GDB 9.0: SHOOT OUT STREAK BLOWS INTO CHICAGO

 

The Oilers blew into Chicago riding a six-game losing streak, but they get a bit of a break as Marian Hossa is out due to injury. The defending champs are 6-4-1 so far, but right now they don’t look anywhere near the team that hoisted the Stanley Cup in June.

Even without Hossa, the Hawks are still very dangerous up front. Patrick Sharp is red-hot leading the league with nine goals in eight games. Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews have eight and seven points respectively, but the biggest difference tonight will be on the backend.

The Hawks haven’t had Brian Campbell all season, and tonight they will dress Jordan Hendry, Jassen Cullimore and Nick Boynton. They still have Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson, but Hjalmarsson is really struggling with no points and a -6 rating so far.

The Oilers have played decent in the first two games of this trip, earning a point in Calgary and Columbus, but they haven’t fared very well in Chicago recently. They are 3-7 in their last ten trips  to Chicago, with all three of their wins coming in OT or the SO, but the Oilers haven’t won a game in their first trip into Chicago since 2003/2004.

For what ever reason their first visit of the season to Chicago hasn’t been kind with loses of 3-1, 4-1, 3-2, 3-0 and 4-3. All their wins have come during their second visits of the season.

OILER KILLER?

If the Oilers hope to reverse that trend tonight, they need to keep Fernando Pisani off the scoresheet. The Oilers have been lit up by ex-Oilers early this season, especially former third and fourth line grinders. Pisani has yet to score with the Hawks and you know he’ love to get one tonight.

Marty Reasoner and Kyle Brodziak have had two-goal games so far, while Curtis Glencross had a goal on Tuesday v. the Oilers.

KEEP FOCUS

After going a perfect 8-8 on the PK in Columbus last night, the Oilers will need to be even better tonight as the Hawks have the 5th best PP clicking at 24.3%. They can’t afford to get running around in their own zone, or the Hawks quick-passing will surely lead to some goals.

While the Hawks PP has been great, they have surrendered a lot of shots. Last year the Hawks gave up the fewest shots per game at 25.1, but so far they sit 24th in shots against at 34.1/game. The Oilers are in 25th at 34.2/game so we could see plenty of opportunities both ways.

Nikolai Khabibulin will face his former team, and he’s 12-7-1 in his career against the Hawks. Kurtis Foster skated today and will be a game time decision, while Renney has said if Stortini will replace Steve MacIntyre, but Bob Stauffer told me that Stortini wasn’t the last guy off the ice, which he is when he isn’t playing, so it looks like Stortini will draw back in.

And look for Taylor Hall to stay with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky, while Dustin Penner will skate with Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule.

SERIOUSLY, NO HORCOFF?

 

I asked our resident artist Wanye to make draw me a quick picture (Wow, he has mad drawing skills) illustrating how excited Oilers fans would be if Horcoff actually got into a shoot out. Those black circles with red check marks, or letter U, are supposed to be fans. Wanye didn’t get Shawn Horcoff’s career shootout % correct, it should be 56%, but the point is clear…Let him shoot Tom Renney, LET HIM SHOOT.

I will forgive Wayne because he was in the midst of packing and made this drawing in 30 seconds. He and some buddies left today for an ultimate sports weekend. They will be in Dallas to take in a few Stars games, then they’ll watch the Cowboys and those lucky sons-of-beatches got tickets to game four of the World Series. The worst part about that is Wanye had no clue that the Rangers played in Texas, he thought they were in New York. Seriously. Anyways that should be one hell of a trip and I expect some great stories when he returns.

Horcoff wasn’t even slated to be the 3rd shooter last night, Jordan Eberle was, which perplexes me even more. I know  Eberle and Sam Gagner made really good moves in their attempts this week, but they didn’t score. Gilbert Brule had a great shot, but hit the post. Being close doesn’t help you win a shootout. Does Renney not know that career-wise Horcoff is his best shooter?

Horcoff will be here for the next five years, so I can’t see part of the process being letting the young guys get good in the shootouts and never use Horcoff. Unless Renney doesn’t care about the end result, which I find impossible to believe, I dont’ see any defence as to why Horcoff hasn’t even been in the top six shooters so far. Renney is a much smarter hockey guy than I, and he has better hair, but I can’t defend, nor understand, his decision not to use his captain.

 If I’m coaching I send my best guy first.

No point holding him until last, because if the guys in front of him don’t score then he might not even get a chance to shoot.  The irony is that fans are actually clamouring for Horcoff to go. I can’t recall the last time that the majority of fans were pro-Horcoff in any situation.

Of course there is no guarantee he will score, but considering up until now he has been hands-down their best guy, I’d roll the dice and hope my two 5’s (that equals 10…I know 6 and 4 does too, but two 5’s always looks better) would equal a goal! 

  • BBOil

    @jeanshorts

    I will assume you are responding, in part at least, to me.

    No conspiracy theories going on. I didn’t know that Renney loves the goons, so thanks for the info and examples.

    I don’t know a lot about him – I’m not quite the hockey freak a lot of you are. It’s a little surprising given that I’ve gotten the general impression from reading articles, comments, etc that he’s fairly progressive, but it is what it is.

    Still doesn’t explain my second question as to why the two are mutually-exclusive (I guess the answer is it that everyone else is just simply better in comparison), but at least it helps make sense of it.

    • It wasn’t completely directed at you, it was more toward people on Twitter trying to make asinine assumptions or come up with crazy “everything is falling apart behind the scenes” type scenarios, and then your post gave me an excuse to rant and rave.

      But I agree if you’re going to dress Mac it would be nice to try and find a way to also get Stortini in there, but that means you’d have to take out one of Fraser or Jones, and that pretty much brings us back to where we are now.

      I honestly don’t see a need to dress a Super-Heavy unless there’s another one in the other teams line-up. Fraser is a willing combatant. Vandermeer can throw. Obviously Stortini loves to mix it up. I’d much rather see team toughness where everyone has everyone else’s back, rather than a “my gun is bigger than yours” type of deterrent. But like I said the good Cranbrook boy that he is, Renney loves him an enforcer so we’re just going to have to deal with it.

  • For those people that are losing their minds over how Renney can play MacIntyre so much instead of Stortini, just settle down. Yes it’s not the move 95% of us would make. But it’s fairly common knowledge that Renney LOVES to play goons/deterrents/strong-mans/etc.

    Colton Orr went from 15 games played (35 if you count his time in Boston) to 53, 74 and finally a full 82 games under Renney.

    Ryan Hollweg played 52, 78 and 70.

    And during Renney’s last year with the Rangers, and despite Orr playing in all 82 games Aaron Voros still got into 54 of them.

    This isn’t some kind of behind the scenes catastrophe, or Renney trying to send a message to Tambo, or any other kind of ridiculous scheme you can think of. Steve MacIntyre is dressing so much because he’s a goon, and Renney likes having a goon at his disposal. Stortini should be the one getting the ice time, but he’s not. Deal with it.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Having Horcoff muffing all these scoring chances will certainly cost one of these kids the Calder trophy. The sooner Taylor embraces playing center the better.

    • Chris.

      Having Hall muffing all these scoring chances will certainly cost Horcoff the Hart Trophy. The sooner Renny embraces Horcoff as first shoot-out shooter the better.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      I love posts like these.

      He has 4 goals, how many goals do you honestly think he should have?

      Theirs only a handfull of guys scoring (goals) at a better clip then Horc so far (league wide)

      I’m sorry but the rookies aren’t having thier production reduced because of Horc mere 4 goals in 8 games.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Sure he’s technically credited with 4 goals so far but if he could have converted on 1/4 the chances the last couple games we win both the last two contests in regulation. Six losses in a row, maybe thats not such a bad thing if we’re starting “The Quest for Couturier”…. but it could cost Eberle having his name on that trophy. I’m sure it matters to Jordan, he’s probably due a tidy bonus if he succeeds.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          Oddly enough he’s converting on exactly 1/4 of his chances.

          If anything his shooting %% is abnormally high and we should be praising him for padding the stats of the rookies.

          The rookies are good, but no, they aren’t so good that they should have Horc scoring at a clip higher then what guys like Crosby have their linemates scoring at.

        • I'm a Scientist!

          You’re right. We only lost because Horcoff didn’t convert on 1/4 of his chances. That is the ONLY reason. Good point, I don’t know why people didn’t see that before. I had no idea the oilers only had one player.

          Yeeesh.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            I simply stated in my original post that the on again off again Horcoff could cost one of these kids the Calder. At 6.5 this season you should be a little more prolific around the net me thinks. Where did i mention that we “only” lost because of Horcoff?

            It’s a little early in the day yet to be in your condition, trying to maximize your happy hour dollars sir?

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            And at this point anyways it’s a load of balogne.

            He must be the only guy in the league scoring at a 40 goal clip that is still holding back his linemates.

  • BBOil

    Problem I have with choosing shootout shooters, is that the odds are rarely in the shooters favor. Thus a guy like Horcs who scores just over half his shots, gets stopped on about half. Still good and I’d like to see him shoot more.

    If Horcs is picked and he gets stopped though, do we ask “why was Horcs shooting”?

    I understand that some guys tend to score more often than others, but as per NHL.com, so far only 34.85% of shooters have converted on their attempts. Guess what I am getting at is that I don’t always understand the second guessing of SO choices. Its not like Renney is picking guys like Strudwick, Jones, Peckham, etc….

    Also, why don’t we get Mike Morrison back on the team, go with 4 goalies, dress 3 each night, and then if we get in a shootout, we can sub out our starter and put him in. May maximize our odds of winning shootouts.

      • BBOil

        I understand that some guys are more effective than others, and I absolutely agree Horcoff should get to shoot more, because he has proven he is good at it.

        My point is that since the shootout was implemented, the yearly average is about 1 in 3 shots converted, so more often than not, guys get stopped. If Brule and Gagner score last night, do they get second guessed as shooters? Maybe, but probably not. They get second guessed because they were stopped, and the majority of guys in the NHL are going to get stopped more often than not.

        • Jason Gregor

          Who cares what other guys do. Base Horcoff on what he does. He is 56%, and until he is at 35% you stick with him.

          Jussi Jokinen, Pavel Datsyuk, Kotalik have proven guys can be 50%…Your argument that you don’t go with Horcoff because he might miss 2 out of 3 makes no sense.

          Other guys like Penner, Gagner and Brule have proven they miss more than 2 out of 3 so why not use Horcoff.

          Sorry no defence why he hasn’t went yet. NONE. He might miss, but ALL of them might miss, the fact is Horcoff has proven he will score more often than others.

          • BBOil

            Never said don’t go with Horcoff. Matter of fact the first sentence says he should shoot. My point is that after him, pretty much every legit choice on our team is closer to that 1 in 3 ratio.

            Horcoff yes, but don’t dismiss and second guess the others solely based on no Horcoff. If Horcoff is shooting, those other choices are legit, thus I don’t understand why they are not suitable choices in some peoples eyes if he is not shooting.

            Guess in short, I can understand saying Horcoff should shoot ahead of Brule and Gagner, but that doesn’t mean Brule and Gagner are bad choices.

          • Jason Gregor

            Gagner is now 8 for 33 at 24.8%
            Brule is 3 for 10 at 30%
            Penner is now 1 for 8 at 12.5%
            Hemsky is 16 for 47 at 34%

            So only Hemsky is at your 1 for 3 ratio…

            I’ve said choose Horcoff and go from there. Renney hasn’t for two games which is, in my opinion, inexcusable.

  • Cosmo

    Can someone explain why Renney has such disdain for Storts? It makes me cranky that he and MacIntyre are splitting games.

    Obviously he hasn’t exactly lit it up so far, but how is he going to get anywhere playing all of 30 seconds every week. (And yes I’m exaggerating, but not by much.)

    I get the (lame) justification for putting SMac in the Flames game, but otherwise what gives?

    And regardless of how often MacIntyre’s in, is it really indisputable that they should be in the same spot on the depth chart, making them an either/or? Is there no case for playing both and sitting someone else if MacIntyre is supposedly so desperately required? I haven’t watched enough of the last few games to say who should sit, just throwing it out there so someone can fill me in on why this isn’t an option. (What I have seen doesn’t make me think everyone else is doing such an amazing job that they can’t/shouldn’t be replaced.)

    Done ranting…will now wait for intelligent theorizations (and maybe do some work)

  • jimmycrackcorn

    Okay so I have to apologize to the Oilers and the Nation. I just noticed today that I forgot to install my Edmonton Oiler license plate holder on my new car when I took it off the old one.

    It is now installed so an Oiler win tonight is a guarantee. Hall will probably get 7 goals.

    Please call your “friends” that are flames fans and bet them $20 that the Oil beat up on the hawks tonight. They will gladly take your bet (idiots) and you will have a crip twenty to spend on the old Heroin beer the next time the Oil are at home.

    Again, I apologize….and before you ask…it wasn’t screwed in tight enough last year and that is why the Oil didn’t win the cup. It’s 100% tight now so we’re good. Start planning the route again. The season turns around starting tonight.

    • Chaz

      Did that already today. One point I made in the survey that I will share here in the hope that others agree with me and make similar comments in the survey, is to suggest that they make the sidewalks and the outdoor areas around the rink ‘Open-Air’. I noticed in a lot of the drawings they’ve made public, it looks like that have enclosed a lot of these areas in the plan. I know if gets cold here, but not often enough to close us all in for the entire year. Blue skies are one of the best things about Edmonton (although you wouldn’t think that lately). Besides we all know how to dress for cold weather, right? I say leave the outside areas open. This will be most appreciated during our long playoff runs into May and June when it’s gorgeous outside. Other than that, get it built already!

  • There can be no good to come from us facing a decent team like the Hawks. I can’t imagine we’ll do much better than when we went up against San Jose.

    On the upside, Renney and his staff will have lots of good game tape to work on defensive play, PP, PK, positioning, grit, and shooting. On top of which it should be a decent full-speed practice for the Hawks and a good test for whoever is their backup goalie.

    BTW – What was the name of the team that always played the Harlem Globetrotters?

  • Ender

    At least the guys selected for last night’s shootout I could kind of wrap my head around. Still scratching the old pumpkin about sending Penner out on Tuesday though.

  • Big Perm

    I liked Brule’s shootout attempt. I agree with using Horcs as a go-to guy in the SO. Gags ought to maybe shoot the puck a little more often in the SO, instead of the quintuple deke.