Last night in the Big Smoke, Dallas Eakins decided not to play Nail Yakupov. The first cut is the deepest, but what are the reasons behind the move? Was the move warranted? Was the move inspired by something real or imagined?
WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE
Tough question. Usually, when an offensive player isn’t scoring that’s a reason to give them a chance to view things off-ice in an effort to get some distance from the problem and re-set the player. The Oilers had plenty of offense last night, so a one game scratch for Yakupov wasn’t fatal to the team–and there’s an added positive if he can take something away from the evening.
YAK STATS (last year in brackets)
- Boxcars: 4, 0-0-0 -3 2pims (48, 17-14-31 -4 24pims)
- Time on ice: 15:16 per game (14:34)
- Shots on goal: 10 (81)
- Missed Shots:4 (32)
- Blocked Shots: 4 (49)
- Shots at goal per game: 4.5 (3.375)
- 5×5 Corsi For %: 55.1 (42.5)
- Offensive Zone Start: 44.7 (32)
- Defensive Zone Start: 13.2 (34.1)
All info from the dynamic Extra Skater. I think there are some things we can see in these numbers year over year, and with the understanding that it’s very early we can probably agree:
- Yakupov is getting more playing time overall this season.
- He’s shooting more this season.
- The Oilers are going in a much better direction in terms of possession this year with Yakupov on the ice.
- Eakins is getting him a much better zone start so far this year.
SAW HIM BAD
I think the play that got Yakupov in trouble was the Brandon Prust goal. Yakupov played it properly (to my eye) by covering the defenseman and giving Gordon support, and the play didn’t feature the Oilers being outnumbered until Ryan Smyth was slow to engage (my read on the play, you may see it differently).
Anyway, he didn’t aggressively engage Subban who made an effective pass to Moen, and that might be the quibble.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Not much in the career of Nail Yakupov or Dallas Eakins. The coach is clearly onside with giving Yakupov a push, he’s giving him ice time and offensive zone starts (if not the cream of the crop linemates). The coach felt Yak City wasn’t where he needed to be at this point and sat him. Eakins said after the Montreal game “he was out of sorts all night” and had cut back on the Russian’s playing time as that game wore on.
And Eakins scratched Yakupov Saturday night. Message sent, message received.