The center position will be front and cen, well front page if Shawn Horcoff is out for any length of time. The Nuge (how in hell did he miss that gaping net?) and Sam Gagner (pretty good season so far for a guy no one thinks is a 2line C) are taking care of the offensive business, but with Horcoff out who helps Eric Belanger (if he can walk today) with the heavy lifting?

All graphs and stats below are courtesy Gabriel Desjardins and his dynamic behind the net site. Amazing.


  1. Anton Lander 60% offensive zone start
  2. RNH 53.7% "       "       "
  3. Sam Gagner 52.5% "   "    "
  4. Shawn Horcoff 39.1% "   "   "
  5. Eric Belanger 36.1% "    "      "

Ralph Krueger is giving the tough starts at center to Eric Belanger and Shawn Horcoff, and the offensive zone start push to RNH and Sam Gagner. I think we can place this under "duh" strategy, as the Oilers are set up perfectly to give the younger players the push and the older men the hard starts from scrimmage. I don’t know why Petrell shows up here but suspect Shawn Horcov has something to do with it.

If Horcoff and or Belanger are gone for any length of time, the Oilers need to be bringing in veteran players. Gagner and the Nuge may one day do the heavy lifting, but this team is set up for those two to score touchdowns. Steve Tambellini might look to Jason Arnott or to the trades that may be available, but there is no "in house" replacement for Horcoff or Belanger.


  1. Sam Gagner 2.50/60
  2. RNH 0.98/60

The Oilers haven’t gotten much 5×5 scoring from their 3rd and 4th lines, so Horcoff and Belanger having zero’s in this category shouldn’t come as a surprise. It does tell us that the guy replacing Horcoff and or Belanger won’t have to bring a lot of offense to the parade–if he does, that’s a bonus. What he really needs to be though, is low event in his own end.


Corisl Rel (this is taken from Dudes on Hockey) is "A way to compare players that neutralizes team effects, Corsi Rel is a player’s Corsi when they are on the ice versus when they are off.  If a player has a Corsi/60 of 5.0 (meaning the team directs 5 more shots towards the opposing net than they surrender when the player is on the ice) but a Corsi/60 of 6.0 when the player is sitting on the bench, the player’s Corsi Rel is -1.0.  Corsi Rel is always per 60 minutes of ice time."

  1. RNH 25.4
  2. Shawn Horcoff -0.5
  3. Anton Lander -3.5
  4. Sam Gagner -7.8
  5. Eric Belanger -21.7

Gagner’s Corsi Rel is heading in a good direction after a tough start and of course that line has a rookie so there’s going to be some struggles this season. Nuge is on the Hall line and that’s going to push the river (although Nuge had a tough time by my eye yesterday), and Horcoff is just fine. Belanger on the fourth has been a struggle but again he’s been with young players often, and his kids weren’t taken #1 overall.


It is early for quality of competition numbers, but there is some insight they can offer about how RK is running his bench. Toughest to easiest:

  1. Anton Lander .595
  2. Shawn Horcoff .382
  3. Eric Belanger .174
  4. RNH .152
  5. Sam Gagner -.168

Lander’s number is from just a couple of games, and the rest of the numbers are clustered together. I think this tells us that Krueger’s priorities lie away from line matching at this point in the season. He’s trying to get his offensive players into offensive situations and to get them on the ice as often as possible, and one of the results is a fairly even qual comp number for the four main centermen.


If Horcoff is injured, the Oilers are going to need a quality veteran to replace him if they plan on getting anywhere this season. They might be able to use Anton Lander–a pretty fair penalty-killer already–in the Belanger role and elevate Belanger to Horcoff’s job in the short term, but if they’re serious about the second season the Oilers will need to make a move.

Horcoff is not on the IR, and knowing his history he’ll drag his ass onto the ice tomorrow night against the Canucks.

Just in time for the Rexall crowd to shower him with boos.

    • TeddyTurnbuckle

      I was referring to the Flames. Would you not think that this would serve the Flames organization better long-term. The Flames fans must be scratching their collective heads right now.

      How does the draft work this year? Same as always or did they tweak it?

      When is the trade deadline?

      If your Tambo would you trade Hemsky to Washington for either Filip Forsberg or Kuznetzkov? The way Washington’s offense looks right now a move seems imminent. Backstrom looks lost.Ovie is back to the one man show. Both players need help. I think the time is ripe to reap full value for Hemsky. The market is ripe right now to put a Top 6 forward on the market. Will Hemsky be here when the Oiler’s are ready to make the next step? Strike now and we could see a player like Forsberg fall right into our lap. Washington’s owner knows full well he can’t have a team with Ovie on it “not” making the playoffs. He has worked to hard to bring the Capitals back from obscurity for that to happen. They have the assets for the trade to make it happen. Its whether both sides see the benefits of the trade short and longterm.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    Up and down season so far. Don’t mind the Nuge’s play, has had lots of chances, better on face offs this year and has broken up a few 2 on 1’s with a hard ass back check. Hall on the other hand drives me crazy with his turn overs. He has been good but he still manages to turn the puck over 4 times a game trying to force something that isn’t there. Horcoff looks like he can’t skate anymore but I guess he is worth his cap hit because he is over 50% in the dot (not). I agree with Lowetide that the team needs more veterans. We are calling up guys like Lander and Paajarvi who don’t belong in the Nhl yet. Our top three lines are the biggest pussy’s in the league. Is there anyone in the top three lines that can even bodycheck anyone? We have two more rookies in the line up this year and then when we call up players we surround them with ahl players. If the oilers are going to have 6 figure skaters in the top six then you better have some gorillas in the bottom six. Would love to have a guy like Raffi Torres on the team again. Why can’t we have a couple more 1.5 million dollar gritty veterans on the team while Lander and Paajarvi play in the ahl?

  • DSF

    Thanks. April 27th? Seems a little way off. But I think we’ll see movement before then for alot of teams. especially those teams looking to make a run like TBay and Philly.

    BTW. How bad is Detroit>They look beatable for the first time in years.

  • I got a lot of flack during the lockout for saying a few points I believed were key items for the Oilers.

    In no particular order, I mentioned that I thought the Oilers were still a boarderline lottery team, that even though the addition of Yakupov and Schultz both payers are huge, it doesn’t fix the whole problems.

    I mentioned along with a few others that in hindsight, I thought the Oilers would have been better off taking Galchenyuk even though Yakupov is the better player( I am in awe of Yakupov).

    They never addressed the Goaltending issues, one being nobody knew how Dubnyk would play, and Khabibulin’s body and game is not reliable.

    Well, now they have no tough minute centers, the Oilers are being outshot every game by a substantial margin and can’t score 5×5.

    They are absolutely counting on Dubnyk to save them game after game and without the timely goals from a rookie the Oilers would be sinking.

    While a lot of people think that the 5×5 will even out, the same has to be expected of the goaltending.

    DSF mentioned that prior to the season starting, if the Oilers were to lose Horcoff or RNH it would be a catastrophic for the Oilers.

    The Oilers don’t have Horcoff, Belanger and RNH isn’t putting up numbers and without Dubnyk the Oilers would be right were the Flames are…………again.

      • This is not panic, this is reality.

        Every game has had limited offense, W 3-2. L 6-3 W 2-1 W 4-1 EN W 2-1 L 3-2 L 3-1

        The Oilers have not scored more then 4 goals and that was into an empty net.

        The goals for suggest they won’t score 5 goals, how do you score more goals when your always coming from behind?

        Being out-shot every game with the team healthy, what do you think happens without your two best defensive centers?

        This could get bad.

        • geoilersgist

          This is also really starting to concern me. I was thinking about this after the game against the Sharks. This team is supposed to have high end offensive output yet they are only scoring 2 maybe 3 goals a game. I like how the lines are playing but I think now that we are almost 10 games in maybe RK could switch those top two lines up to help jumpstart the offence. 5v5 scoring and the lack of shots are going to catch up to this team in a hurry.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    Our bottom six doesn’t produce because it has no skill.

    Horcoff and Smyth get all their offense from tip ins and rebounds. It is hard to score when all you do is cycle, grind, and don’t get shots to the net.

    I’m surprised Doan didn’t get suspended though, a late, blindside hit that resulted in injury? And he didnt even have the puck.

  • geoilersgist

    I think everyone is getting excited for nothing. If the Oilers finish .500 and just out of the playoffs. That’s an successful year. Remember they were 29th in the league last year. They brought back the exact team with the same issues with two highend rookies. I agree they have glaring holes in there line but just about every teams does. It’s time for management to get off there hands and start doing there part cuz u have relied on drafting. At the end of the year or near the trade deadline, management will evaluate Gagner, Whitney, Hemsky and Dubnyks season then possibley make changes. Thats how tambo has worked the last four years.

    • DSF

      Finishing .500 and just out of the playoffs is NOT a successful year.

      It’s just a tragic indication of how low the fan expectations for the team have become.

      Kevin Lowe has been piloting the ship for 12 years now and the Oilers have made the playoffs exactly 3 times.

      Making the playoffs in the NHL is not all that difficult since nearly 2/3rds of the teams make it every season.

      Missing out 7 years in a row would be a firing offense for every other team in the league.

      • Time Travelling Sean

        I think your both right in parts of what you say.

        Missing the playoffs is never considered a successful year. TRUE

        Going from 29th place to making the playoffs the following year is highly improbable. TRUE

        • DSF

          Because reaching a goal is highly improbable, failure to reach it is still failure.

          Florida went from last in the EC to winning their division in one offseason.

          While it is improbable…it is no impossible.

          However, it does require and astute GM.

          • Time Travelling Sean

            How’s Florida doing now? I’d rather suck for 3-4 years and be successful for 8-10 than suck one year and be marginal the next and repeat that for the next decade.

          • DSF

            Florida has been hit hard by injuries to start the season.

            At one point they had 4 of their top 6 forwards out of the lineup at the same time.

            Imagine how the Oilers record would look under the same circumstances.

            When trying to compare the relative merits of the two teams you might want to bear in mind that Florida, not the Oilers, is considered to have the best prospect pool in the NHL.

            With a smart GM like Tallon, they will be successful for a long time.

          • Time Travelling Sean

            You mean an astute GM like the cupless Wild have had for the past 45 YEARS. The GM’s who drafted legends like thier first ever first round pick in 1967. I mean who could ever forget the HUSH in the arena when then North Stars went to the podium to select……wait for it………….WAYNE CHEESEMAN !!!!

            OH I loved old Wayne, and that signature move where he’d go into the corner and churn it out and then he’d curdle back from behind the net and go TOP Cheese!!! AHhhhhh the Glory Years!

          • DSF

            For an old guy, you sure don’t know much about history.

            The Wild have only existed since 1997.

            Their predecessor, the current Dallas Stars have won seven division titles in Dallas, two President’s Trophies as the top regular season team in the NHL, the Western Conference championship twice, and in 1998–99, the Stanley Cup.

            Now what happens in Dallas doesn’t mean much in Minnesota and Chuck Fletcher, the Wild GM, has only been on the job for 3 seasons.

            I am sure if his 12 year record is as pitiful as Lowe’s, he’ll be sent packing,

          • DSF….For a young Dufe….your denial of the present is embarassing. Your grasping at straws with your Kevin Bacon six degrees of seperation crap…..deflecting to the Dallas Stars is lame…..Tambellini used to be in the Canucks organization…..guess well take credit for any success they’ve had in the past few years.

            So to get your point….your more proud of no cups in 15 years than no cups in 45 years ( cause you want to deny your history instead of celebrate it…..that’s completely understandable).

          • Deflecting to the Dallas Stars after you brought up the Wild isn’t deflecting it’s a fact!

            DSF may get under people’s skin but he’s right about this,

            The Minnesota North Stars became the Dallas Stars and something to do with San Jose as well.

          • DSF

            I’m not sure what “a young Dufe” is but I’d wager I’m older than you are.

            As I recall it was you who went off like a 12 year old school boy in the women’s washroom over the record of the Wild/Stars/Northstars when, in fact, it is virtually irrelevant to the current situation.

            The bottom line is, Minny has an aggressive new GM who isn’t content to let his team wallow in the ditch while the same “management team” that sewered the Oilers is still running the show.

          • Given your prediliction for 12 year old school boys…….I’d wager your gayer than Elton John…..but all that aside….

            The bottom line is that Minnesota has won nothing (well they did one One Clarence Cambell bowl….wouldn’t want you to have to present another history lesson)….in its enitire history……15 years…..45 years who cares…..So stop deflecting and acknowledge that fact…

          • Time Travelling Sean

            We tried signing Hossa and trading for Heatley. If they didn’t get Parise and Suter they would be in a ditch?

            We had to suck to get high end talent here.

          • DSF

            You know what’s highly improbable, but not impossible?

            Not winning a single cup in 45 YEARS and still being in the league!

            However it does require an astute owner to con that many Minnisotians.

          • You bet Kevin and I and other winners LOVE remembering the 80’s …proud of it…..you should ask Cliff Fletcher about those days..I garauntee you he remembers them well.

            But we do need your help remembering the convoluted history of the Dallas North Stars…..can you share that with us one more time…..it was riveting…..

            Oh yeah….Do we get to take credit for LA’s Cup cause Gretzky played there you know…and the NYR Cup cause Messier won that one…etc, etc, etc…

      • Time Travelling Sean

        Look at the stats of how many teams go from 29 place and make the playoffs the next year especially with two new rookies and the same team. I think ur emotions are getting the best of you. Keep drinking the coolaid boys.

        • Agree with the first sentence. As for the second sentence, 3 out 4 Oilers fans are prefer sipping their coolaid from the Stanley Cup.

          Remind again how many Cups the Minnesota Wild have won in the illustrious history?

      • Agree with the first sentence. As for the second sentence, 3 out 4 Oilers fans are prefer sipping their coolaid from the Stanley Cup.

        Remind me again how many Stanley Cups the Minnesota Wild have won in their less than illustrious history?

      • The Soup Fascist

        I agree that we need to hold this group to a higher level and stop making excuses every year. And yes, 3 years out of 12 is woeful, to say the least.

        But to say 16 / 30 teams is “nearly 2/3 rds” is just wrong – percentage is much closer to 50/50 (53/47). Your point in this case is valid but PLEASE stop misrepresenting data to make your case. You are better than that.

      • book¡e

        Making the playoffs in the NHL is not all that difficult since nearly 2/3rds of the teams make it every season.

        53.33% of NHL teams make the playoffs in any one season.

        So, about half of NHL teams make the playoffs, but more than half of DSF’s comments are asinine and only meant to troll others into a response. I am sure DSF would agree with this. Please prop him when he does

        • Time Travelling Sean

          If you want to hold DSF accountable to the facts…try this fact on for size.

          The Minnesota Wild have been in the league for 45 YEARS. In that time they have won ZERO Stanley Cups. Lets see, thats Zero divided by 45 equals, Zero, times 100 = wait a minute, let me grab my calculator ……………………………………………………………………………OK…….OH YEAH…………..ZERO!

  • Krueger has set a plan to put all his offense on two lines with the advantage that this gives the young players, more familiarity and confidence and, it gives you two strong PP units. He will probably stick with this system unless injuries force him to do otherwise. This is at least a part of the reason we are not scoring a lot of 5×5 as you typically need some output from your bottom two lines to achieve decent 5×5 numbers.

    The idea of spreading the offensive talent across 3 lines will probably come next year via trade(s) for one or two power forwards or through the promotion/development of players like Hartikanen, or the drafting of a rookie power forward type.

    All in all, things are going along according to plan with lots to be happy about, 9 points in the standings, Gagner, Hemmer, Dubnyk, J Schult, Fistric, Yak, all doing pretty well. As well as lots of areas that need improvment, better play 5×5, more toughness, more face off wins, etc.

    We are probably only at the half way point of the rebuild, and it isn’t just about trades and plugging holes. The larger part is about time. Time to grow bigger and stronger, Time to gain experience, Time to gain playoff experience, Time to develope depth throughout the system, etc. And yes, I feel like the rest of you…..hurry up…I cant wait.

    But lets not get panicky.

  • OilClog

    Perhpas it helps to look at things a different way.

    Chances are that about 30% of this team will not be here when we challenge for the cup. Thats about 7 or 8 of the current active roster players.

    Who will be gone? Who will take thier place? What will that team look like?

  • I think all oiler fans want to sip the cool aid from the cup but look at the team going into the season:
    A goalie that has never played a full season as a starter
    A defense that wasn’t very good last year, u bring a stud defenseman that will need time to develop and another guy in Whitney that’s had foot problems before he came to Edmonton.
    Two small centermans that can’t win a face off so ur relying more on an aging horkoff to stay healthy, no crashers, bangers or size especially in our top six. Zero scoring from the third or fourth lines and they haven’t even been close.
    I hate losing just as much as everyone else but this team needs a lot money pieces and time to grow. It takes time

  • 2004Z06

    Oh Lama….Your bitterness knows no bounds. Several things you are failing to acknowledge about Belanger. First of all….bellanger has been one of the NHL’s most consistent point and faceoff performers for a decade. While he has not put up the points with the Oilers as of yet (penalty killing most of the night), he has delivered in the dot. I firmly believe that his faceoff prowess was a significant reason why our penalty kill and powerplay improved last year and this. Puck possession! Secondly he is very good on the penalty kill. Thirdly….He has done a lot for helping our kids get better in the dot. He is a specialist and is certainly a valid NHL player.

  • book¡e

    I think deep down inside that management knew the stars who have to align to make the playoffs and it doesn’t make it right. I think management is the weakest area in the club including Lowe. However look at how Tambo has run the oilers the last four years. He hasn’t made a tough decision and relied on the draft. Expect another year of evaluation of players and hopefully fix some areas with a couple quality UFAs in July. That’s Tambo

  • OilClog

    Yes, Doan would be the crap out of Hordichuk, guy is a pylon. But you know who would take Doan out… Sam Gagner, the little engine that could.

    Also.. This old man/DSF bickering back and forth is entertaining and easy to see who possibly proof reads..

  • I think some question’s need answered.

    The pieces are here, so why are we not seeing any trades to improve the team we have here?

    Two elite players, a new coach and an unproven goalie weren’t going to improve the team to a playoff team was it?

    Was that management’s expectation?

    Or Is Management and the fans expectations of this team unrealistic?

    Like I said, I still think this team is just barley better than a lottery pick 6-9, which is too bad because we have such good talent that’s being wasted by management lack of action.

    To make it worse DSF comments about injuries to our centers would be bad news, Horcoff down is bad, Belanger down is even worse.

    • Time Travelling Sean

      As of right now we still have a winning record it’s not like the sky is falling.

      Odd there was a thread on Flames Nation about how the underlying numbers are encouraging while ours aren’t yet we have the winning record and they don’t.

      • Time Travelling Sean

        Yeah….it is interesting to read there threads…in particular Kent Wilson?….he calls the Oilers crap….while coming up with the following positive about the Flames season..

        In the article titled “Don’t Panic The positives of the Flames start”

        He writes: “Overall, Calgary is 9th in the league in terms of fenwick close (a stat that corrects for score effects) witha ratio of 52.98. That’s better rate than such notable teams as Chicago, Vancouver, Philadelphia, New York Rangers and San Jose.”

        I know the Penguins and the Sharks are really focused on Fenwick Close this year…..feeling its the key to thier success… 🙂

      • DSF

        What that tells you is the Flames are better than their record (I’ve watched all their games and I agree) while the Oilers are not as good as their record (ditto).

      • Not yet

        lets look at what is going on.

        The Oiler’s troubles scoring a lot 5×5, a second line that’s bleeding chances.

        Being out shot badly every game and not scoring nearly enough.

        A career average goalie playing over his head right now.

        Injuries are starting, whats worse at the one postilion the Oiler’s cant afford to have injuries at…see Anton Lander

        The other teams in the WC starting to play up to there potential.

        How much more improving can the Oiler’s do with the present line up and young kids still making mistakes.

        I’m thinking this is the calm before the storm

        My guess is the Oiler’s get spanked tonight, or they lose by one goal.

        • Lowetide

          Ahhh….Wes…..the eternal optimist…….

          I’ll counter the karma your putting out there with a prediction that the Oilers spank the Canucks or at least beat them by one goal!

      • match16

        Sure it does.

        Minnesota has zero Stanley cups in 45 YEARS.

        If we consider reversion to the mean…they should win exactly ZERO Stanely Cups in the next 45 YEARS…….of course its not an exact calculation…..they could trade for Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle when they are in there mid 40’s and thereby increase there chances of reverting to the Oilers mean…..which is higher than ZERO. It worked for the NYR….It could work for you.

  • Lowetide

    DSF and OLD RETIRED GUY, remind me of two old farts sitting in a hot tub, surrounded by glorious bubbles, only to find out that the
    tub is not even plugged in.!