GDB: 21.0: WELCOME TO SMASHVILLE

The Oilers woke up in Smashville (Nashville) this morning, but they probably felt like they were there last night. The Stars punished the Oilers physically last night, and the Oilers were unable to handle it. The biggest farce in the NHL is the inconsistency from building-to-building regarding hits. Whoever was tracking them last night gave the Stars 47 hits and the Oilers 33. That is ridiculous.

Of course the "hits" statistician in Dallas is the most overzealous/bias/kool-aid drinking in the league. For the past five years no NHL team has had a bigger margin of hits-at-home to hits-on-the-road than the Stars. From 2006-2011 the Stars had 564, 482, 209, 452, 492 and 416 more hits at home than on the road.

It is embarrassing that the league doesn’t send a memo to Dallas to understand what a hit is. They are so out of whack it’s mind-blowing.

           Season         Hits at home            Hits on road              Total hits
DALL 2006                    1163 (+561)            559                         1722
EDM  2006                     602                         601                         1203
DALL 2007                    1076 (+431)            594                         1670
EDM  2007                     645                         653                         1298
DALL 2008                     914 (+396)             705                         1619
EDM  2008                     520                         610                         1130
DALL 2009                    1264 (+640)            812                         2076
EDM  2009                     624                         769                         1393
DALL 2010                    1416 (+659)            922                         2338
EDM  2010                     757                         809                         1566
DALL 2011                    1314 (+405)            898                         2212
EDM  2011                     909                         885                         1794

The road numbers are fairly close between the Stars and the Oilers, but the difference at home is frightening. Did the Stars really deliver 405 more hits at home last year, yet only 13 more on the road than the Oilers. No chance. If the NHL wants people to take their stats more serious, then they need to have better guidlines and ensure they enforce those guidelines.   

That being said, even with a statistician who thinks every bump is a hit, it was clear the Stars out hit the Oilers last night.

The sad reality for Oiler fans is that likely won’t change any time soon.

Please don’t expect Darcy Hordichuk, in five minutes of icetime, to somehow stop the opposing team from delivering clean, hard hits. It won’t happen. Hordichuk had three hits in five minutes, and Colten Teubert once again led the hit parade with 6, but the fact is the Oilers don’t have many physical players.

Expecting your fourth line to match the physical play of the entire other team is wishful thinking.

The Oilers don’t have anyone in their top-nine who is a consistent physical player, so you can’t expect the Oilers to respond physically. The Oilers will beat teams with their speed, quickness and skill, but if they get into a physical game they are overmatched.

Last night’s outcome could have changed on one play. Had Ryan Smyth been able to bury that wide open wraparound, the game would have been tied at one. Steve Ott wouldn’t have scored on the ensuing rush, because the faceoff would have been at centre, and who knows what would have happened. The Oilers will be in games because they have skill, but no one should expect them to respond with lots of physical play, because they just don’t have the manpower for that.

Teubert has looked good, and he’ll be a guy who hits everyone like Mark Fistric did last night, but right now he’s only playing 11-12 minutes a night. Theo Peckham was that guy last year, but he is struggling mightily right now. Andy Sutton is physical, but if he’s in then one of Peckham or Teubert will be out, and that still only leaves two guys who play more than ten minutes/game.

The frustrating part of a rebuild for the fans is when reality sets in like in did last night. The Oilers have filled a few voids, improved special teams and faceoffs, but it’s impossible to fill all the voids in one summer. The Oilers management has to realize that this team is not built to be a playoff contender, because they strictly aren’t big enough, and they will need to rectify that in the coming years; likely through the draft.

Teemu Hartikainen, Tyler Pitlick and Curtis Hamilton are all skilled guys with size, but only Hartikainen might be ready next year. Pitlick could surprise and be ready, but Hamilton isn’t a regular in the AHL yet, so it will be a few years before we see him.

When the Oilers come across an opponent like the Stars, and the possibly the Predators tonight, their PP has to score for them to stay in the game. The Oilers were outshot 30-12 at EV last night, but they had over 10 minutes of PP time and couldn’t score. They’ve been very good with the man advantage this year, especially at home, but when they face an aggessive team they need to make them pay with the extra attacker.

So far this year the Oilers have 17 EV/SH goals at home and 16 on the road, but they’ve scored 13 PP goals at home compared to only 4 on the road. This team will stay competitive this year because on the PP they can use their skill, and don’t have to worry as much about being hit.

QUICK TURN AROUND

The Oilers don’t have time to feel sorry for themselves, because they are in NashVegas tonight to take on the surging Predators. The Preds are 6-1-3 in their last ten, with all three of those OT/SO loses coming in OT.

Rookie Craig Smith leads the Preds in points with 15, despite this awesome missed goal last week. 

I’m sure the Preds have been giving him the gears ever since, but the rookie has been solid. The Preds are still led by their big three: Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne. Weber leads the league at +19, has 14 points and plays 26:33/game. Suter is +15, has 13 points and plays a bit more at 27:16/game. No team uses their starting goalie more than Rinne. He’s  started 18 of the Preds 19 games and he’ll start tonight against Devan Dubnyk.

Khabibulin has come back to earth. He wasn’t awful last night, but three weeks ago Toby Petersen wouldn’t have scored. Dubnyk hasn’t started since he gave up six in Boston on November 10th. He came off the bench v. Ottawa last week, but he hasn’t had a great game since he stopped 40 of 41 in a victory over Colorado on October 28th. Dubnyk needs a solid outing, and the Oilers need him to play well if they want to avoid their 2nd loss in 24 hours.

LINE UP

Outside of Dubnyk we will see a few other changes. Taylor Chorney was sent back to OKC today, and Alex Plante has been recalled to take his place. Chorney isn’t big enough to be a regular NHL D-man. If he had lots of offence you could overlook his size, but he doesn’t. Plante has played 8 NHL games and registered 2 points and is an even player. He is still a prospect/suspect at this point, but he’s still only 22. At least he’ll bring some needed size and muscle. His footspeed is an issue, but he has really improved his competitive play the past few years.

The Oilers won’t skate this morning in Nashville, so we won’t know who is in or out for sure until closer to game time, but I expect Renney to juggle his roster. I could see him putting Paajarvi back in on the 3rd line and he’ll maybe insert Eager. Unless he plays his 4th line more than 5-8 minutes no one should expect the Oilers to be a more physical team tonight.

QUICK HITS

  • Ales Hemsky needs to start shooting more. I know that’s nothing new, but in the previous five years he’s averaged 2.33 shots/game. This year he has seven shots in 8 1/3 games. (he only played a period v. Minny) He has to start becoming more of a factor in games.
     
  • I’m not saying the Oilers can’t muck and grind it with other teams, but they just don’t have enough big forwards who can lean on the opposition.
     
  • I understand why Renney uses Belanger to win faceoffs on the PP, but once Ryan Whitney and Corey Potter return I hope he’s not out there anymore. Especially if the are changing on the fly and you don’t need him to win the draw, because he doesn’t have a big enough shot from the point to be effective there. Or at least, he hasn’t shown it yet.
     
  • I’m curious if all those who said,"Ryan Jones is an awful hockey player," still feel that way. I find it interesting how few of them have admitted those comments might have been a touch off-base. We’ve all been wrong before, but I find it interesting how we haven’t heard much from that camp. Or the camp who said Nugent-Hopkins was a bad pick because he only had 27 goals last year. It’s okay to be wrong, I’ve been there, but don’t think I haven’t noticed how those who love to point out when others are wrong haven’t said boo about their own misguided projections.
     
  • Kyle Turris might want to hire a new agent. Turris sits out training camp, the preseason and misses the first 19 games of the regular season to get $2.8 million over two years. A $1.4 cap hit sounds about right. He held out to get what he could have got in the summer. Asinine.

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Only Colorado has few home wins than the Predators, and the Oilers will have a much better effort tonight, and they’ll win 3-2. Hemsky finally makes an appearance.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The cameraman will pan to Carrie Underwood at least four times, not that I’m complaining. We’ll also see the TooToo Train take some healthy runs at the Oilers. Tootoo is the exact type of player the Oilers need. He plays hard, hits hard and plays over 13 minutes a night.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Sam Gagner scores his first goal of the season. I have no idea why, just a hunch. 

  • OilFan

    Nashville is full of midgets would have the same issue as last night ( physical play ). Why have Sam Wellwood on the top 2 lines ? Sam isn’t a 2nd line center is this league. I could have scored all those points with Patty Kane. I’ve heard before from others how Sam isn’t the ideal checking center or fourth line center , is he a ideal top 6 ? Trade for some size start with Gagner and omark.

  • oilredemption

    This is gonna be bad especially considering you said that people like to jump on others mistakes… but is it not Carrie underwood? On that note Mike Fisher your the man!

    Ps I wish we would bring up harski to add some grit! Maybe put him with paajarvi (put him on his off wing because of the way he likes to drive the net. Then it will put him on his forehand when he’s all doing this) and horc center it. Then Jones with belanger and lander or whoever.

  • Zamboni Driver

    Please tell me thats the last time we see Chorney in the NHL. Can’t believe we picked him back up but lets then be realistic and keep him in the minors forever. Once Sutton comes back, its time for Peckham to take some remedial D lessons in the AHL as well. Way to many glaring errors.

  • Zamboni Driver

    A little off topic, but i was checking out the Flamesnation to make myself feel better and all the doom and gloomers are talking about who/what they can get for Iggy. Who would you guys give up for Iginla?

    • A-Mc

      I could only stand seeing Gagner, Eager and MAYBE Hemsky being moved to another team.

      The young guys that people often mention: Paajarvi, Omark, Lander, etc.. Will be quite useful after they develop a little so i’m reluctant to bail any of those types.

        • A-Mc

          You’re comparing their experiences based on age. Omark hasn’t been over here playing in the AHL/NHL as long as Gagner has.

          It stands to reason that a player needs some time to adjust to the different levels of play. Gagner may be younger but he has also been given a much longer opportunity to prove himself.

          And honestly, Player for player, i see more promise in OMark than i do in Gagner. Omark is tough to get off the puck, He has an accurate Shot, Has very quick hands and can pass with the best of them. Gagner has none of those things but has been afforded more time in the NHL to grow and prove himself.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            You’re going to get that melancholy stats hound from that other site all worked up again with your Gags dissage.

            I think it’s wise to distinguish between current play, reasonable projections and body of work in these types of discussions.

            I think it’s fair to say Gags is beyond underwhelming so far this season and even to say one sees more promise in Omark… but to trample on Gags’ body of work (i.e. he hasn’t proved himself) is a bit of stretch.

            Players have to keep proving themselves but the tests they have already passed do not evaporate.

          • A-Mc

            I didn’t say he hasn’t proved himself yet. i said that he’s had more time in the NHL to prove himself (as opposed to Omark, so it’s not fair to say Gagner > Omark). Gagner looked to be a consistent 40pt guy but this year he’s falling off for whatever reason. To compare Gagner to Omark is quite difficult because OMark hasn’t been afford the opportunity to Prove himself yet.

            As for my comments on straight up player vs player skills, i definitely hold to those. I Legitimately see more Promise in Omark than Gagner, but only time will tell which player is more valuable.

            ps: I get the sense that Arch is steering clear of these discussions because he knows his Gagner LEGITIMATELY isn’t playing well this year.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            Fair enough. I was trying to clear that up… people tend to blur the past, present and potential future a lot around here. I just wanted to be sure what you were saying.

            Where I agree with you is that it’s too early to tell… because we haven’t seen much of Omark and Gags is clearly in a funk so its hard to extrapolate much out from his start to the season… also, I’m not convinced – despite the omnipresence of the comparison – that this is the best comparison to be made for these players.

            That said, I disagree with you… I would give Gags the edge based on body of work, pedigree and youth.

            as an aside, I guess i challenged you because it’s hard not to fall into default positions with this argument… hell, it’s hard not to fall into the argument at all!! it’s practically unavoidable around here… and i wasn’t clear that you weren’t simply saying “Gags is terrible”.. you aren’t so… clarified!

            also, I imagine Arch is just tired of repeating himself.

          • Chris.

            Who was your star last year? I seem to remember it was Hemsky… If that is true: can you promise not to pick Hall, Eberle, or Hopkins as your star next season? Please.

    • A-Mc

      I lived in Calgary for 3.5 years and still have friends there…for the last year it has been rough, although I believe alcohol sales are probably way up as everyone seems to go there to hang out at the bar.

      As far as Iginla goes…I’d trade Peckham for him, that’s about it. We’ve been his arch rival for his entire career, there’s no way his heart will be in it here…even though he was born in St. Albert.

      I did a little trolling today and man are they in a panic…the message from the fanbase seems to be “Do SOMETHING”…but what can they do? I don’t want to provide them any answers as our team still needs a few, but after being berated by their fanbase, I still feel sorry for them.

  • A-Mc

    I don’t get a good feeling about this game; it could be residual STINK left over from last night though.

    GDP: we’re competitive, but only Just. If we pull out the win, Renney wont have anything Good to say about it.

    OGDP: Paajarvi, Gagner and Hemsky will continue to disappoint. HORDY De-Rails the TooToo Train!

    NSOGDP: In the final minutes of a 1 goal lead for the Oil, Dubnyk flips out over his team not shooting on the Empty Preds Net. He will Poke check a puck away from a Preds player and flip it up and into the Preds net himself; Unassisted. In 1 single act he generates more offense than Gagner has all season.

  • Chris.

    Game Day Prediction: Oilers win big tonight: 6-1. Yeah… I said it. Yeah… I know who Pekka Rinne is.

    Obvious Game Day Prediction: Principe will wear a cowboy hat during the pregame broadcast.

    Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Gregor was absolutely correct yesterday when he predicted Hall/Eberle would disagree about who was the prettiest Dallas cheer team member. That debate will expand tonight on the plane when Peckham suggests Nashville has a better looking overall squad than Dallas. It’s fun to talk about pretty girls when you’re winning hockey games.

  • …oh, and after last night, it should come as no surprise that Dallas is leading in hits…why there’s a differential between home and away is beyond me, but to play the devils’ advocate I would assume that it could be because there would be more pressure on the refs’ to call them in the other rink, as the fans would boo like crazy for hitting the home team like they hit the Oilers last night…

    • Jason Gregor

      Did you see the Oilers stats, they had fewer hits at home. Go look at the rest of the league…Dallas has a massive differential from their home games to road games…It is ridiculous. Has nothing to do with refs. Stats guys track hits, not the refs.

  • Ok, so I know the stats guys will jump on me here with much more advanced knowledge of Plante’s history…but I’ve seen him in most of the games he’s played and I like the guy…He just seems to have good sound defensive positioning, and sure he’s not very fast, but if you put yourself in the right spot you don’t need to be. I would take Plante over Peckham anyday, mind you Peckham is having a rough go of it. Plante’s boxcars aren’t amazing, but they’re not bad! I would wager that he gets another assist and is a +1 tonight.

    Also, Hall will correct is overzealous play from last night and will pot 2. Just a WAG…

  • Does the NHL have a Head of Statistic and/or Data? That person could make a good guest on the show. (or maybe Nation Radio)
    You could ask about +/-, hits, blocks, scoring chances, etc. Or even talk about the league’s feeling on new stats like corsi.

    • Jason Gregor

      Smid has 60 blocked shots…

      32 of them came at home in 10 games.
      28 of them came on road in 10 games.

      Wow…What a homer stats group. You might have been a bit off-base here.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Awesome article Gregor!

        I made a lot of the same arguments this morning on the Almost Saturday Night thread (re: size, capitalizing on PP, limited impact of our physical players, future potential in Pitlick). But you’ve put it much better here.

        I’m just going to share my thoughts/questions in order:

        1) why does the NHL allow Homers to calculate stats like this? why not have independent guys watch the game following a universal standard? That would solve the problem, no? Also, Dallas is a hitting machine… but, all the same, it shows some intriguingly high levels of insecurity that they pad their stats like that.

        2) Not only did Smyth miss the wraparound, Hemsky tagged the crossbar… game of inches indeed!

        3) I for one wondered aloud about Jones, but only in a limited way – I never said he was “awful.” But I’m happy to own up to it. He’s impressed me a lot with his consistency and determination. That said, I’d like to see him throw his weight around more. Count me pleasantly surprised.

        4) Asinine indeed… Add Turris to a growing list of professional athletes that shoot themselves in the foot by letting their agents bend their ear with reckless abandon. Who’s going to endorse a guy like that, how is a community supposed to rally around you… doesn’t make sense. You need better reasons to sit out that long. It amazes me that after The Yashin Experiment this still happens

        that’s all..

      • Zamboni Driver

        I guess so.

        I was going to with “Gilbert Hits”, but that would have been redundant….plus some genius might have asked for me to back up my harmless little joke with stats.

        Some folks really hold on a little too tight.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Can you back that up?

      I can see where the discrepency with hits, but the puck either hits you or it doesn’t. Pretty straight forward.

  • Spaghetti - Team Facalto

    NSOGDP: RNH having had enough of all this losing crap will go in with the puck and as he is scoring his third goal of the period will put a Fist into the face of both Weber and Suter as he split the D and then brushes it off as no biggie, and as he goes back to the bench the Nashville team High Five him as they stand there in awe.

    P.S Hordy assists on all three goals as Renney makes a bold move to play him with RNH!

  • Spaghetti - Team Facalto

    My bad, this is me bowing out, because this isn’t where I parked my car.

    By the way, I turbo charged the Hordy Wagon for you, so now it can kick even more ass faster.

  • Jerk Store

    “HORDY then declared the eight rules of fight club:

    1. You do not talk about FIGHT CLUB.

    2. You DO NOT talk about FIGHT CLUB.

    3. If someone says “stop” or goes limp, taps out the fight is over.
    4. Only two guys to a fight.

    5. One fight at a time.

    6. No shirts, no shoes.

    7. Fights will go on as long as they have to.

    8. If this is your first night at fight club, you HAVE to fight.”

  • Spaghetti - Team Facalto

    What’s with all the prime rib, is this a meat shop or what?

    To answer your question with a question: Is it, takes one to ….? well you know the rest.

    Not starting beef just curious.