GDB 15.0: OILERS STARTING TO SCORE?

Up until Saturday night the Edmonton Oiler franchise record for shots in a game was 55, against Minnesota on March 21st, 1986, but the young Oilers eclipsed that after firing 56 v. Colorado. The Oilers peppered Semyon Varlamov for 60 minutes, and despite falling behind 3-0 they kept attacking in waves as nine different players had at least four shots.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ended a 12-game goal scoring slump, Jordan Eberle ended an 8-game slump and both looked very relieved afterwards. Was it a one-game outburst or are the Oilers starting to find their way out of their offensive slumber?

It is too early to say, but confidence is a finicky thing and Nugent-Hopkins admitted that his goal had him in a different frame of mind today. The Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle/Taylor Hall trio had been generating loads of chances with little results, but a game like Saturday could easily ignite them. They are averaging 9.5 shots/game as a line, and it was only a matter of time before they scored.

The Oilers need to get on a winning streak before heading out on their 9-game road trip, and the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings are a team the Oilers need to beat.

For the 2nd straight season the Kings are struggling to score five-on-five. Last year the Kings were 29th in ES goals with only 118 in 82 games. They made the playoffs because they were 2nd in ES goals against, giving up only 121. Their offense caught fire in the playoffs and they cruised to their first Stanley Cup.

However, their offensive woes are back and once again they are 29th in ES goals for. The Oilers are 30th, but right now the Oilers have a better GAA than the Kings at 2.64 to 2.69.

The Oilers top players are producing. Hall and Gagner have 15 points in 14 games while Eberle has 11 and Ales Hemsky is tied for 13th in the NHL in goals with 7.

Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar lead the Kings with only nine points. It is very perplexing that a forward group consisting of Richards, Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams and Drew Doughty on the backend can’t produce more goals, but they are and the Oilers need to take advantage of that tonight.

ALL LINES GOING

Against Colorado all four lines were buzzing and creating chances. The Oilers attacked the entire game and they were able to spend way more time in the offensive zone.

LA’s s size will make it more difficult to cycle the puck consistently, but the Oilers need to use their speed wisely against the bigger Kings.

Hall/RNH/Eberle
Hartikainen/Gagner/Hemsky
Yakupov/Belanger/Smyth
Paajarvi/Vande Velde/Eager

Smid/Petry
N.Schultz/J.Schultz
Fistric/Whitney

Khabibulin

Khabibulin has played very well in his two appearances, start in Detroit, off the bench v. Colorado, and he’s earned another start. "He’s given us a lot of energy with his play, but this is nothing to do with Devan’s play," said Krueger. Dubnyk has had three bad luck goals the past two games, and he’ll get the night off.

Lennart Petrell is still dizzy from taking a puck in the temple during warmup on Saturday and he’ll sit out.

QUICK HITS

  • Colorado, Edmonton and Florida have only one D-man who has scored a goal. Tyson Barrie has one goal for the Avs while Brian Campbell and J.Schultz have four each. The Oilers aren’t blessed with an abundance of goal scorers on their blueline, but they need some production from Petry, Whitney and Potter. Edm, Col and Flo also have zero ES goals from their blueliners.
     
  • Colorado has one goal, while the Oilers are tied 2nd fewest goals from the blueline with Florida, Boston, Minnesota, San Jose, New Jersey and the Islanders with four each.
     
  • The defencemen haven’t scored one ES goal this year. "We have had too many shots blocked. We have worked on making a few little changes so they can get more shots through," said Krueger.
     
  • At the other end of the spectrum the Rangers and Capitals’ blueline have zero goals on the PP. Mike Green has no PP goals for the Capitals, yet their PP is still 6th best at 25%.
     
  • The Oilers’ PK isn’t getting much attention, but it has been very good, allowing only nine goals on 68 chances, 4th best in the NHL at 86.6%. They are also tied for second with two shorthanded goals.
     
  • If the Oilers start scoring at ES, this team could become very competitive.
     
  • At 3 p.m. today on we will have a trivia contest for a pair of Oiler tickets to tonight’s game. here. First correct answer wins. Also LIKE the page.
     
  • Will the Oilers go the way of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks, or will they be like Florida, Columbus, Atlanta and the Islanders? They are entering a crucial stage of their development. Read here.

THE FUTURE

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Khabibulin has seven career shutouts v. the Kings, and he comes close to blanking them again as the Oilers win 4-1.
 
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nugent-Hopkin’s line continues their dominant play in the offensive zone and they score twice. RNH scores his 2nd goal of the season.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Early in the first period, the Kopitar line creates four consecutive scoring chances yet Khabibulin stones them. The crowd cheers louder with each save and when the sequence ends they chant, "Habby, Habby, Habby." While sitting on the bench Devan Dubnyk wonders why they don’t do the same for him, rather than the Duuuuuubbb that has become a trend. It’s a question that no one, but you the fans, can answer. Please do.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

      • yeeps

        Sorry, but I think Khabibulin is terrible. I don’t really care much if he has a good game, I assume long term, he hurts the team more than helps (and I don’t hope I’m wrong).

        I don’t like him as a person either, charged with a DUI, and he still gets to play hockey.

        Unless there is a back to back, there is no need to play this relic.

        Oh, my name has nothing to do with Selma Hayek, and typing in caps makes you look unprofessional. Sorry to hear you are a Khabibulin fan, but every fan has the right to their own opinion.

        • The 'Real' Ron Burgundy

          This ought to be fun!!

          or…

          THIS OUGHT TO BE FUN!!

          What ever way you prefer, it could get interesting.

          This could back-fire on you SELMA, & EVERYONE COULD BEGIN TO TYPE WITH THE CAPS PERMANENTLY ON!

          • I don’t like Khaby either and I don’t think Whitney fills a long term need for our team.

            That being said not resigning either of them is terrible management of assets.

            There are a few teams that currently have goaltender injuries and if Khaby plays a few more solid games for us he should be a tradeable asset closer to the deadline.

            Every team in the NHL is looking for Dmen and a few need a guy that can play on the PP. While Whitney is not near what he once was, he is a valid option on the PP. Alone he should net us a 3rd rounder and could be a nice sweetener in a trade with the right team.

          • Wax Man Riley

            I agree with you that Whitney has some trade value because other teams will just choose to look past that his ankle hasen’t recovered since surgery, and that it is likely to continue with him for the rest of his career.

            I tend to disagree that Khabibulin has any trade value (unless possibly he puts up a .915 SV % this year, which is also unlikely). Lots of media talked about Khabi having trade value last year, and there was zero interest. I see the same situation this year. There are just an abundance of goalies in the league, and many of better quality.

            Maybe I’m wrong here, if I had the chance to bet, I’d probably bet on a line of -800 that Khabi won’t be traded

          • northof51

            Habby was not tradeable last year because he pretty much sucked, and he had a year left on his $3.75 Million contract that could not be bought out this year (35+ rule). If he plays well (decent) this year he could be attractive as a low-cost, affordable rental.
            GO TO TSN OR SPORTSNET IF YOU CANNOT HANDLE THE NATION!

          • The 'Real' Ron Burgundy

            I guess we will see. I’d be a bit confused as to why another team would want a 40 y/o goaltender, coming off injury, who lost his starting spot on a team that was ranked 29th in the league next year. He put up a .910 SV% last year, and .890SV% the year before. When Luongo, Bernier, and others are available, it’s pretty difficult seeing other teams being interested.

            I guess there is a possibility they want a veteran as insurance for a backup. But most teams seem to have a vested interest in young goaltenders within their own system. Nothing worse to get a future starter irritated by losing his spot to a 40 y/o who takes your spot for a playoff run.

          • Time Travelling Sean

            Luongo and Bernier aren’t back-ups. What happens if Rask or Lundqvist get injured? Khabbi showed, for at least one game, that he can still play.

            Maybe that’s it, he can stay rested and not get fatigued and can put up some solid back-up tending.

          • a lg dubl dubl

            The answer is in your reply. He is insurance if your start falters. Meaning how could the starter be upset losing his job when he is playing like crap or injured.

            What’s the cost for Luongo? Bernier? Now what’s the cost for Khaby? Think about it.

          • Wax Man Riley

            Maybe look at the market first. I’ll work under the assumption that teams looking for insurance will be contending teams, so lets just look at the top 4 teams in each conference now.

            PIT-Vokoun
            MTL-Budaj
            CAR-Ellis
            NJ-Hedberg

            CHI-Emery
            ANA-Fasth
            VAN-Luongo
            STL-Elliot

            So who among these backups will Khabibulin be an improvement over. Then think what GM wants to upset one of the goalies, and have them lose their spot on the team.

            Personally, I don’t see any teams in the current top 8 taking someone such as Khabibulin as a backup over their current backup. The most unstable ground is probably under Hedberg and Ellis, but that’s debatable.

            Hometown fans seem to overvalue the perception of their players’ values that other teams place (that’s why why see these ridiculous rade rumours come out, and are always laughed at by the other side).

            The thing is just a lack of a market. If Khabibulin was a starting goalie, putting up good numbers on a non-playoff team, then yeah, there might be some demand for him at the trade deadline. This is not him today, hence no market, as other teams have options available, and younger options which bring more than just a rental for a backup.

            Just curious though, maybe enlighten me onto which teams will be interested in Khabi this trade deadline. And let me know which backup they will be replacing. I’m not doing this to mock you guys, just give me an informed opinion, and back it up.

          • yeeps

            Dude I never said it was a possible trade. I was just responding to your reduculous reply. And if you were to trade him your going to only get a 3rd 4th pick. Maybe.

          • Wax Man Riley

            Well I backed up ridiculous reply, and expressed a somewhat coherent response explaining my position. I’m not trying to attack you here.

            But instead of homerism and people not actually providing a response with any intelligent thought, I’m just looking for a response of who would want Khabibulin and why. I think that’s an easy enough question which allows people to articulate their position. Which to me, seems more engaging then arguing over nothing.

          • The 'Real' Ron Burgundy

            WOW

            YOU ARE ON QUITE A ROLL THERE MAM!

            YOU DO NOT KNOW THE INTELLIGENCE LEVEL OR HOW MUCH OF A HOMER MIKEY ACTUALLY IS, SO TO COMMENT ON IT IS …HOW’D YOU PUT IT…

            UNPROFESSIONAL

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Hey Selma, i’ll take that Khabibulin bet.

            3 first overalls in a row, and it was because of Khabbys goaltending……where do these bozos keep coming from?

        • Time Travelling Sean

          Selma Hayek I’m missing the unprofessional part… I am sure that Wanye made sure to put on his most formal sweatpants and Wrestlemania T-Shirt before responding to you. He always looks his best when he’s out on the Internet.

          • The 'Real' Ron Burgundy

            WANYE PUT ON PANTS, PANTS YOU SAY. IN ALL THE YEARS OF THE INTERWEB, WANYE HAS NEVER BEEN KNOWN TO PUT ON PANTS ESPECIALLY FORMAL SWEATPANTS!

  • Giant Squid Overlord

    Dubnyk is a big calm netminder that uses his positioning and isn’t flashy. He seems so relaxed, kind of like the big calm that washes over with a pull from a “Dooooooooooooooooob”

    Khabby is more animated in the crease, seems a little twitchy and higher strung than his counterpart. “Habby! Habby! Habby!” is the chant for someone with a decent blood alcohol level – wired up and ready for some excitement.

    The chants correlate with their dispositions, IMHO, or maybe I should lay off the pipe and pour one finger instead of three. Hmmmm…

  • Cowbell_Feva

    I am curious to see how the Oilers can cycle in the offensive zone tonight. As Gregor mentioned, LA is a much bigger team. I think the 4th line can be a big difference maker if they are effective in The offensive zone. They played well against Colorado but didn’t get much recognition. There is something to be said of keeping the puck 200 ft from your goal, banging bodies, and throwing rubber at the net. Helps to wear down the opposition defence and rests the top lines so they stay fresh. If that can happen I could see it being a good game.

    So long as we don’t rely on scoring off the rush for every goal. Hope Khabby can keep playing as well as he has. Would love to see Smytty’s pot one. Go oil.

  • Ducey

    “Early in the first period, the Kopitar line creates four consecutive scoring chances yet Khabibulin stones them. The crowd cheers louder with each save and when the sequence ends they chant, “Habby, Habby, Habby.” While sitting on the bench Devan Dubnyk wonders why they don’t do the same for him, rather than the Duuuuuubbb that has become a trend. It’s a question that no one, but you the fans, can answer. Please do.”

    Because fans don’t cheer for guys sitting on the bench. Duh.

  • Bi-Curious Gord

    Should be yet another good game tonight against yet another good team that will yet again underestimate us.

    I wonder if Stoll is still mad at that Yak celebration?

    I see our powerplay shredding this team tonight as Quick hasn’t looked great.