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 


  • nuge2drai

    Oilers Domination To Follow

    Bryzz looked solid against Chicago as well, he could easily be running a 100+ minute shutout streak.

    Here’s hoping for another shutout tonight, the team and fans could use someone to rally around.

    Above average goaltending could lead to playing meaningful games again.

  • vetinari

    Bryzer impressed me last night by playing the game in a calm, controlled style. Sure, there were a few signs of rust and some rebounds but being in the right position allowed him to make the second and third stops that were necessary. In fact, the whole defence looked a little more relaxed last night. My hope is that even if he is a short term solution, he passes along some positioning tips and mental preparation techniques to Dubnyk.

  • The Funky Chicken Has Left The Building

    Play Bryzgalof til wheel come off traktor!!

    Dubnyks been given every chance by the Oilers to become their #1….he simply is not good enough.

    There’s a 2 pad stacking fool on every street corner in Finland…Oilers should scoop one to play goal in Edmonton.

  • pkam

    No reason we can’t win tonight.

    If both teams are healthy, we are still a slightly better team than the BJ on paper. Now they have 3 of their top 6 out of the lineup and we are completely healthy, how can we possibly lose to them?

    Being said that, we better be ready the 1st minute cause they just beat the Leafs 6-0 several nights ago, and they definitely want to return the favor of that 7-0 embarrassment.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Stay calm folks. Who knows which CBJ team we will play tonight? The guys we waxed 7-0 or the ones who walked into Toronto and pasted the Leafs 6-0. If they have any pride they will be looking for redemption. We have a good shot at this one, and a win would be great, but temper your expectations. If the boys play well and win we might be on the move a bit. IF.

  • Arius Mumin

    @GREGOR

    Why is that interesting to you? When I read the first sentence-I thought you was onto something.

    When Oilers win the negativity takes a long nap, just like that DSF thing.

    Eakins ego spoke about accountability, so at times when it Eakins loses his senses , he acts on it. If you recall the turnover against the Hawks on the PP, Yakupov was the last Oiler to try to play the puck before Toews scored. Eakins ego struck and it gave Schultz Yak’s PP time. Last night’s PPs would account for about another minute or two of Yak’s playing time.
    It is not a big deal.

    Since Schultz didn’t gel with the 1st PP unit last night, Egins will put Yak back in and go with the 5man PP. OGDP; Yak will score while on the PP.

    Put the Yak BS aside. You had nothing to say about Yak so you went at a few of his loyalists. Oh Sweet Valley High.!

    Why not discuss if it should be Yak or Schultz on the 1st PP unit? Or something like that, anything like that. Something interesting.

    • Jason Gregor

      If you noticed I referenced Yak’s icetime earlier in the year, not the two recent games where they used 5 fwds on the PP…

      The point was that when you win, no one cares about minutes of a player. When they lose people want to find things to blame for the loss, and I used Yak’s early season icetime.

      You don’t use 5 fwds on the PP long term, so it is a no-brainer to have Schultz on the first unit. It has nothing to do with Eakins ego.

      Eakins wants a D-man on his PP, not five forwards. It is pretty simple and straight forward. There is no drama involved in it.

      • S cottV

        Amen… 5 forwards on that PP vs Chicago in the early part of the 1st period was so dumb – Eakins deserved to get it rammed up where the sun dont shine. 5 forwards on a PP once in a blue moon – maybe, but playing with fire and that was not the blue moon moment. Made a rookie coach look even more like a rookie coach.

  • Spurzey

    Do not sign that nutball of a goalie..Bryzgalov. He will never play here. He doesn’t like the weather. Look how well he played in Philly. They liked him so much they bought him out, etc, etc, etc.

  • Lowe But Now High Expectations

    Gotta love the the goalie argument. I remember being told the two most popular athletes in Edmonton are the backup QB for the Eskimos and whichever goalie isn’t playing for the Oilers.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    guyz….if Bryz plays well the rest of this season, he’ll be the #1 goalie they’ve been looking for, and he’ll earn himself a good paying, 3 or 4 year contract and they can stop searching.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        i know he’s said some less than flattering things about Edmonton in the past, but i’m not convinced that if he plays well the rest of the season he’ll necessarily sign a new contract elsewhere.

        • A-Mc

          Ya my thoughts exactly.

          If Bryz can be a true #1 here for us, i think the city of Edmonton, and the Oilers, would really embrace Bryzgalov’s quirky nature. I actually like him MORE because he shows character: nothing bothers me more than parrot hockey players that can’t think or speak for themselves.

          If things go well and Bryz sees that this city will embrace him and let him be himself, i think he’d have to strongly consider signing here for a while.

          Lets face it, just because he plays for the Oilers doesn’t mean he’s stuck here in Edmonton. If he’s a warmer climate kind of guy, he can still have homes elsewhere. His riches have afford him the luxury to have several homes and the means to fly him and his family back and forth as much as he sees fit.

          ALSO, he’s from Russia. It’s not exactly tropical in Russia. If the -32 is what scares his family away, they could always live here for 10 months of the year and head south for the remaining 2: NO BIGGY!

          TLDR: rich people make things work because they have the means to. If Bryz likes it here because we accept him, he’ll find a way to stay.

        • Johnnydapunk

          I also agree with you Manfly, again it is very early to speculate, but if the Oil put up semi respectable numbers, give some indication of potential, and the fans and media keep it sweet with Bryz, I’m sure he would consider staying if it works out for both teams. I don’t know how big of an issue money is as he is getting paid by Philly for the next 14 years.

          Again all I’m hoping for is some stability in the net and maybe Bryz can offer that.

  • Jason Gregor

    So I take it people are still watching this team do whatever it is they do during games… I love the argument about which crappy goalie is better…. Lets talk about which of our AHL level defenceman is holding their head barely above water the best. Just a couple years away right guys…. The championships are gonna start rolling in right away, just be patient….

  • Zarny

    Statistically, we’re talking about the difference between Lundqvist and Theodore or Price and Garon.

    If my back-up was Theodore or Garon I’d probably go with the tired starter just to keep him happy.

    This is Bryz’s 2nd start of the year. With his layoff I have more concerns about his fitness level to go back to back.

    I’d also take into account how the team feels and plays when each G is in net. Dubnyk was letting in beach balls early in the season and has let in some weak G at key moments. That creates doubt.

    Bryz might not be a better option but he hasn’t accumulated any barnacles yet either. The team might play with more confidence with Bryz in net simply because he hasn’t dropped the ball yet.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    This effort tonight looks weak. Skate hard all you want. I’m sick of them shying away from contact and the tough areas of the ice.

    Get into it, get mean. They look anemic. Feed them a bowl of blood in the 2nd intermission.

  • Arius Mumin

    Not to worry Oiler fans. Hemsky is going to display his skill, grit, heart, veteran savvy and leadership to show these young kids how to come back and win games. Yeah you bet, a non factor again.

  • bazmagoo

    My guess is Hemsky leaves at the trade deadline for a 2nd round pick, he no longer fits in with the Oilers and it’s time to move on (has been for a while). Unfortunately that is likely the most we can get for him.

      • S cottV

        Got to agree with Gregor. Hall definitely top 10 winger and is starting to develop into a guy that is hard to play against. No other player on the Oilers roster is currently top 10 at his position, I think we as Oilers fans sometimes see our young players with beer goggles on. Are RNH and Eberle great players? They sure show flashes of it. Great players are consistently at the top of their game, night in and night out.

        The addition of Perron was a nice start but MacT may have to move one of the four studs and a pick to get an established top 6 star to mentor the youth on this team and take away some pressure.

        It’s not Junior anymore boys, there are other players out there as good if not better than you are.

  • **

    Eakins is supposed to be an advanced stats guy. Why did he start BRyzgalov?. The guy has only played 4 games since april, I’m the driver of the BRyz bandwagon but the smart play was to start Dubnyk.

  • 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?

    • 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.

    • — 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

    I often watch you tube videos of past oilers teams and the 2006 playoff run. what a feeling watching that tema sicceed like they did. Will this team EVER get tp that level? It’s sad its the only enjoyment I get with regards to the Oilers. Watching past highlights. The 2006 playoff run still gives me shivers. When is the last time any of us felt like this since that run? I guess we just got to hold on and hope MacT has a plan and knows that the heck he is doing.