The Edmonton Oilers refusal to shoot the puck on the powerplay likely cost them two points. The Oilers had four minutes of PP time in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the game, and didn’t have one decent scoring chance, they only had one shot. They could barely enter the zone on their first two man advantages, and their unwillingness to just fire the puck on the powerplay was evident throughout the game.
The Oilers had 7:28 of powerplay time and registered two measly shots, and one of them was off the stick of a falling Ryan Smyth for a goal. That is pathetic anyone you slice it. If you add in the final 4:22 where they played with an extra attacker, that is 11:50 of PP time with only four shots. (They had two shots and one goal post in the final 4:22.)
The Habs had 2:49 of PP time and fired four shots, including a Brandon Gallagher goal.
Those who are believers in Corsi rating will point out that the Oilers won the Corsi 46-45, but that only accounts for EV play. I understand the statistics that if the Oilers remain even or better at Corsi their odds of winning will increase. That is great, but it doesn’t tell the entire game story.
Almost 1/4 of last night’s game was played on the PK or PP, and that is what cost the Oilers, although a very bad defensive effort on the 2nd Canadiens goal was a key factor.
There are reasons to be excited about the Oilers, they are playing more in the offensive zone this year, but there are also reasons to be concerned.
- I understand and respect the basic premise of Corsi, shot attempts for or against, but sometimes a small sample can change them drastically. For instance, in the 3rd period last night the 4th line was out against Eller/Pacioretty/Briere and the Habs ended up with two shots on goal and the Oilers blocked three shots. That is a -5 Corsi rating for the fourth line, and that one :45 second shift made their Corsi rating go from bad to dreadful.
It was a bad shift, however, neither of Pacioretty’s shots were good scoring chances and the Oilers were actually in good lanes to block the shots. In this case the Corsi stats looked awful afterwards, but the play on the ice didn’t lead to any significant scoring chances.
It can also work the other way where a line is buzzing and getting lots of outside shots, or blocked shots in a :45 second span, but none of the shots were legitimate scoring chances. I get that the odds will even out in the end, and while the Oilers overall Corsi is much better this year, which is a positive, I don’t believe it is good enough to mask all of the issues on the team.
- That doesn’t mean the fourth line can’t be better, they need to be much better or find better players, but I was just showing an example of how one bad shift can really alter the stats. I’d love it if Corsi valued shots from closer to the net higher than ones from outside. Most goals come from within 15 feet of the net. I know that would be a lot of work, but that would make it even more accurate and useful.
- The Oilers are still making too many mistakes in their own zone. It is still a fire drill at times, and Nail Yakupov’s effort on the Canadiens 2nd goal is inexcusable. I’d have no problem if he was working his tail off and made the wrong decision, but he was just floating around doing nothing. Winning teams don’t allow that. One of his teammates will need to have a quiet chat with him. I’m not picking on Yakupov, I’m pointing out a major issue that has been in Edmonton for years; a lack of commitment in the defensive zone.
- I liked that Eakins gave Yakupov a brief stint on the bench for the remainder of the 2nd, but then went right back to him in the third period. That is smart coaching. Get the player’s attention, but don’t staple him to the bench. Yakupov is a proud player and I’m sure he’ll get the message. He is too dangerous to sit in the pressbox, so please don’t mention banishing him to the pressbox. Unless a lack of effort becomes a regular issue, he should be in the lineup every night.
- The Oilers need to learn how to work their hardest on every shift. You take a shift off in the NHL and often it will bite you in the ass. Yakupov is too good not to work hard.
- Jordan Eberle needs to shoot the puck. Twice last night he was in a great shooting lane and dished it off. He’s one of their best shooters, and they need him to shoot. He will likely come around, but one of your best shooters can’t pass of quality chances.
- Eakins is playing his most skilled players more than any other coach. RNH leads all NHL forwards in time on ice (TOI) per game at 26:58, Hall is 2nd at 23:35, Eberle is 3rd at 22:39 and Perron is 5th at 22:06. The onus will clearly be on those four to produce.
- Devan Dubnyk said Jeff Petry has the hardest shot on the team. Petry needs to start using it more. He either needs to get a quicker release, or at the very least just get shots through from the point. Getting shots through isn’t easy, but he needs to put the puck on net more often and see what happens.
- Justin Schultz has ONE shot on the PP so far this year. He has to start shooting the puck. Either tee one up, of just put it on net and see what happens. It is a small adjustment, but the Oilers PP was a major reason they didn’t get two points. It might not be fair to put that much pressure on the shoulders of a player with only 52 NHL games, but that is the reality in Edmonton. He has special offensive skills and he needs to start using them more on the PP.
- I thought Dubnyk played well last night. He had no chance on the Gallagher and Galchenyuk goals. The key was he looked sharp early, rather than fighting the puck. He needs to build off last night’s performance.
- The Oilers re-assigned Brandon Davidson to OKC and they sent Denis Grebeshkov down for conditioning and recalled Philip Larsen.
- I won’t be surprised if Larsen draws in for N.Schultz in Toronto. The Leafs haven’t been killing teams with offensive zone pressure, so the Oilers might look to add a guy with better offensive skills instead of a stay-at-home D-man vs. Toronto.
- Last night’s loss should sting, because the Canadiens were willing to play run-and-gun with the Oilers, yet the Oilers couldn’t beat their backup goalie. The Oilers should thrive in a game like last night, and unfortunately they didn’t. Very few teams will play that way, so the next time a team is willing to open it up, the Oilers skilled players need to take advantage of it. I look at last night as a lost opportunity. That was a game they should have won.
- The Oilers need to start attacking more north and south. Their speed gets teams in bad positions, but then the Oilers will either swing the puck, or the puck carrier will flare out and that allows the defence to recover. The Oilers speed is their best asset, but they need to start taking the puck in straight lines more often to fully utilize their speed.
- I wouldn’t have used the Joe Thornton quote. Jason Botchford elected to and that is his choice, but I wouldnt’ have. Unless I’m asking a player a direct question, I look at everything else as a conversation and "off the record." There are many discussions that go on that aren’t for public consumption, just like conversations in your work environment as well as mine around the radio station. Trust is big part of any work environment or relationship, and I doubt the Sharks will trust Botchford. Maybe I missed it over the years, but has he written off-the-cuff comments of Canuck players over the years? If so, then he’s consistent, if not, I wonder why?
- One quick note… Challenge yourself to eat healthier today. Don’t have pop, instead have water and a lemon. Have a green salad with chicken, instead of a heavy, creamy dish. Go for a walk after work. I’m looking for people who will take the Challenge to improve our health. We can start small, but it will benefit all of us. If you are up for it let me know and we will hopefully encourage many to make take small strides to a healthier lifestyle. Have a POSITIVE Friday.