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.
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.
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.
- 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).
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….
- A signed Mark Messier jersey courtesy of Christenson Developments.
- The jersey will be framed courtesy of Pro Am sports
- A party for 10 at On The Rocks
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.