GDB 61.0: WELCOME BACK

Jason Gregor
February 27 2014 12:38PM

cast-of-welcome-back-kotter-5

"Welcome back,
To that same old place that you laughed about.

Well the names have all changed since you hung around,
But those dreams have remained and they're turned around."

I loved Welcome Back Kotter. Epstein was my favourite, although all the Sweathogs were beauties. I miss that show, and despite sitting in 29th place again most of the diehard Oilers fans miss watching their team.

Edmonton hasn't played a home game since Ben Scrivens set an NHL record for most saves in a shutout with 59. It was a memorable night, and even though it has only been 28 days since the Sharks peppered Scrivens it seems like forever that you were watching the Oilers with equal amounts of anger (for the skaters) and awe (for Scrivens).

Welcome back Oil fans, I'm sure the final 22 games will provide you with a wide array of emotions.
The Oilers went into the Olympic break on a high, going 5-1-1 and outscoring the opposition 18-12. The Oilers were outshot 266-195 in those games, but Scrivens and Ilya Bryzgalov only allowed 12 goals for a spectacular .954 SV%.

Great goaltending can cover up a lot of weaknesses, and while the Oilers played well in victories over Nashville, Vancouver and New York, it is clear they still have significant room to improve. Winning does give you confidence and the Oilers are feeling much better about their overall game today than at any other point this season.

Clearly they need to cut down on shots against, but at this point they will take a win regardless of how ugly or pretty it is.

The Oilers have had the luxury of having almost the entire team practicing for a week, and they have been able to have a mini training camp and work on improving their system play. The Wild have not had one practice with their entire team, and we'll see if that is a factor tonight.

The Oilers have played the fewest home games of any team thus far, 26, and one of their goals is to try and become a competitive team on home ice during their final 15 games at Rexall Place.

Tonight presents a good opportunity to start their modest two-game home winning streak when they face the Wild, who are one of the worst road teams in the NHL. The Wild are tied with the Flames, Oilers, Capitals and Coyotes for 2nd fewest road wins in the league, but only Buffalo has scored fewer goals on the road than the Wild's 59.

The Wild are outstanding at home 21-7-2, but they are a measly 10-14-5 on the road. The Oilers need to take advantage of a team that can't score when they don't have last change. The Wild have scored more than 2 goals only 8 times in 29 road games.

The Oilers haven't been world beaters at home, however, with only 10 wins in 26 games, but if they want to eventually become competitive they have to make Rexall Place less inviting. They play 15 of their final 22 games at home, so they will have ample opportunity to get comfortable at home.

LINEUP

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

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

Scrivens

Hemsky has been moved up to the 2nd line and he'll play the left wing. He hasn't spent much time on the left side, but he is excited to be in more of an offensive role. I see this as a final week showcase for Hemsky and Craig MacTavish must be hoping Hemsky can get a boost from his Olympic production. I doubt three or four good games will change things that much, but you never know. Right now I bet there are 10-12 GMs who firmly believe their team could win the Cup, and another 8 or so who think with a lucky bounce and a smart addition they too could be in the hunt.

Nick Schultz is also in showcase mode playing alongside they younger Schultz. I suspect the elder Schultz will be moved before Wednesday and when he is gone, I'd put Belov with J.Schultz for 5-10 games and see how he does. Belov needs to play better, but he skates well and is strong enough to defend big, top-six forwards. He needs to be more consistent, but I think it would be wise to play him top-four minutes and see how he does.

QUICK HITS...

grab-bag
  • Hemsky would fit nicely in Ottawa. They need another top-six winger and some speed. The Oilers would probably love to get forward Matt Puempel, but that won't happen. D-man Fredrik Claesson is a nice prospect, but he shoots left. Nurse, Klefbom, Gernat, Simpson and Musil all shoot left. Ideally if the Oilers acquire a D-man prospect he should be a right-handed shot.

  • If the Oilers are able to acquire a prospect instead of draft picks, I think it should be a forward. Right now the Oilers have more quality defence prospects than forwards. A centre would be ideal, but if MacTavish can somehow get a 20-22 year old prospect I'd try for a forward, and not a small, skilled one.

  • Most fans and media felt the Islanders overpaid to get Tomas Vanek, but it looks even worse now. He gave up Moulson AND a 2014 or 2015 first rounder and a 2015 2nd rounder. Vanek won't re-sign so he'll be traded before Wednesday. If Snow gets a first rounder back, it isn't going to be a top-five pick this year and likely not even a top-ten next year. Snow either gives up a top-five, likely a top-three pick this year, or he rolls the dice and hopes that somehow his team will improve next season.

    The Islanders will be without Moulson or Vanek and they are on the verge of trading away the D-man who plays the most minutes, Andy MacDonald. It will be a massive task to avoid giving up a top-ten pick next year. If the Islanders struggle next year, they could give up two top-35 picks for a player who played 45 games for them. Ouch.

  • Ryan Kesler's agent, Kurt Overhardt, told Adrian Dater the report from TVA Sports that Kesler asked for a trade "is B.S." If Kesler did want out there would be a long list of teams interested in acquiring him. He is a very good player. The Oilers desperately need a guy like Kesler. He is a high-end #2 centre, who is a good defensively, can produce offence and plays with an edge. However, there is no way the Canucks trade him within the division. None.

  • The Oilers will be a seller, but if I was them I'd look at trying to find a gem like the Ducks did last year with Ben Lovejoy. The Ducks gave up a measly 5th rounder for him and now he's playing 20 minutes a night for them. The Oilers desperately need some 25-30 year old players. Guys with experience, but not a lot of miles. It will be difficult to pull off, because teams want depth, especially on the blueline, but their pro scouting has to be better and find steals like Lovejoy.

    The Rangers want to make a splash and could be looking to get extra cap space. Maybe Justin Falk.
    The Coyotes have a lot of D-men -- Could David Rundblad be had, altheven though he is 23 and not that experienced? It is difficult to find a Lovejoy, but I can't recall the last time the Oilers traded away nothing for a player who blossomed in Edmonton.

    Spacek, I guess, but that was short term. Ryan Jones on waivers for nothing had two solid 17 and 18 goal seasons, but their overall lack of finding quality veteran NHL players the past eight years is extremely alarming. It is the biggest off-ice issue in the organization in my opinion.

TONIGHT....

image4

**Anna Sidorova... Russia's curling skip at the Olympics. She is very good, and I suspect she is likely to become one of the most popular curlers in the world. Gotta love the Olympics.**

GAME DAY PREDICTION: If you can't beat the pop gun offence of the Wild at home, then who can the Oilers beat? The Oilers start the final quarter of the season much better than they did the first quarter with a ~riveting~ 3-1 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Kyle Brodziak scores. Brodziak has 5 goals in his last 8 games in Edmonton and he has 47 career goals on the road compared to 38 on home ice.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hemsky scores two goals. It will be only the 11th multiple goal game of his career. He hasn't scored a pair of goals in a game since February 16th, 2013. His two goals adds fuel to the trade rumours and sets up the inevitable, "the Oilers didn't get enough for him," talk for next week.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
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
Avatar
#101 Alsker
February 27 2014, 09:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers

Turn out the lights....oh wait, they never bothered to turn them on...at least it didn't long to be reminded why the most exiting part of our season is always Draft Day!!!

Avatar
#102 Simon
February 27 2014, 10:00PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
12
cheers

Well atleast they made the effort to put on the pads and go thru the motions. If I sucked as bad at what I do as this team does I wouldn't show up, I'd be looking for somthing else to do.

Avatar
#103 Quicksilver ballet
February 27 2014, 10:01PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
21
cheers

Muwahaaahahaha...

Ekblad is virtually all ours. Hard to get motivated when the games mean zip. Players sure looked disinterested. Have to think more than half the players would welcome a ticket out of town.

With MacTavish more than satisfied with Eakins 29th place effort this season, look for Yakupov to asked to be moved now. Can't see Nail putting up with Eakins ship for another season.

Scrivens and N.Schultz to Minnesota next week for Charlie Coyle. Pay half of Nicks salary if you have to.

Avatar
#104 dobiezeke
February 27 2014, 10:02PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
22
cheers

Eberle doing everything he can to drive down his trade value...

Avatar
#105 shaun
February 27 2014, 10:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
22
cheers

reality sets in after the olympic break...well hopefully we wont have to listen to the media pumping MacT's and Eakins tires for awhile

Avatar
#106 Randaman
February 27 2014, 10:08PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
14
cheers
Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Muwahaaahahaha...

Ekblad is virtually all ours. Hard to get motivated when the games mean zip. Players sure looked disinterested. Have to think more than half the players would welcome a ticket out of town.

With MacTavish more than satisfied with Eakins 29th place effort this season, look for Yakupov to asked to be moved now. Can't see Nail putting up with Eakins ship for another season.

Scrivens and N.Schultz to Minnesota next week for Charlie Coyle. Pay half of Nicks salary if you have to.

Couldn't have said it better myself! PATHETIC... On a positive note Buffalo has won two in a row, Islanders won tonight without JT So, Ekblad or Bennett?? Hmmm

Avatar
#107 Rod from Viking
February 27 2014, 10:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
13
cheers

When Mac T said Eakins isn't going any where could he possibly mean he is going to be a scout next year.

Avatar
#108 Quicksilver ballet
February 27 2014, 10:09PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
14
cheers
Alsker wrote:

Turn out the lights....oh wait, they never bothered to turn them on...at least it didn't long to be reminded why the most exiting part of our season is always Draft Day!!!

The lack of response by Petry in the first period. Do you think that's the reaction of a player who's poorly coached/afraid to leave his team shorthanded when every goal matters? Hard to imagine the Oilers have another super sized Tommy Gilbert on their hands.

Avatar
#109 Randaman
February 27 2014, 10:10PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

I wonder how long Hendricks will be suspended for? My guess, 3 games

Avatar
#110 Hall the time
February 27 2014, 10:11PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
20
cheers

Nice to see nothing has changed, SOOOOOOOOOOOO boring. At lest hemmer will be gone and we can be sure that there's no excitement at all.

Avatar
#111 Randaman
February 27 2014, 10:12PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
16
cheers
Quicksilver ballet wrote:

The lack of response by Petry in the first period. Do you think that's the reaction of a player who's poorly coached/afraid to leave his team shorthanded when every goal matters? Hard to imagine the Oilers have another super sized Tommy Gilbert on their hands.

That and the fact that he is simply a p:;sy as I stated earlier. No grit whatsoever, NONE!

Avatar
#112 Rod from Viking
February 27 2014, 10:16PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers
Randaman wrote:

That and the fact that he is simply a p:;sy as I stated earlier. No grit whatsoever, NONE!

Did his dad ever throw a brush back pitch or intentionally hit a batter?

Avatar
#113 Alsker
February 27 2014, 10:18PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
6
cheers
Quicksilver ballet wrote:

The lack of response by Petry in the first period. Do you think that's the reaction of a player who's poorly coached/afraid to leave his team shorthanded when every goal matters? Hard to imagine the Oilers have another super sized Tommy Gilbert on their hands.

Probably a lot of both. The real concern is if he believes the response is someone else's job.

Avatar
#114 bazmagoo
February 27 2014, 10:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
20
cheers

Man the Oilers were bad tonight, really wish I could get that 2 and a half hours of my life back.

Avatar
#115 Walter Sobchak
February 27 2014, 10:29PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
15
cheers

Well, with Hemsky on his way out of town, there goes the last player who would actually carry the puck into a zone.

I've never seen a team dump the puck in that much in my life! Dear Lord that was awful to watch.

Avatar
#116 S cottV
February 27 2014, 10:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

Defensive zone coverage continues to be abysmal.

Agreed JG - RNH has improved defensively but he was pretty bad on the first ga.

Belov and Gagner weak on the 2nd ga.

Belov soft on the 3rd vs Heatley.

Have to score at least one to win but with out d zone coverage - we need 4 to win....

Avatar
#117 Alsker
February 27 2014, 10:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

@S cottV

In Belovs defense the second goal he and Ference had guys tied up/engaged while Gags and Ebs watched the Wild player score. As for the third goal he and Heatley were swinging at each other and Belov had just planted him to the ice when he swatted it in from there. Not arguing with you, our d-coverage is today the same as it was in October.

Avatar
#118 Quicksilver ballet
February 27 2014, 10:50PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers

With The Flyers going hard after Kesler. MacTavish should get in on that, take some salary back from Holmgren if he'd part with Couturier.

Petry and Musil for Meszaros and Couturier. Would create enough room for Kesler.

Avatar
#119 gk1980
February 27 2014, 10:52PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
11
cheers

I'm not freaking out here, just a theoretical thought, what if the oilers did just blow everything up? New Top six, coaches everything. How could it get any worse? In my opinion MacTavish has nothing more to lose and everything to gain. It really can't get any worse.

Avatar
#120 Alsker
February 27 2014, 10:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers
Walter Sobchak wrote:

Well, with Hemsky on his way out of town, there goes the last player who would actually carry the puck into a zone.

I've never seen a team dump the puck in that much in my life! Dear Lord that was awful to watch.

~Fortunately the coaching staff are thrilled as this has cut down neutral zone turnovers by more than 50%~ As fans though we see this as stupidly giving the puck back to the opposition and creating f*cking ZERO offensive opportunities. Good thing none of us are coaching.

Avatar
#121 Rob F
February 27 2014, 11:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
18
cheers

So the oilers have been shut out 8 times this year

5 of those at home. So they get shout out almost 20% of the time at home

The power play was at 21%, until they changed to the new "unstoppable" 1-3-1 Now I'm not sure they've scored a power play goal since

I want to give Eakins a chance, but evidence us starting to pile up that he's not makings things better but worse.

Avatar
#122 shaun
February 27 2014, 11:07PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
6
cheers

@gk1980

That would never happen...MacT would have to admit he was wrong...

Avatar
#123 Lowe Expectations
February 27 2014, 11:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
14
cheers

Came to check the comments. Glad I didn't watch.

Avatar
#124 slats
February 27 2014, 11:25PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
9
cheers
Rob F wrote:

Gazdicks the man. The rest awful. If we r going to be perennial bottom feeders, I'd rather have a bunch of 4th liners like gazdick than premodonnas.

2 words for you replacements. . .. .

Team Latvia!

Avatar
#125 dougtheslug
February 27 2014, 11:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers

Lots of positives to take away from tonight's game:

It wasn't the worst game the Oilers have played this year. That would have been the Detroit game. It was, unfortunately, in the top three. Or, I guess, the bottom three. You guys know what I mean. I think. What was I talking about?

I discovered that the cure to a four day old Olympic hangover is a kilometre walk into a -40 windchill gale, followed by two and a half hours of mistakes, misplays, and misfires. Who won the gold medal again?

Lots of chances generated on the Oiler power play. They were mostly Wild chances, but whatevs.

Speaking of the powerplay, that "One d-man back on the point" strategy is amazingly innovative and original. There may be a reason why no other team in organized hockey uses it, but it is innovative nonetheless.

I got back to my car with all 10 toes and 10 fingers intact and frostbite free.Only 121 days until the draft!

Avatar
#126 M22
February 27 2014, 11:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
6
cheers
Quicksilver ballet wrote:

The lack of response by Petry in the first period. Do you think that's the reaction of a player who's poorly coached/afraid to leave his team shorthanded when every goal matters? Hard to imagine the Oilers have another super sized Tommy Gilbert on their hands.

Simple explanation for why #2 didn't budge: he was Petryfied.

Avatar
#127 Casey
February 27 2014, 11:52PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

Only thing scarier than Eakins staying for another is Phillip Larsen, Denis Grebeshkov, Will Acton, and this whole season!! Well looks like it's going to be another long night!!

Avatar
#128 john
February 28 2014, 12:05AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
6
cheers

Ok when are we gonna fire that clown Eakins? Another shut out, Oilers has never been shut out so many games in a season. Fans should not throw jerseys onto the ice but shout 'Fire Eakins' and bring signs 'Fire the Clown'. I didn't watch the game but saw the score on my phone, I almost threw it out the window. This coach is AHL level and he can't coach this team, worst in goals against, PP and PK are worst than previous years. Come on people, you pay to see the game, they lost 3-0. No goals for, you had nothing to cheer for, lose but at least score some goals. What's the point of watching garbage products on the ice? GET A REAL COACH in MAC T.

Avatar
#129 john
February 28 2014, 12:10AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
Rob F wrote:

So the oilers have been shut out 8 times this year

5 of those at home. So they get shout out almost 20% of the time at home

The power play was at 21%, until they changed to the new "unstoppable" 1-3-1 Now I'm not sure they've scored a power play goal since

I want to give Eakins a chance, but evidence us starting to pile up that he's not makings things better but worse.

I m totally agree with you, I lost count of how many shut out lost we had. Lost 8 games without scoring a goal, 5 at home where people paid to see it. It's unacceptable, I live in Ontario, I almost threw my phone out of the window after I saw the score.

Avatar
#130 Craven Moorehead
February 28 2014, 06:57AM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

It's guys like tabs that ruin this for others.

Especially for insiders like myself and Gregor.

Avatar
#131 LoweBlow
February 28 2014, 07:27AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

After watching team Canada, there's no way I could possibly bother with this Oiler team anymore. I enjoy being happy and don't feel the need to put myself through misery just to say I was there when the team finally starts winning. Pride serves no purpose here.

Avatar
#132 Craven Moorehead
February 28 2014, 07:49AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers

John

At least Eakins watches the games. What would you like him to change? Nevermind you didn't watch .

Look at our roster. We aren't good. It's never been the coaching!

Avatar
#133 Morehead
February 28 2014, 11:24AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers
Craven Moorehead wrote:

It's guys like tabs that ruin this for others.

Especially for insiders like myself and Gregor.

Your a clown

Avatar
#134 Casey
February 28 2014, 03:38PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Once we lost that game opening night we should have known it would be another disaster season.

Comments are closed for this article.