GDB 70.0: THE HOME STRETCH

Jason Gregor
March 18 2014 01:42PM

20130220-112235

Ten of the Oilers final 13 games are at home. If the Oilers were in the playoff hunt this would be a great schedule, but sadly that isn't the case. The Oilers are playing for pride, contracts and a roster spot in the NHL next season. The play the Predators, Sabres and Flames this week, but then they get a steady stream of the playoff teams in the Sharks, Ducks, Rangers, Ducks, Avalanche and Kings. They need to pick up some wins this week.

The Predators are sandwiched between four non-playoff western Canadian teams. The Preds are 12th in the west with 68 points, 7 and 11 points ahead of the Flames and Oilers and 3 and 4 points back of the Jets and Canucks.

The Preds have two games in hand on the Jets and three on the Canucks. If they win two of three we could see western Canada dominating the basement of the west division. I'm sure I'm not the only one who longs for the Smythe division when three Canadian teams had 100+ points.

LINEUP

Hall-Gagner-Perron

Yakupov-RNH-Eberle

Hendricks-Gordon-Lander

Gazdic-Smyth-Jones

Ference-Schultz

Marincin-Petry

Fraser-Klefbom

Fasth

Jesse Joensuu is done for the season. Eakins said he is out for about four weeks with a high ankle sprain. Joensuu has one year left on his contract, but I don't see him as anything more than a 13th or 14th forward next year.

If you are going to be a #6/7 veteran D-man I think you have to be comfortable playing both sides. Fraser is the veteran, but the rookie Klefbom is the one who has to play the right side. That is a concern for me.

Hall has worked hard at creating more back pressure the past ten games. He has forced more turnovers by using his speed, and then transitioning the play back up ice. He has also spent more time working on his one-timer in practice lately. "That is something you can never practice too much on. You have to be comfortable getting pucks in awkward spots, but still be able to one-time it. Also you work on different angles and release points. They are a huge part of the game and they can get you an extra three or four goals a year," said Hall.

Hall is the heart and soul of this team. He will be the guy who leads them out of the losing streak in the future, and will likely be the guy who challenges his teammates to improve, mainly by how hard he works on every aspect of his game. He isn't perfect, but he's the best player they have by a large margin.

QUICK HITS

  • I've went back and compared many parts of last year's PP to this year and I see four major differences.

    1. Eakins switches his PP combinations up too much. Last year they had two units and stuck with them the majority of the time, except for injuries.
    2. The 2nd unit was very productive. Nail Yakupov and Ales Hemsky led the team with 5 PP goals, while Gagner had 15 PP points. The 2nd unit will often face the 2nd PK unit, and you need to take advantage of that match up.
    3. Justin Schultz was shooting the puck way more. His refusal to take a slap shot hurts a lot, but at least last year he was shooting wrist and snap shots. In 48 games he had 29 shots, but this year he only has 24 shots in 61 games. He had 15 points last year, but he only has 9 this year. He needs to shoot the puck, and his teammates have been encouraging him to shoot more.
    4. They miss Horcoff's puck retrieval ability. They haven't been great at getting rebounds or winning battles for loose pucks in the corners. Hall agreed. "For a lot of this year we haven't been very good at getting pucks back, whether when it is dumped in or after a shot. When you have the man advantage you have to out number their players every where on the ice."
  • Hall added, "We aren't getting a lot of goals on the PP, but if you watch we are getting more set up time and now it's about making the right decision when we get the puck." We'll see if the PP improves in the final 13 games.

  • The Oilers PP has been great at home, 22%, but awful on the road, 10.3%. Some will suggest it shouldn't matter where the game is played, but it seems to matter in the NHL. Last season, 26 of the 30 teams had a better PP% at home than they did on the road. In 2012, 18 teams were better at home, in 2011 and 2010 21 teams were better at home. 

  • The better question is why are the Oilers so bad on the road this year. Last year ,the Oilers were 21.2% at home and 19% on the road. So they've basically been the same at home this year, slight improvement, but they are 8.7% worse on the road. You could look at two great games in Calgary and Chicago, combining 6-for-9, as changing their stats last year, but there has to be more than that. The Oilers PP needs to improve, and if they can get a consistent point shot that would help. It would also be nice if Eakins stuck with two units for an extended period of time.

  • If we see a 4-on-4 situation tonight there is a good chance we'll see a goal. The Oilers lead the NHL with 12 goals scored, but they've also given up the most, 10. Last year they didn't score once at 4-on-4 and gave up five. I have no idea why they scoring more at 4-on-4, but with all the PP struggles, the Oilers might be better off taking a penalty and playing 4-on-4.

  • I've noticed many people comparing the Avs young forwards to the Oilers young forwards. I'm sorry but the Colorado has the advantage today. The Avs centres are Duchene, Stastny and MacKinnon. They also have Ryan O'Reilly who is an excellent two-way forward. The Avs have massive advantage down the middle and they have some very good two-way players. They also have five 20-goal scorers. They have a better mixture of skill, size, experience and two-way forwards than the Oilers do. Not to mention their blueline is better and their goaltending was much better in the first 50 games.

  • I am very proud to announce we have started The Gregor Foundation. Our first project is to gather suits for graduating students who can't afford them or young men looking to get back into the workplace. Read here for more info, and thanks in advance to those who donate suits.

TONIGHT...

Dancers_Tandra_2010Bio

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers win their 13th home game of the season. It's true they've only won 12 home games thus far. They send the fans home happy with a 5-3 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers go 1-5 on the PP and continue to baffle everyone with their successful home PP , but woeful on the road.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: In the second period, Seth Jones gets whistled for a tripping penalty. After the whistle Matt Hendricks skates over and slashed him. Both go to the box. The Oilers score on the ensuing 4-on-4 situation. The Predators take a penalty four minutes later, and when no Oilers takes a penalty the fans boo. They'd rather watch 4-on-4 hockey.

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 Rod from Viking
March 18 2014, 10:57PM
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** wrote:

Geno is starting to look like the girl from Flashdance with that hair. Not nearly as sexy though.

I think he is trying to look like Kenny Powers from Eastbound and Down, needs to get going on the goatee.

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#102 Rod from Viking
March 18 2014, 11:00PM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

"Trade Yak, Fire Eakins, Trade Eberle, Trade Petry, Get rid of the old boys club, the club is getting worse, there has been zero progress"

!

*crickets*

Still have to get rid of Gagner. Poor boy has no ability to beat people, puck dies on his stick, loses players, shies away from anything resembling a check (not a hit, a check), loses most battles.

Positives. Marincin. Klefbom. Petry. Schultz. Lander.

Positives. Marincin. Klefbom. Petry. Schultz. Lander.+ Fasth

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#103 **
March 18 2014, 02:06PM
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The Oilers are actually 12th in total pp chances. In other words, they are getting a smaller piece of a larger pie than they were last season. Last season they were 9th in pp chances and 8th in efficiency.

The season before they were 3rd overall in efficiency while being 19th in pp chances. Kind of the opposite of what it is now. This season they are getting roughly the same chances both on the road and at home.

The pp this year is decidedly far less effective this year than it was the previous 2.

I have the Oilers winning 4-6 of their last 13 games, this one they can win. Go Oilers!

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#104 Dog Train
March 18 2014, 02:44PM
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The fans deserve a good stretch of home performances to end the season. It gets decidedly tougher after this week so hopefully we can string together a winning streak. I've been considering Fraser as a 7th D next year but I have to question it a bit if Klefbom is being forced to his off-side in only his 5th NHL game.

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#105 Cody anderson
March 18 2014, 03:36PM
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Everyone wants a stud Dman for next year. I am wondering where they are going to put him.

With the added weight and experience Nurse is likely on the team next year. Marcinin and Klefbom have both shown well. That means unless they are trading one of our D our depth is going to look like this next year without adding anyone new.

Nurse - Schultz Marcinin - Petry Klefbom - Ference

I cannot see them keeping any of the young guys up as a 7th Dman and stunting their development

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#106 Wonger
March 18 2014, 04:00PM
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Benny Botts wrote:

Get this kind of $H!T out of here. You want to argue hockey...perfect, argue till you're blue in the face. But stop trying to be an internet tough guy, it is embarrassing.

Quit whining you little baby! I am as enTITled to m opinion like you! Take your tantrum somewhere else child!

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#107 John
March 18 2014, 04:02PM
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Any Oilers likely to be on a squad for the World Championships in Belarus? If healthy, it would seem to somewhat productively fill a void for young Oilers who have yet to see a playoff game.

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#108 Brian
March 18 2014, 09:27PM
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vetinari wrote:

Gene should be sent to the pun-itentiary, to be pun-ished....

Would have been better if you said " pen-ished".

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dougtheslug wrote:

The reasoning is that "a penalty is a penalty". Otherwise a major penalty or something egregious could possibly go unpunished.

The rule is that only one goal can be awarded on any stoppage of play. Don't know why. That's the rule (78.6)

Ok that makes sense. I guess it prevents players from taking liberties if they know it won't count. Thanks

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#110 A Rye Morning
March 19 2014, 12:26AM
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I hate getting PINED down. FIR f@#! sakes, we need to SPRUCE up the d zone play

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#111 merfer
March 19 2014, 09:09AM
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Interesting how Eberle and RNH play when they don't have to cover for Yak. Lander looked good on their wing and seems to be a good fit. I'd like to see a few more games with them together.

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#112 A-Mc
March 18 2014, 01:59PM
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4 on 4! DO IT

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#113 **
March 18 2014, 03:20PM
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The New Improved G bear wrote:

You are feared by no one - certainly not by me! Oilers will be lucky to win 2 of their last 13 games! Book it!

Oh staph it!, they say imitation is the highest form of flattery, I'm so touched you want to take on my former nickname. Good for you young buck, good for you.

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#114 Spydyr
March 18 2014, 04:16PM
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John wrote:

Any Oilers likely to be on a squad for the World Championships in Belarus? If healthy, it would seem to somewhat productively fill a void for young Oilers who have yet to see a playoff game.

Anyone invited should go play for any nation it should only help the team in the long run.

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#115 **
March 18 2014, 04:17PM
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Cody anderson wrote:

I don't think Subban didn't play because of the side he plays. He is a risk reward player, and that D was strong enough without having to take a risk player.

It would have been like adding Hall to the team. Sure offensively he belongs there, he is fast, fearless, and would have been fun to watch on the big ice. The problem, and the reason Hall did not belong on that team, is they had enough strong 2 way players there, that what they lost in the extra offense both would have added to the team they gained back by the reduced turnovers and risk management of having safer 2 way players.

I don't think Subban and Hall are in the same category, not now anyways. Subban was the best d man in the league just last season. Subban could have played ahead of Hamhius, but that would put him in his off side. Babcok decided against that. Not that that was the only reason, you're right, Subban is a chaos player like Karlsson in Ottawa, but it was definitively factored into the decision to play him.

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#116 **
March 18 2014, 11:48PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

I think he is trying to look like Kenny Powers from Eastbound and Down, needs to get going on the goatee.

the douchebaggery is definitively there.

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#117 drunken_Master
March 18 2014, 09:17PM
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Is yakupov injured?

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#118 kale
March 18 2014, 09:41PM
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Brian wrote:

Would have been better if you said " pen-ished".

lol Gene the pun-gent, not really he is okay, some of it is old but the kids probably like it

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#119 Kobayashi Maru
March 18 2014, 09:43PM
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Oilers can't win

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#120 BobbyCanuck
March 18 2014, 05:04PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Great memories for us old guys at least. Those were the days, my friend We thought they'd never end

I wish the Oilers could play like they were from the 5th DIimension

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#121 Fish
March 18 2014, 07:45PM
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@Jason Gregor

Honestly Jason, I think Klefbom playing the right side has less to do with Fraser and is more about the draft. I think the organization sees Marincine, Klef, and Nurse all on the left side and is looking at Ekblad for the right side. I think if Klefbom fits nicely on the right side, it helps bring more balance to the RD/LD down the road and allows us a little more freedom to choose a center this summer. That the way I read it at least.

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#122 Bonvie
March 18 2014, 09:06PM
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No penalty for Fraser!!

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Can someone explain the penalty on Fraser? Why did it still count. If Nashville scored a goal during that same time, would it have counted?

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#124 Anton (still waiting for playoffs)
March 18 2014, 09:22PM
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drunken_Master wrote:

Is yakupov injured?

Yeah, he is. However it is not a serious one.

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dougtheslug wrote:

Rule 78.6. Penalty is assessed in the usual fashion even though the goal is allowed

If Nashville had scored it would not have counted. (covered under same rule). However, if Nashville had scored, the penalty would still have been assessed on Fraser. If Nashville had taken a penalty, on the other hand, it would not have been assessed (because the Oilers goal would have counted )(rules 16.2 and 18.2, considered the same as scoring on a delayed penalty)

Clear enough?

What's the reasoning for calling the penalty anyways but not a goal? Shouldn't the play be technical dead after Hall's goal so anything that happens after that shouldn't count?

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