The Edmonton Oilers have been tightening their defensive play under coach Dallas Eakins and it does appear to be working. In the club’s last 10 games, the goals-against average for DD and Bryz is 2.52 compared to 3.24 for the entire season. The goaltending has improved, but what about the defense? Is it getting better? How can we tell?


In the last 10 games, the Oilers blue has posted the following boxcar numbers:

  1. Phil Larsen (IR) 5, 0-4-4 -4
  2. Justin Schultz 5, 2-1-3 +3
  3. Corey Potter 6, 0-2-2 -2
  4. Nick Schultz 10, 0-2-2 -1
  5. Denis Grebeshkov 2, 0-1-1 +1
  6. Jeff Petry 10, 0-1-1 +3
  7. Anton Belov 10, 0-1-1 -2
  8. Taylor Fedun 2, 0-0-0 -2
  9. Andrew Ference 10, 0-1-1 -1

It’s an interesting look back, we can kind of see the point where  Larsen went on IR and Fedun was sent down, and then the 5 games Schultz the younger has been back has coincided with an uptick in results (funny, that) for the team.

CORSI FOR % (5×5)

In the last 5 games, it’s fun to see the list of defensemen who have been on the ice for good things:

  1. Anton Belov 78-62 55.7%
  2. Justin Schultz 66-57 53.6%
  3. Denis Grebeshkov 23-20 53.4%
  4. Jeff Petry 66-58 53.2%
  5. Nick Schultz 60-67 47.2%
  6. Andrew Ference 57-65 46.7%
  7. Corey Potter 30-44 40.5%

This is from Extra skater, and I’m listing Corsi For-Corsi against and the percentage and this is all 5×5. Now, it’s important to note that we’re not taking into account things like zone starts and toughness of opposition, this is straight Corsi at 5×5 over the last 5 games.

That said, it’s fascinating to see four defensemen above 50% over that time (!!!!) and the 5-6 guys are not far from 50% (with only Corey Potter fading badly). We don’t know if Schultz’s return or Grebeshkov’s callup are big reasons for the improved shot differential, we only know that in the last 5 games this group has been part of some good things.

And we also know the goals against in the last 10 games has been going down, and part of that is due to the puck being in the other end more often.

These are all nice signs for the club, and barring injury they should be able to repeat it (depending on quality of opposition, etc) and more wins should come as a result.





That’s my guess, but I don’t know why you’d change anything aside from the goaltender. That 4th line has been doing some nice things, and I’m betting the Nuge line will find a way to rock and roll in Texas later today. The young Russian likes the big stage, and everything’s big in Texas, maybe he’ll rip three rockets into the Dallas night.


  • According to, the Oilers have 4 rookies this season: Mark Arcobello, Taylor Fedun, Luke Gazdic and Tyler Pitlick. Anton Belov doesn’t qualify.
  • The Oilers leading scorer is Jordan Eberle (23 points) who is tied for 28th in league points. Last year, Taylor Hall finished 9th, but this year he and David Perron are tied at 61st overall.
  • Craig MacTavish was in Oklahoma City last night, raving about Mark Arcobello in an interview with brilliant play-by-play man Jim Byers.


WHO CARES? It’s almost time for hurdles!!!!! Okay, fine.

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers play the system and find their range on the powerplay, scoring twice with the man advantage in a 3-2 victory over the Stars.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ryan Smyth leaves it all out on the ice.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Shawn Horcoff channels himself as a rookie and sends a cross-ice pass that Yakupov shoots through the net for the winner.

  • YFC Prez

    Do you think the numbers over the last 10 games have more to do with Garbagekov’s recall or the fact that we were able to beat 4 suck asss teams over that period. Pull out the 7-0 CBJ beating and see how the numbers look. Bottom line, McT has failed to build anything close to a playoff team. ON writers really need to quit shilling for failed Oiler management.

  • The Soup Fascist

    An excellent show that is available on YouTube is “Behind the B” a NESN produced equivalent of Oil Change, except following the Bruins. Highly recommend it. Episode 1 or 2 they discuss Ference in the boardroom. The consensus is quickly reached that while a good guy in the room, he is clearly on the back nine of his career and slowing down. While they would like him as a five / six they need to make room for younger / cheaper guys.

    Done. Whacked. No contract being offered.

    Refreshing to see an organization run efficiently. BTW the discussion on Seguin was very interesting. While no salacious details are shown on camera , it was pretty clear that they were tired of his act. They knew they were giving up talent but done babysitting.

    Done. Whacked within a week.

    Right or wrong they are moving along. No regrets. Now that is bold. Hopefully some of the Oiler muckety mucks or Mr. Katz himself can find a way to get NESN.

    • Dockstaff

      We need Ference for his experience, not his talent. He should be the Al Hamilton for this young team. The Bruins are correct he is on the back 9 of his career and he needs to show the rest of the team who are still on the first hole, what it takes to wins championships.

      • The Soup Fascist

        Fair enough. I don’t disagree. I am fine with the Oilers signing him.

        Just don’t play him like a first pairing Dman or be disappointed when he can’t play that role.

        They overpaid in terms of $ and term. Maybe the Oil had to. Clearly the Bruins did not. Hence the gap between two teams gets wider.

    • YFC Prez

      Thanks for this. If the game sucks I will watch this and dream of what it would be like watching an oilers team with capable brass. Oil change is such a farse. I stopped watching it last season.

  • PutzStew

    Ference is exactly what he was advertised to be coming out of Boston – a #4/#5 on a playoff team. Fans that expected more were fooling themselves or do not watch enough hockey outside of the Oilers. The fact that he is miscast as a top pairing player speaks more to the weakness of the Oilers’ blueline than anything else.

    As I have posted here before, this was a bad deal for MacT as he overpaid in both price and term for a smaller bottom pairing d-man that is on the downside of his career. He reminds me of Jason Smith at the end, and the next couple of years we should see a similar drop off in his effectiveness. Maybe MacT was counting on his leadership as the main reason for bringing him in, but he paid a steep price for that.

    It pains me to type this, but as of last night the Flames are 4 points clear of the Oilers with a game in hand. Top 3 pick here we come yet again.

    Thankfully Eakins has identified the problem – a lack of fitness. Funny, I thought that is the main reason he was brought in as HC. What a joke.

    • Dockstaff

      I agree with you Ryan2, except for the price of leadership. I think we paid a fair price and I think Ference is trying to deliver, I don’t think enough of our current players are soldiering up.

      We also need better puck moving Dmen

    • camdog

      Agree with most points, however in respect to Ference I think he’s a better skater than Jason Smith. When Smith lost that extra gear he was done. When Ference loses a step I think he will still be effective as a #6.

      The reality is that Ference played like this in Boston and with age he is trending down. In Boston Ference had an Allstar in net and played with a better d-man partner than himself. Here his weaknesses get exposed.

    • YFC Prez

      Michelle Jeneke. Australian runner known for her sexy warm ups
      Lots of controversy surrounding her but she definetly brings a new awareness for the sport !

      I agree….. Those legs!!

  • Thumby

    How much of the change in our defence rating could be attributed to the Smid trade?

    How much to having Hall and Perron back?

    IMO, there are too many variables to say if it was any one of goaltending improving (how could it not?), improved overall team play, learning the new system, special teams finding their way and giving us a change to play in the lead a bit.

    I’d say its more of a return to the team’s “AVERAGE” and not much more until we see the next 20 games.

    BTW, who wants to be a track spectator now?

  • DieHard

    Todays game will be awesome. Both teams on the upswing (believe it or not). I used to hate Dallas extremely. Not so much anymore. Would love to get that back. Oilers win 5-4.

  • I had never really watched Terence outside of the cup finals, but man has he disappointed. I was expecting a legit #3 dman that can be fully relied on in most situations. What I’ve seen has not been the case. Belov has been a revelation though, just wish he could put the puck in the net.

  • Word to the Bird

    Ference has been sheltered in Boston. It’s been said time and time again we are missing a true number one d-man. It would all filter down from there. Think back to when Pronger came to town. Love him or hate him he took the pressure off of the rest of the crew by chewing crazy minutes and allowing others to play well within their limits.

    Reality is, nobody like that is coming until the trade deadline at the earliest and then what are we giving up to get a player of this calibre? Likely one of the studs and if not a first pick then certainly a second. I would suggest the latter because teams will see MacT coming a mile away.

    There is an outside chance they get a free agent like that but generally speaking these guys don’t go to free agency and if one does, because of our brutal record as of late Edmonton is not their first choice of destinations. One of the biggest mistakes made this summer was actively pursuing Jason Labarbera. Yes, Bryzgalov was a head case in Philly but a. Who wouldn’t be and b. he has the pedigree to be a solid goalie and has shown it in large stretches throughout his career (even if the teams in front of him played solid d). Labarbera has always been a fringe NHLer. Face palm. When Dubey started slow there was no alternative and it was felt throughout the lineup, throw in some injuries and the season was over before it started.

    Until then status quo… Here is hoping some of those “Bold Moves” aren’t too far off.

    • PutzStew

      First…Ferance was a bold move. He was over paid to come here in hopes that he would provide leadership and help Show the kids how to win. As you can probably tell (like the others that have been brought in in the past to do just this) he is having a hard time getting the messages across.

      Second…Why would a #1 FA D-man want to join this organization.

      The reality is if Edmonton wants to get a top 20, #1 D-Man, the deal is going to start with Hall, Nurse, 1 Round pick, Etc. If you aren’t willing to go there then don’t complain.

      A little with ago I was reading about the music at Rexal. Although I haven’t been there for many years, may I suggest the circus sone from Madagascar 3.

      Da da dadada da da da circus, da da dadada da da da Afro, Circus, Afro, Circus, Afro…..

      Seems fitting for this once proud franchise.

      • camdog

        Not sure how signing Ference is a bold move. Local boy, won a cup, brings a compete level not formerly here and he wanted to come here. Seems more like a no brainier to me. I wasn’t bagging on him, I like the move but he by himself is not quite what he was in Boston as he was sheltered by a premier Dman. Again no surprise as he was brought here more for leadership than anything else.

        I agree whole heartedly no 1-d is coming here as a free agent and that they will have to pay a steep price to get one here, not sure what you are getting at.

  • TayLordBalls

    I don’t understand why the coach hasn’t benched Hemsky.

    Let him know that if he wants to be in the league next year he’s got to put out a lot more than coasting every game.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Stats Man

    If we can hit 9 posts per game, that’s 3 per period and 1 post for the number one line each period, then we shall get rewarded with another post in overtime.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Only two of the teams they played in the last ten are playoff teams. You can only play the teams the schedule allows but any improvement in the last ten should be noted with that asterisk.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I like what you said LT, “more wins should come as a result”. You’re right the wins should come, but with the D the Oilers have right now the wins just come in spurts.

    I know is a really old topic but macT has to make a trade, either Eberle or Yakupov are the ones IMO. I know getting 1 top dman for either player wont change the world but it should set things up for next season.

    Its time for Mac to step up, this team right now, is just spinning its wheels.

  • Serious Gord

    Re: GA these past ten games.

    Well compared to the first games of the year there was only one way for that stat to go. Small sample size etc.

    And maybe it was just better goaltending – .75 more saves per game gets you that stat.

    This teams defense remains one of the very worst in the league and probably is the least physical.

    Thus using the “nice” descriptor is a bit of a stretch like looking for ponies in piles of pooh. (And cow manure at that)

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Corsi Schmorsi- yes there is truth to it but i am so tired of it. Does it measure Heart? Drive ? the will to win and not be beaten ? No. Does it add size to your forwards ? No, or your Defense ? No…

    Do winning teams sit and analyze corsi ?
    perhaps, i really dont know.

    This Team is small – Not a good mix through the line up, its all the same. Until it changes we will continue to be bored with Corsi and will have minimal success.

    Kick Butt Oilers. Yeah, someone did crap in my cornflakes this morning.

    • StHenriOilBomb

      You’re missing the point entirely.

      What’s exciting about this blog is that we’ve been watching the Oilers get grittier, more focused, and better defensively throughout this season, and now it’s starting to have a measurable impact in their play. Something we haven’t seen much of these long dark years.

      Corsi measures what has happened, not why. What happened is that for the first time in a while, the team is improving measurably in it’s 5 on 5 play.

      The why is what is debated every hour of every day here.

  • Serious Gord

    “The Farmer”, Stop complaining about your Oiler players and start CHEERING for them. The belly aching is getting old. You would be the first to jump back on the Ference bandwagon the second the Oilers improve and he’s the mentor/backbone. Can’t have it both ways. GO OILERS!!!

    • Arius Mumin

      Stop complaining and start CHEERING?

      The belly only hurts because we keep feeding ourselves this crap.

      This team has sucked for years, yet the only times I have heard booing at Rexall has been for the referees and at the end of a few games. There have been stretches of games with horrible play at home and losing streaks no one wants to remember-but no chants or boos players efforts, the fans tolerate this crap so they should learn to enjoy it.

      Cheering and comlaining go hand in hand. Maybe your tier of fan only cheers when things are going good, then, sits and intakes whatever is given during the bad times, hoping that one day things can get better so you can cheer again.

      The fans should complain and they should boo and much as possible the play and efforts the players put out, the more the do the more the players and staff will realize that they’re not dealing with mindless sheep.

      The players and staff keep trying to write cheques to fans that their a$$es cant cash. It time to start speaking about this fraud, and it should go to the players too, not only the staff.

      For all we know, Macts and Lowe’s hands could be tied on what they can do with trades and signings due to the market they are in.
      But there is no excuse for these players game in game out to come with poor efforts and expect us to be OK with it.

      • Spydyr

        Preach it Brother…should we accept weak excuses for lack of effort one in every three games?

        No one whines when the effort is there and we get beat by a better team.But if the Oilers don’t bother showing up, they better expect hearing about it from the fans.And the fans should be ready to boo them off the ice until the effort improves.

        Stop complaining????? You clearly are paying for tickets.

    • Serious Gord

      Bellyaching might be getting old, but years of lousy hockey is far older. FIRE LOWE is the only cheer a rational oiler fan should be engaging in currently.

  • YFC Prez

    Excited to watch the game. I plan to put Columbus behind me, cover my face with my hands and watch the game through a sliver between my fingers. Whether I run through the streets in joy or cry in a bathtub tonight, my sick oiler obsession will go on. I need someone to get a hat trick tonight. Pls Nail.

  • YFC Prez

    Andrew Ference has been a huge disappointment for me. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when you are being sheltered by Chara, almost anyone can look effective. It would be nice to name a captain sometime who after three months we’re not looking to run out of town. He is not effective moving the puck, too small to be tough, and too old for much improvement. His numbers reflect this.

    • PutzStew

      So he is suffering from the same thing that every other veteran, brought in to add leadership in the past 8 years, has caught.

      Oilers suck. No player development. Decent Vets coming here to die because there organization is ran by clowns. And dispute decent talent, they are 2 last in the league, behind freshly started rebuilding teams such as, Florida and Calgary.


      Yes, it truly is that funny.

      Here we Choke Oilers, Here we Choke.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      It’s difficult to soar like an eagle, when you’re working with a bunch of turkeys. Ference is a solid D’man, but he’s miscast as a top pairing guy like he’s forced to be here in Edmonton. He’s a fine support player when you have two legitimate top pairing D playing in front of him.

      You need to watch 20 more years of hockey, your narrow minded opinion reflects this.

      • a lg dubl dubl

        I’m not saying Ference can’t play defence in the NHL, but to give him a free pass because all of the defence on this team are in over their heads is foolish. He was paid handsomely and named Captain before he’d ever played a game. To think he’s not been a disappointment might show a lack of “hockey watching” over the past 20 years.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          Sure, why the heck not.

          Are you in it for a top 3 pick this season? Or, limited success landing them in that dead 20th-25th zone?

          4-zip Dallas please….

          and thank you.

          • YFC Prez

            I’d be willing to watch another season in the basement if it was the straw that broke the camels back. ( the camel being Lowes position with the oilers ). Sadly I don’t think he is ever going to be fired.

            The oilers record so far hasn’t garnered any significant change why would one more season of loosing. I’m only cheering for wins.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            I honestly feel Lowe figures he’ll be here a lot pucking longer than Taylor Hall, or any other of these other first overalls will. We’re doomed to developmental hockey at NHL prices for the foreseeable future.

    • YFC Prez

      Ferrence has left me wanting a little more, but I disagree that he has been a huge disappointment. And I definetly disagree that he is too small to be tough. He has showed some jam on several occasions.

      I think the problem with Ferrence is much the same as every other d man the oilers have had the past several seasons. They all play 1 spot ahead of their skill set. Your point of Chara making him a much better d man rings very true.

      Oil have several solid d men. But untill they get the number one guy they need. The rest of the group will continue to be misused.