In four games the Edmonton Oilers have a whopping two goals while playing 5-on-5. Jordan Eberle scored one v. Vancouver and Taylor Hall potted the other against the Sharks. says they have four goals at EV, but two of them came with an extra skater in the final five seconds of the game, Nail Yakupov v. LA and Sam Gagner v. Calgary, so to me those are 6-on-5 goals and come with an EV asterisk.

The Oilers have played almost 165 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey and they have a paltry two goals, and to make matters worse they’ve given up nine at even strength.

If the Oilers are going to stay competitive in the western conference they need to start scoring at EV, and their top line needs to produce more.

Many of you might be wondering why I said the first line needs to score more at EV, when they have the only two goals, but when you break down their minutes, Eberle, Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are getting the most EV icetime. Of course the 2nd and 3rd lines need to be much better than they have, but if Ralph Krueger continues to dish out icetime like he has in the first four games the Oilers success will rest on the shoulders of their best players.

Which is how it should be. 

Player  Pos  GP  ES TOI/G SH TOI/G  PP TOI/G  TOI/G 
Justin Schultz D 4 17:41 1:25 4:55 24:02
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins C 4 16:28 0:49 5:13 22:31
Taylor Hall L 4 16:20 0:04 4:30 20:55
Jordan Eberle R 4 16:02 0:45 4:58 21:46
Ryan Whitney D 4 15:02 0:41 3:38 19:21
Jeff Petry D 4 14:44 5:43 0:24 20:53
Nick Schultz D 4 14:06 3:50 0:01 17:57
Sam Gagner C 4 13:04 1:24 3:52 18:21
Ales Hemsky R 4 12:49 0:00 3:44 16:33
Ladislav Smid D 4 12:43 4:20 0:03 17:06
Corey Potter D 2 12:43 3:27 0:02 16:13
Nail Yakupov R 4 11:52 0:00 3:19 15:11
Mark Fistric D 2 11:14 4:03 0:00 15:17
Ryan Smyth L 4 8:20 3:38 2:54 14:53
Shawn Horcoff C 4 8:07 3:30 3:53 15:31
Magnus Paajarvi L 3 8:05 2:07 0:00 10:13
Eric Belanger C 4 7:33 3:58 0:02 11:34
Teemu Hartikainen L 3 7:02 0:00 0:31 7:33
Ben Eager L 1 6:18 0:00 0:00 6:18
Lennart Petrell L 4 5:22 3:15 0:00 8:37
Darcy Hordichuk L 1 1:11 0:00 0:00 1:11

No one can suggest Krueger isn’t playing his best players the most. You all wanted the kids to play 20 minutes a night last year, and now they are doing that.

They have been very good on the powerplay with 6 goals on 22 opportunities, 27.3%, which is tied for 5th best in the league. If the Oilers can find a way to start scoring at EV the games will become much easier.

Obviously the Horcoff and Gagner lines need to do more EV, and I wonder if Krueger will look at switching them up, but ultimately this team will start winning consistently once their top line become more effective at EV. The good news for the Oilers is they are 2-2 in four games, despite little production EV.

Eberle has shown he can be productive at EV. Last season, 73.6% of his points came at EV, which was 5th best amongst the top-20 scorers in the NHL. (The first column shows were they finished in league scoring)


  Player  Team GP  G  A  P ESP  EV%
20 Loui Eriksson DAL 82 26 45 71 56 78.8
18 Martin St Louis TBL 77 25 49 74 58 78.3
2 Steven Stamkos TBL 82 60 37 97 72 74.2
13 Ray Whitney PHX 82 24 53 77 57 74
16 Jordan Eberle EDM 78 34 42 76 56 73.6
15 Marian Gaborik NYR 82 41 35 76 55 72.3
6 Phil Kessel TOR 82 37 45 82 59 71.9
4 Jason Spezza OTT 80 34 50 84 60 71.4
12 Marian Hossa CHI 81 29 48 77 54 70.1
8 John Tavares NYI 82 31 50 81 56 69.1
1 Evgeni Malkin PIT 75 50 59 109 75 68.8
14 Joe Thornton SJS 82 18 59 77 53 68.8
9 Henrik Sedin VAN 82 14 67 81 54 66.7
11 Erik Karlsson OTT 81 19 59 78 50 64.1
7 James Neal PIT 80 40 41 81 51 62.9
17 Anze Kopitar LAK 82 25 51 76 46 60.5
19 Jason Pominville BUF 82 30 43 73 44 60.2
5 Ilya Kovalchuk NJD 77 37 46 83 49 59.1
10 Patrik Elias NJD 81 26 52 78 45 57.6
3 Claude Giroux PHI 77 28 65 93 53 56.9

Now let’s take a quick look at how the Oilers produced at EV last year.


Player  GP  G  A  P  ESP EV% EV TOI
Jordan Eberle 78 34 42 76 56 73.6 14:24
Ryan Smyth 82 19 27 46 38 82.6 14:26
Sam Gagner 75 18 29 47 35 74.4 14:40
Taylor Hall 61 27 26 53 32 60.3 15:06
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 62 18 34 52 29 55.7 14:33
Ales Hemsky 69 10 26 36 27 75 15:25
Ryan Jones 79 17 16 33 24 72.7 12:06
Shawn Horcoff 81 13 21 34 21 61.7 14:03
Jeff Petry 73 2 23 25 19 76 17:59
Ladislav Smid 78 5 10 15 14 93.3 17:28
Ben Eager 63 8 5 13 13 100 8:29
Corey Potter 62 4 17 21 10 47.6 16:36
Ryan Whitney 51 3 17 20 10 50 17:49
Eric Belanger 78 4 12 16 10 62.5 11:11
Lennart Petrell 60 4 5 9 7 77.7 8:29
Magnus Paajarvi 41 2 6 8 6 75 11:56
Nick Schultz 82 1 6 7 6 87.5 16:55
Teemu Hartikainen 17 2 3 5 5 100 12:59
Darcy Hordichuk 43 1 2 3 3 100 4:20

You will notice that the top-line was the most productive at EV, but the Oilers got some solid production from Ryan Smyth and Sam Gagner.

I expect the Oilers top line to carry the bulk of the offence, but until the 2nd and 3rd lines show up it is going to be difficult to win.

So far Smyth, Horcoff, Hartikainen, Paajarvi, Hemsky, Gagner and Yakupov have zero points 5-on-5. Gagner and Yakupov did score with an extra attacker on the ice late in games, but as a pure EV tally those seven forward don’t have a sniff through four games.

If the Oilers are going to put any sort of win streak together, the entire team needs to show some sort of pulse offensively during five-on-five play.



N.Schultz- J.Schultz


I’m a tad surprised Fistric is out considering how well he has played on the penalty kill. Krueger said the Potter is in because he doesn’t want guys sitting around very long. He also juggled his 3rd and 4th lines, and is hoping that Hartikainen and Paajarvi can find the chemistry they had in OKC.

The Avalanche is struggling to score with only nine goals in four games. The Duchene/Parenteau duo has looked good with both of them scoring a pair of goals, but the Avs really miss Ryan O’Reilly. Greg Sherman is standing firm on his stance that O’Reilly won’t get much more money, if any, than Matt Duchene.

Gabriel Landeskog won’t play tonight, but the Avalanche didn’t want to say why he was out. Some are assuming he has a concussion, but the Avalanche, like most teams, didn`t want to say what his injury was. Rumblings suggest he injured his leg and head during the hit. 


  • It is very early and it’s only been four games, but Ryan Smyth has looked a half a step behind so far this season. He’s been solid on the PK, but at EV he hasn’t generated much. He was very productive at EV last season, and the Oilers desperately need him to get back on track. He didn’t play during the lockout and at his age, not playing for almost eight months could be contributors to his slow start.
  • Krueger addressed the Oilers EV scoring woes by saying they need to be more composed and cut down on their turnovers. He also preached patience, since there hasn’t been a training camp and some players haven’t played in eight months. Many don’t want to accept the latter, but in many cases the difference between guys who were playing and guys who weren’t is pretty obvious.
  • The Oilers have been shorthanded 13 times in the first period so far this season, most in the NHL. It is hard to get any sort of momentum five-on-five early in a game when you are killing off that many penalties. Toss in their PP time in the first frame and that likely has played a factor into their dreadful EV scoring.
  • The Oilers will make a decision regarding Nikolai Khabibulin tomorrow according to Krueger. He has been practicing and if he feels good he will go on the road trip as the backup and Yann Danis will return to OKC.
  • Theo Peckham is on a conditioning program right now, and I’d guess that when they feel he is in game shape they will send him to OKC on a conditioning stint, and place Ben Eager on the IR to free up a roster spot.

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers will score two goals EV and win 4-3. Horcoff scores his first off the season.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers are the only team in the NHL who has yet to score the first goal of the game, so obviously they will score first tonight. Why, because they scored first in five of the six meetings with the Avs last year. 

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nail Yakupov scores the go-ahead goal with four minutes remaining. His celebration is very subdued compared to his knee slide; however, just after he scores he pulls a cherry out of his sock and crushes it with his skate. When asked after the game if the cherry represented Don Cherry he asks, "Who is Don Cherry?"


  • MarcusBillius

    You know, people talk of “sheltering” the Sedins or our top line, but I don’t see it that way.

    I see it as maximizing their effectiveness. Remember, this is the scoring line because the players know how to score goals, or make passes that lead to goals. That doesn’t mean they’re great defensively, but neither does it mean that they’re bad defensively. The scoring line players have their jobs because they have a high ability to score goals. That’s why they get paid.

    Conversely, a checking line is made up of players who don’t typically have a high ability to score goals. They’re on the checking line either because they were never great primary threats and learned to play defense, or because they lost their jobs on the scoring lines and used their natural talents to become checkers.

    So why wouldn’t you put these lines in the situations they’re best at, most practiced at, and most suitable for?

    Should a first line be able to take a face-off in its own zone and carry the play out? Absolutely, but if your goal is to win games, then you need to score goals and keep them out of the net. What better way than by putting the scorers out for more scoring opportunities, and the defenders for defensive ones?

  • D'oh-ilers

    Sitting Fistric is an odd move. So is playing Hartikainen for only 7.5 minutes a night. A team as small and lacking in muscle as the Oilers should probably make more use of their physical players to wear down the opposition, no?

  • D'oh-ilers


    This team we are icing tonight is soft as marshmallows. Luckily, the Avs are not much of a physical team but still.

    We’ve had some success recently against the Avs so I will say that the win one, lose one trend continues tonight. 4-3 Oilers. Goals by Yakupov, Gagner, Eberle and Hall.

  • Milli

    We have 2 hitters, one is a healthy scratch and the other is hurt….awesome! As for diamond Don Cherry, I like the guy, he is funny, but when he is talking up the leafs because they are up 2 to 0 on 3 shots, but they have swagger, cuz there tough, swagger? Swagger in the first maybe, but is was stagger by the trird. Anyone, and I have a few fights here in BC about MY BOY YAK, anyone who cannot appreciate that passion and excitement, they don’t get sports I guess. I was jumpin and dancin around my living room!!! Hell I think my wife and kids thought I’d gone crazy…AGAIN!!! The kid is great, and he is fun to watch, don’t change him, embrace him!

  • StHenriOilBomb

    I’m a little amazed at all of this ragging on Whitney when I think he, in many ways, had his best game Saturday night against Calgary. There were a few times where he was in a tough situation in front of the net, and his solid body positioning and awareness led to good stick plays breaking up scoring opportunities. Also he started some decent breakouts and had a few shot blocks, I believe. I agree that he’s slower than he was – maybe most noticeably in his acceleration – and hasn’t had the offensive spark that he used to, but he surprised me a few times on Saturday night, and for that I am going to give him some credit. On a bad night, he was okay. Let’s let him make that 12 game mark that Willis was talking about before we toss him to the curb.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    It’s hard to score even strength goals when you rarely play at even strength!

    The NHL has changed their minds this year and the refs call everything they can think of and if that is not working…..they make penalties up!

    I understand there is a new penalty this year…….if you do not like the team you are refereeing, then just penalize them for being young.

    I guess we won’t get any breaks until the kids can grow their beards………three more years!

  • Chaz

    Here’s to Dubey NOT letting in a softie tonight. Always takes the wind out of our sails, and he’s let in a softie in 3 out of the 4 games. Starting NHL goalies can’t do that and expect their team to win. Get it together DD!


  • Shaun Doe

    Liking the work ethic and puck possession of Harti and PRV down low in this game. Now if all their hard work could be passed off for a goal that would be great.

  • Well… there’s Dubnyk’s 1 weak goal.

    I’m liking Petrell with Horc and Smyth too.

    edit: Also, the people who chant Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu when Dubnyk makes a save need to be systematically rounded up and shot without remorse.

    • m3sh

      Amen to fanocide (though I think they’re saying “doob”) of anyone that seeks to emulate those fails known as Canucks fans.

      We could at least be a bit more innovative and shout “WEED” or something. 🙂 At least it sounds like cheering instead of boos.

  • Clyde Frog

    We didn’t score any even strength goals but our PP is really clicking right now. Both units have all of the elements necessary to make the PP work. Other than a pretty sloppy 3rd, that was a tremendous effort all around. We always play well against the Avs so that bodes well for us with 5 games against them this season.

    Obviously the first line was awesome tonight but the fourth line was also very effective. Hartikainen’s dogged determination along the boards along with Paajarvi’s speed make them tough to handle on the cycle. Belanger adds some defensive responsibility to that line and allows the dmen to pinch in order to keep plays alive.

    Dubnyk was very good as well. I felt like he could have done a better job on the goal against but he shut the door on some tough shots in the 3rd and didn’t allow the Avs to get right back into the game. Now we have to build off of this game and get a win on Wednesday. GO OILERS GO!!

  • Citizen David

    We need to cut back on turnovers but that all that I’ll say that’s negative. We should be pleased with the win.

    Our first line is awesome.

    Very pleased with Gagner, tons of effort to win that puck battle and dish it to Yakupov. Two points on the night, six in five games. Why on earth we would want to trade this young player is beyond me.

    Yakupov looks like he needs time. That’s fine with me, he’ll be good.

    When Jones and Eager get back we should trade Hemsky for a d-man. Move Paajarvi or Harti up to the second line. They were great today especially Harti. I liked them and Belanger being out there way more than Horcoff, Smyth, and Petrell. Hemsky has skills but he is the right piece to move.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Okay. Gotta say it. Shane O’Cryin’ is the biggest poser in the league. He was when he was with the Canucks and he has not changed. Dude is to gutless what Ebs is to shooting %.