GDB LXV: On streaks and streaking

Did you know the Oilers have only won consecutive home games twice this year? They won four straight in October on the 10th, 16th, 19th and 22nd, and they didn’t win two straight at home again until Feb 1st and 3rd over the Hurricanes and Flyers.

In between those two heroic streaks, they lost nine straight from November 18th to Dec 28th, before beating the Leafs on Dec 30th. Then they lost their next eight home games. They won exactly ONE home game from November 18th to Feb 1st; no wonder there was close to 3,000 empty seats on Friday night.

That really sums up how horrendous this season has been at Rexall Place. No wonder it has been quieter than a morgue lately. I sat in the crowd for parts of the game on Friday and I was able to hear too many uncomfortable discussions from the people sitting around me.

When the games are exciting people pay attention, but now it seems with little cheering going on you are subjected to hearing things you don’t want to know about. Listening to two women, who looked like a mother and daughter, discuss menstrual cycles and how to lessen cramping was unbearable, especially considering I gave up booze for Lent. Or listening to some dude try to impress his date with his hockey knowledge, which was about as in-depth as my knowledge into how to control The Red Army.

Isn’t there a handbook on stadium etiquette somewhere?

It’s annoying listening to the drunk guy swear every time he opens his mouth, but it’s just as uncomfortable for your fellow fan when they have to overhear you talk about your personal problems. It is hard enough for Oiler fans to get the energy to go to the rink, so please use your inside voice when you talk to the person beside you. And for the love of only-26-days-left-in-Lent please refrain from conversations on vagisil, menstruation, your latest conquest or why you think Taylor Chorney will be better than Lubomir Visnovsky.

HOME WINNING STREAK?

Can the Oilers grab that elusive third home winning streak, against the 38-22-3 New Jersey Devils tonight? The odds aren’t in their favour. The Oil is 2-8-5 in their last 15 home games v. the Devils and they’ve been outscored 36-51.

The Oilers haven’t beaten the Devils at home since, ironically enough, Halloween 1995 when they won 2-1. Granted the Devils have only been here six times since then, going 4-0-2, but the Oilers have had two ownership changes since they last beat the Devils in Edmonton.

Tonight’s forward group hasn’t had much success against the Devils.

Gilbert Brule, Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, Robert Nilsson, Fernando Pisani, Marc Pouliot, Ryan Jones, Zack Stortini and Shawn Horcoff have never scored a goal v. New Jersey. In fact, the Devils is the only team that Horcoff has never scored on, or registered a point, in eight career games.

Dustin Penner, Patrick O’Sullivan and Ryan Potulny have one goal, while Mike Comrie has 5 in 17 career games, including three goals in four games as an Oiler. The Oilers could use Ethan Moreau tonight, but it looks like he’ll sit out his third straight game with a sore neck. Moreau has five goals and ten points in 12 games v. the Devils, good for 0.83 points per game. His career PPG is 0.32 so clearly he likes playing the Devils.

Moreau didn’t skate yesterday, and the Oilers didn’t have a morning skate today, so it’s a bit of a guess if he’ll play, but he hasn’t skated in four days so it would a surprise if he played. Look for Fernando Pisani to draw back in.

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?

What does Gilbert Brule have to do to get more ice time? On Friday he had just over 12 minutes of icetime. Only Stortini and an injured Jones played less. Brule had three shots, tied for most on the team and two hits, also most amongst forwards in those 12 minutes, yet Pat Quinn doesn’t play him more. What gives?

Between bouts with the flu bug and other ailments, Brule has put up 13 goals, 12 of them EV, second behind Penner’s team-leading 17, so I wonder why Brule doesn’t get more opportunities. The kid has one of the best shots on the team, and might be the best pure shooter they have right now.

Quinn has said he doesn’t like the rollercoaster aspect of Brule’s game. He is either really high or low, and that is fair, but how is that any different from Patrick O’Sullivan, Robert Nilsson or almost every other forward on the team.

Brule’s confidence, like most young players, is fragile and Quinn will need to watch how he uses him, but the organization should play him more in the final 18 games, especially on the powerplay.

Quinn should use the final 18 games as an extended training camp. Decide what role he’d like to use Brule and other forwards in next year, and play them there down the stretch. If they see Brule as a top-six forward next year, then play him with guys who they project to be there. Why not play Brule with Penner the rest of the way and see if they can produce?

Tonight would be a good time to change up the powerplay personnel, and give Brule a shot on the man advantage.

EBERLE

Jordan Eberle will play in Springfield when this season wraps up March 13th with the Regina Pats, but don’t be surprised to see him make an appearance with the Oilers. The Oilers don’t want fans to look at Eberle as the saviour and have him come up here and score zero points in nine games. Look for him to play some games in the AHL, and then get called up to Edmonton.

The Oilers only have two home games in April, the 5th v. the Wild and then on the 7th v. Colorado, so I’d be shocked if Eberle doesn’t make an appearance at that point. The worst thing the Oilers could do is recall him and have him play on the road. They owe it to the home faithful to see Eberle live in person, rather than just on the road.

  • Tha Legion

    I think I've slanted a lot towards Seguin as well. I do believe that Taylor Hall will be a benefit to this team as well and it is a good point of not grabbing the immediate future prospect of a center assuming there are Strong Centerman coming through the system

  • Jmask5

    I don't want to see Eberle play until the Oilers have secured dead freaking last.

    I would like to see him play for Team Canada at the World Championships.

    War J.Toews

  • Chris.

    Good post Jason…

    Perhaps O'Sullivan is getting every opportuity as well since he's one of "Tambi's guys"

    Alice and Wonderland 3D was excellent even without shrooms…don't know if I'll be able to say the same about the Oilers tonight.

    Can't wait to see Tyle Seguin in Oiler silks..

    War Jack Campbell

    • Tha Legion

      First thing. I like Jim Rome as much as anybody, but this is not his show, so don't WAR anything, that sounds lame.

      Secondly, why do you want Seguin over Hall? If the Oil get the number 1 pick they have to pick the best player in the draft….IMO that's Hall not Seguin.

      Rack me.

      • Seguin has contributed to 44% of his teams offense…

        Hall 32% on a better team+ 1 extra OHL season.

        Seguin is a natural center who isn't done growing..

        He'll also need an extra year to develop which means Edmonton is a lock for a lotto pick next year.

        Taylor Hall's stock has peaked watch Seguin thrive next year.

        War Me in the Hackoff

        good night now!

      • Travis Dakin

        At this point there is considerable debate as to who is the top player. One is a winger and the other is a centre. I'm much more inclined to take seguin at this point. Something about him just seems to be right. Obviously it's all opinion based on little evidence at this point.

        • Travis Dakin

          Hmmmm, I have heard Hall say himself that he used to play center and likes it there. Seguin looks like an extremely gifted player, and has had one less year of Junior than Hall though.

          Can you imagine what the fall out is if the Oil get the first pick and take Seguin, and Hall ends up being a better player?

          Its sad that the only thing left in this point of the season for Oilers to be excited for is to Maybe see Eberle play, and the draft which is months away…

          That all said I am a fan of the proper rebuild, not a bandaid. I am tired of the 7-12 year after year. 3-4 years of construction to build a franchise back up.

        • When it gets closer the draft and the 2 have played their final games I'm hoping that Willis does a really in depth analysis of the two. Combine that with JG and Robin tracking down some hockey insiders and getting their opinions and I'll be fully geeking out here on OilersNation.

  • Brocktw

    I am starting to question weather Pat Quinn is relevant as a coach anymore (at least with a young rebuilding team). I was all for his hiring and at the time I thought it was a very good move by Tambo. As time goes by I am questioning more and more of his calls. There was the Macyntyre decision, his refusal to match lines, handling of certain players (Stortini, Brule, Cogliano). I am not ever going to be a guy that advocates anybody losing there job, but I wonder what everyone else thinks about Quinns first 3/4 year.

    PS I love his no-nonsence approach to press confrences, nothing like listening to a man who does not mince words.

  • The 'Real' Ron Burgundy

    Does anyone else think that Brule might have done or said something to really piss off Quinn. I made a point of focusing my attention on Brule at the game on friday, even away from the play, and he really seemed to stand out in a good way. Put the puck in a good spot, was always hard back on d, and really fore-checked well.

    I've heard conspiricy theories, about holding him back for contract reasons. At this point I really cant see any other reason, esp because Quin seems to dance around the subject whenever it is brought up.

  • Jmask5

    Hey Jason, thanks for the read.

    Have you, or anyone else, asked Quinn why he makes Bule ride the pine more than any of the other smurfs?

    I like Brule's game much better than most of the other forwards, and can't understand why he isn't given more of an opertunity.

    • Jason Gregor

      Yes it has been asked, and his answer is basically what I wrote. He thinks Brule is still to inconsistent in his game. He will be very good (highs) and can be very bad (lows).

      I can tell you that I'm not big on that response. Sure he is inconsistent, but so is the entire forward core.

      I think they are giving Nilsson every opportunity so they won't regret buying him out in the summer. I don't know that for sure, but that is the only reasonable explanation to him playing with Penner and for getting more icetime than Brule.

      • Chris.

        According to Lowetide the Oilers were targeting Nilsson in the 2003 draft… but had to settle for Pouliot.

        This gem (if accurate), combined with the Lowe's failure to adeqautely shop Smyth around on 07 deadline day, and the endlessly long leash given to Bobby: makes me wonder if there is an organizational soft-spot for Nilsson…

        • Travis Dakin

          The Oilers did not target Nilsson at any point leading into his draft year.

          The reason the Oilers moved down and took Pouliot intead of Parise is they didn't want another small forward as they already had Comrie, Marchant, York, Swanson etc.

    • Rob...

      My suspicion is that it's not Quinn's call, and he's just covering for his bosses when answering questions on it. They're hoping Nielson shows enough dazzle in the last part of the season for him to become decent trade bait during the summer.

      I also think that Jason didn't realize he was watching the taping of a Rexall Pharmacy commercial for feminine hygiene products during the last game.

  • Travis Dakin

    Wait, you seriously gave up booze for lent? So now I can't have a drink with you at the Nation party on Saturday? damn you Gregor.

    Oh well, I'm sure there will be plenty of others there who will gladly tip a glass or two back with me.

  • Jmask5

    Hmmm… I was thinking it would actually be better for Eberle to debut on the road. That way he can get his feet wet a bit without the added pressure of performing infront of the home fans.