Mighty Oil need quality scoring chances

The Oilers have the day off before getting back on the ice to prepare for the New York Rangers. I wonder what they will do on their off day.

Maybe they should go to the gun range and take shooting practice, because the Oilers either can’t shoot straight or won’t shoot. They have out-shot the opposition a grand total of ONE time in their first 15 games, and that was the first game of the year v. the Flames.

Since then, they have tied in shots twice; 28 apiece in a SO loss to Calgary and 32 a side in a 6-4 win over Columbus. In the other 12 games they have been out-shot and out-chanced significantly. They’ve averaged 23.5 shots while surrendering 35.6 shots a game in those 12 games.

Do they really expect to win when they give up 12 more shots a game?

Shots don’t always reflect how many quality scoring chances a team generates, but the fact is the Oilers don’t generate lots of quality chances, and lately they don’t get garbage goals either.

You have to earn your breaks in the NHL, and the Oilers aren’t doing that.

The defencemen haven’t been able to consistently get shots through from the point. Did you see Brendan Witt’s two goals last night? They weren’t Sourayesque by any stretch. He just put them on net and got lucky.

And the Oiler forwards aren’t winning any battles down low. They haven’t been making smart dump-ins either. They dump the puck when no one is on the forecheck, and it results in an easy turnover for the opposition. Right now the Oilers offensive problems are more because of a lack of brains rather than effort.

Insanity

How many times does Robert Nilsson have to make a blind back pass to the opposition before he realizes that it’s a low percentage play? Nilsson is now a team worst -9, with one empty-net goal in ten games. He doesn’t play physically, he doesn’t score and he doesn’t want to make the smart play. He isn’t a puppy — being cute won’t warm the hearts of his coaches or the fans.

He just doesn’t seem to understand what he needs to do to contribute in the NHL. If his high-risk plays were working and he was producing, the coaches would still cringe, but they would see results. The fact is he isn’t producing and his cute passes aren’t working.

I think we saw the end of Nilsson last night in Long Island.

Mike Comrie will return to the lineup on Thursday, and barring another flu attack or multiple injuries I don’t see how or why Pat Quinn would put Nilsson back in the lineup.

Staios improving

Steve Staios could play as early as Thursday v. the Rangers, and that’s why Theo Peckham was reassigned to Springfield. Staios has long been a whipping boy for many of you in the Nation, but I’m guessing you’re begging for his return now. He isn’t the best passer, but he competes harder than most of their current blueliners, and his grit, determination and willingness to do anything to win will be a welcome return to the backend.

He won’t help the offensive woes of the Oilers, but he should give them a bit more fight shift-to-shift.

With a woeful 1-5 record on the road, and five of their next six on the road, the Oilers have to find some chemistry quickly, or once again they will find themselves in chase mode in the playoff picture.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Not sure that the KHL or SEL is as physical as north american hockey. If anyone I give MPS the edge, he is doing quite well in his league and has more size.

  • Offthebandwagon

    This year`s start closely mirrors last year`s in many ways. After 15 games, the win percentage is much the same.
    The only real changes have been in some of the line-ups and the approach Quinn has taken to line management–that`s why I found the reuniting of the kid line and the Hemmer-Horc-Penner line disconcerting. It seemed like Quinn was abandoning some of the strategical approach he brought into the season.
    As for the off-season movement, I think there must be a three-year plan in place here or something. Allow some of these contracts to expire, resign the key youth (I would say Gagner and Brulet at this point), and develop Eberle and Svenson. Unless we all want to be Leafs fans, patience is a virtue.

  • There was no urgency in their game until the last few minutes; not good enough to win in any sport let alone make a two goal comeback. Quinn's presser last night was classic, he layed it out there. Even some good pokes at Wanye's goat.

    You hit the nail on the head, Jason. None of the point or slot shots get through to the net. No slappers or even wristers. Brutal and hard to watch. No wonder the shot totals are so low in every game. Reminds me very much of last year.

    *shudder*

  • Bar Qu

    Isn't the problem that the team is giving up sooooo many shots? Not that they are not getting enough shots? I mean, you can still outshoot another team with 20 shots, if you limit them to 17. Right?

    Calling for more offense on this team is the equivalent of chasing big name superstars in the off-season and ignoring low-priced quality UFAs who might really help the team. It is simply a strategy that doesn't work and ignores the real problems of the Oil.

    But, that's just my opinion.

    • Jmask5

      Even when we were scoring we had an unsustainable shooting percentage. Recently it has caught up to us and we've been getting out-shot out-chanced and putting up zeroes. Your not going to allow less then 20 shots per a game. Not in this league.

      • Bar Qu

        Jmask please meet point. Point jmask.

        You play better defensive hockey then you do not have to worry as much about having a 4 goal night to beat the opposition. Yeah, 2-1 wins aren't as 'exciting' as 6-5 shoot-outs, but some teams have done very well with that for a long time.

        (NJ, MN among others)

        • Jmask5

          Sorry, I'm not following you here. You think the Oilers should win games 2-1 because Minny and New Jersey have had success doing that?? Are you high by any chance? First of all that style hasn't done crap since the lockout. Look at the teams that have won the Cup recently, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, Carolina. All those team could score goals in bunches and took shots in bunches and had both good defense and offense. Being a one dimensional team won't get you anywhere.

          • Bar Qu

            No, that is not my point. Again, I think rather than calling for more scoring, we should be calling for more defensive responsibility (either through trades or waiving irresponsible players) from the team. You want the Oil to high fly like Crosby & Malkin or Zetterberg & Datsyuk? Tell me where those players are on this roster? Or how we get them for Nilsson.
            Seems to me the only chance for success is to see some of the poorer players (non-2-way players) let go or traded for pucks and pick up some low-cost, quality help.

  • Jmask5

    The Good news is next year we have 3 guys, (Eberle, MPS, Omark) who could replace some of the slackers on this team. Let's just say that it won't be that difficult for them to crack the lineup. All they have to do is be able to shoot a puck towards the net and they automatically are better then 90% of the players on this team.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      I don't see Eberle and Omark helping this team. The problem we had is too many small guys that play to small, adding two more isn't going to help us anytime soon. Do any of those three play 2-way hockey? Because that is another major problem that we have from most our skilled forwards.

      • Jmask5

        Well not this team. Next year's team. Pretty much every small guy on this team with the exception of Gagner needs to go. Then we can bring in some bigger players somehow and add one of those players to complement the team.

        • Offthebandwagon

          I don`t see Omark ever helping this team. He`s too small, unless we suddenly aquire a whole team of bigger, stronger play-makers to make space for him. I think next year Svenson and Eberle will have a decent shot if they both develop as they should. Eberle could have almost made it this year if there was space for him.

        • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

          So we have Gagner, O'Sullivan, Cogliano, Comrie and Brule(who I don't consider small, because he plays bigger.) Eberle and Omark might be better then Comrie next year, but even that is a stretch. Eberle and Omark need a year of AHL to play with men, so that they can use to it otherwise we are going to end up with more Gagner and Coglianos that get thrown around their first few years in the NHL. Just don't think we should even be thinking of those guys making the NHL next year.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    In addition to the lack of offense, the turnovers in our end are just killing us. Maybe Huddy is the coach we should have kept from the MacT era and not Bucky. Huddy turned Gilbert and Grebeshkov into the puck moving defensemen we saw last year, and look at them now. I was expecting Grebber to lead the OIL in +/- this year after finishing +12 last year and yet only 15 games in he's already at -8.

    • Really? I think Huddy was one that really needed to go. Our D is always touted as a strength but Quinn doesn't think so. In several pressers he has talked about our D not playing properly. They always want to carry the puck instead of making the quick outlet pass. They did learn that from somewhere.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        Add to it that they don't know where to be and what to do with their sticks when they don't have the puck and I think we can see where part of the problem is. Everyone thought that Souray, Lubo, Gilbert and Grebs would be fine in the top 4, but how the hell can you expect 4 offesnive d-men to handle the pressure of the course of a year? Said a long time ago, that one of those 4 need to be moved.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    I dont think Quinn will deal with another month of this crap! I can't believe Mac T dealt with this garbage for 2 years. If anyone says it's too early to jump on them then maybe you didnt watch one game last year. I was not blinded by the 6-2-1 record (actually maybe a little bit) because we still got out played and the last 5 losses gave me that cringe/rip my F&^%king eys out feeling that I had last year. Why is it when one player steps it up a notch (Penner), we have to have a player blow jock straps in return? (Gilbert). I'm not suggesting we blow up the whole team and trade them all, or strip the C off of Moreau like some stupid ideas that have been tossed out there, I'm suggesting we should………………… maybe there not stupid after all. Thats my rant for the year!

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      It's a little early yet, but if the team is in the 10/11/12 spot (and more importantly playing like they have been the past 2 weeks) around the TDD, then it's probably time to blow it up and go full rebuild.

        • too late? Is there something in the CBA about that? What do you mean, too late?

          An old Chinese woman once told me, "the best time to plant a tree? twenty-five years ago. The second best time? today."

          I think what she means is that we should have done a complete overhaul in 2007, but she thinks we could still do one now. She really likes some of the prospects coming down the pipe.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            I just don't see the point of a complete blow up when we have so many young players. Sure try move Horcoff, Lubo, Visnovsky, but outside of those 3 who are impact guys that are over 30? Sure as hell not Moreau and Pisani, who get you very little in return. Staios is somewhat of an impact, but is easily replaceable if need be. Don't see us moving Bulin.

            Give our young core guys of Gagner, Hemsky, Penner, Cogliano, Gilbert, Grebshkov, JDD, O'Sullivan etc… 3 years and I bet the team is a solid playoff team. Of course we will need to move some pieces here and there, but a complete rebuild isn't needed at this point.

          • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

            common sense and a few long term, big money deals to some veteran players says it is too late for a full rebuild.

            now, the oilers have missed the playoffs 3 years in a row. Is a 4th,5th and maybe 6th year a viable option? Probably not.

            too late? Yup

          • That's not common sense. If you believe that the current group of players won't give you success, it's not a good business decision to spend more time and money moving ahead with those players. You would be chasing a bad decision with another bad decision. If you believe that the current model doesn't work, it's never to late to start over. We saw this summer that no contract is un-moveable (Gomez).

            That said, I don't think we need a complete rebuild. The Oilers (and their fans) have undervalued role players in the past few years. No one was worried when whe got rid of guys like reasoner, stoll, smith, Greene and Torres until they saw the roles those guys filled after they were gone. These guys are cheap, but important to any team.

            We have too many coglianos, nillssons and osullivans, and not enough stones. What I mean are crusty guys like him. It wouldn't hurt if they cpiod win faceoffs either!

            this is a kind of fix that could be addressed with 1 or 2 small moves. It doesn't require a rebuild IMO.

          • Maybe I was too hasty when I said OBJ was a shadow of the old man. I'm with him on this issue. trading Hemmer now when he has a decent contract and he is still young enough to be of assistance a couple of years down the line in rebuild mode would be a mistake.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            I'd prefer to keep Hemmer as he is what 26? He'd be pretty close to his prime by the time the rebuild would be complete. Not sure why we can't continue how we are right now.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            Ya I'd hesistate on moving him, but if the return was suffecient (say similar to the TO package for Kessel from a bottom feeder). I'd field offers.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            If that package can drastically change by year end, what happens if Toronto ends up out of the Top 10, then it may not look as good of a trade.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            Can't see Horc going anywhere, but I don't think you'd have too much trouble convincing Lubo/Souray to go somewhere warm where they can win.

  • Jmask5

    This has been a frustrating start to the season. Last night the Oilers finally got a lucky goal and guess what? The Islanders get two. Maybe I'm blind or something but this team is pretty much the same team that we had last year. Sure Penner and Smid are playing great but that's just natural progression. I think for Penner it has more to do with almost getting traded and actually working out in the offseason more than the fact that MacT isn't the coach. I have not seen the Pat Quinn effect yet.

    If this continues a lot of people are going to look stupid for blaming it all on MacT. Maybe it was time for a change but the coaching staff shouldn't have been the only one. This team is wrong in so many places and if things keep going like this we might have to start rebuilding again. Guys that we thought will lead us to a new future are not looking so good right now i.e. Cogs, Nilsson, Gilbert. Gagner is the only one who has a bright future in my mind. So much for the optimism after 2007-2008.

    • Coaching is overated. Let's not forget who aquired the majority of these players and signed them to their present contracts. Horcoff's contract alone seriously compromises the Oilers effectiveness for years to come. Let's put the blame where it should be.

  • Milli

    I too hope for Nilson to be gone and Staois to be back in. We need some crust, we need to start to drive the net, where is that team that played the first few games gone? Any word on Stone? Any word on Horc?

  • Offthebandwagon

    I hope its the last we see of Nilson, or at least the last we see of the so-called kid-line. They were brutal last night. I thought Quinn was into balanced line-ups. To me it seemed like a hail-mary attempt to generate offence that backfired miserably.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Well the flu excuse is just about done, but now maybe Horcoff is out? And while some people want that I don't see how we are ever going to get back on track.

    And that picture above is exactly what we are doing, shooting it right at the opposition and not the back of the net.