One of the items from Friday night that didn’t get a lot of coverage: three specific lines with enough skill to be dangerous. The Oilers have (for a variety of reasons) had a difficult time giving definition and personality to their lines this season, but Friday night—and perhaps tonight—we’ll see the same kind of quality and depth.


In the Pittsburgh game, the Nuge line was facing Crosby. That’s a helluva tough night, so the numbers are actually stronger than they appear.

  • Nuge 45.8%; Hall 42.9%; Gagner 35%

This line was facing Crosby-Kunitz most of the time (8 minutes) and considering the best player in the world was out there those numbers aren’t bad. The line actually did some damage, scoring an even strength goal in the third period (and of course Crosby scored in the second period). If the Oilers are looking to upgrade Gagner on this line, a big winger like James Neal should be the ideal, the outer marker.


The Arcobello line was facing (looks like) the Sutter-Glass-Pyatt line mostly, about 5 minutes or so (it’s kind of foggy in the middle parts of the game).

  • Arcobello 59.3%; Yakupov 55.6%; 50%

This is a pretty nice item for Dallas Eakins, he has skill against rumble and the results were really good in the game. Arcobello did get one point in the game (on the Belov goal) but it came while playing with Hemsky.


The Gordon line played the Malkin-Neal-Jokinen trio, although Malkin seemed to slip up and down with Crosby too, so this is a difficult item to cipher. I think the Penguins/Eakins regarded this as the second line, maybe even the first line at points in the game based on matchups.

  • Gordon 55%; Perron 56.7%; Hemsky 59.1%

Based on their quality of competition and their delivery of 55-60% of the play, I’d be tempted to keep this line together forever. These are very good results, and in a game where Perron seemed quiet offensively I’d think we might want to re-watch and see how much of his game was devoted to keeping the game even. Interesting assignment the coaching staffs seemed to agree on, credit to Eakins for getting his most complete line out there often.


Fourth line played mostly the Sutter trio, although they also played against the Adams family for 3+ minutes.

  • Smyth 73.3%; Gazdic 66.7%; Jones 66.7%

This has to be the strongest game for an Oiler 4th line this year, and I’d actually believe it if you told me this line had the best night since the 2010 draft among 4lines. Lordy. Luke Gazdic appears to be something more than what he appears, or is riding some amazing luck. I chose him as the #18 prospect this winter and got some pushback, but if the young man can solve this 4line/tough guy problem and do a little to help in the actual game? That has value.


There were some shock and awe moments in that Pittsburgh game, by eye and by number. Here’s hoping they can do it on the road.

All stats from extra skater.

  • Devolution

    I have been in an elevator with a beautiful woman thousands of times in my life and she has stripped her top off no more than 10 times. This guy is lucky.


    I just read that,before he got fired, Jets coach Claude Noel put Dustin Byfuglien on the wing on their first line to shake things up. A move like that makes Eakins look like a coaching veteran!

    • pkam

      I’m hoping he can get enough confidence in Gazdic to spot him on the top two lines (and take action)when other teams are taking liberties with the skill guys.

    • pkam

      Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville also used Bufuglien on his first line with Towes and Kane when they won the SC. So Quenneville is the first to make Eakins look like a coaching veteran?

    • Byfuglien played wing for the Hawks, including 1st and 2nd line, and on PP. He was a winger when they won the cup in 2010, scoring 11 goals, 5 assists in the playoffs. Noel had a winning precedent to follow. My friends from Chicago still bemoan the trade, and they knew him as a winger.

  • Spoils

    hall to schultz to eberle to nugey- goal! I really don’t want to trade any of these guys… BUT

    I keep thinking about the Avs winning only after trading all three of their overall #1s.

    Three scoring lines- the unicorn offence or whatever- that IS one way to win, maybe. If that is the route then the Oilers need to define what they need to support that and go get it.

    You can draft the consensus #1 pick without worrying about fit, but at some point you need a blueprint/plan/vision and you need to get the pieces.

    scary thing to make a bold move, but… isn’t it time.

    that’s the shock and awe I’m ready to read about

  • paul wodehouse

    …corsi means nothing to me … it’s like number of good chances as opposed to bad ones five on five or something?

    …all I know is this team should visualize or thinkup ways to make the team they are playing on ANY given night one of the top FIVE teams in the NHL and they will do better and better each time out…

    otherwise it’s just bottom feeding time forever…the game vs. Pitt? …unreal

  • WHH

    Corsi is, I believe, the percentage of total shots taken at the opposition net over the total shots taken (shots at opposition net plus shots at your own net by the opposition).

    Over fifty percent and there were more shots taken at the opposition net than your own when you are on the ice. It basically means you were winning the possession battle.

    Interesting that Gagner’s number was so much worse than his line mates. It’s one game, so it doesn’t mean much besides being interesting, but if it became a trend, then would suggest a player that had no clue how to defend.

    In fairness, he was playing at a new position, so we need to give him time to adjust.

    • Lowetide

      It was a strange game in that there was shuffling of lines on both sides. Which is cool, because it shows in-game management on both sides.

      Gagner’s different number probably owes to him playing some shifts with others/and having poorer results. Or vice versa.

  • WHH

    Something that didn’t seem to get mentioned by anyone during the game(including the colour guy) or after, was Hall crowding the net. The kids have been criticized for not making life difficult for opposing goaltenders. Hall screened the goalie really well on Nuge’s goal, and was screening the goaltender when the deflection went to him for his goal. Hopefully, this is another weapon he has decided to use amongst his many skills.

  • Newj

    Yak for Bufuglien?

    Gagner & Hemsky for Bufuglien?

    Maybe Eakins could get him in shape, the man can be a game many ways…positively and negatively.

      • Newj

        I actually think Buyfoodagain could benefit the Oilers.

        His size and occasional nastiness would be an improvement over the likes of Gagner, Hemsky, Petry.

        We lost Smid for some godforsaken reason and we really only have Perron & Ferrence who will play with a chip on their shoulder.

        We need some size & someone with a bit of skill to go along with the size…for me Bufuglien fits the bill.

        Others are more patient & seem to be satisfied with our current small skilled team.

        I agree with other post..maybe Jets wont deal with new coach now…but it seems that he is on a bit of short leash in Winnipeg right now…thats why I brought it up.

        Two losing hockey teams who need to make change.

      • Lowetide

        I don’t understand oiler fans. Run guys out of town then look for guys with the exact same attributes. I always loved penner, and would welcome byfuglien, but you know he will get lynched. If only we had a big top six winger and another good defenceman instead of nick shultz and a floundering prospect.

    • I actually wouldn’t mind Gagner for Byfuglien, not sure the Jets would do this?

      It could actually benefit both teams, however if it was Yakupov for Byfuglien I would officially become a full fledged Blues fan! Even with Lapierre on
      the team…..that’s how bad it is.

  • Jack Dupp

    I would love to see Dustin Byfuglien in Oilers silks. Just having him on the team with Mr. Fitness would be worth the price of admission………with the 8 am practices, eating celery every hour, and running marathons, we may be able to get him down to 250 lbs.

    What is even more amazing is that Byfuglien can outskate Sam Gagner in his current state. If there is a trade to be made, let it be DB coming this way!!

      • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

        Buy low sell high. Dustin could be had fairly cheap, and his size would be welcome in the top six. Would he be better than Gagner……absolutely!!

        IF Mr. Fitness could challenge him and get him to improve like he did with Kadri then why not take the chance. We all need to face the real issue here, players with success are NOT willingly coming to Edmonton.

        The last time I checked we were in second last place, just how is this player going to make us worse??

  • There is no trade with the JETS now that Noel has been canned.
    Maurice will need time to look at the situation there.

    Buf is not coming in the immediate future. Teams don’t can the coach
    and make trades all at once. The JETS believe the coach was the problem.

    I would say there is a better chance of a deal with the Leafs than the
    Jets. Dick all will happen here, we just beat T.Bay and the Pens,
    so all must be good right ?

  • You all want to believe Corsi fenwick advanced stats give you an edge and that you are smarter than the next guy. Only problem here on earth Oilers have been the worst team in the NHL for the last 8 years. You can put lipstick on a Pig but it is still a pig.

  • Had Eberle been on the Nuge line , Oilers would have won this game in the second period.

    Gagner and Hemsky add zero to this team. For a couple of veterans as well as high priced help should be scoring more often than once every 15 games.

  • Lowetide

    Shock and awe – yes, shock that Eakins decided that Duby should sit after becoming the FIRST Oilers goalie to shut out the Flames IN Calgary – ?????? Glad to see he’s back in tonight, even though he and LaBarbera probably contributed to losing us a playoff spot early in the season. I am not at all comfortable with our goaltending; as much as I and the team seem to love Duby, he lets in far too many soft goals, usually the first 2, then the team has to climb out of it. Bryz hasn’t exactly been on fire either since his first game as an Oiler. I believe major team changes are ahead, and so they should be, but will be sad to see Duby go. Unless he’s willing to take a large pay cut, and serve as a back-up to a new signing, I fear someone else will take him as their back-up. That’s the name of the game. As for changing coaches – I don’t think that’s the problem, when the team stick to Eakins’ plan, they win. The problem lies with the players, buy in or butt out…….. shock and awe?? I guess we aint seen nothing yet!

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    LT, are u suggesting the Oilers trade Gagner for James Neal? I’d love it, but in your dreams. I doubt Pittsburg would take Eberle for him. He’s a rare breed.