GDB: 58.0: FAMILIAR TERRITORY

Jason Gregor
February 03 2014 01:12PM

Once again the Oilers find themselves in a battle for the basement of the NHL standings. For the fourth time in the last five seasons the Oilers will spend February, March and April jockeying for draft positioning rather than a spot in the playoffs. Fans are frustrated of watching it, we are fatigued of writing about it, and I'm certain the players are tired of living it, but ultimately it will be up to them to avoid this scenario next season.

You need skill to compete in the NHL, but you also need a strong desire to battle and compete, because every team has skill. It is obvious the Oilers still don't have the winning combination of players to push for a playoff spot, and Craig MacTavish will need to rectify that, but the players who are here can't keep waiting for new recruits to save them.

They need to play smarter, stronger and with more passion on a nightly basis.

Tonight must be about pride. The players know the situation. They know Buffalo is the only team in the NHL below them in the standings, so I'd hope they want to keep it that way. They need to show some pride, some passion, some desire and play like a team that won't accept losing.

I'm sure most of you have seen the highlights of yesterday's Montreal/Winnipeg game. Brandon Gallagher is listed at 5'9, 180 pounds, but did you see him battling with Marc Stuart in front of the Jets net. He didn't give an inch and Stuart, 6'2, 213 pounds, couldn't move him away from the crease. Gallagher refused to give up his space on the ice despite a significant weight and height disadvantage.

And Gallagher does that all over the ice. He plays incredibly hard and ferocious and he refuses to make the game easy for his opponents.

When was the last time you saw an Oiler battle like that?

If the Oilers aren't willing to take a physical pounding now and then to win a battle, then this team is never going to win. The organization will continue firing coaches, bringing in new fringe players and hoping that eventually things will change. I believe it is up to the players, especially the core group, to turn this around.

Gallagher has proven you don't need to be huge to compete. I understand you do need some big, skilled players to counter the size of other teams, but until the Oilers acquire those players this group needs to play with more hunger. They need to instill a higher level of accountability within the dressing room. Winning teams demand a lot of one another, and this team needs to start doing the same.

Tonight is a game they shouldn't lose. They need to approach it like a playoff game, even though the outcome is more about pride than the standings.

If the Oilers lose tonight, they open the door to the possibility of entering the Olympic break on a four-game losing streak and sitting in 30th place. None of the players want that and I'd hope their effort reflects that.

LINEUP...

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

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

Bryzgalov

Eakins hinted the D pairings could be switched up, so I'd guess we'll see Ference back with J.Schultz, and N.Schultz move to the right side with Fraser, or possibly have Potter come in for N.Schultz.

I'm surprised Scrivens isn't getting the start. He has a .960 SV% over the past two games, and this is an important game for the team. Why not let Scrivens play tonight? I see him being part of the future much more than I do Bryzgalov so I'd have went with Scrivens and see how he and his teammates responded.

QUICK HITS...

  • Up front the Gagner line needs to find the game they had in Vancouver, because since then they've really struggled. When Perron and Yakupov play greasy they play better. They seem to be at their best when they are emotionally invested in the game.
     
  • The Sabres won four of their first 20 games and scored 1.65 goals/game and allowed 3.15 goals/game before hiring Ted Nolan. Since taking over, Nolan has won 11 of 34 games and their offence and defence has improved a bit up to to 1.94goals/game and down to 2.76 goals/game.

    The special teams pre-Nolan were: 13.5% for PP and 81.1% for PK.
    Special teams with Nolan are: 15.3% for PP and 81.3% for the PK.
     
  • Changing coaches has helped the Jets, they are 8-2 under Paul Maurice, while the Sabres' improvement has been marginal. I firmly believe until you have enough good players the coach won't make that much of an impact. If you look closer at the Jets' games under Maurice they won two games where they were dominated in shots by Chicago and Anaheim. As we've seen in Edmonton, changing coaches doesn't help much if your core group is essentially the same.
     
  • Justin Schultz will play his 98th NHL game tonight. He has been forced to play way more minutes than most other young defenders. People should be more patient regarding his progress.
     
  • Gentleman and Ladies of the Nation...Valentine's Day is fast approaching and you can win a Silver Heart Pendant with a Canadian Diamond centre if you tweet @Oilersnation or @ParisJewellers a story of the worst Valentine's Day gift you've ever given or recieved. Good luck.
     
  • I have no problem with people disagreeing with my opinion or views on the game. Debate is great and usually you can take something from the other side. However, I do take issue when people make boldface lies to try and discredit me. Here is what I tweeted out following the Fraser trade on Friday. 

Like I said, I have no problem if people want to state opposing opinions on topics or disagree with my view, but don't make up stuff and flat out lie to try and disparage someone.

It's immature, unprofessional and ignorant. The ironic part is that the person running their twitter should be well-versed in the Internet. If they were, they could have done a quick search of Oilersnation to see what I wrote about Joensuu. I've never written an article about him, nor have I ever claimed he was the answer to the woes of the Oilers. The only full article dedicated to Joensuu was penned by Jonathan Willis, who used to write for C&B. Here is JW's article. Would the nameless twitter person at CB call that "hanging from his nuts?" I doubt it. I don't care if they don't like me, but I will defend myself to blatant lies.

Here are articles where I have mentioned Joensuu.

This one came after opening night. This came during the preseason. Only mention of him is the final bullet point. Here is a GDB where I mention him under "Quick Hits". You'll notice I'm really pumping his tires.

Tweets like the one above makes their site look childish, which is unfair to a writer like Ryan Batty who blogs there. Batty and I have disagreed on many things over the years, but as you see in this article from him, he doesn't resort to name calling or fabricating things. He digs into the question and comes up with a reasonable and well thought out alternative view. I've read much of his stuff over the years, and he brings up good points and shows you can do so without cutting up the other side's viewpoint.

Note to C&B. Do what you want with your twitter, but don't lie. It makes you look foolish and unprofessional.

Lastly in the tweet they mentioned that Omark produces way more than Joenssu. Omark does, but mainly because he gets PP time and Joensuu doesn't.

To date, Omark has had 1,115:50 of TOI while Joensuu has had 987:13.
If you take away Omark's PP minutes their ES icetime is 961 for Joenssu and 934 for Omark. During those ES minutes Joensuu had 18 points and Omark 22. Not much of a difference.

Their point differential comes from PP time. Omark has 10 PP points in just over 181 minutes of PP time, while Joensuu has 1 point in 25 minutes. If you pro-rate Joenssu's PP time to make it equal to Omark's TOI he'd have close to 8 points. So their production to icetime ratio isn't as wide a gap as earlier suggested. It is always more beneficial to do research instead of making up lies to defend your stance.

UPDATE..

It was pointed out to me that I did tweet this out in September. I guess saying it is a stretch Joensuu might be a big, skilled guy to help the top-six is really pumping his tires. Hilarious.

 TONIGHT....

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers must win this game and their top line carries them to a 4-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: With some eastern team's scouts in attendance, Ales Hemsky has a strong game picking up a goal and an assist. 

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Omark and Yakupov drop the mitts in the 2nd period. In a spirited featherweight tilt both land some good blows, but Yakupov surprises everyone and finishes the scrap with a solid right. After the game he says he asked Luke Gazdic for some tips after the Winnipeg game just in case he had to defend himself in the future. It looks like he is a fast learner.

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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#201 Sevenseven
February 04 2014, 06:51AM
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@Oasis

I agree with you. But they have been getting good goaltending of late, and by far the biggest issue besides management is defense. I think mac t has been looking for a legitimate number 1 but what is tge point of brining one in with the worst defense in the nhl? Especially when you got 2 backups on a roll.

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#202 Loweblows
February 04 2014, 06:57AM
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If we aren't playing the swarm or the trap then exactly what system is Eakins teaching now? That had to be probably the most boring NHL game I have ever seen. Oilers look lost and confused.

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#203 Loweblows
February 04 2014, 06:59AM
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Why did we have to win! I was hoping this was the tipping point to get rid of these amateur coaches. Let the gong show continue.

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#204 Rdubb
February 04 2014, 07:10AM
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Gregor, I don't want to "pump up your tires", too much, but I do have to say this: I don't always agree with your position either here on the Nation or on 1260, but I do give you credit as you always try and give your opinion with facts (if possible, and facts are not needed in giving ones opinion either) & with passion, & when I disagree with you, i'll send you a text (hard to really give ones point and facts & such in 160 characters) & if you respond, you'll either say "I agree BUT" or you will go straight into giving me fact to back up your argument, & that's ok... You also stand up for yourself, and ask the difficult questions when interviewing someone, something others @ 1260 do not always do. And the most important thing is that you allow us, the reader/listener you give our opinions in whatever forum we are in, and you hardly ever interrupt unless they are being rude... Do I know you personally, NO. But from what I read and listen to, my opinion is that you are a character person who is an honest person. All a person has is their word and their actions, and if someone brings those into question, one must stand-up for themselves should they find the fight worth while, but, never forget... Good on you Jason. Keep writing good articles and keep rocking at 2pm... Peck

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#205 Blucifer Copperballs
February 04 2014, 07:49AM
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Where is the post game article. We got outplayed by the 30th placed team, ( making us the "worst team" in the league" and still pulled out a win. Where is the article?

i only ask because it's -28C outside and i need the internet hate to keep me warm.

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#206 Oasis
February 04 2014, 08:24AM
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@Sevenseven

I am not saying to go get it now because it's not the time. This will be addressed in the offseason along with some other moves. The problem is, there are too many holes to fill. This is what happens when you inherit a hockey team from an incompetent GM/POHO.

Like I said, play the season out with what you have and then you can make the decision which one to sign and personally I think that will be Scrivens. I don't see them signing both. You could probably get by with Scrivens and another back up for a while but eventually you are going to have to up-grade in goal as you're not going to win the Cup with Scrivens as your #1. He looks like he could buy them some more time to fix some of the other major holes this team has.

Its going to be an interesting summer!

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#207 Fossil
February 04 2014, 08:56AM
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This team will never be successful with the top 6 forwards playing like they do. With all the discussion about our defense, it starts in the offensive zone. Continual turnovers then leaving the defense to deal with odd man rushes would be tough on any team. In this order, Eberle, Hall, Gagner and Hopkins need to sit and learn how NHL players create offense and support the defense. It starts with shooting the puck. Learning that a rebound is a great pass. As a winger, I should be somewhere near the boards. As a center I need to play in all 4 corners. Top level rookies on other teams have adjusted to the NHL within 40 games. Given the play so far this year and how many years they have been playing, I question the hockey IQ of this group.

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#208 Zarny
February 04 2014, 09:04AM
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Fossil wrote:

This team will never be successful with the top 6 forwards playing like they do. With all the discussion about our defense, it starts in the offensive zone. Continual turnovers then leaving the defense to deal with odd man rushes would be tough on any team. In this order, Eberle, Hall, Gagner and Hopkins need to sit and learn how NHL players create offense and support the defense. It starts with shooting the puck. Learning that a rebound is a great pass. As a winger, I should be somewhere near the boards. As a center I need to play in all 4 corners. Top level rookies on other teams have adjusted to the NHL within 40 games. Given the play so far this year and how many years they have been playing, I question the hockey IQ of this group.

No, actually top level rookies on other teams haven't adjusted to the NHL within 40 games.

The difference is those rookies on other teams play with NHL vets who cover their a$$ when they make mistakes.

In Edm, the young players making mistakes are supported by other young players just as likely to make those mistakes.

And just to top it off...half the D covering for all of the F had less than 82 games experience if any at all.

Newbs covering for newbs. What could possibly go wrong?

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#209 Rama Lama
February 04 2014, 09:40AM
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Everyone has heard the definition of stupid........doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Just how many times does Eakins need to trot out five forwards ( or 4 forwards and JS) to realize:

1. They will NEVER shoot the puck. 2. They will invariably turn the puck over for an odd man rush. 3. They are not ready for this new-age experiment at this stage of their career. 4. This is giving the other team the advantage NOT us. 5. This is STUPID STUPID, STUPID.

Eakins is part of the problem.......NOT the solution.

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#210 Dave
February 04 2014, 09:42AM
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Rdubb wrote:

Gregor, I don't want to "pump up your tires", too much, but I do have to say this: I don't always agree with your position either here on the Nation or on 1260, but I do give you credit as you always try and give your opinion with facts (if possible, and facts are not needed in giving ones opinion either) & with passion, & when I disagree with you, i'll send you a text (hard to really give ones point and facts & such in 160 characters) & if you respond, you'll either say "I agree BUT" or you will go straight into giving me fact to back up your argument, & that's ok... You also stand up for yourself, and ask the difficult questions when interviewing someone, something others @ 1260 do not always do. And the most important thing is that you allow us, the reader/listener you give our opinions in whatever forum we are in, and you hardly ever interrupt unless they are being rude... Do I know you personally, NO. But from what I read and listen to, my opinion is that you are a character person who is an honest person. All a person has is their word and their actions, and if someone brings those into question, one must stand-up for themselves should they find the fight worth while, but, never forget... Good on you Jason. Keep writing good articles and keep rocking at 2pm... Peck

I am not sure what prompted your post and I too enjoy his show. He is an excellent interviewer and his coaching 101 sessions are very informative. Perhaps he could have one of those interviews with Eakins so that we could understand the system the coach is attempting to install.

If he has a failing (and who among us doesn't) it is that he does not readily admit when he is wrong.

I wish that Spector was still part of his show. That was my favorite segment.

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#211 james_dean
February 04 2014, 09:51AM
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Dave wrote:

I am not sure what prompted your post and I too enjoy his show. He is an excellent interviewer and his coaching 101 sessions are very informative. Perhaps he could have one of those interviews with Eakins so that we could understand the system the coach is attempting to install.

If he has a failing (and who among us doesn't) it is that he does not readily admit when he is wrong.

I wish that Spector was still part of his show. That was my favorite segment.

When tsn dropped spector they messed up big time.

even maclean doesnt come cloee

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#212 tileguy
February 04 2014, 09:53AM
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We have seen so many bizzare line combinations this year might I suggest a couple more.

Lets put some beef(chicken) on each line, perhaps Hendricks on the first, Gordon on the second, Gadzic on the third. Might make the small guys play a little bigger knowing somebody has there backside.

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#213 Sevenseven
February 04 2014, 09:54AM
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@Oasis

Well said. I sure hope this is an interesting summer.

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#214 Zamboni Driver
February 04 2014, 10:17AM
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*In the style of Denis Lemieux, All star-Goalie of the Chiefs, and who told Detroit Bool-sheet*

"Defence" 'appen in between time I get to skate real fast and pass it to my best frien'. Then he pass it back. And we lose puck. Then do 'defence' again.

~ "Ebs" and "Hallsie", "Yak" and "Gags"

Also we have the worst nick-name team in the history of the world.

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#215 pkam
February 04 2014, 10:24AM
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Rama Lama wrote:

Everyone has heard the definition of stupid........doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Just how many times does Eakins need to trot out five forwards ( or 4 forwards and JS) to realize:

1. They will NEVER shoot the puck. 2. They will invariably turn the puck over for an odd man rush. 3. They are not ready for this new-age experiment at this stage of their career. 4. This is giving the other team the advantage NOT us. 5. This is STUPID STUPID, STUPID.

Eakins is part of the problem.......NOT the solution.

That is not the definition of stupid, that is the definition of insanity.

Now perhaps you can explain how 5 forwards or 4 forward and JS has to do with the following or how can 3 forwards and 2 defenses will make any difference?

1. Are you suggesting they will shoot the puck if Eakins put 3 forwards and 2 defense in our PP?

2. Are you suggesting they will stop turning the puck over for an odd man rush if Eakins put 3 forwards and 2 defense in our PP?

3. Our PP at home is ranked 5th at over 23%. The problem is our PP on the road is 28th at 11%. If it is like you said that they are not ready for this new-age experiment, how do you explain the 23.3% home PP%?

4. If the players turn over the puck, it is giving the other team the advantage, whether it is SH, ES, or PP, and it doesn't matter how many forwards or defense in our PP unit, does it?

5. Not sure what is STUPID?

Did you mean Eakins coaches the players not to shoot and turn over the puck, or don't play the PP at 23.3% on the road?

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#216 hankthetank
February 04 2014, 10:26AM
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tileguy wrote:

We have seen so many bizzare line combinations this year might I suggest a couple more.

Lets put some beef(chicken) on each line, perhaps Hendricks on the first, Gordon on the second, Gadzic on the third. Might make the small guys play a little bigger knowing somebody has there backside.

This all day.

Let's blow up the lines completely for a few games before we start doing call ups.

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#217 Manfly
February 04 2014, 10:28AM
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Dave wrote:

I am not sure what prompted your post and I too enjoy his show. He is an excellent interviewer and his coaching 101 sessions are very informative. Perhaps he could have one of those interviews with Eakins so that we could understand the system the coach is attempting to install.

If he has a failing (and who among us doesn't) it is that he does not readily admit when he is wrong.

I wish that Spector was still part of his show. That was my favorite segment.

someone correct me if i'm wrong, but didn't Spector *choose* to stay with Sportsnet and not move to TSN when 1260 became a part of that company?

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#218 dave
February 04 2014, 12:47PM
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At least Gregor doesn't ask 10 minute questions just to trot out his pet theory of the day unlike the former host.

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#219 Serious Gord
February 04 2014, 02:20PM
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Manfly wrote:

someone correct me if i'm wrong, but didn't Spector *choose* to stay with Sportsnet and not move to TSN when 1260 became a part of that company?

As I understand it, yes - it was spec's choice. And it was the right one from where I sit - the NHL in Canada is going to be a Rogers dominated media product for a long time to come.

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