TUESDAY TIDBITS…

We start a new weekly item today called, Tuesday Tidbits. After last night’s stunning come-from-behind Oiler victory, our timing couldn’t be better.

After two periods of the Oilers/Devils game Oilersnation was on the verge of a mental breakdown. The season was going to be over. The Oilers were destined for another top-ten pick, and I even received my first outlandish trade request of the season.

I was asked about a Nail Yakupov for Ryan Miller trade. Trading a 19-year-old first overall pick for a soon-to-be UFA, 33 year-old goalie, is the definition of panic. Or delusion. Calm down, three games does not make a season, but I don’t believe you can downplay last night’s third period.

Through 40 minutes the Oilers looked disinterested, excluding one excellent rush by Ales Hemsky, that actually started with a lucky bounce after a bad clearing pass.

It took the Oilers almost ten and a half minutes to register a shot on goal, and after 40 minutes they had more turnovers than shots on goal, eleven.

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Oilerville 20 this night…

But then they got a break.

Bryce Salvador shot the puck over the glass at 5:19 of the third frame, and that minor miscue injected some much needed energy into a listless Oilers squad.

  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored 24 seconds later on powerplay and suddenly the Oilers had a pulse.
     
  • Three minutes and 45 seconds later Andrew Ference scored on a shot from the point, and Rexall Place erupted. Prior to that the biggest applause was for Joey Moss’ 50th birthday celebration.
     
  • Two minutes and 19 seconds later David Perron ripped one over Brodeur’s shoulder and the game was tied. Prior to that shot, Perron, like most of his teammates, was fighting the puck, but once he scored you could literally see his body replenishing with confidence.
     
  • One minute and 43 seconds later Taylor Hall found himself all alone in front of Martin Brodeur, after a nifty tap/push pass from Ales Hemsky. Hall made a quick move to avoid the pokecheck and slid it home for a 4-3 lead. Prior to that goal, Hall had been visibly frustrated. He couldn’t make a pass, and he’d been fighting the puck during the previous 153 minutes of play. His goal celebration and reaction seemed like more relieve than joy, but like Perron, suddenly Hall had confidence with the puck.
     
  • To add to the drama the Devils got a lucky goal in the final minute to send the game to overtime, before Jordan Eberle and Perron displayed their version of shootout "Horse." Eberle went first, had a few quick stick handles/dangles, before roofing a backhander upstairs. Perron mirrored Eberle’s attempt, and then Jason LaBarbera stopped Ryan Clowe for the victory.
     
  • The Oilers clearly needed the win, but I think the psyche of the fanbase might have needed it more.

By the sounds of it, some of you turned the game off after 40 minutes and missed the epic comeback, but for those who stuck through the painfully agonizing first two periods, for once you were rewarded for your undying loyalty.

OTHER TIDBITS

  • It was a great comeback, but it doesn’t overshadow the fact the Oilers are still turning the puck over far too frequently, and most of the turnovers are coming from their skilled forwards. Dallas Eakins will have lots of examples to show during their video session. If the turnovers don’t stop, I’m curious to see when or who he will use to make an example of. It is a bad habit that needs to stop, if the Oilers are serious about becoming a contender in the next few seasons.
     
  • Ryan Hamilton didn’t come out for the third period, and for the final 22 minutes (17 regulation and 5 in OT) Eakins only used eight forwards.

    Nugent-Hopkins played a career-high 28:12. Does anyone still think they rushed him back?
    Hall played 25:44.
    Perron played 25:15
    Eberle played 22:34

    Eakins isn’t afraid to use his skilled guys. I don’t believe he can use them that often all season, but they are young and in certain situations it makes sense.
     

  • Anton Belov was bumped ahead of Ladislav Smid. Belov played with Petry and logged 21:33 of icetime. He looks more comfortable every game.
     
  • Currently the Oilers have four of the top-14 forwards in TOI. Nugent-Hopkins is first, albeit in one game, while Hall is 2nd at 23:05, Perron is 11th at 21:39 and Eberle is 14th at 21:23.
     
  • Last season, Carolina, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and the Rangers each had two forwards in the top-14 of TOI for forwards. I suspect you’ll see Nugent-Hopkins and Hall up there this year.
     
  • So far Boyd Gordon has more shots, 8, than Yakupov, 6. That is great for Gordon, but Yakupov needs to use his potent shot more.
     
  • 15 Oilers have points in the first three games. Only Yakupov, Belov, Nick Schultz, Mike Brown and Ryan Hamilton haven’t registered a point. That is very balanced scoring.
     
  • Marc Arcobello is 3rd on the Oilers in hits with eight. He isn’t running over guys, but Arcobello has shown a willingness to finish his checks and get in the way. He’s done a lot of the small things well thus far.
     
  • The Oilers have given up 15 goals in three games. That is horrendous. Neither goalie has been stellar, but they aren’t the only ones to blame. While the 3rd period was a treat to watch, the Oilers have to clean up their defensive zone before making stops in Toronto, Washington, Pittsburgh, New York (NYI), Ottawa and Montreal.
     
  • Twelve of their next 16 games are on the road, which makes Thursday’s home game against the Habs a really-really-need-to-win game.
     
  • It is early, but once again the Oilers are near the top in minor penalties. The Oilers have been shorthanded 13 times thus far. In the last three years, the Oilers were shorthanded the 5th, 5th and 3rd most times. They need to cut down on their penalties. It is a disturbing trend.
     
  • Most teams have only played two or three game, yet we only have six undefeated teams remaining. Toronto is the only 3-0 team, while Pittsburgh, Boston, Colorado, St.Louis and San Jose are 2-0. I’ll pick the Penguins to have the longest undefeated streak, not including SO losses.
     
  • Tough break for Fantasy Football owners of Julio Jones. He is done for the season. Ouch.
     
  • I have no issue with the new Hockey Canada Jerseys. I think the white ones will look sharp.
     

  • Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed won’t be back after the season, and I doubt many of the position coaches will be either. Rumours came out of Winnipeg last week that Stampeders D coordinator, Rick Campbell, is a leading candidate to replace Reed. That won’t happen. Campbell is a good coach, much better than some think, but Ed Hervey will hire someone with no previous connection to the Eskimos. He doesn’t seem like a revisionist history type of guy.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR   

  • Any word on Joensu. I was really liking his game before getting hurt. Him and Perron give us some nice grit in the top nine. Gordon as well has been more gritty and physical than Horcoff was. And he is a beast in the face off dot. 68% are you kidding me? Was suprised to see Arcebello with a good face off percentage as well. Hopefully we can keep this up against Montreal since our turnovers and penalties haven’t been good.

    Speaking of Montreal, that should be a fun game as they are not as trap defence as New Jersey. Especially when New Jersey got the lead, they just would not forecheck and the Oilers had to go through so many players in the neutral zone. Nice to watch the kids play against greats like Jagr and Broduer. The key to that game was always going to be to come hard in the late game as our youth and speed became a bigger advantage as the game went on. I kind of wish Schnider was in net, just because the Oilers seem to light him up, but again, it was nice to a legend like Brodure one last time in Edmonton.

    Great finish, still some problems, hopefully we can shore them up as the season goes on.

  • French Toast Mafia

    These go after Ryan Miller comments are quite scary. Ryan Miller is not an elite goalie and he is 33 years old…

    Fortunately, MacT is an intelligent man and I don’t see him giving up anything for a washed up, overrated tender that had one solid year in his career.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Jason wasn’t a fan of my original post, so he edited it. If he didn’t want it there, then that’s his call. I can respect that.

        You writing a book about me, or work for Interpol, the Internet Police? Take a hike Todd. I’m in no way in need of your approval.

      • StHenriOilBomb

        Come on man. How can Quicky’s comments not ring true to you.

        I’ve been an Oilers fan since I watched the 88 Oilers Bruins final, and I feel very similarly. I’m now a fragile fan, and may in fact need prozac…

        It’s going to be a while before I feel completely comfortable investing myself in the hope of Oilers’ success. I’ve been burned too many times, and until I see some evidence of a real swell of upward momentum, I’m probably not going to really love this team.

        They’re still my team, and we’re in therapy trying to fix a broken relationship, but I’m not in love the way I used to be.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Happens all the time Harry, where’ve you been. Ever hear of GDB?

        Why don’t you stalk and hassle Jason Gregor as well, when he predicts the exact same thing in his GDB’s? Don’t you ever get sick of forcing yourself to like this shippy team some nights. You’ve obviously been fooled into thinking this is some sort of reverse upward trend here these last 5 yrs.

        • He’s messing with you Quick, you’ve been around long enough to know when someone just goating you into a fight.

          “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Lol, thanks Wes. You’re right, I should know better.

            Guess it’s just the nurturing part of me that even considers trying to rehabilitate/help some of these savages see the error of their ways.

        • The Soup Fascist

          Stalk and hassle?

          Your constant put downs of this team are making me and others sick. Ive only been here a couple months and all I read from you is whining crying BS. Grow up

          • djc

            Your visits to Oilersnation will be much less aggravating if you just skip over comments from the whiny trolls (Quicksliver, DSF, serious Gord, etc).

            They all seem to be the same person – cranky seniors, experts about hockey, always talking about how they have been fans since the 80s but stopped supporting current management, calling others who don’t agree with them “fanboys” and “drinking the Koolaid”, blah, blah, blah.

            They say they hate the current Oilers yet they have the time to post on an Oilers fan website 50 times a day. It’s pretty sad they are so desperate for attention. Just ignore them and hopefully one day they will just go away.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            It’s like ignoring someone who insulted your Family in your own house – it’s not possible. I may be overly sensitive but the losing gets to us all in different ways.

        • StHenriOilBomb

          It’s not dreaming its called being as Oiler fan douche bag ballet ! Why don’t you fack off and go play in the streets as your negativity is not welcome here.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Where in any of this statement did the topic of dreaming come up there sugar plum princess?

            Take off your rose colored glasses. There’s a very fine line between negativity and being a realist. Your predictable Oiler methamphetamine attitude has grown stale.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Qucker Silver Douche bag wrote “Don’t you ever get sick of forcing yourself to like this shippy team some nights. You’ve obviously been fooled into thinking this is some sort of reverse upward trend here these last 5 yrs”

            We force ourselves/dream that our team is on a upward trend and going to win. That’s what makes this Oilersnation and if you don’t like it go some where else to troll.

            Hugs now fack off

      • Eddie Shore

        Fans don’t predict that their team will lose before the game starts, which it what is killing me at Streakcred! I can’t predict a loss for the Oilers, but against NJ I thought they would struggle, so I went for the “skip” option. Another mistake apparently!

  • bwar

    First off, Belov might be the teams best defenseman so far. I think that if he’s playing well then Eakins should reward him.

    Second, when the Oilers started churning out the offensive blender (only using 8 forwards), it seemed like the game changed dramatically. Prior to the shortening of the bench the Oilers seemed extremely stagnant and the game seemed like it was going to slip away from the Oilers. There seemed to be no pressure being applied in the offensive zone and the Devils were clearing the zone with ease. Then the Oilers entered attack mode. It was hard to keep track of who was on the ice and the almost randomness of the lines seemed to put the Devils at a disadvantage. With the Oilers offensive talent I think that running a system like this has many positives. If the fourth line can have their player weaved in occasionally, for player relief and to maintain a more physical presence, I think that the Oilers become a much harder team to match up against (ie. harder to shutdown one line when that line is always changing). Obviously you would have certain pairings and groupings that would remain favored but having a more dynamic approach to line combinations could benefit the Oilers.

    Third, we were pretty bad in OT. Nearly every breakout ended up sending one Oiler way ahead into a 1v2 or 1v3 scenario that the Devils were easily stopping. A more balanced attack would result in more offensive zone penetration and would most likely end up with a few more scoring chances. I think the first step to cleaning this up would be giving the defensemen more freedom to carry the puck out of the zone during OT over firing off the long pass. This keeps the attacked more balanced and offers more time to read the defensive setup as well as setup the attack to break into the zone.

    It was great to see the Oilers finally get some life back into their game and hopefully they will be able to carry some of the third period into Thursdays game.

  • OilerLand

    The Canada Jerseys are made more horrible by the fact that they will be worn with black pants. The socks design adds a lot to the overall aesthetic but going purely red/white would have helped.

    Nike had some nice basic designs like Czech white and Both USAs, but overall big time fail with the details like the fake lace up collar.

  • Third period, just what the doctor order.. a booster shot!. Lets hope it carrys over to the Montreal game on Thursday.

    Intresting to watch guys like Perron and Gordon, who come from well coached teams, where they play 200 ft of ice., play with urgency is best to describe it, and look after the details.

    Hopefully the top six have turned it around, but certainly the backend and goal tending , although , early is still very much in question.

  • Jason Gregor

    Hemsky playing hard for UFA contract for next season .Horcoff had 2 seasons to go , thus they dumped him . I doubt Hemsky will bypass Free agency , probably last year playing here. Trade bait , or lose for nothing ?

  • Arcobello third on the team in hits! AHAHHAHAHAHAHHAAA!!!!! Good on you Arco!

    Nevertheless that is alarming, yet not surprising. Not a lot of guys are finishing their checks out there. I guess they are too skilled!

    I’m not saying hits win games but it sure helps to get things back on track when the puck isn’t bouncing your way. Things not working out? Work hard, make simple plays, finish your checks, take a shot instead of risk a fancy pass. I really really think this is the Oilers’ number one problem.

    I’m not sure how since they’ve been at the bottom of the league for so long, but it’s almost like this team thinks they are too skilled or good to do all of the above. I hope Eakins can break them out of this horrible horrible habit.

    I can take a loss if they work hard and do the simple things. I just haven’t seen it yet this year.

  • washed up

    I was surprised Smid was used so little in comparison to Belov. It says volumes about what this organization sees in Belov. Seeing Smid as a 5th defensemen is a good sign that we have depth at that position. I still would love to see a nasty number 6 defensemen, but oh well a defence 5 solid guys deep is nice.

  • Terrible game with a great finish. I think too many of the players believed their hype going into the season and it caught up with them. Then a string of a 2 bad games (and 2 bad periods) started to wear on them until they got a break that offered some hope and they pounced! Let’s hope they can bust it wide open now and Dubbie can bounce back on Thursday!

    Side note, I hope the esks keep Greg Marshall. The D hasn’t been great this season but he’s a great coach and he deserves another season to prove himself again.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The one point that we have not been arguing this season so far is our lack of success on the face off dot. What was Acton last night? 11/11? Nuge?

    And how fresh does Nuge look?

    Could we see a line of Gordon,Hemsky and Jonessu moving forward>

    Arcobello has stepped it up a big notch. Does he get the nod over Acton if he continues to play at this level?

  • O.C.

    Whoever asked if a post hit = a shot. Sorry, no. It has to be a shot that would go into the net, unless saved by a goalie.

    Thots on last night.

    Oil have difficulty as teams enter their zone. Much too soft between hash marks and blue line.

    D need push the first 2 back, first forward has to be all over 3rd forward. Watch Jagr’s goal as example.

    The rest is coming together. You can’t change a system in a couple of preseason games.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I wanted to tune out of that game but something kept me watching. There was nothing to suggest that we were coming back in that game but I felt like both teams were doing an equal amount of nothing and the score shouldn’t have been that lopsided. The Oilers seem to have a few of those miracle comebacks at home every season.

    Confidence is a funny thing. RNH and Ference were already playing well before their goals but Perron and Hall really found another gear after their goals. Yakupov just needs a break and his play will improve. He exemplifies what Eakins was talking about the other day with players who are inconsistent from shift to shift.

  • Reg Dunlop

    “Nugent-Hopkins played a career-high 28:12. Does anyone still think they rushed him back?”

    Yes, Jason. Apparently all of the copper and blue staff, and they’re chirpy and arrogant about it.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    Havent read all the comments but I thought Anton Belov has been awful in the first two games. His play in the second period yesterday was particularly sloppy and careless. I’ll take Smid in a heartbeat over more minutes for Belov.

  • I’m one of those people who tuned out after the 2nd out of utter disgust and depression. thank god they finally found the next gear in the 3rd. can they use that experience as a memory and dial it up from the start of the the game from now? I guess the bigger question is why they are still needing a lucky break to find the next gear? they are not rookies anymore, yet they play like members of Davos, Switzerland. Every other team at least works hard and hits. Only the Oilers play more flat minutes than up tempo minutes. it is dumbfounding.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    A few too many conclusions drawn by y’all today.

    1. One thing that’s for sure is that the team desperately needs to work on turnovers.

    2. The Oil don’t need to be bigger, they need to play bigger. Initiating contact in the offensive zone rather than waiting for it would be a start.

    3. Desperation is lacking. We saw a bit from the boys in the 3rd against NJ but a few lucky bounces don’t solve everything. This team needs to be creating more turnovers. Skill is meaningless without hard work. This is collectively the responsibility of coaching, management & the players. EVERYONE.

    These are all issues that can be remedied with a change in attitude. Once Gags returns, leave the roster as is. It’ll always be a work in progress. Coaching needs to work with these players, truly work with them. Skill is not the issue, it’s motivation.

    • Reg Dunlop

      You forgot the most important conclusion. According to the uber-knowledgable djc and Harry(palms?) the beloved Quicksilver is a whiny troll. Hmmm, and here I thought he was just a realistic, long time fan expressing his opinion.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Buying out Horcoff and Hemsky are remarkably poor options.

    Let’s go through them.

    1. Horcoff. three options.

    a) keep him. tough cap hit, but low actual dollars. reliable 3C. center depth is good.

    b) trade him. in this case without retaining salary and picking up a very young, cheap and interesting D prospect (on our organization’s weak side, RD, I might add) who can be buried in the minors if necessary or lost to waivers.

    c) buy him out. spend Katz’ money (I’m fine with that), and acquire cap space.

    All of these have their merits. C, however, is highly contingent on what options are available to use that money.

    Because the Oil weren’t cap constrained, i.e., they tried to spend that money (on Clarkson), the point is moot. They had the money to spend regardless of Horcoff.

    A or B make much more sense in this regard.

    2) Hemksy. 3 options:

    a) keep him. we aren’t in cap trouble and depth (as we’ve already seen this year) is critical to success. We know more about his value than anyone else.

    b) trade him. the most talked about trade this off-season was for Zach Smith, reliable 4C under contract and modest cap hit. That would be a down-grade in talent, but for an actual NHL player addressing position of need. One area of concern is Smith doesn’t PK apparently.

    For whatever reason, this deal didn’t happen. Maybe the Oil didn’t offer to eat enough Hemsky cap, maybe the Sens didn’t offer to throw in a pick?

    c) buy out. see c above.

    In this case also, all three have merits. But c again is the weakest option. And again, the Clarkson move shows that the team was ready to spend regardless of Hemsky. If a player actually signed for big money and no one would take Hemsky, only then do you buy him out… still though that looks sub-optimal to me when you can probably find someone willing to take on N. Schultz’ contract or buy him out.

    • Admiral Ackbar

      Good sir, I’d say you’ve nailed it. Hemmer could have been bought out, but there was little likeliness of the Oil replacing his saved cap-room with a reasonable player anyway.

      I was hoping that Grabo would sign here but alas that isn’t what happened.

      Hemmer will be pumped, then dumped in a trade pre-deadline. It’s the only return possible for a player like this.

      He’s struggled with injuries, has motivational issues and isn’t that excellent in his own zone. His offence is his selling point and hopefully there’ll be buyers at the deadline. I wished they did this at last year’s deadline.

      Buying him out to save on cap room, and lose an NHL player is a last resort, little more.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        What if Hemmer is in the top 5 of scoring, say 65 points(75 games), has killed penalties and agrees to 3.5M for 3 years, would you sign him?
        Yes of course.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The moving of Smid to the third pairing is a joke. Every year he has to prove over and over that he is the Oilers most stable defenceman. Belov is playing good but in no way should be taking Smid spot. Ference does not defend well to small. But he is a decent defenceman that is over rated here.