GDB 29.0: SHARK HUNTING…UPDATE RNH OUT

Breaking News: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is sick and will not play tonight…Rishaug just reported from the rink. So Oilers will have to dress two non-centres tonight. Ouch.

After a gutsy third period got them a win over Nashville on Sunday, the Oilers need to attack the struggling San Jose Sharks early tonight and get them on their heels. The Sharks have been one of the worst teams in the league since February 1st.

The Sharks are a woeful 5-10-6 after starting the season with seven straight wins. The Sharks outscored their opponents 27-12 in their first 7 games, but they’ve been outscored 59-36 in their last 21.

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They Sharks are struggling and if the Oilers want to stay in the playoff hunt tonight is a game they need to win.

The Sharks don’t have any offensive depth. Joe Thornton (27), Patrick Marleau (23), Logan Couture (21) and Joe Pavelski (17) are the only forwards with more than ten points.

The Oilers have way more scoring depth. Sam Gagner (27), Taylor Hall (26), Jordan Eberle (20), Ales Hemsky (17), Nail Yakupov (14) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (11) are in double-digits, while Magnus Paajarvi has 6 points in his last 8 games.

The Sharks are ahead of the Oilers in the standings, but right now they are not playing like a superior team.

LINEUP

Hall/Horcoff/Hemsky
Paajarvi/Gagner/Yakupov
Jones/Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle
Brown/Smyth/Petrell

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

Dubnyk

The only change might be Hartikainen coming in for Jones, but after listening to Ralph Krueger yesterday I think he’ll stick with Jones. Jones couldn’t do any activity for the entire month of January, due to his eye injury, and that hurt his conditioning. Krueger feels Jones is getting better every day and feels the extra time between games has allowed him to improve his cardio. It sounds like he wants to give him a few more games and see if the improved conditioning will help Jones.

TRADING WHITNEY

The Oilers are in the midst of their first playoff run in four years and yesterday Jonathan Willis and David Staples suggested it would be wise to trade Ryan Whitney. Let’s look at this a little closer.

There is no doubt Whitney struggled early this season, but lately he has played better, especially offensively.  After the nine-game road trip, where Whitney scored three goals, he admitted that despite his offence coming around he still needed to work on his gaps and his overall defensive game. No one is arguing he can’t improve there.

He’ll never be considered a great defensive D-man, however, he does excel on the powerplay and that is why trading Whitney at this point of the season would be a step backwards.

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  • 37% of the Oilers goals have come on the powerplay. They rely on their PP more than any other team in the NHL, and Whitney is the best PP D-man they have. The Oilers have no adequate replacement on the roster, and considering they rely that much on the PP to score, I don’t see why you would risk trading away your best PP D-man while you are at the start of a playoff run.
     
  • Staples ad Willis suggested Corey Potter could fill in. The same Potter who has 0 points this year. First off he shoots right, and the Oilers 2nd PP unit is set up so a left shooting D-man quarterbacks the powerplay. So, outside of replacing Whitney with an inferior PP player, you are now going to adjust their system, even though the Oilers PP has been very effective at 22.9%. I say, pardon.
     
  • Staples suggested Potter was great on the PP early last season, but then he lost PP time to Whitney. Let’s look at that. 
Player  Team Pos  GP  PP TOI PP TOI/G 
 
Corey Potter EDM D 62 153:24:00 2:28
Ryan Whitney EDM D 51 115:02:00 2:15
Jeff Petry EDM D 73 93:26:00 1:16
Cam Barker EDM D 25 58:01:00 2:19
  • In fact, Potter averaged more PPTOI/G and he had 38:36 more PP time all season. Potter finished with 11 PPP, while Whitney had 10. Potter had six of his PPP in the first 9 games of the season, and then produced only 5 in the remaining 57. He had a great start to the season, but I don’t think we should use a good nine-game stretch as the basis that Potter is an above-average PP player. 
     
  • In the 21 games Whitney has played this season the PP is 21 for 78, 26.9%. Whitney has been on the ice for ten of those goals and has five points. In the 7 games he sat, the PP was 4 for 31 at 12.9%.
     
  • In the six games Potter played while Whitney sat, Potter played 11:48 on the PP scoring no points and he was on for one PP goal. He averaged 1:58 of PP time in those games, while Whitney plays 2:38.
     
  • It is clear that Whitney has a much bigger impact on the PP than Potter. 
     
  • Whitney is even better than Justin Schultz when you look at PP time=production. Whitney has played 55 minutes of PP TOI and he’s been on the ice for 10 PP goals. Schultz has 155 minutes of PP TOI and he’s been on for 15 goals. Schultz is a rookie and he’s already a very good PP player, and I expect he’ll be even better in the future, but right now Whitney is still more productive.
     
  • Unless you believe the Oilers are suddenly going to become a productive ES team, I see no reason why you trade Whitney. The organization wants their young players to experience "playoff-like" games, and if they want that to happen they should keep Whitney because he helps the PP. And right now the Oilers can’t win without a successful powerplay.
     
  • The other suggestion was that you could replace Whitney with Jeff Petry. Petry is already playing 22 minutes a night, and he isn’t dominating. Adding more minutes and giving him less rest won’t make him play better, nor will it make the PP more effective.
     
  • Trading him for a draft pick is pointless, absolutely pointless, at this juncture of the season. The Oilers need to play meaningful games, and stay competitive now, rather than add another 2nd round pick that might, slim chance, help them in four years.
     
  • It is clear Whitney is very good on the PP, and considering how much production they need from their PP to win games, it makes little sense to move Whitney him. The Oilers do not have an adequate replacement. If the Oilers are out of it after the next seven games, then for sure you look at moving him, but if they are in the mix I wouldn’t move him for a draft pick.

 QUICK HITS

  • Last night Daniel Alfredsson become only the 57th player in NHL history to record 1,100 career regular season points. He is also one of the rare players who had his best offensive season between the age of 30-35. He had 78 points at 30 years of age, 80 at 31, lockout at 32, 103 at 33, 87 at 34 and 89 points as a 35-year-old. Impressive.
     
  • He’s likely to become only the 11th player with 1,100+ points to play for only one team/organization for his entire career. Can you name the other ten? *Answer below.
     
  • The Columbus Blue Jackets are 7-0-4 in their last 11 games and are now tied for 8th place. They only way they keep winning is if Sergei Bobrovsky keeps standing on his head. The Jackets were outshot in 9 of the 11 games, by a margin of 297 to 362. They are giving up 33 shots against in this unbeaten streak. They also played 9 of those games at home and a whopping nine of them went to OT.  They were 3-2 in SO and 2-2 in OT. It is great for fans in Columbus to have their team in the hunt, but they will need to tighten up defensively to stay competitive. Bobrovsky has a .966 SV% in their last nine games. Incredible.
     
  • The Oilers had almost a perfect last few days, and they didn’t even play. There were no 3-point games involving teams in the playoff hunt, and the Sharks, Predators, Flames, and Coyotes (twice) all lost. Now it is up to the Oilers to win.
     
  • Carey Price is getting a lot of hype for the Vezina, and deservedly so, but Tukka Rask has been stellar with for the Bruins with a 1.92 GAA and 0.928 SV%. If Bobrovsky continues his stellar play he’d have to be considered.  

PREDICTIONS….

 

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers score three minutes in, and skate away with a 4-2 win led by two goals from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Devan Dubnyk is much better in the first frame tonight than he was when the Sharks lit him up for six goals in 20 minutes in the home opener. (Easiest prediction ever.)

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: With only one goal in his last 20 games, Nail Yakupov is the second one on the ice for warm up. As he is circling the ice he stops at the top of the right faceoff circle and motions to Paajarvi to come over. Paajarvi stops and after a brief moment, he smiles and laughs. Yakupov looks at him seriously and then Paajarvi mouths something to him. Yakupov smiles and says something back, then he skates away. Paajarvi looks a bit perplexed, but then continues his warm up.

Yakupov scores a PP goal in the 2nd period, and after the game he explains the what happened during warm up. It turns out Russian are very superstitious. Yakupov asked Paajarvi to say, "ни пуха ни пера!" which roughly translates to "neither fur, nor feather!" which means good luck.  Then Yakupov replied, "К чёрту!" which means, "To the Devil," which is a way of securing good luck. Yakupov explains Russians do this before important tests, and since he tonight was considered a "good test" for the Oilers he thought he’d try it. 

TRIVIA ANSWER

** Daniel Alfredsson is now the 11th player in NHL history to play for only one team/organization and score 1,100 points.

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Alfredsson sits 57th all-time in scoring with 1,100 points. Senators
Mike Bossy:            52nd with 1,126. Islanders
Nicklas Lidstrom:  50th with 1,142. Red Wings.
Bobby Clarke:         42nd with 1,210. Flyers
Jean Beliveau:       39th with 1,219. Canadiens.
Alex Delvecchio:    33rd with 1,281. Red Wings.
Gilbert Perreault:   32nd with 1,326. Sabres.
Stan Mikita:             14th with 1,467. Blackhawks
Joe Sakic:               9th with 1,641. Nordiques/Avalanche
Mario Lemieux:      7th with 1,723. Penguins
Steve Yzerman:      6th with 1,755. Red Wings. 

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR


  • 2004Z06

    Its very important to watch them when we forecheck we need to stay with the man we initially contact because he always races in as an up speed man in late, they counter the forecheck by useing that guy as long as he can get in behind our forechecker facing and going the other way it works for them. |So maintain coverage as the forechecker with the guy you hit because they are waiting for him to beat you on the seperation after you make contact with him. Trail him right back to our d-zone because they will be sprinting straight upice full speed immediatly to burn the forechecker.

  • 2004Z06

    Remember to stagger the forecheckers dont leave one man all alone in so deep, support him with another guy who hovers around the high to mid-zone to support and catch the pucks squirting out. Just dont sent 2 men in full speed, stagger them with the first one in full speed and the second cruising in at 75% and NOT going deep, just looking for a chance and then fading back to defend.

    Nive job of getting nasty, Brown should just start one and get it going. Maybe he should take on Big Joe, ha ha ha.

  • 2004Z06

    Magnus needs to dig deeper right now and not be intimidated because that is what has happened, keep going in and hard and fast Magnus dont back down, the rough stuff is not going to stop so fight back with your speed and skill, make them pay for being rough on you with YOUR tools, you are hurting them and thats why they are targeting you, go harder and visciously at the net Magnus, you didnt work this hard to sit back now, dig down deep man.

    Hallsy, take it to them down the middle, inside outside inside, just start moving the d-man by cutting laterally just before you leave the n-zone on your first inside move.

    Ryan Smyth get on that wraparound, and lets keep out sticks on the ice as we are getting a lot of nice lateral crosscrease puck movement, lets look for the greasy ones.

  • 2004Z06

    J Schultz is looking good tonight maybe we need to greenlight him to close right in on the net a few times he seems to be finding lots of holes tonight and is getting good looks, and lets not forget the hard wristers ten feet to the side for the deflections, Schultzes wrister is hard and accurate, lets see those deflections, Smytty worked the backend nicely with Harti last time we gave that play a shot so lets see it again, I bet Eberle would tee those deflections up nicely and can find that spot wide open if he wants to. Jus throw the play in there once in a while because it is very reliable when its a hard accurate wrister pass that is deflected as opposed to the slapper which is low percentage most times in comparison.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Alert, Dooby get up off your dam knees or ask someone to step up and take away that wrister they just missed on, they know where you drop and they are keying on you, where the hell is Chabot? Stay up or ask for help but they are hunting for you right now .

  • Truth

    Again guys lets set up the onetimer early and often and not worry about telegraphing it, just go for it and overpower them with it. Yak on one side and someone on the other and just pound them in there with short fast passes and fast releases.

  • Truth

    We need to bear down immediatly, this is pathetic, we are living and dieing on the PP and we are not respecting it, short fast passes into the onetimers immediatly and now.

  • Frittering away that PP was probably the game in a dynamic sense, now we really need to work harder than ever as we are about to take around 3 penaltys in a row and they will score a greasy one on their 1st try in all likelyhood.

    Now we put ourselves in a corner, we had the best possible dynamic cooking and we are screwing it away, they came out bitching at the refs and were getting spanked nicely and we played river hockey on the PPs we had and didnt cash them in, we are NOT producing 5on5 as we need to and we waste PPs?

    This game is swinging dynamiclly and if we dont score the next goal we are in deep crap, put the pedal down because they are grinding us down slowly but surely. Go to the net for greasy ones before its to late, start with a wraparound.

  • Yakupov needs to go to the front of the net and not sit on the perimeter waiting to dart in, he needs to go in and out of the hots zones the scoreing areas all the time, get him moving and committing to the playactions, and use him as the upspeed man his sprinting is awsome when he puts his head down and goes.

  • Very heads up play to keep his stick on the ice and be ready by Horcoff, now lets keep the pressure on, lets see someone else rise up and take a shot at taking us to the next level tonight. Lets see one more quick goal to break their backs, go hard to the net and look for the greasy ones. DO NOT LET UP , wear them down and show them we want it more than they do.

  • Alsker

    Hall and Hemsky need to use the give and go because they are giveing us the zone entry and collapsing so lets see the give and go, those two will convert one sooner than later, just keep it simple and hard working.

  • Alsker

    A little concerning that we only have 12 shots at this point(granted SJ only have 14), a great road game BUT we’re home. We look better in this physical battle than earlier in the season, bodes well for the balance of March + April

  • 2004Z06

    We need to give the puck to Nail earlier and let him skate with it more, he needs to have time to get his head up and see whats happening, them tell him to take his arse to the net AS SOON as he passes OR shoots the puck, but he needs to follow up to the net.

  • outdoorzguy

    I saw Timid Tambellini on TSN at the General Managers meetings in Toronto today. Do you think he may have said anything to anyone? Do you think the other GM’s asked him where Loser Lowe was? Was Timid Tambellini just a wallflower? Did any other GM know he was there? Did they say…who are you and how did you get into the room?

  • outdoorzguy

    How come all the people who sit behind the Oiler bench in Edmonton aren’t all that good looking? When I watch games from the Americas, they usually put some pretty good looking girls in those seats. Why does Krueger have to be the best looking thing I see when they show the bench during home broadcasts?

  • RexLibris

    Jones to the net and Ebbs following up, come on already, Joesy needs to pave the way not Eberle.
    We need to start dumping it HIGH and looping over their d-mens heads because they are cheating up high, we just need to loop it high and to the middle and then race them to it, not dee to the boards though just wayyy high and over their heads, it works well on as a counter them when they are pressureing offensively.

  • 2004Z06

    How about that Whitney kid…a real keeper. He’s not a step behind more like a day. Other than Gregor and his man crush for this guy it will be no lose to move him down the road.

  • 2004Z06

    Someone tell Whitney to shut the hell up and stop yapping off at the refs, we have a lot of game to go and they are looking for a reason to even out the numbers on us, so clam it up sunshine and lets try to close this game out with some momentum and offense, simple plays with steady offensive pressure, safe simple plays to the end.