Home ice advantage has been a mirage for the Edmonton Oilers so far this season.
The Oilers are 3-8-0 at home this year. They’ve been outscored 38-23. They’ve allowed 3+ goals in 9 of the 11 home games and they’ve scored once or been shutout seven times. There is no other way to say it, they’ve been awful on home ice, and it’s about time they start giving their fans something to cheer about.
In 2010, on their way to drafting Taylor Hall at least they were competitive at home, 18-19-4, and 9-28-4 on the road.
In 2011, they were pretty much the same team at home on and on the road; 13-22-6 at home and 12-23-6 on the road.
In 2012, they were 18-17-6 at home, and 14-23-4 on the road.
Last year, the Oilers won more games on the road than they did at home, 9-11-4 at home and 10-11-3 on the road.
There is no reason the Oilers should be this horrendous at Rexall Place, and it has to change. The games are still announced as sell outs, but I know some fans are wasting their tickets and not showing up. The Oilers must be aware of this.
When that many fans elect to just "waste" their tickets, Oilers management better take notice. This happened in the early 90s, and once the team wasn’t competitive, 1993-1996, the fans stopped buying tickets. The Oilers shouldn’t be naive enough to believe that couldn’t happen again.
Fans have been incredibly loyal and patient, but if the Oilers don’t start winning some home games soon, I sense we could see even more empty seats as the season progresses.
Ryan Jones has played with desperation since coming out of the pressbox, and Eakins rewarded him by bumping him up the lineup. Eakins moved Yakupov back to the right wing, and put Perron on the right side with him and Arcobello in hopes of creating two scoring lines.
I’m curious to see if Eakins starts to try and get better matchups at home. Will he try to give "softer" minutes to Arcobello’s line so they can produce offence, or will he do that with the Gagner trio?
Joensuu has to play with the same passion and determination that Jones did to earn a promotion. I think Joensuu has more to offer, and he needs to start showing it.
- It will be back next week, but this week we incorporated into the GDB.
- Ray Ferraro had an interesting take on my show regarding Taylor Hall, when I asked him what change Hall should make in his game that would help him become a more dominant player.
I think there is one thing he could do that would elevate his game and he could do it quickly. If he would learn, or accept, that he is not the best option on the ice all the time, I think that could help him a great deal.
I will give you an example. When he gets the puck, and when he gets moving, if he would give it up a little quicker and separate, because no one is going to catch him, and then get it back; that small change to his game would change his game immensely. He loves to lug the puck. At times he looks like a punt returner. He gets it in his zone and is going to go as far as he can with it, and he can because he’s that talented.
I think if he takes a couple of strides and moves it to a centreman — and obviously in Edmonton he is playing with talented players so the puck will come back to him –now he is moving again. If he moves it to the middle the defenceman has to take a step to the middle, because he has to defend the centreman, and that will give Taylor another five feet when he gets the puck back. Now the D-man has to cross over and come back, and I like Hall’s chances better if he has that much more room to skate, than if he was just lugging the puck all the time.
I think it is a small change, and if he can get his head around it and try it, he would find that he is going to get more room on the ice than he already creates with his speed.
- Ferraro knows a thing or two about creating offensive chances. Ferraro is currently the 99th highest scoring player in NHL history. Ferraro admitted it isn’t easy for players to make sudden changes to their game, and while he said it was small, it would take some time to adapt properly. Hall has carried the puck his entire career, and he’s had success with it, so any change is tough, but it makes a lot of sense. Hall’s speed already scares D-men, and if he gain a quarter or a half of a step advantage he could be even more dangerous.
- Sidney Crosby will play his 499th game tonight, and he’ll play his 500th game vs. the Sharks on Thursday. Crosby already has 701 points in 498 games and whatever points his picks up in the next 72 hours will put leave him with the 6th most points in NHL history through 500 games.
Wayne Gretzky is first with 1,186.
Mario Lemieux tallied 971.
Peter Stastny had 759.
Mike Bossy scored 757.
Jari Kurri is 5th with 730.
Crosby will join a very elite crew, being only the 6th player in NHL history to score 700+ points in his first 500 games.
- In case you are wondering, Alex Ovechkin had 643 points in his first 500 games, including 309 goals.
- The Penguins ability to throw out two dominant centres makes life much easier for head coach Dan Bylsma. While Crosby had a "slow" month, picking up 15 points in 15 games, Evgeni Malkin was on fire with 25 points in 15 games. After a slow start Malkin is now 2nd in league scoring, 35 points, and he’s only one back of Crosby.
- I was perplexed in the summer when some people didn’t have Corey Perry on the Olympic team. He was great in 2010, and I don’t think his foot speed is an issue. He and Ryan Getzlaf are off to a great start, with 29 and 31 points respectively. For me, both of them are locks to make the squad.
- I wonder if the St. Louis Blues are concerned about how they match up vs. the Sharks and Kings. The Sharks have beat them 6-2 and 6-3 this year, while the Kings dominated the Blues for 55 minutes last night, before two late goals made the 3-2 final look more respectable.
- The Blues need a pure finisher, and Marian Gaborik is a UFA at the end of the season. The Blue Jackets likely won’t re-sign him, and he would fit perfect in St. Louis. Gaborik won’t lead your team to the Cup, but he could be an excellent complementary player in their top-six. With David Backes and Alex Steen down the middle, the Blues don’t need a defensively responsible scorer. They need a finisher. The Blues have about $2 million in cap space at the deadline, and if they are willing to spend it, they could fit Gaborik under the cap, by moving out a small salary.
- The Coyotes have scored the 5th most goals in the western conference, but only Calgary and the Oilers have given up more goals. Mike Smith has a .307 GAA and a respectable .910 SV%. He hasn’t played as well as they would like, but the Coyotes are giving up way too many shots. The Coyotes, 34.5, are giving up four more shots against than the Oilers, 30.5.
- Dave Tippett’s Coyotes aren’t playing as defensively as they have in the past.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Coyotes have lost four of their last five, and they’ve given up 4 goals in each loss. The Oilers finally give their fans something to cheer about as defeat a playoff team for only the 2nd time this season. Oilers win 4-1.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hemsky picks up a point. He has 34 points in 33 career games vs. the Coyotes.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Justin Schultz becomes the first Oiler D-man to score two goals in a game since Corey Potter did it late last season. After reading the previous sentence, many of you are stunned that Potter was the last Oiler D-man to score two goals in a game. I was too. Entering tonight the six blueliners have played a combined 2,118 NHL games, and Andrew Ference is the only one to have a multi-goal game. He scored twice on January 5th, 2004. J.Schultz’ two goals will indeed be a rare occurrence.
DAY FOUR…MONTH OF GIVING…
Yesterday we raised another $2,500 for Santas Anonymous. Thanks to Ken for the bid and especially to Robert for re-donating the Messier jersey.
- A $1,500 gift certificate to Dinette and Patio Showplace.
- Pair of club seats, section 120, row 15 to Oilers vs. Canucks on January 21st.
You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or 1.800.243.1945. All the proceeds will go to the Christmas Bureau. Thanks in advance to all of those who make a bid.