NASHVILLE: DOUBLE FISTING FRIDAY

*We encourage everyone to drink responsibly.*

Friday is one of the best days of week. The work week is over, you look forward to a few days off and you’ve usually got something planned. Most of you will watch tonight’s game in Nashville despite how frustrated you were watching last night’s game in Detroit.

That’s what Oiler fans do. You’re a veteran when it comes to dealing with hockey disappointment. You loathe the feeling, yet you still show up and watch the next game. Despite this seemingly endless cycle of losing, you still find the strength and courage to watch your beloved Oilers.

You went to bed last night with the intention to do anything but watch the Oiler game tonight. However, just like when you know that extra shooter at 1 a.m. will make you feel worse in the morning, you just can’t say no, and tonight you will hunker down and watch the Oilers battle the Predators.

Don’t worry you aren’t alone. Thousands of Oiler fans feel the exact same way, and if you want company to drown your sorrows you’ll find hundreds of Oiler fans watching at the Pint off Whyte tonight.

LINEUP

At this point does it really matter? Just ice 18 skaters who will play smart and with the intensity and passion necessary to compete in the NHL.

Ales Hemsky will be a game time decision after being hit by a puck last night. If he can’t go Lennart Petrell or Ben Eager draw in. Not a great trade off.

Also Chris Vande Velde has been sent down to OKC, which is a bit odd considering Shawn Horcoff isn’t ready yet. Moving Smyth back to C, where he has to skate more, on back-to-back nights is a tad perplexing.

This team’s "Give-A-Crap" meter needs to increase, so who plays where is secondary.

Devan Dubnyk is a better goalie than Yann Danis. Dubnyk can handle playing back-to-back and on paper he gives them the best chance to win, which is why he’ll start tonight. Many didn’t like the first goal last night, and I can respect that, but until the Oilers produce some offence it is hard to blame the goalie.

It might not be fair, but Dubnyk has to stand on his head until the Oilers score the first goal of the game. If they score first they will have a chance.

QUICK HITS

Some have suggested that hitting can impact the outcome of games and some say it doesn’t. 

It is hard to argue either side with any accuracy, since the statisticians/hit counters from building to building all judge a hit differently, but that is all we have to go on so let’s take a close look at the Oilers record when they out hit the opposition and when they get out hit.

I didn’t include the four games that went to SO, since winning or losing that way isn’t "real" hockey. The Oilers went 2-2 in shootout.

Let’s start with games the Oilers get out shot, but they out hit the opposition. 

Location Dec  Opp  GF  GA  SF  SA  HF HA
Road L MIN 2 4 21 43 16 15
Road L CGY 3 4 20 35 19 14
Road O CHI 2 3 19 34 42 29
Road W CBJ 3 1 14 40 26 13
Road L DET 3 0 22 28 26 15

Not great. They are 1-3-1 and the only win came when Devan Dubnyk was outstanding.

Here are games where the Oilers have out hit the opposition, but this time they out shot them or were tied in shots. Tied in shots or hits only happened once, so I chose to keep it in. 

Location Dec  Opp  GF  GA  SF  SA  HF HA
Home L DAL 1 4 36 29 26 25
Road W DAL 5 1 38 34 29 28
Home W COL 6 4 56 29 34 33
Home L MIN 3 1 28 28 34 19

Oilers went 2-2. What is interesting is that in the nine games the Oilers have out hit the opposition 6 came on the road and 3 came at home. Tyler Dellow wrote an article that illustrated how across the league the home building usually marks hits in favour of the home team, but so far this year that isn’t the case with the Oilers.

In total the Oilers are 3-5-1 in games where they’ve out hit the opposition.

Here is the Oilers record when they’ve been out hit and out shot. 

Location Dec  Opp  GF  GA  SF  SA  HF HA
Road L STL 2 4 17 30 16 27
Home L LAK 1 3 24 38 17 32
Road L DET 1 2 24 30 14 24
Road L COL 1 3 26 40 16 25
Home L SJS 3 6 29 31 11 13
Home O VAN 2 3 25 40 17 19
Road W PHX 2 1 21 28 24 44
Home W COL 4 1 27 38 25 26

The Oilers are 2-5-1 and not surprisingly these games were some of their worst efforts of the season.

Lastly, here is the Oilers record in games they’ve been out hit, but out shot the opposition.

Home W LAK 2 1 39 31 12 18
Home O DAL 2 3 29 28 10 12

The Oilers went 1-0-1. Also of note they were out hit in 6 home games and 4 road games. When you consider Dellow’s article about home bias, it means either the Oilers stats guys call it as they see it, or they used their bias just to make it look close. Likely the former.

TOTALS

The Oilers are 3-5-1 when they’ve out hit the opposition and are 3-5-2 when they’ve been out hit. Basically they have the same record whether they out hit a team or get out hit. They lose either way, which is the most concerning.

I don’t believe the majority of hits have a direct factor in the outcome of most games, the odd big hit that leads directly to a goal can, but most are used to hopefully wear down the opposition or make them rush a pass that could lead to a scoring chance.

When I suggest the Oilers need to be grittier and tougher it isn’t just about hits, far from it actually. I’ve never said they just need a guy who can hit. I wrote yesterday why I think they added Mike Brown, because he’ll be an improvement over Ben Eager. Brown won’t be taking minutes away from more "skilled" players.

Make no mistake, when I talk about the need for grit and toughness it is more about a dedication to out working the opposition. Stop turning the puck over at the offensive blueline (mental toughness), don’t be afraid to take the puck to the net and win more one-on-one battles. Some of those battles will involve body contact, but many  will just be a flat out battle to get the puck. The Oilers need to start winning more of them and start playing smarter.

The bigger concern for the Oilers is their inability to get shots on net. Not surprisingly the Oilers are 2-8-2 when they’ve been out shot and 3-2-1 when they’ve outshot the opposition. Again, just using shot totals as the main factor in losses would be deceiving as well, but it does give you an indication of how the game will end.

Take last night for instance. The Oilers were outshot 28-22 which doesn’t look awful, but David Staples had the scoring chances were 22 to 6. That’s brutal.

Either way the Oilers need to improve many aspects of their game, but suggesting that hitting hurts the Oilers is misleading. They have much bigger concerns that if they are hitting too much.

POSITIVE FRIDAY

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The good news is that the Oilers can’t possibly play worse than they did last night, and last year they crushed the Predators 6-2 and 6-3 in Nashville. I see a better effort, but it results in a 3-2 SO loss.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The sight of Adrianna Lima gets you in a better mood. Sometimes you just need some "Lima-Time." With Horcoff’s return getting closer, many will say how much the team misses him. Of course this means the end of the world is coming, but at leat you got to see Lima one more time.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Lima will read this post and send me a tweet thanking me for the support. She also offers to mail 100 Nation readers a never-been-seen-before-behind-the-scenes calender of her most recent photo shoot if the Oilers win. Just when you thought a loss couldn’t hurt anymore than it does now…. 

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

  • Quicksilver ballet

    If someone could send out a tweet or a post the next time a Oiler forward drives hard to that funny looking spot where the ice is blue let me know. I’ll turn the channel back to hockey.

    In the meantime, as of the standings today Jay Feaster is out-managing the Oilers brain-trust, and we are once again looking up at the Flames in the standings…and they just got Kipper back.

    I wish that irritated the brass as much as it does me.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    @Jason Gregor

    This team is suffering from lack of confidence and thats solely a coaching problem.

    Forget all that crap about motivation speaking. Coaches need to disband the idea of expectations, present players with baby steps and simple tasks to get their mojo back.

    CB

      • Word to the Bird

        I think that the Oilers will have more wiggle room once Horcoff is off the books, I just don’t know if they know how or who to spend it on. If the culture of losing continues on for much longer, they may have no other choice than to overpay to attract a UFA of any calibre.

        • Puck JammeR!

          Getzlaf is an unique player and probably under-appreciated as a hockey player. I can’t think of another player in the league that brings what he brings.

          My fear is when the Oiler’s do step up it will be a bust. I’ve lost whatever faith I had in Klowe.

          Anyways he’s signed and the Oilers don’t get a chance to acquire him. Knowing this management it’s entirely possible that he wasn’t on their radar.

      • G Money

        I like Perry and Iggy, would take them on my team anyday. But seeing as you have your panties knotted up, yes it is be a GM Day at my work. That is why I can type here and not work at my real job. It is almost like being hall for president.

        • Word to the Bird

          That’s my blog name, completely different. I’m just saying do you REALLY think that’s what this team needs? You only pick up superstars like Perry if you’re looking to make a serious Cup run. Since we clearly aren’t, all we’d get is Perry for about one month and we’d lose him to free agency. I don’t think you understand the cycle of choosing players for your roster.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    hit statistics, while totally inconsistent, are also a strange indicator of success. Sure, it’s a success to land a good body check when one is available, but the less a team has the puck, the more chances they will get to make a hit. Hits without winning the puck mean much less, but if player A fails to take the puck on the first hit, player B may have a chance at a second hit, and so-on.

    Chicago has only one player in the top 50 in hits this year. They always have the puck. Edmonton has 2, and the Islanders have 2 in the top 10.
    http://espn.go.com/nhl/statistics/player/_/stat/defensive/sort/hits

    • StHenriOilBomb

      Great insights, I know I couldn’t have said it better.

      Don’t you find it a bit amusing that fans here are asking for stuff like grit, fighting, etc when we are being outshot and outscored so much? Don’t you think even casual fans would demand players who score more?

      If you look at Oilers’ bottom 6 scoring vss rest of the league, that picture really illustrates why we are outscored and outshot so often.

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    I have nothing interesting to say but I will offer my predictions for the night.

    Oilers will get outshot, outhit & outplayed.

    Smyth takes a penalty.

    One of the “youg guns” (lol) gets injured.

    Oilers lose either by a blow out or a “close game”.

    Kruger will say it was a learning experience.

    Tambi/Lowe do nothing.

    • StHenriOilBomb

      Pretty much agree with you, although not happy that we are playing poorly.

      Don’t understand the complaints on the hitting though. Oilers are 19th in the league in hits (and 11th in the league in road hits which better corrects for collection bias).

      If you are a fan of hitting being important (which I am not), Oilers actually don’t stack up poorly in this catagory.

  • Word to the Bird

    Love the mullet, but Smyth is done. Totally gassed, basically all the time. Makes it look like he isn’t trying but I think it’s just that he’s too tired. Poor guy; I feel for him.

    I’m reminded of the shake-up trade that saw St. Louis trade Johnson to Colorado for Stewart and Shattenkirk (iirc) – is it possible the Oilers do a major shake-up like this with one of the supposed untouchables? I dunno how I would feel about it…I just wonder if McTavish would have the stones to do it.

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    Nice stats. Very interesting to see those. Not to mention Lima. Damn! Maybe I’m from that old school train of thought, but I believe hitting does play a significant role in winning. If not in just showing a team’s effort. But, yeah, gotta win some puck battles, some races for the puck and all that jive.

    To me the 2nd period last night showed NO effort. That to me is the underlying issue. Jones, Eager, Belanger and other’s need to step it up.

    I think energy can be created from a hit or a fight. Though, that wasn’t evident after Brown’s wicked tilt against Tootoo last night. Great job by both warriors! To me, the problem lies within the other players on the bench. They didn’t get inspired. Why? Search that soul, boys! You’re wearing the blue.

    Smyth should be out for a game. He needs a rest. He’s looking more and more like his best years are behind him. Hard to say what to do with him. He deserves respect from the team, but not at cost of success. Talk about a tough decision for mgmt.

    I agree Horcoff is missed, but would stress two players that use their size to hit and play tough minutes are missed just as much. Fistric and Hartikainen. Fistric’s absence has been very evident.

    “Just ice 18 skaters who will play smart and with the intensity and passion necessary to compete in the NHL.”

    I’ll drink to that when beer O’clock hits. Nice read. Lets go Oil!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I echo the sentiments of the person telling themselves “there has to be a better effort tonight” after the Minnesota, Columbus, and Detroit games.

    Yikes.

    For the first time in a while, I will not be making an effort to watch this game. No PVR, no adjustment of friday night dinner with friends. Nothing. Not worth it.

    It’s come to this…eep.

    Sad day. Something’s gotta give here. I remain ok with a non-playoff season, but why is there no energy in this group to at least compete hard?!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    That shot Hemmer took to the ankle last night. They should take another Polaroid of it when they get home from this roadtrip. They might find a different result.

    Have to wonder if it’ll be his decision to be in the lineup tonight, or the Oilers.

  • Ducey

    There have been a few nights I have kicked myself in the behind for not headin’ out to the Brier eh. ‘specially last night. I may of had some excitement watching people on ice.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Tambellini/Lowes blind eye method of managing will have to eventually bear fruit. Lets just keep our eyes on the prize Oilersnation. Jones or Drouin/MacKinnon or bust! Taylor Hall isn’t the leader we were hoping he’d be yet, he still looks to be a year or two away from being that guy. Drouin,Hall and Yakupov, coming to an arena near you this fall.

    Been keeping an eye on Dubnyk this season, he’s been on, moreso than off this season. In this 5 goal a game (league average per game), anything creeping up or above a 2.5 GAA is iffy territory with the current offensive output on this club right now. Still no answer on if he can be that No.1 goaltender.

    3 zip Predators 😉

    • Phixieus666

      How exactly can you evaluate on Hall’s leadsership skills without being in the dressing room? Did you mean leadshership on the ice by any chance, in terms of production? Because if that is the case, Hall is probably the best Oiler. Although I do agree with you that in a couple years, he is likely to even be better as he matures.

      Don’t understand the ripping on Dubnyk. He top 15 in league in SV%, and tough to attribute GAA to a goalie, as that is more of a function of shots faced, and quality of shots faced (on the PK for example). Obviously when you are not winning, the goalie becomes an easy target. But goaltending is not the team’s problem right now.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Much like Messier, i guess much shouldn’t be expected from Hall his first few yrs. Babes/substances could be distracting him a little. When hockey becomes more his focus/matures, maybe then he’ll start carrying himself like a potential Hall of Famer. Guess not everyone can be the bigger picture guy like the Gretzkys and the Crosbys of the league. If this team wasn’t in such poor shape, maybe he could fly under the radar a little. He’s squarely under the microscope here with all the veteran support mia.

        Don’t think i was being overly critical of Dubey. Just mentioned that when you average 2 goals’ish a game, it’s hard to be successful when your goaltender is letting in more than that. As it sits now, that 2 yr 7 million dollar deal should be parked on the bookshelf next to managements Souray and Khabibulin signings. How does Dubey rate in the moral victory category Hayek? Can’t seem to find that stat anywhere. Only W’s matter.

  • Brad 21

    Watching the oilers is like driving by a car accident you know what the outcome will be but you cant look away. And seriously am i the only person who gets road rage while sitting on my couch. Time for tambi to wake up and make some trades and give this team a soul. Can you say Stewart and Clowe.

  • mr_nihilism

    Oh, wait, the team that has a difficult time putting pucks in the net doesn’t have their top scorer (shoot the puck, Hemsky!) in the line-up tonight? Count me out for watching the game. I have a book I’ve been meaning to read.

    Hope they win, but, yeah…whatever.

  • The 'Real' Ron Burgundy

    @Jason Gregor

    “The good news is that the Oilers can’t possibly play worse than they did last night.”

    This is something that I’ve said after the Minnesota game, then again after the Columbus game, and yet again after Detroit.

    The odds are definitely in my favor to say it once again after tonite.

    Whats your take on what is going on inside that room. They’ve been so obviously “mail-in’ in the games of late” that something had to have happened.

    Ronald

  • In positive friday spirit – Oilers win and then look at standing and realize oh my gawd Canucks are stinking up the joint we are only 5 pts back and they have a “real” team.

    This will inspire them for maybe a game or two.

    on stats – would love to see the Oilers record when Yakopov legitmate starter in top 6 vs Yakopov buried in bottom 6 lines

  • Gilmore Tuttle

    I know Oilers think that Seth Jones is the answer, because he’s a good defender. But Johnathan Druin is the real deal. Please can we get Druin. With talented forwards such as him on a stacked young team, signing UFA defenders will not be a problem.

      • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

        Excuse me? I would say people like you are the trolls. You don’t offer anything insgihtful. Maybe contribute to the conversation.

        I did’t know why making a case for Druin over Jones is making people like you so aggressive.

    • StHenriOilBomb

      Hall-RNH-Ebs & Drouin-Gags-Yak looks good to me. Then three more years of lottery picks and we’ll have a good third line. 4 more lotto years after that our defence will start rounding into shape. The hard part is gonna be finding a goalie somewhere

        • Phixieus666

          or Frederick Gauthier the 6’5″ monster. So apparently the ducks veiw think Getz is as good a player as Crosby. That salary is just retarded, or wait Burkie is back there isn’t he. Now it makes sense, over paid for Grabovski as well and who can forget the Kessel mess.

      • mr_nihilism

        Stop playing along the perimeter so much? Less cute maneuvers that result in absolutely nothing? Spending quality time in the opposition zone? Putting in a genuine effort? Suddenly gaining height and weight in order to compete with the men in the league?

        • A-Mc

          “Cute manueuvers that result in absolutely nothing,” is a pretty biased statement. For the times that it fails, you are being results orientated and pointing it out. Yet the countless times it succeeds and result in a goal, or a drawn penalty are the opportunity cost to just dumping it in.

          I would agree with you that less mistakes, especially in bad occurances is something that can be worked on (turnovers at blue line). However just realize there is a reward for attempting to keep possession of the puck, and not just play along the boards. Playing along the boards, or giving up possession results in very low probabilities of scoring.

          Giving up the puck trying to get to a scoring area, or losing the puck in the corner both result in a loss of possession.

          The question really is to maximize the amount of scoring chances created. Not saying this is all “cute or fancy play” but the solution is not this lunchpail dump it in the corner either.

      • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

        Totally agree with you. I was not arguing that at any point though. We have improved these past 2 years on a pretty consistent path.

        I’m not saying one draft pick will be the answer, but saying that if we get the opportunity, Druin is far more likely to be a homerun compared to Jones.

        • John Chambers

          It is indeed a deep draft – I think the Oilers will pick 5th – 7th which means C’s Monaghan, Lindholm, or D Nurse will be available.

          Drouin is a fantastic player, but not what we need given Hall, Ebs, and Yak on the wing. Besides – Drouin will be gone 2nd or 3rd to Florida or Buffalo.