GDB 27.0: BACK-TO-BACK?

Ilya Bryzgalov couldn’t have written a better script. In his first start as an Oiler, Bryzgalov 33 shots and picked up his first win and first shutout. Brzygalov is the first goalie to register a shutout in his first game as an Oiler since Jussi Markannen did it in 2001.

Does Eakins go back-to-back with Brzygalov or should he play a rested Devan Dubnyk?

Before you start yelling and ferociously hitting your keyboard with insults that I’m an idiot for even asking the question, read on.

The Oilers haven’t won back-to-back road games on consecutive nights since December 1st and 2nd, 2010 when they beat Toronto and Montreal. Dubnyk beat the Habs 4-3 and the next night Nikolai Khabibulin shutout the Leafs 5-0.

Last night was Bryzgalov’s first NHL start since April 25th, a span of 217 days, so he’s likely a bit fatigued.

Eric T from NHLnumbers.com and Broadstreethockey wrote this piece about why you shouldn’t play goalies on back-to-back nights.

He compared goalies who played on consecutive nights to goalies who played on one day’s rest. Goalies playing on back-to-back nights, who usually are the starters for their respective team, see a significant dip in their SV%.

I understand that Eric’s numbers are just guidelines and Eakins will go with his gut instinct, he’s decided to start Bryzgalov, but considering how hard it is for Edmonton to win road games on consecutive nights, starting Dubnyk isn’t as outlandish as you might think.

Dubnyk has played much better recently, he shutout Columbus ten days ago, and for the first time in a long time the Oilers are healthy and have competition for icetime throughout the lineup. This team needs some internal competition, and when I take into account Bryzgalov’s recent lack of recent playing time, potential fatigue and the Oilers history on back-to-back nights, I’d lean towards starting Dubnyk tonight and going back to Bryzgalov on Sunday in Dallas.

Eakins doesn’t like to mess with a winning lineup, and you could easily argue why starting Bryzgalov tonight is the right decision as well.

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Yakupov-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Gordon-Perron
Jones-Arcobello-Joensuu

Ference-Petry
Grebeshkov-J.Schultz
Belov-N.Schultz

Bryzgalov

No need to change any forwards or D-men. Eakins was able to roll four lines last night due to the solid play of the 4th line, but also because the Oilers were protecting a lead. I’m not sure we will see many games where the difference in icetime from the top forward, David Perron 18:29, to the lowest, Ryan Jones 11:12, is only seven minutes.

Eakins was able to rest his top forwards, Hall played 17:12 while Eberle played 15:45, so they shouldn’t have heavy legs tonight in Columbus.

QUICK HITS….

  • It is interesting how people’s attitudes and thoughts change after a win. The Oilers won and no one was ripping Eakins for only playing Nail Yakupov 12:54. Earlier in the season after another loss many fans were livid that Yakupov was only playing 14 or 15 minutes. Winning cures almost everything, and it sure would be a refreshing change to discuss more victories than losses.
     
  • The 4th line played very well last night, but it was only one game. I need to see how Eakins will use his bench in tie games or when his team is trailing. I suspect it will be much different, but Jones and Arcobello, not surprisingly, were flying.
     
  • The Blue Jackets have been wildly inconsistent the past few games. Over their last six games they won 4-1, lost 7-0, won 2-1, lost 6-2, won 6-0 and lost 4-0. That is why betting on hockey is extremely painful for me.
     
  • Since the Blue Jackets entered the NHL, the Oilers have dominated them to the tune of 29-10-3-5, and they are a respectable 10-6-3-4 in Columbus. Most of the Oilers love playing the Blue Jackets:

    Nugent-Hopkins: 1 goal and 11 points in 7 games.
    Hall: 4 goals and 12 points in 9 games.
    Eberle: 6 goals and 12 points in 10 games.
    Hemsky: 14 goals and 39 points in 33 games.
    Smyth: 19 goals and 47 points in 46 games.
    Gagner: Eight goals and 21 points in 23 games.
    Jones: 6 goals and 13 points in 17 games. Most career points vs. any NHL team.
    Perron: 11 goals and 25 points in 29 games. Most career points vs. any NHL team.
     

  • The Oilers are at the midway point of the "easiest" stretch of their schedule. The Oilers had an 11 game stretch where they play CGY, CBJ, FLO, CHIC, NSH, CBJ, DALL, PHO, COL, CGY AND CAR. The Oilers are 4-1 thus far, and if they want to climb out of the basement in the western conference and get to where they don’t need binoculars to see Minnesota or Vancouver’s point totals, they need to go at least 4-2 in the remaining six games.
     
  • Eberle has 12 points in his last 11 games. He had 10 points in his first 10 games. In between those streaks he went five games without a point. If he stays healthy, don’t be surprised to see him reach the 70-point mark again.
     
  • Hall has 19 points in 19 games, and he has 56 games to play. He should surpass 70 points as well.
     
  • Nugent-Hopkins has 20 points in 24 games. He’d be on pace for 66 points, but with a slight increase in production he could reach 70 as well.
     
  • The last time the Oilers had two 70-point players was in 2005/2006. Hemsky had 77, while Shawn Horcoff had 73. Jarret Stoll had 68 points that season.
     
  • If Eberle reaches the 70-point mark he’ll become the 9th player in Oiler history to have multiple 70-point seasons.

    Jari Kurri had 10.
    Wayne Gretzky had 9, but 137 points was his lowest total. Sick
    Mark Messier had 8.
    Glenn Anderson had 8.
    Doug Weight had 6.
    Paul Coffey had 5.
    Esa Tikkanen had 3.
    Ales Hemsky had 2.

    Twelve players have done it once: Jimmy Carson (100), Blair MacDonald (94) Vincent Damphousse (89), Mike Krushelynski (88), Joe Murphy (82), Craig Simpson (76), Eberle (76), (Ken Linseman (75), Dave Lumley (74), Horcoff (73), Zdeno Ciger and Ryan Smyth (70). 

MIRROR, MIRROR…

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Despite bucking the odds and playing Bryzgalov, Eakins looks smart and the Oilers pick up their 30th victory over the Blue Jackets by a 4-1 score.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: RNH, Hall and Eberle combine on a first period goal.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Denis Grebeshkov decides to give Wanye and Oilersnation a late 6th birthday present. Grebeshkov is the only player Wanye ever picked as his GOAT two years in a row, and after learning he wasn’t Wanye’s GOAT for a 3rd time, Grebeshkov repays Wanye by scoring his first goal of the season. It is also his 2nd career against the Blue Jackets, which ties his career high for goals vs. one team.

DAY TWO…MONTH OF GIVING…

We had an excellent first day. Yesterday we raised $7,000 thanks to Brad’s bid and the fine folks at Petersen Buick GMC for donating a one-year lease on a 2014 GMC Sierra.

Today’s package includes….

You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or 1.800.243.1945. All the proceeds will go to Santas Anonymous. Thanks in advance to all of those who make a bid.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

  • Stack Pad Save

    @Gregor

    Glad to see your up early on the weekend, my kids woke me up 30minutes ago. Best thing is my wife is still sleeping, so I can have breakfast with the kids. Little does she know that we are having syrup on waffles today, love kid food. There are some perks to being a parent, and eating their left overs is one of them.

    I am wondering if anyone asked Eakins why he put 2 forwards out on a 5 on 3, especially for the second shift. DId he not watch and recognize that the single D-man down low got dominated in the crease area? I thought that section of the game was the turning point and where Eakins should have used a timeout to calm his team. I know that at the start of the 5 on 3 Columbus took a timeout, but Eakins could have used his to let his best defensive players rest.

    • Jason Gregor

      Ference, N.Schultz and Petry were all in the penalty box.

      When Petry took his penalty the Jackets called a timeout…

      Eakins had Ference, Smyth and Gordon on the ice… to start the 5 on 3…

      They were on for a minute then a whistle. Arcobello and Jones replaced the fwds, and Ference stayed out.

      23 seconds later Ference gets the penalty…

      Eakins comes back with Smyth and Gordon and J.Schultz takes Ference’s spot…

      There was no need to take a timeout at that point, since Smyth and Gordon were rested, and so was Schultz.

  • Zamboni Driver

    So here’s the part I don’t get, Jason and Robin.

    Yesterday on Jason’s show (listened to the whole thing driving back from YYC…and you paused…anyway), Jason and Jason talking about “why do we keep talking about the fourth line??!”

    Then someone come (I come) out and call into question two of the Holy Triumvirate and the heavy hitters here come running to their defense.

    Here’s what I know Robin stats-wise – I think about the 30 teams in the NHL that RNH would be the #1 TODAY (not in the future…now) – then factor in teams that have excellent #2 (SJ, Pitt, etc.) – I don’t arrive at 5’10”, 170 lbs 20 year old as anywhere near the top 10 – top 50 was hyperbole.

    Jason, regarding Hall, you have said he’s the only Oiler capable of taking over a game. I actually agree with that. My really serious question, exactly what is he waiting for to do this?

    Lastly I’ll throw this one out under the auspices of continually protecting the ‘kids’ (huge upside, etc. etc.) – Eakins said yesterday they were not in shape. Really think he was talking about Gazdic, Acton, and the guy with 11 ‘U’s in his name?

    • Gregor and Strudwick don’t need anybody running to their defense.

      When I see somebody saying RNH might not even be in the top 50 among NHL centres — hyperbole you now admit — it doesn’t ring anywhere near true.

      It reads like somebody looking for a reaction, which you got, or somebody who is of the mind that all MSM guys are dummies, which they are not. In any case, I don’t see talk of RNH in the top-30 mix as the knee-slapper you made it sound like. It’s not as black and white as you portrayed.

    • Jason Gregor

      Eakins is huge on in shape, but I’m not sure I buy that argument completely. They aren’t as physically strong as men who are 25+, so I do wonder about the “in shape” angle.

      Gazdic and Acton, two rookie NHLers, and guys playing limited roles aren’t the guys costing this team games. They likely have to learn to be in NHL conditioning, but I don’t think their conditioning is their biggest downfall.

      As for the RNH, he isn’t top ten…but he has played 127 games. Why are you calling on him to be top-ten this early in his career?

      Could he be a bit more consistent, sure, but pretty much every 20 year old needs to be. Name a team who is an elite team who has a #1 centre under 23? That is the Oilers issue, not necessarily RNH’s.

      Taking over games individually is tough, but yes Hall should be able to do it about 8-10 times a year. He’s been decent this year, but he can play better. I’m sure he’d agree with that.

      The disappointing reality is the Oilers have many holes to fill, and areas to improve on before they become competitive…ugh..

  • Zamboni Driver

    Robin I actually meant running to the defense of RNH, Eberle and Hall not the Jay’s.

    My point is the Oilers best players are not playing nearly well enough (two goals when it’s already 4-0 vs. Columbus look good on individual stats sheets and that’s it).

    and it’s not blasphemy to say that.

    I don’t think MSM guys are dummies at all, but I don’t understand why it’s not brought up that a significant part of the problem is just that – the best players simply aren’t good enough. “Yet”, I understand, but this City is damned sick of “pretty soon…”

    • If you’ve followed me on Twitter then you know I’m completely on board with fans who are sick and tired of waiting for “pretty soon.”

      Part of the problem with the best players, and this is also nothing new, is management has not surrounded them with the proper cast of veterans — more guys like Perron — capable of sharing top six minutes and showing them the ropes.

      • Arius Mumin

        Is there another option for the fan other than wait?

        What ropes need to be shown to the best players?

        How many more guys like Perron do you have in mind? How many more do you believe they need?

        Remember Horcoff? I was convinced by the MSM on Horcoff’s leadership qualities and his purpose of mentorship. Smyth is still here and he gets PP time, that says something.
        What exactly is Ryan Jones purpose? I’m pretty sure he should able to show them a thing or two-he has been here forever with them.

        I won’t bring Gagner into this.

        Ference was brought in to show them the ropes as well, no? I’m pretty sure he can show some ropes if need be. N.Schultz is a veteran and Petry has been here for a while as well. Smid was a warrior on most nights.

        I do not believe any ropes need showing.

        Who ropes do you believe need showing and to whom?

  • Zamboni Driver

    Team didn’t play well again last night but not playing Dubnyk is a total rookie NHL coach mistake that’s all on Eakins’ shoulders. This is not the AHL, Mr. Eakins, no matter how much you want it to be. There are a handful of reasons why Bryz shouldn’t have played the back to back and that’s even if he had played right from training camp.

    This is probably the third game this season that was winnable or could have been won if not for rookie level mistakes from Eakins like that game he pulled LBB and then sent him right back in on a ‘gut feeling’ or his other questionable lineup decisions early in the season.

    His defense always seems to be that he goes with his ‘gut feeling’, except that his gut feeling is almost always the wrong decision when that hindsight is 20/20. Let logic and reason dictate some of your decisions and maybe some more things will go your way too. This guy’s goalie management skills thus far has been brutal.

    • Zamboni Driver

      Didn’t really matter which goalie started last night. Logic and reason dictates that if you don’t score a goal for the first 50 minutes of any hockey game, you most likely aren’t going to win that hockey game no matter how your goalie is playing.

      Just like the Blackhawks game where Dubnyk was hung out to dry, Bryz didn’t get much help last night either.

  • Arius Mumin

    RNH is going to be a very, very good centre for many years but he needs to gain at least 10 lbs of muscle so that he can impose his physical will and be able to protect the puck better.

    You cant’ teach smart and this kid has all sorts of this…….you can add size and when this kid has that going for him he will be a clone of Datysuk.

    The second line centre has to be discussed as well as defense but not the NUGE!

  • Arius Mumin

    @Clarko

    So if Dubnyk had only let one goal in and the Oilers scored those two at the end, we win. We can debate what ifs all night long but the point is that the smarter decision was to play the fresh goaltender who’s supposed to be our starter and who has also been playing some damned fine hockey for the past two or three weeks. Instead, we played the tired goalie who had seen a grand total of one NHL game in a period of 7 or 8 months.

    The issue of how many goals we score is an entirely different one; I’m talking about the bad goaltending decision in the first place.