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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 


  • A-Mc

    I thought Bryz was good but a little shakey. It’s normal for a 1st game to be a little off, but somehow he came out with the ShutOut.

    I think Dubnyk is the better, more consistent goalie (for better or worse), but i think Bryz has the greater potential to steal you games on any given night. Basically, my thoughts are that Bryz will either be fantastic, or stink. Nothing in between. Duby will always let in the softy, but he can be the more consistent ~3GAA option of the two.

    i dont know who should start but you have to reward a SO if Bryz feels good..

    BRYZ LIGHTYEAR TO THE RESCUE

      • pkam

        Only Dubnyk let in weak goals and no other goalies do?

        Bryz is so much better than Dubnyk? Did you watch the playoff between the Pens and Flyers in 2012? I guess 0.887 SV% and 3.46 GA in 11 games is so much better than Dubnyk’s start this year.

        I really hope Bryz will ever play like that again. At least not as an Oilers.

        • Spydyr

          No, every goalie lets in weak goals. Dubnyk just lets in one every four or so periods.That is way too much.I would like to compare Dubnyk’s playoff performance to Bryz’s but Dubnyk has never played in the playoffs in the NHL.

          In case you have not noticed it is not 2012 anymore and Bryz is playing for his NHL life.He needs to do well to get a contract next year.That is what is known as motivation.

          • pkam

            Tell me how many soft goals Dubnyk let in in the last 4 games. Dubnyk’s career SV% is 0.911. If he lets in more soft goals, then he has to make more saves to keep his SV% at average level. And he has to do it behind a terrible defense group.

            And Bryz’s .887 SV% was behind a better Philly defense group (not great but better than the Oilers defense group), and with some of the players that the fans here want to acquire to upgrade our defense.

          • Spydyr

            That last four games includes the game Dubnyk allowed four goals on only 14 shots and got pulled.

            You can believe Dubnyk is the answer moving forward here.I don’t and neither does the GM.

            IMO they will pick up one of Hiller , Halak or Elliott this summer.

          • pkam

            Elliot is way worse than Dubnyk.

            In his 3 year with the Blues, his SV% is .940, .907, and .932 so far this year.

            And his career SV% is only .910, it is skewed heavily in favor by the great defensive system by Ken Hitchcock.

            Just ask a Sens fan if you want to know about Elliot. I am sure they will rather have Dubnyk over him.

          • Spydyr

            Dubnyk faces a lot of low percentage shots from bad angles and long range..Coaches tell their teams to shot from anywhere against him.

            Save percentage is not the end all when looking at how good a goalie is.

            Personally I prefer a clutch goalie who makes the big save when needed.Something Dubnyk has never done on a consistent basis.

            Big saves lift teams soft goals deflate teams.A goalie who constantly lets in weak goals wears on a team.They try to hard to block everything scared to let a shot through.Anyone who has ever played hockey will tell you that.

            Teams will try to win one for the goalie if he steals them games then lets in a bad goal.If the team constantly fights back to get close in games then the goalie lets in a soft one.You get what happened the first 20 games this year.A lost season.

          • pkam

            I really have no idea how you come up with the idea that Elliot is a better goalie than Dubnyk.

            I don’t watch the other team’s games but I watch the highlight in NHL.com. Did you?

            If you didn’t, then go to NHL.com and watch some of the highlight that Elliot played when he was a Sens and count how many soft goals he let in.

            If you want an elite goalie, Dubnyk is not the answer, but neither is any one of the three you mentioned.

          • Spydyr

            Hiller or Halak would be an upgrade IMO Elliott would be a lateral move but sometimes a change is needed.

            I pvr sportscenter and watch the highlights most days.

            Who would you like to see come here as an elite goalie?

          • Chainsawz

            Did you watch that game where Dubnyk let in 4 on 14? Cause if you did you wouldn’t be critical of Dubnyk at all. He was left hung out dry on all of those.

            Still not a fan of Dubnyk but that game was not reflective of Dubnyk’s current work.

        • Johnnydapunk

          Actually his numbers were better in the 2012 playoffs than Dubnyk’s were in the first 11 games this season

          Bryz GAA 3.47 SV% .887 5W 6L shots faced 326

          Dubnyk GAA** 3.90-4.00** SV% .872 3W 7L 1OTL shots faced 327

          ** GAA for Dubnyk an approximation using the guide that each game he played was 60min, just couldn’t be arsed to calculate exact minutes, but the number is quite close.

          Bear in mind that the first round of the 2012 playoffs Philly played the Pens in what was a goal fest with very little defending, an NHL record was set for most goals scored by both teams in the first 4 games of a series. Philly also won that series and seemed to lose their shooting and scoring touch in the conference semi’s as Uncle Daddy only had to face more than 30 shots once in those 5 games.

          Really weird stat was that Bryzgalov faced the exact number of shots in both the first and second round of the playoffs that year, both series facing 163 shots in each. Weird as….

          Anyways, saying all of that, Bryz was facing far better shooters in those 11 games and you can argue about the Oilers defence if you wish but they both faced about the same number of shots.

  • northof51

    Bryz is the modern day Rollie!A goalie everyone thought was done,laughed upon on signing and will show us all wrong.I do not think he is a stanley cup goalie(might prove me wrong) but after watching dubbie play hes a far cry better,very nice to watch a real nhl caliber goaltender play the angles and perform above par.Please get rid of dubbie now and get us a real backup for the BRYZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Spydyr

      It’s one game dude. I was also impressed with Bryz, but I would say the evaluation on the goaltending situation needs to be longer than ONE start.

      What impressed me even more was that the Oilers gave up very few high quality scoring chances. There weren’t any wide open Predators roaming the slot with no Oilers within 10 feet of them. If they can continue that kind of defensive play, that will go a long way to improving their record.

      • Spydyr

        Disagree. The Oilers gave up quite a few good quality scoring chances and the one timer from the slotnwas present again. Not nearly as bad as say the first dozen games but plenty of good shots came Bryzgalovs way. Bryz played cool, calm and collective and these chances looked a lot less significant as past games. I’m not all on the Bryz band wagon but he played fantastic last night.

        Like you say, one game. But don’t let good goaltending over shadow the chances the Oilers allowed.

        • pkam

          I don’t think anyone debate for Dubnyk in his first 5-6 games.

          But if you compare our last two games (the Hawks and the Preds), we played much better last night. How many of those quality scoring chances that we gave to the Hawks happened last night?

          One question, do you think the result will be different if we swap the goalies in these two games?

          • Bucknuck

            Some of those 33 saves Bryz made were on point blank shots from the slot. He had some great poke checks, and didn’t allow himself to get beat. He was stellar. He was the difference.

            Dubnyk has not been playing at that level much this year, so I actually don’t think the Oil would have had a Win if Dubnyk had been in net.

          • pkam

            None of the saves that Bryz made last night were as difficult as those Dubnyk allowed in Chicago game. Not saying that Bryz couldn’t save any of the 4 that Dubnhk allowed, but very unlikely.

            Can Dubnyk made those saves last night if he was in net? I believe so. He is playing pretty good lately. I was in the Dallas game and he was really good.

          • Bucknuck

            I don’t think you were watching the same game, or perhaps Bryzgalov just made the saves look easy. When was the last time Dubnyk had a shutout where the opposing team had over 30 shots?

            Bryzgalov wouldn’t have made a difference in the Chicago game. Despite what eakins said after the game, it was obvious to me that the Oil were outmatched. Goatending can’t save you when your forwards can only score one goal.

  • Zamboni Driver

    The funniest thing I have heard in eons was on Gregor’s show today. Recounting Oilers who are top-10 at their position.

    He said Hall (Taylor Hall, who has 7 goals)…okay. I’ll go in with that I guess. Barely.

    The funny part was the long hesitation for Nugent-Hopkins, long long pause, after which he decided that no, RNH is not there yet.

    I almost drove in the ditch.

    RNH is not a top 30 centre in the NHL. Maybe not top 50.

    And he’s our ‘star first line centre’ – maybe that’s part of the problem, ya think?

    • — Twenty centres have more points than RNH so far this season.

      — In 2012-13, RNH played 40 of 48 games. 55 centres had more points.

      — In 2011-12, RNH played in just 62 of 82 games. He finished 32nd in scoring among centres as a rookie.

      — RNH is 20 years old. He has done this on lousy teams. Still a lot of work to do, notably on face-offs, but probably fair to say that just out of his teens, he’s a work in progress and there’s room for improvement.

      I don’t see RNH in the top-10 and I don’t think NHL GMs would either, if you polled them. I’m also confident the majority would put him in the 15-25th range. Not a lock, but certainly in the conversation.

      None of what was said today in the comment you cite strikes me as the funniest thing “in eons.” And you almost drove in the ditch? My. Maybe not top 50, eh?

      Now, that’s funny.

    • Jason Gregor

      Taylor Hall was 2nd in points amongst LW with 50 last season…He has 19 points in 20 games this year.

      Barely? Please tell me the 10 better LW…

      As for RNH, don’t lie and suggest there was a long, long pause..I said he isn’t there yet.

      He has played 127 games, and you talk like the kid is a crap player. Please show me the 50 centres who are better?

      I noticed you didn’t mention the point we were discussing. I said I don’t understand why people rip on Dubnyk because he isn’t a top-ten goalie.

      Last year he was likely in the 15-20 range amongst starters. I said name any Oiler who is top-10 at their position…

      Hall is the only one. RNH isn’t there, but he hasn’t played two full seasons, and you think that is the funniest thing you’ve ever heard.

      If you listen closely I’ve stated for years the Oilers haven’t protected the kids enough, but that doesn’t mean RNH is bad, it means he shouldn’t have to be a #1 centre this early in his career.

      • camdog

        RNH is a 25-35 centre in the NHL, which is pretty good for a young guy. He isn’t a number 45 and he isn’t a number 15. RNH excels on the powerplay and is average at even strength. Eberle is a top 20 RW and Hall a top 10 LW.

        The question we all have is RNH good enough to lead this team on his back to a cup? Not now, maybe in 2-3 years or maybe not? Which continues the verbage that we need another solid centre on this team before we can be competitve.

        • Jason Gregor

          Agreed…

          You bet they need another C…a veteran one who play top-six minutes. Of course the challenge is finding one that teams will trade, or you try via UFA…

      • S cottV

        Absolutely – he is two years away from being a bonafide 1C. Hall and Eberle are ahead of his time and need veteran 1C support now – to be at their potential max effectiveness. With RNH in 1C training, Gagner in 2C and no bonafide 1D or 2D, we do not command the middle and cannot push the play up ice from the back. We have a bunch of skilled wingers playing mostly on the wrong side of the center ice line. So – if MacT wants to relieve his impatience, he better find a way to plug the 2C, 1D and 2D holes or it will be more of the same. If he can get that done, when RNH comes out of training – the team will be in a position to win consistently.

    • Zamboni Driver

      That’s what I have mentioned before. We draft these forst overall and “assume” they will be legite NHL stars. This is a huge mistake. The NHL is vastly diffeent then ripping up juniors. Tambellini thought this was the answer, we always need a legitimate top 6 with experiance. throwing the kids in to the fire and assuming they could carry this team is a mistake. the kids needed proper top 6 mentoring, “Top Six” mentoring.

    • Old School G

      I do like your point. I think Nuge is an absolutely great hockey player, and will be among the best in time. We need to strengthen our entire C depth. We absolutely need a top tier C still. Maybe not to take on the 1 Line role but to support Nuge in a greater capacity than Sam G can. I like Sam G just fine on the W. We all know Hemsky is going to be dealt whether we like it or not it just seems inevitable. Sammy could assume Hemmer’s spot with a new, more suitable 2C, this player will add a dimension we haven’t had in a while. We still need a top end D man or two to guide JSchultz, Petry, Nurse, Klefbom, and the rest of a promising crop of prospect D. This teams going to be really good when MacT adds the pieces needed to be more competitive in the West. Some big times moves need to happen yet but we’re looking to be coming along just fine, I’m looking forward to this.

      • camdog

        LW – Hall, Perron
        RW – Yakopov, Eberle

        Gags at 5 million on the third line is a lot of cap.

        I was looking at the TSn Fantasy Rankings RNH is 32, of course there are some ahead that are worse but many behind that are overall better players. He’s not a top 30 centre right now, there are alot of really good centers in this league.

        On a side note Cullen’s fantasy numbers have Smyth with a higher fantasy rating then Hemsky. If Smyth can maintain his checking role he might bring more in trade value at the deadine as a 4th line winger, then Hemsky at his cap hit.

        • Old School G

          I see what you’re saying. I would welcome Gagner being moved if MacT is able to make it happen, I still have no idea what all is involved in this handshake NTC between MacT and Gagner before his actual NTC kicks in.

          I personally think Hemsky, Smytty, NSchultz, Dubnyk and Gagner, if workable will all be moved at some point. Do I like it. No, of course not. I’m a fan of these guys, they’ve been good soldiers but if they are needed to be moved to make this team relevant again then I am all for it.