GDB 55.0: BACK-TO-BACK ON EVEN GROUND

For the second time this season the Oilers will face a team where both of them of are playing on consecutive nights. The Oilers lost 5-4 to the Blackhawks earlier this season. Last night while the Oilers were dominating the Predators 5-1, the Canucks defeated the Coyotes 5-4 in OT, and tonight the Oilers will look to improve their ugly record in back-to-back games.

The Oilers are 1-5-2 in the second game of back-to-backs while the Canucks are 5-4-2. Dallas Eakins will play the odds and give Ben Scrivens the night off, despite a solid performance last night, and start Ilya Bryzgalov. I understand why he is going with Bryzgalov, most goalies Sv% is lower the second night, but I thought he might roll the dice and go with Scrivens.

Scrivens played back-to-back once this year with LA, winning both games and posting a shutout on the second night. Last season Scrivens played consecutive games once, shutting out Florida the first night, but then he allowed 4 goals on 13 shots in 46 minutes vs. Tampa the following night.

Those are the only two times in his career he’s started back-to-back, and while the odds say it is better to give your goalie a rest on the 2nd night, I would have went with Scrivens, mainly due to Bryzgalov’s brutal play so far in 2014.

In six starts in 2014 he is 1-4-1 and his numbers in those starts aren’t very good:

January 03rd vs. Ana… 5-2 L with a .865Sv%
January 05th vs. TB….. 5-3 W with a .889Sv%
January 07th vs STL…. 5-2 L with a .862Sv%
January 14th vs. DALL.5-2 L with a .862Sv%
January 18th vs WGP.. 3-2 L with a .923Sv%
January 24th vs. PHO. 4-3 L with a .862Sv%

He has an ugly .877 Sv% in his last six games, and he needs to find some consistency in his game. I haven’t seen anything from Bryzgalov that would suggest the Oilers will be interested in re-signing him, and if he has aspirations of signing with another team in the summer he needs to improve.

He will need to be much better tonight if the Oilers want to win two straight for the first time in a month.

While Eakins is playing the odds, the Canucks will start Roberto Luongo for the second straight game.

Luongo has started both games of a back-to-back twice this season, and he’s 1-1 and played great in both. He had a solid .931 SV% in a 2-1 loss to Chicago and a sparkling .951SV% in a 6-2 drubbing of the Bruins. 

It is interesting to note that Luongo and his back up, Eddie Lack, have almost identical number, yet the Canucks will go with the veteran. 

In 37 starts Luongo has a .922Sv% and a 2.23 GAA.
In 20 appearances Lack has a .922Sv% and a 2.18 GAA.

With Chicago coming to town on Wednesday, I wonder if the Canucks feel tonight is a game they must win, thus going with their starter? Prior to this season the last time Luongo started on consecutive nights was November 20th and 21st of 2010. He got pulled the first game vs. Chicago, and then lost the next night vs. Phoenix and both games his sv% was below .890.

Under Tortorella he has played very well in the 2nd game, albeit a very small sample size of two games, so it will be interesting to see which coach looks better after the game. Eakins for playing the odds or the Canucks for going with their starter.

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Perron-Gagner-Yakupov
Hendricks-Gordon-Jones
Gazdic-Smyth-Joensuu

Marincin-Petry
N.Schultz-J.Schultz
Belov-Potter

Bryzgalov

Smyth’s line had a very strong game last night. They were very good on the cycle and gave the Oilers an early boost on the J.Schultz goal. We’ll see how often Eakins uses them tonight, but if they get off to a good start he’d be wise to give them 8-10 min of ES time.

Martin Marincin continues to play very well. He is poised, smart and usually he has very good positioning. It was only a few months ago that people were ripping Stu MacGregor for his draft picks outside of the top-ten. I’ve mentioned it many times, but it is worth repeating, you usually wait five years after a draft class to accurately evaluate picks outside of the first round. If Marincin keeps playing like this, and Pitlick keeps developing, the 2010 class could turn out to be outstanding. We’ll see.

QUICK HITS…

  • I asked Smyth his thoughts if MacTavish approached him about a trade. "It is out of my control, because I don’t have a no-trade clause, but if he approached me I’d listen. It would be tough, because I love playing in Edmonton, but..," said Smyth.

    In the past few weeks I’ve exchanged texts with a few GMs and scouts and asked their thoughts on Smyth.  "He could add some depth in your bottom six. He can kill penalties and he is still good in front of the net on the PP. I think he’s better when you monitor his icetime," said one scout.
     

  • Smyth should benefit nicely from the Olympic break. He’ll have a chance to rest, and I believe a few teams will inquire about him. Last year many scoffed when the Blackhawks picked up Michal Handzus at the deadline, but he ended up playing top-six minutes for them in the playoffs and was a valuable asset during the Cup run.

    I don’t see Smyth playing top-six minutes, but teams love experience and guys who know how to compete every night. Smyth does that, and I could see him being moved before the deadline likely for a mid-round pick. 
     

  • A player people need to go watch and potential free agents….Read here.

TONIGHT…

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers struggles in back-to-back games continue with a 4-2 loss.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Eberle continues his recent hot streak and scores on the PP.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Early in the second period Bieksa fires a shot from the point and it deflects off a stick into Zack Kassian’s grill. He is bloodied and as he skates back to the Canucks bench, Sam Gagner stands up on the Oilers bench, stares at Kassian but says nothing and sits down. David Perron leans over to talk with him, and you can see Gagner say, "Karma."

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

  • A-Mc

    You can all thank me for that win. My son and I were at the game in our finest Oilers attire sitting in direct line with the camera. The plan was to put on the sad face paper bags we brought along once the game was out of hand. Of course they show up and win. Seriously, what were the odds of that? We would have been total humps if we had bagged up so the whole plan went to waste.

    I suspect they lose the rest of the games this year just to further thwart me.

  • bazmagoo

    The more I see the more I think MacT pulled some wizardry when trading for Hendricks. Not too many times you can get two players for the price of one. The second player I’m referring to is Jones, loving his play since that trade. Loving that 3rd line since that trade. G’oilers! Forget Ekblad, let’s win some games and get some freakin’ confidence in the organization.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      I still believe the team needs 7 or 8 significant changes. But I’m worn out from protesting and I’m ready to start cheering/hoping again….I really want next year to be better and in order for that to happen things would have to start turning for the better now. So I’m hoping that these two wins are a small turning point and that the team can maybe play .500 hockey after the Olympic break. Even if that happened we’d still probably be a lottery team and have a shot at Ekblad.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    Perron made a comment saying that Yak is a great guy to play with “when he’s moving his feet”. It is so true! When Yak is moving his feet good things happen and it looks like he may be realizing this.

    I hope Eakins keeps Perron and Yak together.

    • bazmagoo

      Let me state this correctly, I do not dislike Sam Gagner. In the past I have been a huge proponent of giving Sam time and like what he brings to the table. But, in my mind, the Oilers can be elite with a defensive minded, physical, large, 2nd line centre between those two. Paajarvi for Perron was the end of Gagner in an Oilers jersey, in my opinion. It’s just a matter of time. If it’s Perron or Gagner, who do you pick?

      • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

        Sam Gagner is a good hockey player. He is just not a part of the winning equation in Edmonton. I hope he gets back to the level he was at before the injury….he would be a valuable part of a trade package that could bring us one of the eight pieces we still need.

        • bazmagoo

          I completely agree with you, as I’ve stated many times before. Sam is a legit NHL player, he just doesn’t fit with the Oilers. Put Sam with two big, defensively sound wingers with the ability to score and Sam is a helluva 2nd line centre and the best player on the line. But personally I think the Oilers should flip Sam to Toronto for Gardiner, plus or minus a player or draft pick or two on either side.

          • bazmagoo

            Not physical at all really unfortunately, but skilled with tons of room for improvement. Was Justin Schultz’s college defensive partner at Wisconsin. Not the answer in any, way, shape or form. But an upgrade now, with the potential to be a substantial upgrade in the future.

          • oilersd

            Gardiner is pretty much a carbon copy of Justin Schultz. Remember they were linemates in college.

            Gardiner might be a tad better defensively but not much.

            I know he has his short comings, but I would trade Sam for Kadri, if you are talking Toronto. Better Kadri then some 2 rounder.

          • pkam

            What is in Kadri that is missing from Gagner? Looks to me very similar players except Gagner is more mature.

            So we trade a more finished product for another project?

            If we keep doing trade this way, we will never be a cup contender.

          • pkam

            Both players have had there moments and not always good. Thinking more of change of scenery might do both players some good.

            Iam not one of the anti-Gargner fans, but
            Kadri plays a more rugged game, which was suit the Pacific Conf better. Numbers are not that far apart, although Kadri stg % is 13.5 vs Gagners 7%.
            They are both minu players K-10 and G018.

            Cap wise its $2.9 million vs Gagners $4.8.

            No likely Leafs would want take on diff of $2million bucks though.

            This is more of a Swap than a Bold move.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    Very impressed with the third line. Where did Jones all of a sudden get this mean streak from. Love what im seeing from him Hendricks and Gordon.

    Alson liked thr hustle from Yak. He was back when he had to be and didnt ry to do to much when the puck was on his stick.

    Negatives for me were Smyths turnovers and I wish Eberle would shoot more.

    All in all a great game and a big win for the Oil

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      Any chance Ryan Jones could/will play like this consistently if we signed him to a one year deal? Or is he just playing unsustainably desperate right now?

      Trash this if you think he’s just playing for a contract.

      Prop this if you think he would play this well/physical on a regular basis if we resigned him.

      • bazmagoo

        Trashed your comment because I think Jones is playing harder for a contract. Liked your comment because I think Hendricks could be the guy to remind Jones of what he is, day in and day out. If someone can get Jones to play solid defensively and physically the guy will have a long career in the NHL.

      • toprightcorner

        Ryan Jones has finally done the math…4th liner on a 29-30th place team that looks like it has less and less need for him. If a last place team doesn’t need him, who does?

        He knows that they desperately need grit in the line up, which is what he was brought here for in the first place.He is FINALLY willing to pay the physical price (for now) to try and save his hockey career.

        If he doesn’t continue to play like this, not only will he be out of the NHL, but likely will be out of hockey in two years.

        I love listening to the guy in an interview,he’s a decent quote in the paper and says the right things after every loss, but I lost respect for his compete level a long ,long time ago…5 games playing like he should have been playing the whole time doesn’t change that.

        Excusing his eye-injured time(which is certainly understandable) he hasn’t played this way consistently since ,well, ever. Which begs the question….did he not realize the need to play gritty for this team,or did he refuse to play gritty because it hurts physically to play that way?

        Nope, Ryan Jones is part of the problem, not part of the solution…give him a new contract and watch him disappear in the line up yet again.

  • Rick Stroppel

    Following is a list of notable players who have either been suspended or have had an encounter with the NHL’s policy in its various forms.

    1978
    Don Murdoch: New York Rangers winger suspended for the 1978-79 season after his arrest for possession of cocaine. He was reinstated after 40 regular-season games.

    1983
    Ric Nattress: Montreal Canadiens defenseman suspended for the 1983-84 season for possession of marijuana and hashish. Nattress was reinstated after 40 regular-season games.

    Sept. 4, 1986
    Borje Salming: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman suspended for the 1986-87 season for admitting previous use of cocaine in a newspaper article. Salming was reinstated after eight games.

    March 4, 1989
    Bob Probert: Detroit Red Wings winger suspended for life for smuggling cocaine into the U.S. After serving a 90-day jail sentence, Probert was reinstated on March 9, 1990 and played four games.

    Sept. 27, 1990
    Grant Fuhr: Edmonton Oilers goaltender suspended for one year for admitting prior substance use. Fuhr was reinstated on Feb. 4, 1991.

    Sept. 2, 1994
    Bob Probert: Chicago Blackhawks winger suspended indefinitely without pay and immediately ordered into a league-supervised treatment center in California. It is believed to be the first time the league has assisted in a player’s rehabilitation. Probert was reinstated in April 28, 1995.

    Nov. 1, 1997
    Ken Daneyko: New Jersey Devils defenseman became the first player to publicly announce his voluntary participation in the NHL’s new substance abuse program, which was adopted in Sept. 1996. After missing 45 games, Daneyko returned to the NHL on Feb. 7, 1998.

    1997-98
    Brantt Myhres: Phildelphia Flyers winger voluntarily enrolled in NHL’s program at the start of the season because of alcohol dependency. Myhres re-entered treatment in Sept. 1998 when he was a member of the San Jose Sharks.

    Jan. 23, 2000
    Kevin Stevens: New York Rangers winger arrested in a suburban St. Louis motel for felony drug possession of crack cocaine and is admitted to the NHL’s treatment program. It is the second time he has been a participant. “I was involved before this happened,” Stevens told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I had been sober for 18 months.” Stevens missed the remainder of the season and signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Flyers on July 7.

    March 8, 2000
    Ed Belfour: Dallas Stars goaltender arrested for assault and resisting arrest after a fight at a Dallas hotel. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest and was enrolled in the NHL’s program. After missing the Stars next five games, he returned to the lineup on March 18.

    Feb. 28, 2001
    Theo Fleury: New York Rangers winger voluntarily enrolled in the NHL program. According to a Sports Illustrated report, Fleury sought help from the same program after the 1999-2000 season.

    August 16, 2002
    Jere Karalahti: Nashville Predators defenseman suspended six months without pay by the NHL for a third violation. Left the NHL to play in Finland.

  • bazmagoo

    I just have this mental picture after tonight – two escalators – Oilers on the Up Escalator, and Canucks on the Down Escalator. And tonight, I can just see them starting to cross paths.

    There is a lot of truth there.

  • Oilerz4life

    Post game media, Tom Gazzola asked Joensuu if it was nice to see David Perron score a hat-trick tonight. His response:

    “Ya, well, when David is going to be a big name after he retires, somebody is going to ask him who scored that game winning goal in your hat-trick against Vancouver and that’s gonna be me.”

    lol

  • The Soup Fascist

    Edmonton Oilers – 4
    Corey Porter-2
    My pick for worst signing ever. I notice the recently fired coaches have saddled the Oil with their AHL buddies that are still here long after their patrons have left town. See Renney, Eakins and Acton as three of the worst offenders IMO.

  • D-Unit

    Another win to credit the coach with.

    Plus, I believe it is a real win, as the Canucks are a Playoff team. So many comments after the Predators game, that it isn’t really anything important, as only wins against playoff teams count, or some sort of logic like that.

  • bazmagoo

    Based on the last two games there is no reason to believe the Oil won’t continue on and win the last 27 as well. This will give them 94 points, which should be just enough to squeak into the playoffs.

    Katz was correct, the plan is working.

  • pkam

    The most encouraging thing in this game is the players didn’t quit and didn’t go panic even the Canucks tied the game twice with fluke goals. Looks like the players are more confident than before.

    Even a few weeks ago, I believe the players would shake their heads in disbelief and throw in the towel after the 2nd fluke goal.

  • oilersd

    I really like the way Perron talks about playing the game the right way. The way he talks about looking the opponent in the eye is exactly this team needs to hear. And the idea that even though they are not a playoff team there is a right way to play the game and that it is the only way to gain ground on the ones that are. This dude is a keeper. He’s gritty and skilled and walls with some of that swagger you need to really be a champ. Perrons mouth and yaks elbows are gonna go a long way to making this team harder to play against.

  • Doctor Smashy

    Notes from last night:

    1. I love that Nuge is getting angry and mixing it up more.

    2. Eberle takes too long to shoot (often no shot).

    3. Hall shoots too fast (the puck often winds up in the shin pads or in the netting).

    4. When Joensuu has the puck he looks like he is trying to stickhandle a pigeon.

    Overall a very good game. Everyone tried hard and it was obvious again that we have some very good players on our team. I also liked that Eakins appeared to speak to both the players and the ref.

  • Marcus

    Even though with limited talent from these guys, the third and fourth lines have inspired this team to play spirited and .. we cant quit hockey ….in the last couple of games. The results are self evident. Keep that second line together , they are pushing the first line.

    If he continues to trend upward, cant wait to
    see what Marcinin will look like two years from now. Reminds me of a young Larry Robinson.

    • pkam

      Just a couple of weeks ago, fans here still complained that MacT didn’t pull the trigger for Schneider.

      Just think about what we will give up for Schneider, our 1st rounder, 2nd rounder and Marincin. So our 7th overall got us Nurse. Our 2nd rounder almost landed us Fucale, but at the end got us two 3rd round picks in Yakimov and Slepyshev, and three 4th round picks, a total of 5 mid-range picks.

      If you have a chance to do it again, will you still trade Nurse, Marincin, Yakimov, Slepyshev and 3 3rd round picks for Schneider?