March 14 2014 01:01PM
After tasting a tough dose of reality in St.Louis last night, the Oilers will try to avoid getting murdered in Detroit tonight. The Red Wings aren't the dominant force we've been used to seeing for the past two decades. Without Nick Lidstrom their D isn't as good, and Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk won't be in the lineup together for the 6th straight game. The Wings are 1-3-1 with their two offensive leaders in the pressbox.
The Oilers have lost seven straight games in Detroit, their last victory was December 3rd, 2009, and they've only scored six goals during the last six visits. However, tonight's version of the Red Wings is not nearly as talented as team's of the past.
The Red Wings have been injured all season. Only Pittsburgh has suffered more man-games lost to injury, but the Red Wings have been without more of their key players:
Datsyuk has missed 26 games
Zetterberg has sat out 20.
Johan Franzen has missed 27.
Darren Helm has missed 36.
Stephen Weiss has sat out 39.
Only four Red Wings have played in 60+ of their 65 games. Drew Miller, Kyle Quincey have played all 65, Niklas Kronwall has dressed for 63 and Justin Abdelkader has skated in 60. The Wings are only two points out of the playoffs. which is outstanding when you factor in their injuries, so the Oilers better be ready to compete.
Everyone should have expected the Oilers to lose in St.Louis last night. The Blues were 41 points ahead of them in the standings, and the third period showed how far away the Oilers are from competing with the elite teams.
Detroit is no longer an elite team and the Oilers shouldn't be over matched physically tonight. Every game is difficult when you are in 29th place, but this is not a game where we should expect them to be dominated like last night.
The Oilers won't skate this morning, but Viktor Fasth will get the start in goal. Anton Lander is with the team and I see no reason why he shouldn't draw in tonight. I'd love to see him in an offensive role, but at the very least slide him into the 4th line centre spot and move Smyth to the wing. If he doesn't play then we likely will see the same lineup as last night.
**Update...Lander will draw in for Gagner. Gagner will rest his ankle.**
The NHL GM meetings wrapped up this week, and it sounds like they are very interested in having teams switch ends in OT next year with the hope it leads to more scoring and fewer games decided by a SO. I looked up the stats for goals by period to see how much of a difference there was. I tweeted out the numbers and noticed the 2nd and 3rd periods weren't much different. However, I hadn't included empty net goals in my original tweet, and when you factor them in there is a significant difference in goal scoring during the middle frame.
Here is the break down of goals by period including last night's games.
1st period-- 1529
2nd period-- 1870
3rd period-- 1643 (There was also 190 EN goals for a total of 1833)
I quickly looked at the last two seasons as well.
2013 (48 games)
1st period-- 1125
2nd period-- 1332
3rd period-- 1162 (There was also 138 EN goals for a total of 1300)
2012 (82 games)
1st period-- 1924
2nd period-- 2254
3rd period-- 2010 (There was also 238 EN goals for a total of 2248)
The long change definitely impacts goal scoring, so making that switch in OT should lead to more goals.
But why stop there?
Why not look at making the 1st and 3rd periods the long change? You wouldn't be changing the dimensions of the ice, player equipment or a rule. If the NHL is serious about increasing scoring, why not try it?
- The Oilers are one of only six teams who score more in the first period than they do in the second.
TEAM 1ST period goals 2nd period goals Columbus 63 56 Ottawa 62 56 Detroit 59 55 Los Angeles 52 41 Edmonton 51 49 Minnesota 49 46
- The Kings, Wild, Blue Jackets and Oilers continue to buck the scoring trend and tally more goals in the 3rd period than they do in the 2nd period. (I only counted teams who had more 3rd period goals not including EN goals)
TEAM 2nd period goals 3rd period goals Boston 65 72 Columbus 56 62 Calgary 53 56 New Jersey 51 54 Florida 49 63 Edmonton 49 54 Minnesota 46 53 Los Angeles 41 52
- I will have to look deeper, but I wonder if the reason the Oilers aren't scoring as much as other teams in the 2nd period, where more goals are scored, is due to an ineffective transition game. The Oilers D-men don't move the puck up as well as other teams, and often the forwards put too much of a gap between themselves and the D-men, thus limiting the ability to make good outlet passes.
- Some of you might be wondering if it is the system. I looked at least season and the Oilers were one of only four teams -- Pittsburgh, Calgary, Nashville were the others -- who scored more goals in the 1st and 3rd than they did in the 2nd. I'd have to look at many factors to try and figure out why over past two seasons the Oilers haven't been able to take advantage of the long change and score more goals.
- In 2012, the Oilers scored more in the middle frame, 59-84-55, and their most used seven defenders were: Smid, Petry, Potter, Gilbert, Whitney, Peckham and Sutton. That was an overall better group of puck movers, especially with Whitney and Gilbert, than today and might be a reason why they produced more offence in the 2nd period. In fact, during every season since the 2005 lockout the Oilers have scored more goals in the 2nd period than they did in the first, and only once did they score more in the 3rd than the 2nd frame.
- I'm curious if you have any other theories on why over the past two seasons the Oilers haven't been as productive in the second frame, when goals are "easier" to come by.
- I wonder if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is fatigued? He wasn't able to train as hard as he would have liked last summer, due to his shoulder surgery. He's not a very thick guy, so I wonder if he is worn down. This off-season will be very important for him. He'll need to add muscle and strength.
- There are many issues with the Oilers PP, but a glaring one is that they have 0 goals from defencemen. Last year Justin Schultz had 4 PP goals, but over the past two seasons he is the only blueliner to score with the man advantage. Oilers D-men have spent 504:22 seconds on the PP this year and they don't have a goal. That is brutal. You can't illustrate any better how much they lack a legitimate shooter from the point.
Schultz scored four times with 153 PP minutes last year, but in 208 minutes this year he has no goals. Their zone entries and puck movement has been terrible lately, but it was unrealistic to expect them to be as good as they were last year. Last year, the Oilers had a ridiculous 16.86 SH% on the PP. This year they are at 11.31 (19th). New Jersey has the best PP SH% at 15.28, so there was virtually no chance the Oilers PP would be as good, but it shouldn't be this bad. Teams have taken away the down low pass and the players refuse to adapt. Teams know they won't shoot from up top, so they don't respect the shot and they keep their PK guys packed in tight. You'd think Eakins would look at trying Klefbom or Marincin at this point. It's not like the PP can get much worse.
Schultz needs to learn to shoot more, or the Oilers have to find a D-man with a heavy shot.
Here is how the Oilers compare to the rest of the NHL in goals and PP goals by D-men.
- The Oilers are 30th in PP goals and 28th in ES goals by D-men.
- Finally, please stop suggesting the Oilers lose on purpose to get a better draft pick. Do you expect the coach to tell Scrivens and Fasth, who are both want to make a good impression and want the starter's job next year, to let in a soft goal if the game is close? I'm sorry, but asking a team to tank on purpose comes from people with a loser mentality. The Oilers have mastered the art of losing, sadly, but it hasn't happened because they tried to lose, it has happened because they aren't that good.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: In the second game of back-to-back sets the Oilers are 1-1-2 when they win the first game and 1-4-1 when they lose the first one. I see that trend continuing with a 4-3 loss.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers don't get a PP goal from a D-man.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have been out shot 43 times this year, 4th most in the NHL, but tonight they will shock the Wings and out shoot a team for the first time since January 24th, a span of 15 games. The Maple Leafs have been out shot in 55 of their 68 games, but their longest streak of not out shooting an opponent was only 13 games.
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