The Oilers took care of business and swept the Flames, two games they had to win, and now the real games begin. Nine of the Oilers remaining 12 games are against playoff teams, and this is the scenario the Oilers desperately wanted their young team to experience.

The intensity will increase, and the youthful Oilers will need to match the consistency, smarts and veteran savvy of the Canucks, Ducks, Blackhawks, Wild and Kings.

These games matter. The players know it, management knows it and the fans know it. This should be fun.

You can sense the excitement in the city and on the Nation. Fans are jacked up. The scar tissue you’ve obtained from seven seasons of watching an over-matched, under-talented, uninspiring team is starting to breakdown. You actually look forward to the games, because you believe your team has a legitimate chance to win.

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If you are under 30 it is likely a feeling you’ve never truly experienced during the regular season. The Oilers are still a few players short of being a dominant team, but their first line is the hottest line in the NHL, and when one line is that good you have a chance to win any game.

During this five-game winning streak Taylor Hall has 14 points, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 10 and Jordan Eberle has 8. They’ve combined for 32 points, and the scary part is that they’ve missed some glorious chances. Their speed, skill and smarts are a deadly combination right now, and it will be interesting to see how Alain Vigneault, Darryl Sutter and Bruce Boudreau try to slow them down on this road trip.




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Dubnyk (Although Krueger hinted he hasn’t made up his mind and Khabibulin might play. I don’t see any reason not to play Dubnyk)

Magnus Paajarvi is banged up, but Krueger said this after the game last night, "It’s not a serious injury, it’s a manageable one. He’s probable for tomorrow." Hemsky has been playing with a minor knick, and I suspect Paajarvi will dress tonight. If the injury is more about pain-tolerance than impacting his play he’ll go. Players can play hurt, but it isn’t wise to play injured, especially if the injury will limit your performance.

Jerred Smithson, acquired yesterday from Florida, will be in the hospital today as his fiance is scheduled to give birth. He told me yesterday that if things go as planned, he’ll join the team in either Los Angeles or Anaheim. "Family comes first, once we get the baby figured out, I’ll join the team as quick as I can. I can’t wait to play in Edmonton," Smithson told me on my radio show yesterday.

I’d play Smithson when he gets here. He shoots right and his FO% the last four years is: 54.8% in 2013, 56.1% in 2012, 57.4% in 2011, 54.9 in 2010, 52.6% in 2009. He can win draws, and you can use him and Horcoff on different sides.


  • The Oilers nine remaining games against playoff teams are all against the top-six teams in the west. They will have to play one of them in the playoffs if they make it, so they might as well get used to it.
  • The Oilers are 8-2-2 since Shawn Horcoff called a player’s only meeting and returned to the lineup in Chicago. I know the 4/93/14 line is carrying this team offensively, but Horcoff’s message sunk in. The Oilers have cut down on their turnovers in the defensive and neutral zone. And they rarely turn it over at the offensive blueline anymore. Those plays were killing them early in the season.
  • The other big change is their willingness to drive the net. Guys without the puck are finally going to the net and creating havoc. 
  • The Oilers are 2nd in combined special teams at 108.3. They are 3rd in PP effeciency at 23.8% and 7th on the PK at 84.5%.
  • It is hard not to like Roberto Luongo these days. His twitter feed is hilarious, and yesterday, when the Canucks made the idiotic decision to make him hold a press conference to discuss why he wasn’t traded, he was very honest and classy. When asked why he wasn’t traded he replied, "Cause my contact sucks. If I could rip it up now I would."
  • You could tell not playing is killing him. He’s handled this situation extremely well, and when the Canucks finally trade him to the eastern conference I suspect many fans will be cheering for him. Tonight of course, you hope the Oilers light up him and Corey Schneider.
  • Derek Roy will help the Canucks. They desperately needed a 2nd line centre, and he will give them some much-needed secondary scoring.
  • I liked the Columbus decision to acquire Marian Gaborik, especially because it didn’t cost them any of their three first-round picks. Even if they don’t make the playoffs this year, the Blue Jackets added a proven sniper. Basically, the deals between the Rangers and Blue Jackets look like this…Nash, Brassard, Dorsett, Moore and a 6th for Gaborik, Dubinsky, Erixon, Anisimov and a 1st rounder. I’d still say the Blue Jackets did well.
  • Very interesting move by George McPhee to trade away Filip Forsberg, 11th pick in 2012, for Martin Erat. The Capitals will win the South East this year, because they are rolling and the Jets and Hurricanes are on the skids, but how will this trade look in a few years. I’ve gotten very differing views from scouts. Some really like him, while others think he’ll never produce more points than Erat. Time will tell. Caps win trade today, but Preds could benefit greatly in the future.
  • Don’t look now, but the Oilers playoff chances, according to sportsclubstats, are up to 42.1% after last night’s victory. Before the five-game winning streak they were at 4.1%. That is quite the jump. Detroit is at 72.7% and St. Louis 70.4%, but the Oilers have closed the gap considerably.


GAME DAY PREDICTION: Have to go with the hot team considering I’ve picked them to win the last four. I know how superstitious the Nation can be. Oilers win in OT, 4-3.

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OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Hall, RNH, Eberle line combine for six points.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:  Ryan Smyth ends his 20-game goal scoring drought with a deflection early in the 2nd period. Smyth does a triple combination fist-pump, look-to-the-heavens, glove-slide-on-the-ice celebration afterwards. His young teammates love the "celly," especially Yakupov who says to Smyth, "Prunes is going to love that and use it during Hockey Night in Canada,"


***This will be a DSF comment free section today. From your quiet editor/tech producer who needs a break from it all. Any comment with mention of him will be quietly deleted. Enjoy the game and one free day…***

  • Romanus

    very nice Taylor, lip the ref off early and we pay for 60 mins, well at least we know where we stand, we need to score our way out of this.

    For christsakes, they are breaking out of their zone four men wide, we need to wake up and put some pressure on them, and as far as penaltys go ask hall WTF he was doing.

    We need to put more forechecking pressure on them, we cant screw this game up.

    We need to stop them with a deep one man forecheck and leave the rest of oor coverage the same, just one rover breaking up their lateral approach, the rest of what we are doing is ok, we do need to lug the puck upice more, to skate it up hard and with support.

    They have definately mixed it up since last game, and it doesnt look very effective.

    Dont look for makeup calls on the PP, Taylor screwed that up for this game, so he better score a couple goals to make up for that stupid mout off.

    Sam Gagner need to wake up his line, stay closer together and work the give and go, we need to stay close together as we attack so they are forced to take obvious calls of make the refs look as bad as possible, so its time to tighten up and keep it simple but takeit to the net of the give and gos.

    They are setting up high on the blueline they cant stop themselves, they just found a new way to do it, so its easy to stop just interfere with their lateral approach coming out of their zone with a one man puck pursuit, DONT try to step up because thats why there are three or four of them on the line, they are waiting for that, just send in a one man puck pressure forcheck deep and allow him to check back into the playaction to stop their lateral strength from behind, send the froecheck in fast and early and work it back.

    • Romanus

      What are you talking about?You go on and on and on somemore about such great hockey knowledge and you got the balls to criticize Hall when it was an absolute joke call.From now on I will definately skip your posts cause you dont know your ass from a hole in the the game instead of writing esays.

      • O.C.

        You are a moron, Taylor knows better than to piss a ref off early in a game, and we all know that the replays hit the screen before the men are even in the box so what goddam good does lipping off the ref do?? You are an idiot and thinking like you do is what the Oilers have been trying to change. I dont care if you read my posts, you buffoon, why dont you post something hockey related instead of whining.

        If you were watching the game instead of stealing oxygen from the rest of us you would already know these basic hockey concepts, like not pissing off a ref by being mouthy early in a game when you are struggleing to even be in the playoff race.

  • We need to see some pressure on the goaltender, we need to throw at least one wraparound per period and make a point of it. Someone needs to drive a huge slapper past the goalies head early in the 2nd period, just one big one. We need to get them thinking.

    Just because they are laterally stron going back the other way doesnt mean we should be challenging them with numbers immediatly when we get the puck, we can still attack them because we use speed and they are laterally strong but it is also a bit of an optical illusion because they are weak north/south and if you give er you can stil consistantly hit them down the middle and the wings if you penetrate deeply, so use an upspeed man initiated early in the n-zone.

    Because they are dropping back from the n-zone in numbers and spaced laterally in a wide defensive posture it stuttersteps us and we do not go for it, we pause, we need to attack them with our speed, they cant match us in that dept.

    Lets see some adjustments for the 2nd period so we can interrupt their first transition out of their zone, we know they use an adjusted hybrid so they catalyse off of that first d-zone exit, so lets take them out of their comfort zone out into deeper waters. Lets pick apart that first d-zone exit strategy and make them react to us. They are a mess in the n-zone, so just a one-man aggressive forecheck that goes deeeeep past them and then works back into the playaction with speed.

  • ginganinja

    They are posturing their d-men high in their zone and are trying to hit a man in the n-zone with a fast short pass they arent playing catch at all, they arent allowing us to force the puck in their zone they are getting it out fast, so lets pressure them more, we also need to get our sticks on the ice and get them active, our spheres of influence are weak tonight.

    Our best bet is to skate the puck at them in numbers, just stay together tight and relay it past them, they are strong laterally to break up the passes so lets punch it in through the middle before we get some bad calls again and screw this game away, we need to speed the game up on them they want to keep it slower and controlled, lets dump it in once in a while and get on it to mix it up on them. They have adjusted their own system so lets take them back to where they dont want to be, start doing long dumpins and send in our men in numbers, flood them. Make them go back to the dump and chase they just adjusted away from,ha ha ha.

  • O.C.

    Jesus is this a non-contact league? You cant leave a Sedin alone like that.

    We need to get the ball rolling, we need to charge their net and run over the goalie, we are rolling over and it is not looking very good, the refs are not going to give us any breaks, we KNOW that, so lets get to the net, lets see more dumpins and long breakout passes and more net pressure, crash and bang.

    We need to get our hands dirty on this one and we need to kick it up a notch speed wise, not hit them they want that but hit their goaltender because they cannot react to that they arent tough enough, so run the tender this game is to important to us not to run their goalie, run him repeatedly.

  • We really need to fight through first contact wayyy harder, we need to keep the puck on our sticks and skate it up further, they are pressureing us to pass so soon we are out of our comfort zone, we need that time back so we need to skate through the first check, we need to challenge them and go for them first and our support needs to be coming in fast as well because we need to pass right at them from the wings and at our support so we can it them down the middle, we can draw them anywhere we want because they are 100% on the puck with extended pursuit, so we need to defeat the extra long pressure, they are playing it man on man, and when we try the give and gos they are right there ,so we need to skate the puck up and in and that means stacking players and putting our heads down and picking them off one by one as we advance the puck with relays instead of lateral passes, we need to do this with support and ASAP.

  • ginganinja

    No matter how many games in a row you win, losing always sucks. Especially getting shutout. It always seems to happen when a team puts up a crooked scoring total one night that they can’t get anything going the next.

    The game is lost, move on to LA.

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    They made some basic adjustments to their system and we failed to read and react worth a crap.

    All they did was stop dumping it in as a way to catalyse their blueline lateral control. They adjusted their d-zone exits and we werent able to reply to that, they mixed it up nd we couldnt keep up, we couldnt stop their d-zone exits when they cme out laterally strong. We should have forced them back into the dumpin strategy they were useing before or went for the middle hard and repeatedly using the Flying V. We let them walk into the o-zone all night long because we didnt adjust to the n-zone pressure they were bringing, this was a coaching error, we didnt have a plan B, for sure, we had a fine plan A but they came out differently, we didnt have a plan B and didnt read and react to their changes well enough to win the game on the fly, we had good pre-game preparation for plan A , we just didnt have a backup strapped to our ankles.

    This one is history and we dont require a deep analysis, we didnt have a plan B and Van came out with a different gameplan. Simple, no more nitpicking is needed. Next game please, we have preparations to make, and this time remember Plan B!!

    • The Oilers Shot Clock

      I wonder if Ralph was just getting too distracted and stopped hitting refresh for all your updates. Nah…he’s probably got somebody in the booth calling down your plays to him.

  • Newj

    I’m glad we dont have to come back to this barn again. I dont like getting pushed around, smashed in the head or hit from behind. They can have the 2 points. Lets go get some sun in LA tomorrow. Playoff races are over hyped anyways.

    Check that, the scenery behind the Canucks bench is damn fine!

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    again, it’s not the loss so much as the lack of effort and stupid mistakes that they never seem to learn from. we keep getting teased, we keep thinking finally the team we were promised, no not a chance. now that they’ve won five in a row they don’t have to compete for the last 12. i hope i’m wrong, but i’ve got this sinking feeling that, that’s what were in for. after 30 + years of being an oiler fan my faith is wearing thin.

  • Rob...

    I like the grit Yakupov has shown the last few games. I’ll also give the ref’s a bit of credit when it came to taking Yakupov’s ‘grit’ in context for once and not automatically handing him penalties for the famous ‘retaliating as a rookie’ minor.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Oilers are wearing down. Plenty of missed opportunities to finish checks, Oilers just peeled away from on more than a few occasions. Vancouver looked ripe for the picking last night, but it was good enough for them to just throw their sticks out to center ice and collect two points.

    Still cool to have hockey that matters in April though.

  • Zamboni Driver

    a) Lost to a better team. No harm in that.

    b) Friends. When you’re typing. And that little red squiggly line shows up under the word…It means you can’t spell.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    Whenever a team plays us that physical our team has major problems with puck battles . Faceoffs we were terrible at once again . Van. played well against an Oiler team that could not muster enough adrenalin to make it to a higher level . We might very well face same scenario next game against L.A. if they play us physical and take away our space as Canucks did .

  • Clyde Frog

    But baseball is 100% different statistically…

    You can isolate each individual interaction and those interactions have a very high correlation coefficient.

    IE each pitch is an individual statistical point, each subsequent action can be broken down by the outcome of the pitch, etc.

    Hockey isn’t like that at all; at best you are relating items that actually have very little to do with each other and projecting from that.

    For instance look at a players shooting percentage versus a goaltender during a game. Look at the 100 different factors that contribute to those numbers…

    Where did the shots occur from, who was the players linemates, where were they? Who was the opposition on the ice? Where were they? Was there traffic in front of the goalie? Was the puck recently passed? Did the player deke? Was he being stick checked?

    Now an advanced stats blogger will tell you those will be washed out in the averages, but at the same time they lament their statistical sample sizes.

    How do they compensate? They divide stats by each other to come up with different looking numbers that they feel reflect reality better…

    Then fully understanding that one shot is completely unrelated to another in a way that is completely impossible to mathmatically model, they try to regress performance to a mean they build by jumbling every possible player together.

    In conclusion: Advanced stats in hockey is a joke, it mostly guess work and drawing conclusions from numbers they artificially create as apposed to modeling anything through math.

    Don’t believe me? Ask them for the R squared value of their model, then ask them to define it as it relates to the work they did.

  • Jason Gregor

    Uh huh, and those teams don’t usually win. How many world series have the A’s won since the team started doing that? Boston, even the one that won, still has a very expensive roster.

    Furthermore, Hockey is a cap sport, which kind of makes any money ball comparisons moot.

    And Hockey is not like baseball.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis


    I read you as apologizing (after a fashion) for RNH’s poor defensive play.

    He’ll definitely get better, but there is nothing to apologize for even now.

  • 24% body fat

    Ha! Not sure about its current status awaiting Webster’s approval. I actually feel a little bad as I didn’t read the last part of Gregor’s blog.

    I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that using biased stats to prove a point only really proves you’re biased. And it is great to see that all the nay sayers who use any kind of stats for prediction purposes, are usually only half right half of the time.

    Much like the end of Money Ball, you can’t build a team around averages because night in and night out, averages usually don’t amount to much.

    To that effect, everyone looking at the record we need going forward to make it, is basing their prediction off the fact that the projected point total to get in is like 55 or 53, and that other teams around us in the standings, will continue their win loss pace for the rest of the season.

    But hockey, and in fact most sports, do not work like that. Whose to say any of the current teams in the playoffs or the ones chasing won’t go into a slump, or go on a hot streak? Clearly most of the league is structured so that almost every team has a chance, and that is currently being demonstrated by how tight the race is in both divisions. To say the Oilers will win and lose a certain number of games based on their competition completely undermines the fact they’ve beaten every single one of those teams at least once, and if they’ve done it before, they can do it again.

    Banging away with stats, though useful to a point, kind of misses the point if that’s all you look at. Show me the stat that demonstrates why we’ve done so well since Shawn Horcoff came back.

    “The motivational speech to win ration increased upon Horcoff’s return”. Sorry for ranting but I’m sure anyone that has ever actually played hockey knows the infinite amount of intangibles that can’t be tracked that go into winning and losing.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I actually think the kinds of media narratives you mention matter way more than anything else.

    players in small markets get shunned, players who play well early and falter later suffer vs. the opposite, etc.

    oddly another thing is the psychological impression tying Landeskog probably made. a single point more than him and RNH probably would have won… it makes that big a psychological difference.

  • West

    I agree with what you are saying, but I think the missed games due to injury should irrelevant. Look at it this way, if RNH had been called up after 21 games of the season and ended up winning rookie scoring race, the media would have been all over that “amazing performance”. And the Oilers would have a great big ONE Calder trophy.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    It’s hard to say what is relevant here…

    We don’t get to hold an autopsy on these kinds of decisions.

    I’m guessing the majority of the voters thought of Landeskog as the more “NHL ready” player. he looked, and looks, more like an adult really.

    RNH gives the impression of being a child in a man’s game (one who is destroying that game, but appearances mean everything).

    I also suspect the injury and how weird it was hurt RNH.

    At any rate, IMO the competition was a saw off… anyone suggesting either is clearly better is simply expressing a preference. It’s way too early to tell and both are magical players.

    also… always remember how many great directors, artists etc never won an Oscar or Grammy…

  • Bucknuck

    Is “douchebaggary” a word? It should be. If it is I wonder if Websters has “see troll” in the comment somewhere.

    Under “troll” I can think of a few names that could be referenced for sure. Someone who posts chiefly to upset people and get a reaction would be the gist of it. It would make me sad if some of them actually believed the drivel they are typing and they truly considered themselves fans. I would prefer to believe that they are just trying to get a reaction, rather than them being truly that arrogant and stupid.

    It’s just really good that the Oil have it within their power whether to make the post season or not. They do not have to rely on other teams losing. It’s just great to be in the mix. And the games are going to be intense and that is exciting for me. I have wanted to watch them play “meaningful hockey” for a long time.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    RNH’s 2-way play has bloomed massively this year. better than you seem to think.

    he plays the toughs and is keeping his head above water:

    the visual:

    he is going to be a very, very elite #1 C.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    Did you actually watch the end of Moneyball?

    The point was that you actually CAN build a very effective team by relying solely on advanced stats because the anecdotal evidence doesn’t paint the whole story.

    Sure they lost an important game, but I’m pretty sure in the epilogue text it talks about the fact that their system was so effective that every team in the league now uses it.

  • book¡e

    Those odds are based upon an even pace of winning and losing over the season and are quite simplistic. They don’t take into account teams playing better or worse than they were earlier in the season.