep in mind those numbers are based on the Oilers winning 14 of their remaining 27 games. That would be a massive improvement from their first 55.

    The only way I see them not owning a top-three pick is if a team ranked 4th-14th wins the lottery and drops them to 4th. Don't fret if the Oilers win a few games, you should relish them, because they are still a virtual lock to finish in the bottom three and have the opportunity to draft another elite player.
     
  • An interesting read by David Staples on why people shouldn't be that concerned about Taylor Hall's overall game. Those who believe strongly in Corsi will say he's having a bad year, but Staples illustrates that Hall is still producing quality chances, albeit not as many as last year. I feel Corsi can be used as a tool, but like Staples I have an issue in that it punishes or rewards a player for instances that he has no impact in.

    A D-man can stand at the point, while the forwards cycle down low and direct three attempts on goal and he gets +3, despite doing nothing. And in the D-zone a winger can be in the right spot, covering his zone, but the opposite D could lose a battle and give up three chances. Both times the winger and D-man got rewarded or punished for essentially doing nothing more than being in position. Those are just some examples, and I know they aren't the norm but situations similar to those happen in a game. I find there are too many uncontrolled variables pertaining to what a linemate does that can impact an individual's Corsi positively or negatively.

    The suggestion from those supporting Corsi is that Hall can't keep producing at ES with a 43% Corsi, and that eventually the points will decrease because of it. My question is why hasn't it happened already? It has been 55 games and despite a lower Corsi than last year his point totals are virtually identical.

    So far this season we haven't seen his production dip. I split the season into two halves.

    According to Michael Parkatti in Hall's first 20 games (Oilers 27th game) he had a 44% Corsi and was -60.
    In those first 20 games, Hall boxcars were: 20-7-12-19 and he was -8.

    In Hall's next 28 games, again thanks to Parkatti, Hall had a 43.1% and was -117. His Corsi % was a bit lower, but essentially the same.
    During that 28 game stretch Hall's boxcars were: 28-11-21-32 and he was -6.

    So Hall's Corsi dipped, albeit only .09%, but his production went up. The argument has been that he can't maintain his production with that Corsi rating, yet he actually improved his point production over the last 28 games. Maybe it is just too small of a sample size, or maybe, people need to look deeper than just Corsi to assess his overall game.

    I think it is great to have more avenues to look at, but I feel we need to look at all angles, instead of just one to get a a more accurate picture. If people only looked at Hall's Corsi they'd think he was brutal, but his scoring chances for/against and actual production shed a different light.

LINEUP....

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

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

Scrivens

No need to change the skaters and going back to Scrivens makes sense after his game vs. Nashville. Shutting down the offensively challenged Predators (20th) and Canucks (21st) will be much easier than trying to stifle the league's 5th best offence tonight.

Joe Pavelski is 2nd in the NHL in goals, 28, and while Joe Thornton is having another very good season, Pavelski has been their most dangerous threat all season. I suspect Eakins will play Gordon's line against Thornton's, but I think we'll also see Nugent-Hopkins' line match up against them.

TONIGHT...

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have won three consecutive games only once this year when they defeated Calgary, Columbus and Florida in a six-day span. This is the Oilers final home game until February 27th and they give their loyal fans a surprising 5-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Sharks outshot the Oilers. San Jose has outshot the opposition in 38 of 53 games. They've only been outshot twelve times all season. (The shots were even in three games)

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: For the first time all year I buy a 50/50 ticket. If I win, I will give $20,000 of it to Nation readers. (four winners of $5,000 each). My question is do I buy the ticket pre-game, first intermission or 2nd intermission? Answer in our poll question.

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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#101 Sailge
January 29 2014, 08:42PM
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Yes, 89 is playing so much better lately, he's up to a WHOPPING 6 goals in 42 games.

Give me a break.

Yak, who's been healthy scratched and buried in the bottom 6 a ton, has 10 goals.

Smytty, who's "so done" according to most, has 7 goals playing a lot of bottom 6 mins as well.

89 had one game on the 4th line, otherwise he's been on the top 2 lines constantly.

Perron was getting beat 2-on-1 in the 1st period tonight and Gagner stood beside that for about 5 seconds doing nothing.

If we want to keep being in the basement, he's a perfect 2C.

On a good team? Doesn't do enough for me. Not even close.

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#102 vetinari
January 29 2014, 08:43PM
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Scrivens looks like starter to me... not a backup...

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#103 Alsker
January 29 2014, 08:51PM
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Scrivens looking more than just good....might be a nice point for a timeout Mr.Eakins!!!!!!!!!!

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#104 **
January 29 2014, 08:52PM
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Ben Scrivens vs. the San Jose Sharks: balls out

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#105 Jakethesnake
January 29 2014, 08:53PM
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Is there a way to get rid of Big Louie D on sportsnet. The guy is a moron. He loves every player that's not on the oiler team. I can't stand listening to him.

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#106 **
January 29 2014, 08:55PM
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with special guests: the rest of the Edmonton Oilers

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#107 vetinari
January 29 2014, 08:55PM
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No Hemsky... no Ference... no problem?

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#108 Brian
January 29 2014, 09:01PM
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Jakethesnake wrote:

Is there a way to get rid of Big Louie D on sportsnet. The guy is a moron. He loves every player that's not on the oiler team. I can't stand listening to him.

And I thought all along that I was the only one who can't stand Blue Paint DeBrusk.

It's called a CREASE, Lou .

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#109 Randaman
January 29 2014, 09:05PM
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** wrote:

with special guests: the rest of the Edmonton Oilers

Gagner especially. Perron goes back into the zone to retrieve his give away while Gagner cherry picks at the offensive blue line. Pathetic!!!

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#110 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 29 2014, 09:12PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Hall SH% is 11.5... Last year he had 10.4. The year before he was 13.0.

If you look at Hall SH this year...

He has 18 goals in 156 shots. Last year he had 16 in 154.

Is that really that big of a gap to be concerned about for him?

My point was is it fair to consider that other factors, not involving Hall are resulting in his Corsi and goals/per60.

Just asking the question. I wasn't ripping Corsi, I was pointing out that the concern that Hall can't maintain production with that Corsi has yet to transpire. I was curious what their answer is to that.

All I know is that Hall is 15th in league scoring (pts) and is sandwiched between Patrick Kane and Cory Perry for points per game. If you ask me, that Corsirific! And Fenwicktastic!

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#111 Serious Gord
January 29 2014, 09:14PM
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Best goaltending performance for the oil this year.

Were it not for that the score would be 5-1 sanjose.

Scrivens was deemed a back-up by two other nhl teams so this one game really needs to be discounted. And the lack of competitiveness of the rest of the team against elite teams remains.

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#112 **
January 29 2014, 09:17PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Best goaltending performance for the oil this year.

Were it not for that the score would be 5-1 sanjose.

Scrivens was deemed a back-up by two other nhl teams so this one game really needs to be discounted. And the lack of competitiveness of the rest of the team against elite teams remains.

I'd say if he can keep his sv% at around .910 by season's end, with this awful team in front of him, he deserves a shot at being a starter.

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#113 Rod from Viking
January 29 2014, 09:20PM
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I actually thought Potter had been playing pretty well since he got back in the line up, makes a lot of sense to put a 160lb Larsen in against the biggest forwards in the league. " Good FFN Grief".

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#114 Rod from Viking
January 29 2014, 09:22PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Best goaltending performance for the oil this year.

Were it not for that the score would be 5-1 sanjose.

Scrivens was deemed a back-up by two other nhl teams so this one game really needs to be discounted. And the lack of competitiveness of the rest of the team against elite teams remains.

Have not seen an Oiler goalie performance like this since Cu-jo.

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#115 Walter Sobchak
January 29 2014, 09:23PM
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This isn't just men vs. boys; this is also about a coach being badly out coached with no answer.

The Oilers have never been this dominated in a game this year.

Jeebus, I hope Mactavish can sign Scrivens!!

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#116 Zamboni Driver
January 29 2014, 09:23PM
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@Serious Gord

Oh come on.

Devan "I hope it hits me because I'm tall and can't move a lick" would have had at least one of the saves that Scrivens did.

He would also have leaned WAAAAAY over and pulled it out of the cage about 7 times by now.

And Debrusk would have seen a tip on each one.

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#117 jonny94
January 29 2014, 09:23PM
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After 2 periods Scrivens has already made 42 saves..... God speed for the 3rd period Ben.... God speed.

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#118 S cottV
January 29 2014, 09:25PM
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If Hall had legit first pairing d men, a mature RNH, and a larger version of Eberle, his corsi would be lights out.

Add in his own personal development limiting turnovers, greater commitment to back checking and improved work in the d zone and one day when it all comes together there won't be any problems with any of Halls stats.

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#119 Zamboni Driver
January 29 2014, 09:26PM
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Also....

Exactly what the hell is Principe doing on top of his head?

Bad enough he acts like a clown, he's really starting to look like one.

Someone should tell him Sportsnet is going to start doing 'real' hockey pretty soon.

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#120 Rod from Viking
January 29 2014, 09:26PM
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Jakethesnake wrote:

Is there a way to get rid of Big Louie D on sportsnet. The guy is a moron. He loves every player that's not on the oiler team. I can't stand listening to him.

He likes to hunt, someone could take him hunting.

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#121 Alsker
January 29 2014, 09:29PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

This isn't just men vs. boys; this is also about a coach being badly out coached with no answer.

The Oilers have never been this dominated in a game this year.

Jeebus, I hope Mactavish can sign Scrivens!!

Agreed, though that game in Philly was pretty close second.

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#122 Lawndemon
January 29 2014, 09:31PM
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I've seen some horrible hockey from the Oilers over the last few years. We all have... But this performance, other than Scrivens, transcends the concept of bad.

Worse than bad... Worse than terribad... Not even ultrabad describes the ineptitude the Oilers are showing tonight.

No... This... This is Eakinsbad.

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#123 Zamboni Driver
January 29 2014, 09:34PM
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I'm perfectly confident that Scrivens can continue stopping everything in the 3rd period against Pavelski/Thorton/Marleau/Boyle etc.

Oilers should keep up the tricky, unexpected "matador" D.

Probably because of...like...Fenwick - NO, I know..it's all the PLAYER'S SAVE PERCENTAGE.

It's all perfect.

Because it is too a thing.

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#124 Zamboni Driver
January 29 2014, 09:36PM
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Cue Sweet Georgia Brown

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#125 Brian
January 29 2014, 09:40PM
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Lawndemon wrote:

I've seen some horrible hockey from the Oilers over the last few years. We all have... But this performance, other than Scrivens, transcends the concept of bad.

Worse than bad... Worse than terribad... Not even ultrabad describes the ineptitude the Oilers are showing tonight.

No... This... This is Eakinsbad.

"Be Eakinsbad for Eckblad"

I beat Josh Oiler to it .

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#126 Zarny
January 29 2014, 09:42PM
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Deportivo wrote:

+Eakins -Hemsky +Ference = Where are we now?

McT brought in Eakins (I assume that was because they're of the same mind, and he thinks that Eakins can take us further than Krueger), wanted to trade Hemsky, and also brought it Ference. I know that he got involved in other trades but I want to focus on the past two games where both Hemsky and Ference didn't play. In the first games of the year (on top of the infamous "swarm defence") Eakins played Hall as centre (Nuge was injured, and many people agreed with it because he was going to be the new Messier). Things didn't work as planned, but there were also some extra side effects. One of them is that in order to protect Hall, he played him with Smyth and Hemsky and that resulted in to being dropped to the third line. One can see that Yak is a young guy who excels when given confidence (e.g. Krueger) but struggles otherwise (I know...it's a youth issue!). However, that was the "killing" of Yakupov tho year...and together with the swam defence, the "killing" of the Oilers options to improve in the standings with respect to last year. With respect to Ference, if one understands his signing as coming in for Whitney it can be considered a vast improvement. However, Ference has being named Captain and played two or four top minutes. In a way that made expendable Smid (who was a solid component of the team...full disclosure, I'm one of the few guys who own a Smid Oilers shirt, and I like a lot his approach to the game, although I understand his shortcomings). The trade of Smid had a collateral consequence in sending Petry on a bad roller coaster ride (which in fact has ended only when joined with another european denfenceman, M.M., who is keeping things simply in defence and helping Petry that way). The issue is that Eakins is getting things right now by simply using his common sense, so he's going with the first two lines of last year (with the improvement of Perron for Pjaarvi), uses solid third and fourth lines (congratulations to McT for his work on that), and on defence Petry-Marincin are doing Ok, and so are the Schultzs (at this point J. Schultz likes to be "the guy", and he can do it easier with N. Schulz covering his ass, than with Ference who feels that he needs to be the guy too -he's the captain and has one ring-)....although the Belov-Potter pair has a lot of issues (that's where we need Ference!). I'm not surprised that the team won two games with Hemsky and Ference out. Now, these two players still can contribute a lot to the team, mostly if Hemsky accepts (like Smyth did) his new role in the bottom six, and if Ference makes his main job to cover J. Schulz's ass (and nothing else), or well if the Schultz's are playing together and Ference accepts a minor role playing with Below or Potter (or perhaps Fedun or Klefbom...please).

Wow...delusions like this explain the meltdowns you see here.

In the real world, Eakin's played Hall at C because both Nuge and Gagner started the season on IR.

Hall's TOI for the first 5 games was 23:30, 20:02, 25:44, 25:07 and 23:48. He wasn't dropped to 3rd line; he was being double shifted.

Confidence isn't something that is "given" to a player. Players are always better versions of themselves when confident. Yak's "killing" this year is that he still has way too much junior in his game. He was holding on to the puck way too long, getting boxed out of options and turning the puck over.

The Oilers never had a chance to improve in the standings this year. It doesn't matter who the coach is or what systems you play; you can't get around the fact that for over half the game the D are playing way above their head.

Trading Smid did not send Petry for a bad roller coaster ride. Petry had been playing poorly all year.

Eakins is not getting things right now by using common sense. The line-up is simply healthy and Scrivens doesn't let in beach balls from the blueline. Otherwise nothing has really changed.

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#127 Lawndemon
January 29 2014, 09:43PM
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@Brian

Eakinsbad for Ekblad! I love it!

Let's split the t-shirt royalties. ;)

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#128 Alsker
January 29 2014, 09:44PM
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We're being outshot 3:1 and we're winning? Who do we think we are...the leafs? Nice pass from Ebs and as good a finish by Hall!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#129 Zarny
January 29 2014, 09:48PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

This isn't just men vs. boys; this is also about a coach being badly out coached with no answer.

The Oilers have never been this dominated in a game this year.

Jeebus, I hope Mactavish can sign Scrivens!!

Being out coached?

Good grief.

More like half the Sharks roster are just better players than the Oilers.

Which hobbit or mythical top pairing D should Eakins put out against Thornton, Marleau etc.

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#130 Rod from Viking
January 29 2014, 09:49PM
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Alsker wrote:

We're being outshot 3:1 and we're winning? Who do we think we are...the leafs? Nice pass from Ebs and as good a finish by Hall!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A little Deja Vu for the professor?

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#131 **
January 29 2014, 09:57PM
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Ben Scrivens is The One. He can see the matrix

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#132 Burnward
January 29 2014, 09:57PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

Also....

Exactly what the hell is Principe doing on top of his head?

Bad enough he acts like a clown, he's really starting to look like one.

Someone should tell him Sportsnet is going to start doing 'real' hockey pretty soon.

He'll be alright, NAIT always needs instructors.

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#133 Walter Sobchak
January 29 2014, 09:58PM
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Zarny wrote:

Being out coached?

Good grief.

More like half the Sharks roster are just better players than the Oilers.

Which hobbit or mythical top pairing D should Eakins put out against Thornton, Marleau etc.

But the Oilers can compete vs other teams like Pitt and Van for example but get crushed vs the Sharks?

The system the Sharks are using are pressing the Oilers down low,the Sharks defense then moves in on the Oilers forwards, the Oilers needed to figure it out, send the forwards out, this stops the Sharks from pinching down low, make a quicker outlet.. stretch there team out so they can't press. 86 shot's have been directed at the Oilers net, you don't see this as a system issue then sorry bout that!

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#134 @Oilanderp
January 29 2014, 10:07PM
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What a night to talk about Corsi. Outshot 75 million to 3.

Bring it home boys!

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#135 Johnnydapunk
January 29 2014, 10:12PM
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Wow!

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#136 oilersd
January 29 2014, 10:13PM
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Wow.

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#137 **
January 29 2014, 10:14PM
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The Sharks got Scrivened

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#138 jonny94
January 29 2014, 10:14PM
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Ben Scrivens gets 1st 2nd and 3rd star in my books. Welcome home Ben !!

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#139 XL Lebowski
January 29 2014, 10:14PM
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59 saves!!!!! Wow! An NHL record. Way to go Scrivens!!

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#140 Burnward
January 29 2014, 10:16PM
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59. Over/under on Oilers total points this year as well?

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#141 Serious Gord
January 29 2014, 10:17PM
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XL Lebowski wrote:

59 saves!!!!! Wow! An NHL record. Way to go Scrivens!!

It's a franchise record - doubt its a league one.

How many 59 save shutouts have there EVER been in the nhl?

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#142 @Oilanderp
January 29 2014, 10:17PM
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You have never seen a better goaltending performance in Edmonton or anywhere else in the NHL. Ever. That is a record.

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#143 Zarny
January 29 2014, 10:17PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

But the Oilers can compete vs other teams like Pitt and Van for example but get crushed vs the Sharks?

The system the Sharks are using are pressing the Oilers down low,the Sharks defense then moves in on the Oilers forwards, the Oilers needed to figure it out, send the forwards out, this stops the Sharks from pinching down low, make a quicker outlet.. stretch there team out so they can't press. 86 shot's have been directed at the Oilers net, you don't see this as a system issue then sorry bout that!

It is not the Sharks' system that is pressing the Oilers down low.

It's 6'4" 230 lb Joe Thornton and 6'2" 220 lb Patrick Marleau etc. The Sharks are a big, strong team and the Oilers can't knock them off the puck.

Thornton skates around the Oilers zone like a dad playing with the kids.

Yes, the Oilers can compete vs teams like Pit and Van because neither is a big, physical team and both play skill based games. Pit vs NYI was a track meet last year in the playoffs. That's what the Oilers like and it's the only style of game they excel at.

SJ, Anh, LA, StL, Chi, Bos...big, strong, physical teams with 6'4" 220+lb C always give the Oilers fits.

It isn't systems. It's little people pushing against big people.

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#144 bwar
January 29 2014, 10:17PM
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My favorite part was Doug Maclean saying that Scrivens isn't good enough to be the starter during the first intermission.

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#145 bazmagoo
January 29 2014, 10:18PM
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Most exciting game of the season! Sign Scrivens to an extension and fire Eakins tomorrow please.

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#146 dougtheslug
January 29 2014, 10:18PM
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In this wasteland of a season, far be it from me to critique a victory, let alone a victory over the Sharks.....

But......c'mon.....

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#147 hankthetank
January 29 2014, 10:18PM
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Gene: How was your night?

Scrivens: Uuuhhhmmm...obviously seeing the puck pretty well.

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#148 Rod from Viking
January 29 2014, 10:19PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

Also....

Exactly what the hell is Principe doing on top of his head?

Bad enough he acts like a clown, he's really starting to look like one.

Someone should tell him Sportsnet is going to start doing 'real' hockey pretty soon.

He is trying to look like Kenny Powers off Eastbound and Down and for sure not anywhere near as funny.

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#149 Slats
January 29 2014, 10:20PM
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SCRIVENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nice standing O from a fanbase begging to cheer for something all year.

Thanks you're a beaut!!

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#150 Walter Sobchak
January 29 2014, 10:22PM
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Zarny wrote:

It is not the Sharks' system that is pressing the Oilers down low.

It's 6'4" 230 lb Joe Thornton and 6'2" 220 lb Patrick Marleau etc. The Sharks are a big, strong team and the Oilers can't knock them off the puck.

Thornton skates around the Oilers zone like a dad playing with the kids.

Yes, the Oilers can compete vs teams like Pit and Van because neither is a big, physical team and both play skill based games. Pit vs NYI was a track meet last year in the playoffs. That's what the Oilers like and it's the only style of game they excel at.

SJ, Anh, LA, StL, Chi, Bos...big, strong, physical teams with 6'4" 220+lb C always give the Oilers fits.

It isn't systems. It's little people pushing against big people.

Do you recall the score's of those games you just mentioned?

with the exception of the Blues and this game the Oilers never got dominated this bad.

Sorry, the reason Joe can move around with impunity is because the forwards are standing still watching what the Sharks defense is doing.

Pit is a big team or does Malkin and Neal not count?

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