It is amazing how quickly confidence can appear or disappear in pro sports, and right now the Oilers have some. It is difficult to quantify exactly how much it helps, but when most of your players have a healthy dose of confidence your chances of winning increase.

I felt the Oilers played well against Vancouver (at home) and Phoenix, despite losing both games, but that good play carried over to wins over Nashville and Vancouver, and for only the fourth time this season the Oilers have won two straight games.

The Oilers will try to match their season-high three-game winning streak tonight when they take on the very good San Jose Sharks.

It is crazy to think the Oilers have only won consecutive games four times all season. It is hard to build any sort of confidence when you aren’t winning, but the Oilers have played four solid games in a row, and despite only winning the last two they are starting to look like a better hockey club.

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With games coming up against San Jose and Boston that could change quickly, but heading into tonight the Oilers are feeling good.


  • In Vancouver, it was the Canucks turning the puck over at the offensive blueline, twice, that led directly to Oilers goals. We’ve all witnessed the Oilers continually turn the puck over for the past couples of seasons, but in this short string of games they have cut down those costly mistakes.
  • The Oilers have had excellent back pressure from their forwards lately. That has made life much easier for their defenceman, and likely why we’ve seen fewer glaring mistakes from the D-men.
  • The second line won them a game without needing any help from the first line. If the Oilers are ever going to be competitive they need to rely on more than one line. Perron-Gagner-Yakupov was the best line in Vancouver, and they must continue that leading into the Olympic break.
  • Martin Marincin continues to play smart, controlled hockey. I’d argue that his simple game has had just as much, and maybe more. of an impact on Petry’s play than Petry has had on him. It is a still a very small sample size for Marincin, but he’s played well and he has been very active with his stick breaking up plays. He’ll need to get stronger in the summer, and if he has to face Marleau or Thornton tonight it will be a very good test for him.
  • You need to remain cautious with Marincin. Remember Justin Schultz’ first 20 games last year compared to his final 28. It is extremely rare for any young player to avoid a time where they struggle, but so far Marincin has been a pleasant surprise.
  • Two games with solid goaltending. Ben Scrivens was solid against the Preds and Bryzgalov played his best game in over a month in Vancouver. They don’t have to steal games; they just need to be consistent. This team isn’t strong enough yet to overcome weak goals, and for two games the goalies didn’t allow a weak goal.
  • Some might not like the length of his contract, and that is a valid concern, but Matt Hendricks has increased the Oilers intensity level significantly. Not only does he play hard, he is very vocal and positive on the bench and in the room. Many of the young players have told me how much of a lift his energy and enthusiasm on and off the ice has given them. This team needs a few more vocal leaders, and it seems Hendricks is filling that void.
  • That type of contribution won’t show up on the stats sheet, but it is vital for success. Not every player can be measured solely on his stats line. Intangibles help. Ask the LA Kings how much Matt Greene’s off-ice leadership and humour helped them in their Cup run. He was vital to keeping Doughty focused and relaxed.
  • Sam Gagner is playing better. Many of us, myself included, underrated how much that injury impacted his play. I still believe MacTavish needs to change the mix in his top-six in the summer, and if Gagner can have a strong final 27 games that will give MacTavish another trading option.
  • Two games is still only two games. The Oilers better not relax or the Sharks will be up 3-0 before they know it. The Oilers must continue to build on their solid play. Like I said earlier, I believe they’ve played well for four games, and even if they don’t win vs. the Sharks or Bruins they must continue to play smart and with some passion.
  • Further to Brownlee’s article yesterday about the need for success. I agree, and the best part about it is that the Oilers can play well and not impact their draft ranking much at all. The Oilers sit 29th in the NHL with 40 points and 27 games remaining. If they go 14-11-2 they would finish with 70 points.

    Now let’s look at who they are chasing.

    The 28th place Flames have 45 points and 29 games left. The Flames would need a combination of wins/OTL totaling 24 point or less for the Oilers to pass them, and that’s if the Oilers win 14 games, which is unlikely. So the Flames need to go 11-16-3 or worse.

    Florida is in 27th place with 49 points and 29 games remaining. The Panthers would need 20 points or less for the Oilers to catch them. They’d need to go 9-18-2 or worse for the Oilers to catch them.

    The Islanders are in 26th place with 50 points and 27 games left. They would really need to tank it for the Oilers to gain ten points in 27 games. The Islanders would need to go 9-17-1 for the Oilers to pass them.

    Keep in mind those numbers are based on the Oilers winning 14 of their remaining 27 games. That would be a massive improvement from their first 55.

    The only way I see them not owning a top-three pick is if a team ranked 4th-14th wins the lottery and drops them to 4th. Don’t fret if the Oilers win a few games, you should relish them, because they are still a virtual lock to finish in the bottom three and have the opportunity to draft another elite player.

  • An interesting read by David Staples on why people shouldn’t be that concerned about Taylor Hall’s overall game. Those who believe strongly in Corsi will say he’s having a bad year, but Staples illustrates that Hall is still producing quality chances, albeit not as many as last year. I feel Corsi can be used as a tool, but like Staples I have an issue in that it punishes or rewards a player for instances that he has no impact in.

    A D-man can stand at the point, while the forwards cycle down low and direct three attempts on goal and he gets +3, despite doing nothing. And in the D-zone a winger can be in the right spot, covering his zone, but the opposite D could lose a battle and give up three chances. Both times the winger and D-man got rewarded or punished for essentially doing nothing more than being in position. Those are just some examples, and I know they aren’t the norm but situations similar to those happen in a game. I find there are too many uncontrolled variables pertaining to what a linemate does that can impact an individual’s Corsi positively or negatively.

    The suggestion from those supporting Corsi is that Hall can’t keep producing at ES with a 43% Corsi, and that eventually the points will decrease because of it. My question is why hasn’t it happened already? It has been 55 games and despite a lower Corsi than last year his point totals are virtually identical.

    So far this season we haven’t seen his production dip. I split the season into two halves.

    According to Michael Parkatti in Hall’s first 20 games (Oilers 27th game) he had a 44% Corsi and was -60.
    In those first 20 games, Hall boxcars were: 20-7-12-19 and he was -8.

    In Hall’s next 28 games, again thanks to Parkatti, Hall had a 43.1% and was -117. His Corsi % was a bit lower, but essentially the same.
    During that 28 game stretch Hall’s boxcars were: 28-11-21-32 and he was -6.

    So Hall’s Corsi dipped, albeit only .09%, but his production went up. The argument has been that he can’t maintain his production with that Corsi rating, yet he actually improved his point production over the last 28 games. Maybe it is just too small of a sample size, or maybe, people need to look deeper than just Corsi to assess his overall game.

    I think it is great to have more avenues to look at, but I feel we need to look at all angles, instead of just one to get a a more accurate picture. If people only looked at Hall’s Corsi they’d think he was brutal, but his scoring chances for/against and actual production shed a different light.





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No need to change the skaters and going back to Scrivens makes sense after his game vs. Nashville. Shutting down the offensively challenged Predators (20th) and Canucks (21st) will be much easier than trying to stifle the league’s 5th best offence tonight.

Joe Pavelski is 2nd in the NHL in goals, 28, and while Joe Thornton is having another very good season, Pavelski has been their most dangerous threat all season. I suspect Eakins will play Gordon’s line against Thornton’s, but I think we’ll also see Nugent-Hopkins’ line match up against them.


GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have won three consecutive games only once this year when they defeated Calgary, Columbus and Florida in a six-day span. This is the Oilers final home game until February 27th and they give their loyal fans a surprising 5-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Sharks outshot the Oilers. San Jose has outshot the opposition in 38 of 53 games. They’ve only been outshot twelve times all season. (The shots were even in three games)

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: For the first time all year I buy a 50/50 ticket. If I win, I will give $20,000 of it to Nation readers. (four winners of $5,000 each). My question is do I buy the ticket pre-game, first intermission or 2nd intermission? Answer in our poll question.

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  • Rick Stroppel

    Is there a way to get rid of Big Louie D on sportsnet. The guy is a moron. He loves every player that’s not on the oiler team. I can’t stand listening to him.

  • vetinari

    Psychologically, it would be nice to string together a win streak before the Olympic break but I think tonight will be a close one, but ultimately in SJ’s favour…

    GDP: Sharks 3 Oilers 2 (OT or SO)

    OGDP: The “Jersey Boys” will start to circle along the short glass during the third period if the game gets out of hand in SJ’s favour…

    NSOGDP: Yakupov scores the tying goal with less than 10 seconds remaining on the clock and celebrates by throwing HIS jersey into the crowd!

  • bazmagoo

    I’ve seen some horrible hockey from the Oilers over the last few years. We all have… But this performance, other than Scrivens, transcends the concept of bad.

    Worse than bad… Worse than terribad… Not even ultrabad describes the ineptitude the Oilers are showing tonight.

    No… This… This is Eakinsbad.

  • Serious Gord

    Best goaltending performance for the oil this year.

    Were it not for that the score would be 5-1 sanjose.

    Scrivens was deemed a back-up by two other nhl teams so this one game really needs to be discounted. And the lack of competitiveness of the rest of the team against elite teams remains.

    • Zamboni Driver

      Oh come on.

      Devan “I hope it hits me because I’m tall and can’t move a lick” would have had at least one of the saves that Scrivens did.

      He would also have leaned WAAAAAY over and pulled it out of the cage about 7 times by now.

      And Debrusk would have seen a tip on each one.

  • pkam

    Another high 1st round pick being locked? I ain’t even mad. However, if we got rid of Lowe and Tencer then maybe we all wouldn’t be so mad. Or beer, just give us beer.

  • A-Mc

    I feel like people get a little to far down the statistical rabbit hole and forget to just enjoy watching the games.

    Creating problems where none exist is only going to stress a guy out. This is why a case of Pil is a mans best friend come game day.

    On behalf of myself and Harold and the whole gang up here at Possum Lodge… keep your stick on the ice

  • S cottV

    If Hall had legit first pairing d men, a mature RNH, and a larger version of Eberle, his corsi would be lights out.

    Add in his own personal development limiting turnovers, greater commitment to back checking and improved work in the d zone and one day when it all comes together there won’t be any problems with any of Halls stats.

    • ocean

      How about let’s try looking at percentage of team points, last year Hall made up 14.58% of the teams total points. This year he makes up 13.35% of their total points. Last year Steven Stamkos made up 13.73% of Tampa Bays total points and Martin St Louis made up 14.46%.

      Are you going to try and tell me that you don’t think a person who accounts for the same percentage of team points as two of the best players in the game is somehow “hurting” the team? So other guys are actually scoring goals on the roster…congrats…your team is developing depth.

  • Serious Gord

    It would be a very big breaking of serve for the oil to beat – beat in regulation – an elite team like the sharks. To do so could be seen as a positve sign that the team is actually improving. The sharks are a bit nicked up so that would temper ones judgement a bit.

    I have posted earlier that the oil could conceivably win four of their last ten before the Olympic break. They have two wins already and would need just two more to meet that expectation.

    Tonight’s game will not be one of them.

    5-2 San Jose.

  • From Eliotte Friedman’s “30 Thoughts” yesterday:

    “But it’s good to see Gagner producing a bit, with 10 points in 13 games this month. Word is the jaw is much more of a problem than we realize because it wouldn’t take much for a re-injury. Maybe he’s finally getting comfortable.”

  • Zamboni Driver

    Just a gentle reminder…

    The ONLY people that call them ‘advanced stats’ are the nerds that instead of watching, enjoying hockey (even whatever it is the Oilers do), drinking a beer….



    So…have at ‘er nerds.

    • Usually when I am magicking up advanced stats I put on a pair of green tinted glasses that have lights running back and forth on the lenses. That way it makes me feel like I am in the matrix. I can see the numbers better. It also makes me better at Kung Fu™.

      Corsi (and other non-mainstream stats) can only show you the door to a new way of appreciating our game. You are the one who has to walk through it.

    • Zamboni Driver

      Nothing that “advanced” about them at all. Just counting stuff.

      Counting shot attempts, what zone a player starts in, which opponents the player plays against, which teammates the player plays with

      Used to drink beer, tends to make me bloaty so now I go for the good stuff right off bat. Better to cut to the chase. Scotchy, scotch, scotch.

  • Zarny

    I’m a fan of advanced stats. I love chatting with my bud Rob Vollman about it.

    They are one tool, not the tool. And it’s going to take a 5 years or so to really see what stats are relevant and how best to apply them.

  • toprightcorner

    The Sharks came down with a serious case of the Scrivens. Unbelievable! Oh and you know you’re being a bit of a douche when Bob McKenzie is pointing it out TSN post game. So yes, Eakins is a douche, a real buzz kill.

  • Reg Dunlop

    I know the oil brought a butter knife to a gunfight tonight but unlike so many other nights they didn’t quit. That single fact means far more than the 2 points. Character was revealed, something I didn’t think they had. I was wrong and I am glad. Go oil.

  • Benny Botts

    Hey Gregor,

    I have seen rumblings from bob mckenzie and dreger that contract talks have completely fallen apart with the rangers and callaghan. In my opinion, I think he would be an absolute ideal fit here in Edmonton, not big but a great leader and he plays big.

    What are your thoughts on callaghan and if MacT is picking up his phone to talk to sather?

  • I was walking down the road yesterday and a lady didn’t pick up after her dog.

    Advanced stats had nothing to say about it. Obviously, stats are only a tiny part of the story.

    Oh! And get this: afterward the dog barked! Stats had nothing to say.

    All hail Jeebus! Go Oil!

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Obvious Game Day Prediction:

    The Oilers, playing a good NHL team, that’s also playing well, get pummeled into mediocrity, again.

    Oilers Nation gawks at the 6-1 loss and slowly slides back to complete dejection coupled with hatred and a longing for someone to direct it at.

    Objects will include:

    Dallas Eakins,
    Kevins Lowe,
    Nail Yakupov,

    The Oilers will lose another 4 games in a row before they win another 2 lucky games.

    This cycle will then repeat itself and the entirety of Oilers Nation will have a sip of Kool-Aid mixed with hope.

    I on the other hand will have another sip of cheap scotch. They’ve got nothing else reasonably priced in Brazil, otherwise it’d be a ‘glen’. Lastly, sorry for the pessimism. 8 years of a bad relationship would do that to any husband.