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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#1 A-Mc
January 29 2014, 01:26PM
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Couldnt agree more with regards to Hendricks. He was an awesome pickup and I've noticed a difference in the team.

Is he slow? yes. Does he put up a bunch of points? no. but these things dont matter.

Great grab by MacT

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

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#3 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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#4 Spydyr
January 29 2014, 01:53PM
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Too many people here value stats over grit, heart, a can do attitude, size and a will to win.

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#5 **
January 29 2014, 09:57PM
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Ben Scrivens is The One. He can see the matrix

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#6 dougtheslug
January 29 2014, 10:26PM
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Incredible. Scrivens gets a shutout and Yakupov is still -1 on the night

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#7 dougtheslug
January 29 2014, 11:18PM
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Hey, a guy in Vancouver just tossed a Canucks jersey on the ice!

Like I said after last game - Oilers on the Up Escalator, passing Canucks on the Down Escalator

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#8 Spydyr
January 29 2014, 01:17PM
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"season-high three-game winning streak "

That is so sad it is funny.

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#9 mackb
January 29 2014, 01:10PM
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Here's hoping they keep showing up to play. I don't care or even expect wins anymore, I just want to see a team that doesn't get walked over easily.

Pre-Game buy for the 50/50.

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#10 Lowe Expectations
January 29 2014, 01:45PM
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San Jose is an elite team, a definite cup contender. So I'm not judging by winning or losing but by how hard the Oilers make the Sharks work to get the 2 points. Not to say a win isn't possible but at least make the Sharks think this won't be easy.

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#11 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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#12 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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#13 Brian
January 29 2014, 10:29PM
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Gene : "So how was your night? "

Ben ".....so I think I know something about goaltending if theres any concern"

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#14 Cynic
January 29 2014, 10:37PM
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Quinn the Eskimo wrote:

TSN calling it the 'best goaltending performance in the expansion era'.

How exactly were we dominated by the sharks? How was Eakins out-coached? That was the best freakin Oiler hockey game I've seen since 2006. Guts, heart, grit and tons of creative skill from guys who give up scores of pounds and feet of height and years of experience. Those lads played their balls off, the coach kept them focused when it looked bad and Scrivens gave them what they needed and if you can't see that then your blind, a hater or a troll. Get a grip.

MacT is making KLowe look good. We are getting harder to beat.

Did Alberta legalize crack as of Jan. 1, 2014?

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#15 Greg
January 29 2014, 10:24PM
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that!.. is how you steal a game! i can't remember the last time an Oiler goalie robbed a team this bad. if you look back to when Cujo had his 54 save night, it just ended in a 0-0 tie. we did't even get the win.

this was magic

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#16 Eulers
January 29 2014, 10:47PM
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That was an absolute treat to watch.

Scrivens should have been all three stars!!!

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#17 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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#18 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
January 29 2014, 04:29PM
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Wasn't planning on going tonight. I have to work very early tomorrow morning.

Looked on Kijiji to see what the tickets are selling for.... fifteen dollars.... FIFTEEN!!

Guess I have no choice but to go.

Two things:

1. I'm leaving after the second if the Oilers are losing.

2. I'm bring an old Oilers jersey just in case.............................

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#19 Lowe Expectations
January 29 2014, 10:24PM
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bwar wrote:

My favorite part was Doug Maclean saying that Scrivens isn't good enough to be the starter during the first intermission.

Doug Mclean vs Mike Milbury for worst GM in hockey history.

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#20 Cynic
January 29 2014, 10:33PM
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Remember when Gagner scored 8 points in a single night?

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#21 Dan
January 29 2014, 10:40PM
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Taylor Hall is now tied for 10th spot in the league for points with Kunitz. And to think he doesn't play with Crosby and is on the second worst team in the league. So another head scratcher to why he's left off the Olympic team. Imagine the points he'd have if he played on a top 10 team. And please tell me about all the giveaways. But the numbers don't lie he's one of the best and shouldn't be overlooked because of the crap he's forced to play with.

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#22 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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#23 **
January 29 2014, 08:52PM
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Ben Scrivens vs. the San Jose Sharks: balls out

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#24 **
January 29 2014, 10:14PM
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The Sharks got Scrivened

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#25 redhot1
January 29 2014, 01:22PM
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A win is always good, but lets be honest. Vancouver is a marginal team at best, clearly on the decline. San Jose is probably twice as good.

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#26 Soccer Steve
January 29 2014, 03:28PM
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Who else, when they first see the word "Corsi", just immediately scrolls down the page to see the picture of the pretty lady?

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#27 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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#28 Johe
January 29 2014, 10:24PM
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The top line should never be broken up. All things considered, they were excellent tonight. Held their own against a top 3 team in the league. Now if we could just add two minute munching defenseman, a more complete second line center, and a two way winger, we'd be on to something. Duh.

Also, Scrivens was superhuman tonight. Honestly. Best performance by any player in the NHL this year.

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#29 Lowe Expectations
January 29 2014, 10:27PM
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Scrivens had arguably the best single game performance by an Oilers goalie ever. But since it takes two to tango, either the Sharks can't finish or the Oilers defensive play really sucks.

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#30 PapaMike
January 29 2014, 10:37PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

Incredible. Scrivens gets a shutout and Yakupov is still -1 on the night

You owe me a new keyboard....that was effing funny!!

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#31 DrunkGuyTy
January 29 2014, 10:41PM
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@Stack Pad Save

Pfft...Tugnutt let in 3.

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#32 tileguy
January 29 2014, 03:20PM
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everytime I see the word corsi my eyes just glaze over.

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#33 @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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#34 @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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#35 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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#36 Muji
January 29 2014, 03:46PM
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I totally agree with you about advanced stats, Jason.

I was a big fan and supporter of the advanced stats guys before, but have found them to be REALLY annoying lately.

Advanced stats don't tell the whole story. Traditional stats (e.g. points, goals, assists, etc.) tell part of the story. "Seen him good" tells part of the story. There are too many variables and nobody has cracked the code, so the best we can do is consider ALL of the information we have available when evaluating players.

I feel that some of the advanced stat guys are putting FAR too much weight (or ALL of the weight) on their advanced stats. That's what leads to statements like, "Taylor Hall is having a disastrous season!!1". Perhaps this is in response to the trolling done by the traditional mainstream media guys like Spector? Don't know. Don't care.

Here's the thing. You can watch the frigging game to evaluate players. Or you can stare at a spreadsheet to evaluate players. I'm not sure which one is the right way to do it - probably a combination of the 2 - but I know which one is more fun and entertaining; and isn't that what it's all about?

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#37 Spydyr
January 29 2014, 04:17PM
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The only stats that really matter to me are:

1)The score when the game is over.

2)The number of wins and losses.

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#38 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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#39 Mo Playoffs Mo Problems
January 29 2014, 11:00PM
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Quinn the Eskimo wrote:

TSN calling it the 'best goaltending performance in the expansion era'.

How exactly were we dominated by the sharks? How was Eakins out-coached? That was the best freakin Oiler hockey game I've seen since 2006. Guts, heart, grit and tons of creative skill from guys who give up scores of pounds and feet of height and years of experience. Those lads played their balls off, the coach kept them focused when it looked bad and Scrivens gave them what they needed and if you can't see that then your blind, a hater or a troll. Get a grip.

MacT is making KLowe look good. We are getting harder to beat.

Unreal good game by Scrivens. The Oilers first line and 4th line had some good moments, but San Jose directed 100 shots at the Edmonton net.

They outshot the Oilers nearly 2-1 and they're missing some of their better players (Couture, Hertel). I hate to be a downer, but watching this game really highlighted how far the Oilers are from competing with the truly elite NHL teams on a nightly basis.

But tonight should be all about Scrivens. Great story for a great guy and a highlight in a forgettable season...

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#40 S4H1
January 29 2014, 01:52PM
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Hendricks' cap hit is only $1.85 million. I recall MacTavish saying something along the lines of the last two years not being an issue if we get good value this and next season. I agree and I love the trade!

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#41 A-Mc
January 29 2014, 04:20PM
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Spydyr wrote:

The only stats that really matter to me are:

1)The score when the game is over.

2)The number of wins and losses.

3) The amount of cleavage shown by ice girls. Measured in Numbered Instances, Cup size, and Inches of cleavage shown.

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#42 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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#43 Rama Lama
January 29 2014, 01:10PM
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It's hard to argue with success, but I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop......call it very cautious optimism.

Hendricks is a godsend right now and I for one do not care how long his contract is for, as long as his legs do not fail him he will be fine. JG if you look at the games ( by the eye) this year as compared to last year and the year before, ........it's rare that we get badly outplayed. This is a good sign but winning that is sustainable will only be had if we can get a top-two defenceman.

I for one believe that this will come through the draft and NOT trade or UFA........sorry to say but thems the reality in the new NHL.

As far as Staples goes and his compulsion to continuously use metrics to state the obvious......he is irrelevant as are his stats!

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#44 Tikkanese
January 29 2014, 04:10PM
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Jim Corsi may have been the worst Oiler goalie of all time.

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#45 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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#46 Stack Pad Save
January 29 2014, 10:28PM
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Epic win, Epic goaltending performance. Clutch play by the first line. The third line missed Hendricks, the 2nd line couldn't move the puck the right direction and the 4th, who cares the Oilers won!

3 game winning streak never felt so good as an Oilers fan!

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#47 @Oilanderp
January 29 2014, 02:41PM
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Taylor Hall¹ is 567th in the league for CF% 5v5, close.

Jake Muzzin² is #1 in the league.

Do you trade Hall for Muzzin? Obviously, no.

This is because, as Gregor argues, Corsi is not the only way to observe the value of a hockey player. Hall might be suffering from a low Corsi because his teammates can't get him the puck.**** You will notice from the link above that the Los Angeles Kings have 4 of the top 5 Corsi-getters in the league. This just shows that hockey is a team game, and individual corsi doesn't always account for that. It is possible to have a below average player with a great corsi on a great team. Similarly it's possible to have a good player nevertheless with bad corsi on a horrible team.

The problem, however, is that from day 1 that Hall entered the league, he has had good corsi on a horrible team. He is the guy 'pushing the river' so to speak. He is the guy who makes people around him better.

When looked at through the Corsi lens, he isn't doing that this year. The Oilers aren't getting as many shot attempts when he is on the ice this year (that's all corsi is, shot attempts). His shooting percentage is higher though, so his production remains similar.

If Hall and his Oilers fail to attempt more shots, what happens when (and there is a very high chance that it will happen) Hall reverts back to his career 8% shooting percentage?

Production drops. This has some people³ slightly concerned, and they are trying to figure out (by carefully watching the games) why this is happening.

**** EDIT: There is a stat called Corsi Rel, which shows that this is most likely not the case.

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#48 pkam
January 29 2014, 03:44PM
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I am a bit confused. Is this a GDB, or a corsi seminar?

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#49 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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#50 Quinn the Eskimo
January 29 2014, 10:33PM
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TSN calling it the 'best goaltending performance in the expansion era'.

How exactly were we dominated by the sharks? How was Eakins out-coached? That was the best freakin Oiler hockey game I've seen since 2006. Guts, heart, grit and tons of creative skill from guys who give up scores of pounds and feet of height and years of experience. Those lads played their balls off, the coach kept them focused when it looked bad and Scrivens gave them what they needed and if you can't see that then your blind, a hater or a troll. Get a grip.

MacT is making KLowe look good. We are getting harder to beat.

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