GDB 29.0: SHOW UP AT HOME

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.

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Perron-Arcobello-Yakupov
Jones-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Acton-Joensuu

Ference-Petry
Grebeshkov-J.Schultz
Belov-N.Schultz

Dubnyk

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.

TUESDAY TIDBITS…

  • 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.

TONIGHT…

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.
 

It includes:

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.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

  • Admiral Ackbar

    The more I watch Gags play this year, the more I want to feed him to a woodchipper.

    Arco is a reasonable replacement for him. When Gordo comes back, trade Gags.

  • I gave tonight’s tix away, still won’t be renewing for next year.

    I’m still saying the last 10 to 12 games are not a good sample of the reality that is the Oilers.

    Same team, same issues and mostly playing non-playoff teams during this stretch. The team looked good, not great and bloody awful mixed in for good times.

    The real Oilers will show up after the Avalanche game. After that, it’s going to be few and far between.

    OGDP – Oilers vs playoff team…….not a good night for fans.

  • S cottV

    Nice to see Jones rewarded and on the 3rd line. If Gagner is in the Jones-like fight to re-establish himself on the 2nd line – maybe Jones – Gagner – Hemsky produces tonight?

    • A-Mc

      Gagner’s line because he can’t win a draw to save his life.

      I have much more faith in Arco and Perron to get the puck into the proper zone and sustain pressure.

      • 24% body fat

        Gagners a lot better than Nuge on the dot, By this reasoning you would have Nuge playing fourth line minutes. I’d rather have hockey players than face punchers, and NHL players than AHL players who can take face offs.

        Watch the face offs really close, there are a lot of battles for the puck where the wingers are breaking out or do not help on the draw causing our centers a lot of losses that should not be.

        Me Personally Gagner and Hemsky and Jones have more experience so between the two, Gagners line takes the toughs.

        • Puck_In_Throat

          Nuge and Gagner are basically the same at draws (crappy). A cursory look at NHL.com stats will show you that the Nuge has almost a 50% success rate on the PP…which, hopefully Willis or someone can corroborate, is when he takes most of his draws on his strong wing (backhand- goalie’s right). Boyd Gordon, on the PP (again, strong wing- backhand- goalie’s left) is batting roughly 70%. Gordon is an excellent faceoff man.

          Gagner’s numbers are basically the same as Nuge – 50% on the PP (smyth usually takes draws on his strong side on that unit, gagner on HIS strong side), which is incredibly bad when you think about it. Nuge and Gagner are both ~40% Even strength (having to do both sides).

          Centers are always stronger on their backhand. Winning to your forehand side takes some sneakiness/tricks of the trade. I know that there are “other” factors such as winger support, but winning on your weak side requires 1) sneaky technique or 2)great upper body strength.

          Gordon has both. Gagner and Nuge do not have the upper body strength. Boyd Gordon and Sam Gagner are both listed as playing at 202 lbs. I would bet anyone any amount of money that Gordon is a lot stronger (and that Gagner’s weight is exaggerated).

          Arcobello is at roughly 50% overall, slightly below on PP and slightly above 5 v 5. I would take Arco as better defensive option over Gagner in a heartbeat.

          But the real question is why is Eakinks not matching Boyd Gordon against the other team’s top line (I can tell you that’s what Dave Tippett used him for last year)!!!

        • Does it matter? Gagner & Hemsky leak chances, there a disaster in there own end and have zero push back.

          In the end if Gagner or Arcobelo is going up against Reberio or Hanzel line they are already at a disadvantage.

          PHX top two lines are just simply better then the Oilers, maybe not skill wise but just better hockey players at this point.

          • 24% body fat

            Not that I dont agree with this, I was just asking for a props or trash for the personal preference.

            But for those who think after 20 games that arco is a replacement for Gagner get your head out of your arse.

            We thought Gagner was a replacement for an elite first line center in his rookie year. Much the way Calgary thinks Monohan will be the best center in the game next year. 20 games people, and he is playing desperate because his nhl career depends on it. He is not better nor will he be better than Gagner.

            EDIT: and if they are not in there own end against the tougher competition than does it matter how they play in their own end. If you out play the other line it isnt in your own end.

  • TayLordBalls

    Oilers got to stop being soft, crashing into our goalies, throwing our 1st line around, coming into our barn and embarrass us in front of our home crowd. If I know hockey players you never allow anyone to come into your barn and steal the show. We have a ‘heavy’ 4th line that’s all we got when it comes to being solid. I mean Gagner scrapping showed some, but J Schultz watching garbage there smash into our goalie is lousy! Cowboy Up Oilers

  • Dallylamma

    There are tickets for sale here at work for almost every game, usually at reduced price. I seems like people are willing to take a loss to hang on to their season seats in the hope that things might get better down the line.

  • Arius Mumin

    Friends and I split a pair of season tickets and we’re among those who’ve wasted some this year, including tonight. Well, we don’t actually waste them, we donate them, but you get my drift.

    There are loads of empty seats each game… the atmosphere at Rx is definitely different this year. Anyone else have the same experience?

    • Arius Mumin

      I can’t sell my tickets for half their face value – it’s even tough to give them away on many nights! Definitely my last year as a seson ticket holder after 24 years!

  • vetinari

    “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 misread this the first time and read Corey POTTER rather than Corey PERRY and spewed coffee half-way across the room… a quick re-read later and all is right once more in the hockey world…

    As for the lineup, I’m not so sure that Grebeshkov and Justin Schultz are a duo that I would want to play together on defence… who’s going to be standing behind them when they turn the puck over at the other team’s blue line and give up a 3-on-none rush? Oh yeah, one of our elite goalies… that should end well…

    • D-Unit

      I read the same thing and thought is Jason trying to be funny, “Cory Potter”, Harry Potter would stand a better chance, oh well I guess it is Oilers on the brain.

  • Arius Mumin

    As someone who was really excited to get a minnie pack, watching the Oilers at home has been a waste of money.

    I watched Dubnyk lose what was an otherwise good home opener. I watched back to back shut outs against Toronto and then Dallas. Then Finally, at long last, the last home game I went to was the 7-0 blow out against Columbus.

    Needless to say I am no longer going out of my way to get tickets.

  • Arius Mumin

    If those are two of our best players(like we’re being told, not shown) wouldn’t it make sense to sprinkle some of that wealth through out the line-up?

  • Arius Mumin

    Egins is a joke!

    I wonder who really runs this team: Hall or Eberle?
    Everyline and everyplayer has been shuffled around on the regular, yet, their line stays together-no matter the lack of success on EV and PP.

    Oilers didn’t want to bring in an expierenced coach this year, because by now he would have put Hall and Eberle in their place and we would have a bigger problem than not winning.

      • Arius Mumin

        I will have to assume to you are both a liar and delusional.

        There is comments worse that on daily basis.

        Misguided? How you figure? Do you watch the Oilers play?

        There is not one Oiler, so far this season, that I recall seening turn the puck over more than Hall, or made more senseless passes/shots that brought plays to a halt. I don’t know where to find the stats for it but I bet they would say the same.

        The PP unit of Hall, Eberle and RNH has not been affective all season long. The 3 of them do not appear to be a threat to 2nd PK units of weak opposition. Why then does “someone” continue to keep them together on nightly bases expecting for something to change, while changing the rest of the lines around and even bringing up players that shouldn’t be playing. I have not been keeping track but I doubt that for most of the time that they even face the other teams top players at even strenght.

        But please do tell me what is misguided about my comment-so I can better understand your tier of thinking.

        Every team has a leader? No? i was just curious if when it came to the Oilers it was Hall or Eberle. Fair question.

        There is a lot of proof to support my comment that every line and player have been shuffled around, no?
        There is also a lot of proof to show that Hall and Eberle have not been producing on the PP and even strenght as of late, no?

        From what I have seen-Hall and Eberle get the most shifts, and some are really long ones, than any other Oiler. For most of those shifts both players are not very threathing or affective, yet they are continued to be put out there and rewarded with shifts and playing time, while their teammates(some who are working better and harder than the two mentioned) are being shuffled around like they were at a bar dance.

        I have a hard time seeing and believing that all this shuffling is necesarry outside of the top 3-as if it them 3 doing all the work and the rest of their teammates not keeping up.

        My comment about another coach is just my opinion, don’t let it get to you.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Those Pucking Coyotes school our developemental Oilers squad 5-2 this evening.

    Continue to do nothing Mac T, accept failure/preach patience and stay the tankage course.