GDB LXIX: The love song of Penner and Brule

Where do you go from here? Saturday’s 6-4 loss to the Leafs essentially cemented the Oilers in 30th place, so what comes next. It’s too early to do an autopsy on the season, but there are some stats to watch for in the final 14 games.

The Oilers need eleven points in the final 14 games to avoid officially being the worst team in franchise history. Is 5-8-1 a realistic goal for this team? We’ll see.

Only once since 1999/2000, when Atlanta was an expansion team, has the 30th place team finished 10 or more points behind the 29th place team. In 2006/07 the Flyers finished with 56 points and Phoenix was 29th with 67. Not only can the Oilers finish 30th they can do it in style.

Currently the Oilers trail their opponent tonight, Columbus, by 15 points. You have to go back to the 1995/96 season when the last place San Jose Sharks finished 19 points back of the closest western conference team. The Oilers might end the season 20 back of Columbus and put an exclamation point on this dreadful run.

If you are going to have a record breaking season, you might as well do it in style. It will make it easier to make progress next year.

In case you haven’t realized the Oilers have a stranglehold at the bottom of most categories league-wide.

  • Goals per game, 29th at 2.43 (Boston is 30th at 2.36)
  • Goals against per game, 30th at 3.40
  • Shots per game, tied for 28th with Montreal at 28.2 (Colorado is 30th at 27)
  • Shots against per game, 27th at 32.5, Anaheim (33), Atl (33.2) and Florida (34) are better.
  • And they are the only team in the NHL who doesn’t have a goal 4-on-4.

Looking to the ice

I’m not shocked that Dustin Penner is playing better now that he is with Gilbert Brule. Penner has looked lethargic and tired for the past two months, and I know he’s changed his diet to try and get more energy, but being re-united with Brule hasn’t hurt him either.

Looking ahead, wouldn’t Brule, Penner and Gagner/Cogliano make a decent 2nd line? You could put Ales Hemsky with Taylor Hall (I think that is who they will pick, but nothing certain at this point) and have Horcoff or Gagner in the middle.

Pat Quinn better keep Brule and Penner together the rest of the way so they can get more comfortable with one another. And leaving Cogliano there and having him finish the season strong might increase his trade value this off-season, or at least get it back to where it was last summer.

Currently the Blue Jackets would get 4th this summer but they are in a dog fight to stay in the bottom five and have a chance at #1. The Jackets have 65 points. Carolina is 28th with 64, Islanders are 26th with 65, Florida has 66, Atlanta 67 and Tampa Bay has 68. The race for 8th in each conference will be good, but the best race down the stretch might be for the final three spots in the draft lottery.

The Jackets have had three top-five picks in their history, but only Rick Nash -1st overall in 2002- has turned into a bonafide star. Nikolai Zherdev was 4th in 2003, but after four enigmatic seasons his is now in the KHL. Rostislav Klesla, 4th in 2000, has been a steady, but not spectacular, D-man for the Jackets, but he hasn’t become as dominant as you’d like for a top-five pick.

The Jackets have had more picks between who have yet to break out. Alex Picard 8th in 2004, Gilbert Brule 6th in 2005, Derick Brassard 6th in 2006, Jacob Voracek 7th in 2007 and Nikita Filatov 6th in 2008. The Jackets could use a lottery pick, and more importantly they need to pick a player that will produce for them.

Too little, too late?

Shawn Horcoff has eight points in his last eight games, but he’ll need 12 in the final 14 games just to reach 40 points. He can’t salvage the season points wise, but a strong finish might give him some confidence heading into next season. He should look at going back to the psychologist he worked with prior to the ‘07/’08 season when he had 21 goals in the first 53 games and looked like a guy who could score.

Since then Horcoff has only 28 goals in 143 games. He needs to bear down more, stopping whiffing on one-timers and shoot with some conviction. He is always in great shape, but for next season he needs to ensure his mind is in great shape and that he is confident enough to convert those one-timers.

And Devan Dubnyk will go for his elusive first NHL victory tonight. Dubnyk is 0-7-2 with a gaudy 4.17 GAA and .869 SV%. And speaking of records if he loses his next three starts he will be precariously close to setting the NHL record for most minutes played by a goal without a win. He is 206 minutes away from breaking that lofty mark. Mirtle tweeted that Dubnyk was 226 minutes shy of the record after his loss in Montreal, so if I substract the 20 minutes he played on Saturday it looks like Oiler fans might have another record to monitor down the stretch.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    It's truly incredible how ineptly constructed this team is so as to be this consistently bad all season. I wonder what the Rexall equivalent would be for keeping your job after having one of the highest payrolls in the league and finishing dead last after missing the playoffs the year before:

    Manager of the Boca Raton Rexall: "Daryl I realize that we've been open for 2 years and have lost millions of dollars, but we're still assessing the market and trying to figure out if we should be stocking the shelves with wrinkle cream or energy bars. In the mean time, the we've pre-ordered 10,000 Frank Costanza bobble heads dolls, so we'll be all good for next year."

  • I think Dubnyk's time with the Oilers franchise is done at the end of the season. 42-76-4 with a GAA around 3.00 in 3 AHL seasons, 0-8-2 with a 4.17 GAA in 13 NHL games. Time to cut him loose.

    Tambi should make a move for Bernier, Schneider or Enroth in the offseason. At the very least those 3 are highly capable of stopping pucks at the AHL level and may be ready for starting duties at the NHL level.

  • Gregor wrote:

    "Looking ahead, wouldn’t Brule, Penner and Gagner/Cogliano make a decent 2nd line? You could put Ales Hemsky with Taylor Hall (I think that is who they will pick, but nothing certain at this point) and have Horcoff or Gagner in the middle."

    Me:

    I'd like to see Jordan Eberle slot in here somewhere….like maybe a 2nd line of Penner/Gagner/Eberle and a 1st line of Hall/Brule/Hemsky and to never speak of Horcoff being in our top 6 ever again….

    • OilCrazy

      I like your line combos crash, however would consider interchanging Brule with Gagner. Penner and Brule have been showing good chemistry this year and would look great as a 2nd line with Eberle.

      The 1st line would have Hall finishing some sweet Hemsky feeds, and Gagner has more experience and would be a better 1st line center option than Brule.

      Sign Pisani for a way lower cap hit, and you've got a solid cheking line with Horcoff and whoever has the best camp or is brought in as an FA.

      • OilCrazy

        But I do disagree about resigning Pisani to have a 3rd checking line with such a lack of grit…Need some size on our bottom six especially if one of the bottom six must be Horcoff.

        I hope the Oilers can use some trading chips such as O'Sullivan, Cogliano, Nilsson, maybe a draft pick here and there to trade for some much needed sandpaper that can also play in our bottom six.

        Maybe even a UFA signing or two such as Colby Armstrong and some 4th line center who is good on faceoffs.

  • Colin

    So we know if Brownlee praises JDD he sucks immediately afterwards, what happens if he uses his magic reverse touch on DD?

    Would be nice to see the poor bugger win one game befor he's relegated to lifer status in the AHL

  • Oil Brass have finally decided that a re-build is where this team is at. Sadly this revelation took far to long but alas it is here. So going forward with that said what does this mean for the likes of Mr. Penner, Souray and I would even throw Hemsky in with this discussion and yes with his wonderfully bargin priced contract. The fact is we are in rebuild mode here and those aged 26ish and older may be those to trade for picks while they still have value. Penner with his size, shows up and plays on occassion but not often enough in my books. Hemsky can dangle with the best of them, but where was he the last half of last season and does he really make this TEAM better. I'm talking Team here. We need leadership and I don't see it here or anywhere on the farm. We need to draft this need or aquire through trade. A guy like Dustin Brown out of LA who brings it game in game out is the type of player we need to where the C here.
    Further to this the team has way to many smallish type forwards. This is quite evident on 9 out of 10 nights and for what Sam G brings his size or lack there of is impacting his progress- this is obviuos and will be more evident in the remaining games as the playoff teams up their games to grab the 2 points from the Oil. Might Gagne and Cogs warrent higher picks in the up comming draft or perhaps used in a package deal to get size and grit this team so desparetely needs.
    This team needs much much more than Pick one or Two in this up comming draft- Don't be fooled.