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.

  • Lofty

    Does anyone else think that Johnson might be a keeper? If he could be signed for something close to what he's making now I think he could be a valuable 3rd line D-Man

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    maybe it's just me; but the real fun is watching the 8th spot.cheer for nashville or detroit just as long as cowtown doesn't get in.happy day when one sutter fires another.just a thought

      • Dan the Man

        If the Flames fail to make the playoffs, Flames fans lose the ONLY thing they have.

        We won't have to listen to how "at least the Flames made the playoffs".

        GO WINGS GO!

        • Ender

          I'm with Dan on this one. I think it will be great to say to my brother-in-law "So, sucks not having playoff hockey to watch, eh? Hey, why don't we go catch up on the stats for the superstars we'll be drafting next month? Oh yeah, that's right; your team is allergic to the draft. That sucks, eh? Well, at least your GM has that trade-deadline thing working well for him, right? . . . Really? Gosh, I hadn't heard that. You're probably right; your team is totally screwed. Bwahahahahahahaha!"

          • The only thing I have to look forward to from now until the draft is the Flames missing the playoffs, and a first round exit by the Canucks. Those two things would help salvage this into an almost enjoyable season.

        • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

          I can't lose, either way. Did I tell you guys about the bet I've got with the Flames fan in the office?

          From: La Page, James

          To: Courtney

          If the Flames tank in the first round of the playoffs I still get to make fun of you. Deal?

          From: Courtney
          To: La Page, James

          Deal…And if they make it past the first round you have to wear my flames jersey to work on casual day … deal!

          From: La Page, James
          To: Courtney

          Deal. But I think if we’re doing the jersey thing you’ve gotta wear mine if they don’t.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    I really need to work my schedule so I catch the first half of these games instead of the ass-end. I'll probably be home just in time for the third period tonight.

    PS They have Rickards Honey Brown in stand-alone 6-packs now. Beauty of a beer.

  • VMR

    I personally think Penner was being overused earlier in the season. He was getting 5 on 5, PP and PK time, that's to much for a guy who's energy levels have never been the best. Plus there's no reason to have him on the PK.

    • Ender

      C'mon; we've all watched the muppets. Scientists don't have girlfriends; they have tall, skinny assistant guys with spiky orange hair.

      All that said, I'm really excited about what new breakthroughs you and the Supercomputer are working on right now. Tell me the truth; we're less than six months away from self-replicating doughnuts, aren't we? I'm so excited! I knew the Oilers tanking had to have a good effect somehow; I just hadn't figured in Canadian scientists. Stay strong, Big Guy; the naked chicks will be back on the couch with us before you know it. (I hope they don't stop doing the things, though . . .)

  • Travis Dakin

    Hey is there a slow clap going on in here? You're knocking the pictures off my wall.*

    *unexpected side effect: The missus is enjoying the rumble… YAY SLOW CLAP!!!

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Ok, i admit it…i have jumped off the bandwagon. My dreams are now filled with JUST naked chicks…instead of the previous – naked chicks watching hockey with me. My talks around the bunson burners are no longer exclusively about the Oilers…instead I talk about the weather…and naked chicks. I go out for dinner and have a conversation instead of pretending to listen while secretly watching the game on the t.v. behind my partner in dine. I have more free time to cook nutrious food and walk the dog instead of putting a frozen pizza in the oven between the first and second period. I have not had face paint on my face in so long that I no longer wonder if my love of putting make up on is a secret obsession to be a tranny. And last but not least, i drink less beer. The only thing bloating now, is my bank account!

    All of these changes in my life are for the positive. I should be happy that i know tomorrow will be a balmy 9 degrees and sunny. I should be happy that the naked chicks in my dreams now do things instead of just sitting there eating chips and burping. I should be happy that when my girlfriend asks me to do something i no longer have to lie about not hearing her say it the first time. I should be happy that i am losing weight and that my dog is tired instead of crazy. I should be happy that each night i am comfortable instead of feeling fat and gassy.

    And yet…

    siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh I can't wait for next season! In the meantime I want DD to get a win tonight… a shut out! That poor bastard…

  • Dubnyk gets the start… I'll take the over on this one.

    Blue Jackets 6 – Oilers 3.

    Penner/Brule/Whoever line scores all of the Oilers goals.

    Horcoff with a stellar -3 on the night coming close to taking over POS for the green jacket.

    This will also be the first post game interview with Quinn where he doesn't answer any questions and just bows his head and prays.

  • I hope Dubnyk gets that win tonight. After that happens, the rest of the season can play out how ever it's going to happen.

    At this point I don't really care if we are the worst team in Oilers history or the second worst. As long as we get a really good hockey player in the draft. Plus when you are the 'worst' it makes improving easier.

  • Gilbert Brules progression on this club is severly limited with Horcoff taking the lions share of minutes for the next 5 years….bye bye Brule.

    The sooner we can close the book on the debacle of 2006 (Horcoff,Pisani,Moreau) the better off we'll be.

    • Jason Gregor

      Curious why you think that, considering Brule plays the wing and not centre??? And Brule is the one small forward the Oilers have no interest in moving heading into next year.

      • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

        If he's going to have a prolonged career it's going to have to be on the dot. He very capable in other aspects of the game, i'd just like to see him be a 60% guy on faceoffs, maybe he can grab the bull by the horns this summer since Pouliot wouldn't last year.

        He's the third sometimes second line center this team needs and there's even a threat he could outperform the remaining/new contract if he gets one. I don't think we can say that about #10 in our program and no.10 in our hearts Horcoff.

        Tell Meg to lay off the freight train it's not 3 o'clock yet.

  • If the Oilers want their next big offensive dynamo to have a shot at gaining confidence next year, they need to keep him as far away from Horcoff as possible. The last thing we need is to put Seguin/Hall out there while McWhiff bobbles all of their passes.

    Horcoff can spend next season soaking up the minutes against the tough opponents in a 3rd line role while the other lines actually try to put that little black thing in the net.

  • Jason Gregor

    Gregor

    Can you direct me to the article that discussed your ethical issue you were going to talk about around a month or 2 ago, i'd like to read what that was all about.

    Thanks

    • Jason Gregor

      Just because you keep asking doesn't mean it will be discussed. It won't be until the time is right. What part of that is so hard to understand. This is the last time I will mention it.

      I'm surprised the issue hasn't come to the forefront, and since it hasn't I won't the one to discuss it. Move on. Sorry if some of you think it was a big tease. It isn't, nor was that the point. It doesn't affect any of us personally so until it appears let's stop asking. Thanks.