RANDOM THOUGHTS…REALIGNMENT AND MORE

As you scramble to debate whether you should top up your RRSP contributions or buy new TV, (you might have taken your Oilers frustration out on your TV) we’ll discuss all thing NHL and the Oilers.

Let’s start with the proposed new realignment. Keep in mind the Board of Governors and the NHLPA still has to vote on this. This is just a proposal.

Elliott Friedman reported the new divisions and proposed format on Saturday.

There would be four new divisions comprising of 16 teams in the eastern conference and 14 in the west.

Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Tampa Bay and Florida. (Central)

Philly, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Washington, Carolina and Columbus. (Atlantic)

Dallas, Winnipeg, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, Minnesota and Colorado. (Mid-west)

Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Anaheim (Pacific)

The top three teams in each division would make the playoffs and the final two spots would be wildcard berths from the remaining teams within their own conference.. Essentially eight east teams and six from the west would miss the playoffs each season.

Bob McKenzie tweeted how the outline of the schedule:

The western teams would play 29 games (likely 5 games v. 5 teams and 4 games v. 1 team), they’d play the other west division teams three times each (21 games) and they’d play every east team twice (32 games), once at home and once on the road.

The eastern conference would be as follows. They would play 30 games within their division (likely 4 games v. 5 teams and 5 games v. 2 teams), they’d play the other east division teams three times each (24 games) and they’d play the west teams twice (28 games), once at home and once on the road.

RECAP

I like this proposal. It would ensure that fans got to see every team at least twice. They say there would be less travel, and likely so, but due to the Oilers geographical location they’d still travel more than most teams.

This is just a proposal and I’m sure some will complain that it is easier to make the playoffs in the west, but if they want less travel this works best. Keep in mind the board of governors and the NHLPA haven’t voted on this yet, but it seems likely we will see some sort of new divisional realignment and schedule next season.

QUICK HITS

  • Interesting how differently people react to a bad play. When Ryan Whitney got beat by Jaromir Jagr in OT, he was ripped apart. Last night, Jeff Petry made a major mistake by inexplicably skating behind the net after getting beat one-on-one by Patrick Sharp, and that led to Marian Hossa’s OT winner. Petry got a bit of flack, but not close to the reaction Whitney received.
     
  • Some stats guys will tell you Corey Potter is playing well. I love stats, I really do, but if your stats suggest he is playing well, I think that is proof that no statistical data is completely accurate. Please tell me what you see that makes you believe Potter is making an impact in games. I just don’t see it.
     
  • I’d play Theo Peckham v. Dallas on Thursday. I thought he played well his first game, and surprised me with how confident he was moving the puck.
     
  • I understand if Krueger wants to protect Nail Yakupov and doesn’t play him in tight games, but at some point he has to make a statement to his forwards who continually refuse to shoot the puck when they are in good shooting lanes. It is becoming ridiculous how often the Oilers pass up great shots and then end up missing the pass or getting no shot. It needs to stop, and he might have to do some tough love and sit guys for a shift or two.
     
  • Nugent-Hopkins has 40 shots on net, but he’s missed the net 22 times. With only one goal it is obvious he is pressing and trying to pick the corner, but he might just need to fire one at the pads and hope for a rebound.
     
  • Hall and Eberle have 61 shots on net, but they’ve only missed the net 14 and 18 times respectively. Gagner has 50 shots with 13 misses.
     
  • Do you think the Oilers miss Horcoff? Salary aside, they desperately need a veteran to win some faceoffs, play solid defensively and contribute offensively.
     
  • At some point one of the Oilers leaders is going to have to stand up and rattle some cages. You can’t always expect the coach to do it. It is time one of them stated they need to be more accountable to one another. We keep seeing the same mistakes happening game after game.
     
  • The Bruins have only played 15 games. They will play 33 games in the next 61days, including 17 games from March 2nd to 31st. I’m curious to see how they hold up.
     
  • In the 1995 shortened season Peter Bondra led the NHL in goals with 34. Right now only Steven Stamkos is on pace to match that, which would be 59 in an 82-game season. John Tavares, Patrick Marleau, James Neal and Tomas Vanek are on pace for 32-33, which would be great totals over a full season, if they maintain it.
     
  • Jacub Voracek is off to a great start with 24 points in 21 games. Drafted one spot behind Sam Gagner he’s put up similar numbers to Gagner the past four seasons, 38, 50, 46 and 49 point seasons with 18 goals being his career-high. This year he already has 8 goals and 24 points. Gagner is having his most productive season as well with 18 points in 18 games.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

  • Spydyr

    Everything I’ve read/heard today is about how bad Petry played last night, and how disappointing his play and lack of progress has been all year. I think he’s getting it just as bad as Whitney was.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    The thing with Petry vs. Whitney is Whitney was making a lot of noticeable mistakes up to that point. Plus Petry did score yesterday.

    I didn’t blame Whitney on that play though, getting undressed by one of the most skilled players to ever play the game isn’t exactly something to cry about.

    I agree on Potter, although he didn’t look too bad last night. Our d as whole looked slow though last night. Chicago was able to expose them. Pretty much agree with everything else, although hard to shoot last night.

    As a side, good work on the Rush. I haven’t been able to make it out as I’ve been quite busy on weekends, but once they come back in April(late march?) I’ll make time. Sounds like an exciting team.

  • A-Mc

    “At some point one of the Oilers leaders is going to have to stand up and rattle some cages. You can’t always expect the coach to do it. It is time one of them stated they need to be more accountable to one another. We keep seeing the same mistakes happening game after game. “

    On the newest Oil Change, Smid (I believe) has a melt down when the Oilers lose the game with less than a minute left. He rages a bit and basically calls out his team on not playing team defense first.

    I wonder how often that happens? Guys were hanging their heads and keeping quiet. Good on Smid for speaking out against the rest of the guys. Everyone needs to be taking this seriously.

    • Phixieus666

      Oh thats who that was. I knew it was a European but couldn’t make out who. they totally need more of that. And someone needs to start throwing sh*t because that really gets peoples attention.

    • I loved that part A-Mc, I think it may have been one of the best scenes out of all the seasons(that and when Yak asked that guy if he could go on the ice for the first time and looked up at the rafters and his jaw dropped.. kinda teared me up a bit) I love Smid’s commitment to this team and it showed there.

      Also, Im pretty sure when he walked into the dressing room he was swearing in Czech, which was awesome!

    • PlayDirty

      I never pegged Smid as that guy but I’m glad he did. You’d think these would be the guys who would wear the letters. You see it in Hall. I love Ebs but I just don’t see that in him. Our ‘quiet’ leadership is reflected in the team overall.

      • A-Mc

        Eberle’s teammates say he’s very vocal and competitive. In the last Oil Change you finally see it a little in how he thinks out loud on the ice.

        I’m not sure he’s as quiet as his on-camera persona would lead us to believe.

      • vetinari

        It was definitely Smid. And earlier in the show they showed Smid on the bench yelling to our guys to “eat it, eat it!!” in regards to blocking a shot. So he is definitely vocal.

        Also, I have heard Shauger and Gregor say that Smid has tons of leadership in the room and around the guys. It’s great that we can now actually see it with the Oilchange shows.

        Lastly, I’m not a huge fan of Nick Shultz being an A as I think Smid is the better pick now. I do like that Schultz is an older vet and a family guy tho.

      • A-Mc

        I’ll watch it again tonight on the PVR, but i thought it was Smid because don’t you actually see Smid storm into the change room?

        I could be mis-remembering, but doesn’t he take off an elbow pad or something on camera, and then you get the sense that he throws it (off camera).

        Either way, Who ever it was – it wasnt one of the guys who wear a C or an A, so there might be more leadership in the room than we know?

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      I agree, but only because I live in Winnipeg. I’m in the 800-range on the waiting list for season tickets, and I’d love to be able to see the Oilers as much as humanly possible.

  • Phixieus666

    I’ve been ripping Petry all day. His stupid play was the reason for that goal plain and simple.

    And Yes right now numbers wise Potter is second best on the team and I believe he had the most ice time last night. Now I’m sorry but what does that say about your defense when Potter is a front runner????

    IT SUCKS ROYAL A$$

  • bwar

    Seems like most nights the team is playing for a tie. Gets really frustrating to watch as a fan. Some veterans stepping up and rattling some cages is great, but if the coach isn’t playing to win its gonna be tough for that extra motivation to push the team over the top.

  • third string plumber

    My quick hits:
    Realignment = good
    Last nights’ oilers = aaaarrggghh
    Whitney = bad play looking stupid
    Petry = bad play making Smid look stupid
    Nuge’s shots = future goals, its coming
    Hall back next game = best news for the team
    Pairing of Nuge & Eberle = needs to be split up for a few games

    …to digress on the last point, Nuge will make a sweet pass and the Eberle will get too fancy with it. Nuge is passer in a pass and shoot system. I’d like to break up this combo up as it is not a pass and dangle system. If I were the coach, I’d break apart a lot of his typical combos:
    Smyth – Belanger – Hemsky
    Hall – Nuge – Yakupov
    Paajarvi – Gagner – Eberle
    Teemu – VV – Petrell

  • Does Potter have to make an impact in the game to be playing well? How many teams have a third pairing guy who makes an impact? I was under the impression impact players where the stars of the game.

    Lets look at the Chicago Blackhawks.

    Does Roseval impact the game? Hjarmarsson?

    • Jason Gregor

      Are you suggesting Potter is as good or as effective as Hjalmarsson?

      And Roszival has 7 points in 9 games, so I’d say he’s making an impact. Comparing Potter to those two is a tad off-base.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        No, he is not as good or as effective.

        Would you consider them impact players?

        Maybe Rozsival is, but he is also playing for a team that has scored 61 goals, good for third in the league. I would have to assume he is getting some points for just being there.

  • PapaMike

    For years the teams in the East have enjoyed a natural advantage when trying to attract players, for reasons the least of which is the lesser travel.

    Maybe it isn’t such a bad thing for there to be a perception out there that the West will be an easier conference to make the playoffs in.

    For players that are all about a shot at making a run for the cup, maybe teams in the West will be seen as a little less undesirable as a result of this alignment format.

    As for Petry on the OT goal last night, horrible. A perfect example of the lack of focus and attention to detail that continues to hold this team down.

  • John Chambers

    Potter has good lateral movement, and in the offensive zone has the ability to get shots on goal, as opposed to other defenders who only have the ability to dump it in the corner.

    • Dan the Man

      If the Oilers were interested in a one dimensional enforcer, they probably would have grabbed Kassian off of waivers a couple of weeks ago.
      Maybe teams are starting to realize that this type of player may not have a place in today’s game.

    • The Soup Fascist

      To quote Maggie O’Houlihan from Caddyshack:

      “Oh Gawd, that’s all I need!”

      Functional toughness is what is required. Ryane Clowe has had a nightmarish season this year and is an impending UFA. San Jose has $10.5 in anticipated cap space next year with a total of 7 forwards, 5 defencemen and 1 goaltender signed. They need to sign 10 NHL calibre players for $10.5 million. Good Luck with all that. They cannot sign Clowe without buying out Marleau or Thornton, IMO.

      So what is the cost, in terms of giving up in a trade, for a pending UFA forward with 0 goals? I would think it would be affordable. Having Clowe here a couple months should give a leg up on signing him here. If I am his agent I figure Edmonton is tailor-made for him, as he would certainly get opportunity to play in a skilled top 6 that sorely needs size / sandpaper. Plus the 2nd largest city in Newfoundland is only 4.5 hours north of Edmonton, so he should feel right at home.

      Make it so, Tambo!

      PS. Plus it would give us one more Ryan …. er …. sorte ofe.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Like to level the playing field and have a balanced shedule. Miss the ole 21 team league when you seen all teams twice a year.

    The Oilers need something at center (Boyle). Someone who’ll lean on people (fight when needed),win some faceoffs and contribute offensively. Horcoff will return to the line up and have little to no impact. Shawn’s 0’fer to dominate in all 3 of these.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Some were miffed at the Oilers for not getting 2 pts last night. Feel it’s unwarranted. If the Oilers went into the third period with a 1 goal lead against a team in the bottom 2/3rds of the league, then yes disappointment may be justified. Our bottom feeder Oilers giving up a 1 goal lead to the best team in the league, isn’t at all rare. Chicago just played as well as they had to during this semi night off for them.

  • John Chambers

    Interesting that Kyle Turris, Jakub Voracek, James Van Riemsdy, and Sam Gagner, all guys from the ’07 draft, are all enjoying something of a breakout season.

    Goes to show that our expectations of draft picks becoming elite players should be tempered until, oh, say 5 years after their names get called up.

    Lesson – don’t worry about the Nuge. He’s on track to become an elite player. But wait until he’s 22 or 23 until you get fussed about him not scoring a point-a-game.

    • PapaMike

      You watch him near the boards and he has slick moves, just wait till he starts trying that in the middle of the ice.

      What Sharp did to Petry last night, I can see Nuge doing in the future.

  • ubermiguel

    I agree with the Potter point. He does not look good out there, regardless of what the stats suggest. I like stats, but you can’t let them control your opinion. Gotta look at everything in order to make a good overall judgment of something. When I see Potter I see someone who is in panic mode most shifts.

    I say keep Fistric and Peckham together and let them rock away! That’ll keep the opp in their heads when they cross the blue line.

  • vetinari

    On realignment– can’t we just go with two conference’s of 15 each, and screw having divisions? Just unbalance the schedule a bit to account for regional rivalries?

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      I thought this stats were clear cut, what gives?

      Weren’t stats suppose to the eliminate the need for opinions as you can’t back them up?

      • Every time I read an article with stats and those stats are referred to as gospel I keep saying to myself, “Self! What about the human aspect? What if so and so got caught cheating on his wife or something?” Crazy, I know!

        I’m rocking an early bottle of crazy right now!

        Seems to me that if you don’t have a stat to back up your argument you’re wrong. Supporting evidence always helps. I get it. But watching a player play the game can tell you most of what you need to know when evaluating. Stats help quantify that. JMO.

        ‘Money Ball’ has had a major impact on how we, the sports fan, think about sports.

      • OilLeak

        Not sure which stat guys say Corey Potter is doing well. If we’re talking straight Corsi, none of the Oilers D are showing well. Corsi Rel may show Potter in a better light, but that’s because the Oilers defense is trash, but the best trash at the end of the day is still trash.

        Oilers defense quality is postioned accordingly (Corsi Rel QOC):

        1. Petry

        Significant drop-off

        2. Smid

        Drop-off

        3. Nick Schultz

        4. Justin Schultz

        Massive Drop-off

        5. Fistric

        Drop-off

        6.Corey Potter

        7.Whitney (No man’s land, just awful by any metric.

        Peckham (1 game played, but is currently slightly ahead of Whitney)

        Now the sample size is obviously small, with less than 20 games played, but the picture is quite clear, after the top 4 D the rest of defense is putrid, and are replacement/fill in players at best. Ideally, 2 defense-man at the top are needed to push everyone down a pairing, but 2 top 4 defense-man will be sufficient.

        Oh and Whitney is not even a replacement level player anymore, he makes everyone ahead of him look amazing.

  • Phixieus666

    A bunch of trades happening and the Oilers are sitting on their thumbs. Seriously Gagne for a 4th rounder. Tambo can’t say there isn’t trades out there when stuff like this hits. Cole for Ryder. There are trades hes just friggin lazy

  • PapaMike

    Under the “system” we have now, McGratten is a fit, IMO. He knows his role, can play a few minutes, and will ensure our skilled guys have the room to play. Until the Oilers start winning and then drafting for positional players, we will always draft BPA, which is usually not a banger, but more of a second line starter.

    • The Soup Fascist

      My concern is McGrattan has not dropped the mitts in over a year. He lost his job in Nashville to a Richard Clune – whoever the hell that is. He has taken a lot of punishment over the years. Combine that with his troubling past issues off the ice, I am not sure how you can come to any other conclusion than “DONE”.

      If the card you are wanting to play is a physical presence on the 4th line, as mentioned above, Kassian was a much better choice, IMO.

  • The Soup Fascist

    I was wondering why they passed on Kassian, too. I know McGratten had issues in the past, but from my understanding they are resolved. Marriage does that to a young buck! I guess my concern is that why MGMT are not looking at those types of players and the thought process behind that. Our system does not allow us to instigate hits, our young players are getting hit due to positional play and youthfull mistakes. They kids are going to get hurt, ie Hemsky, and then what?

    • The Soup Fascist

      The lack of an answer to Carcillo last night was noticeable. Eager was the one guy in the group who could have responded but he is, understandably, a little gun shy, given two significant concussions in the last 16 months. Even a Peckham in the lineup might have been able to address the issue, begging the question again what does Corey Potter do for you?

      I see where you are going, I just think there are better alternatives. We already have to send one forward down to OKC once Harti’s “shoulder injury” heals. Picking up McGrattan would mean two go down.

  • ubermiguel

    “Some stats guys”??? C’mon Gregor, just call out Staples on his recent Potter article directly if you’re going to do it at all.

    Potter’s a low risk, low reward player. You don’t see it, because when he’s playing well there’s not much to see. What I saw him do last night was angle off guys relatively well, and make a few solid passes to his D partner. Boring low event stuff. If he happens to make a few more good decisions than bad ones then we’re ahead.

    • Jason Gregor

      I didn’t read that article, but I’d have no problem saying a name.

      He is just another player who is easy to play against and doesn’t excel in one area.

  • OilLeak

    I don’t see much value in Potter right now. Even on the PP, I’m not sure that Petry couldn’t do at least as well if not better. I’d have Peckham in there as well but they need somebody else who can move the puck. Whitney has been awful this season but I felt like he played better after the game where both he and Smyth sat. Still, he goes right back to the press box before long. We need another puck mover since this team has no willingness to play Whitney.

    I like the re-alignment. The NHL system has gotten kind of stale and this change could solve a lot of geographical problems. It also opens the schedule up to play more games against the East.

    • OilLeak

      The only advantage with Potter over Petry on the PP it keeps Petry fresh for the tough PK and even strength minutes. The added bonus is Petry’s point totals will be lower without the PP time, keeping his contract demands lower.

  • OilLeak

    I would suggest the difference in public opinion about the Whitney mistake on Jagr versus the Petry on Sharp/Hossa is due to a larger body of evidence. Whitney hasn’t been playing well at all and Jagr turned him quickly and efficiently i.e. reinforced our concerns about the ankle. Petry just made a mistake. He over committed and then just lost his head. It happens from time to time and he had played big minutes against a very skilled team i.e. was exhausted. Similarly, people are quick to jump on Gagner but give Eberle much more latitiude despite Eberle having a rough stretch for the past few games. Hopefully Hall can shake him out of his funk.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    that columbus/philly trade has been awful for columbus.

    sean couturier, jacob voracek, and a third went to philly for jeff carter

    poor columbus…

  • bazmagoo

    Couldn’t agree about Potter more, Gregor. Starting to really piss me off seeing him play in front of Whitney. Whitney has been playing awfully, but his upside is WAY higher than Potter and he earns five times more in salary (approx).

    Can’t really see what the point of playing Potter in front of Whitney is, I think it’s another example where coach/management is trying to punish a player they feel needs an attitude adjustment. I don’t agree with a player having a bad attitude, but I’m not willing to risk losing games to make a point. The Oilers are, unfortunately.

  • RexLibris

    Khabibulin on the IR, as per TSN.

    I guess that answers this so-called goaltending controversy.

    And just when it looked like they might be able to trade him at the deadline for more than the proverbial bag of pucks.