The Oilers have played 23 home games. They have only won eight of them.

Last year they won 9 of 24 home games.  The last season the Oilers and their fans left Rexall place in a good mood more often than a bad one was in 2007/2008 when the Oilers won 23 of 41 home games.

Since October 2008, the Oilers have played 213 home games and they’ve won 86.

The Oilers have 18 home games remaining this season, and hopefully for their sakes and the fans, they can find a way to start winning on home ice.

When the Oilers finished dead last in 2010  they were at least competitive at home winning18 and losing 23 (OT loss is still a loss for me), so there is no reason this team shouldn’t be able to match 18 wins or better it.

It won’t be easy with 14 of the 18 games against western opponents.

They play the Kings, Ducks, Sharks and Flames twice and the Coyotes, Avalanche, Wild and Canucks once. The Senators, Rangers, Islanders and Sabres will visit from the East. Ten of those games will be against teams currently in the playoffs, but if the Oilers are going to start improving eventually they need to be a few playoff caliber teams, especially at home.

The Oilers won’t make the playoffs, but they need to start building a foundation for the future, and one of those bricks needs to be molded into a good home team.

Of the current 16 playoff teams, only the Rangers have a losing record at home winning 12 of 28. Of the 14 teams not in the playoffs only three, Washington, Phoenix and Dallas have won than half of their home games. Winning at home doesn’t guarantee you a playoff spot, but it increases your chances significantly, especially if you can be a dominant team at home.

The Oilers need to start creating winning habits at home, and since I highly, highly doubt Dallas Eakins gets fired at the end of the season, it is up to him and his team to start finding a winning formula on home ice.


After Tuesday’s loss to Vancouver Dallas Eakins made reference to "the perfect game."

Do you know what the perfect game is? The perfect game is no hits. Do you know why that is? It’s because you have the puck. You don’t have to hit anybody; you have the puck. 

That statement got some people excited. Many believe hitting doesn’t help you win games, mainly due to the reason Eakins outlined above. In theory that makes sense, however, practicality and reality often offer up different outcomes.

There is no such thing as the perfect game, no hits, and many successful teams use their physical play to help them win. Here is a hit chart for this season. Playoff teams are in bold.

Hits Team Hits/game
1768 Toronto 33.3
1662 Los Angeles 31.9
1569 Ottawa 30.7
1519 Columbus 30.3
1397 Winnipeg 26.8
1323 Phoenix 26.4
1263 Buffalo 25.7
1263 Colorado 25.7
1300 Pittsburgh 25.4
1313 Philly 25.2
1232 Boston 25.1
1307 NYR 24.6
1298 NYI 24.5
1264 Anaheim 23.8
1181 Washington 23.6
1153 Carolina 23
1178 Edmonton 22.6
1093 Florida 21.8
1076 Calgary 21.1
1048 St.Louis 20.9
1047 Montreal 20.9
1049 New Jersey 20.5
1030 Dallas 20.1
1029 Tampa Bay 20.1
1030 Nashville 19.8
1015 Vancouver 19.5
963 San Jose 18.8
1001 Detroit 18.5
898 Minnesota 16.9
888 Chicago 16.7

I think we all agree that hit charts from building to building can be subjective. The Leafs have 1099 hits in 28 home games, but only 669 in 25 road games. Are they magically that much more physical at home or do the statisticians in Toronto consider every rub out a hit?

That being a team like Columbus has virtually the same amount of hits on the road as they do at home. I’d say it gives us a general idea of which teams are more physical than others.

The chart proves that some teams win by being more physical, while others don’t need to.
Nine of the top-14 teams in hits are in the playoffs, while seven of the 11 teams with the fewest hits are currently in the postseason.

My issue with Eakins comment is that he tried to deflect the issue of contact and brought up the unattainable "perfect game" scenario. No team is perfect, but the suggestion that being physical will automatically decrease your chances of winning is somewhat misleading.

Of course you want your team to have the puck, but both teams want it, and I find many of the successful teams are not only good at controlling the puck, they are excellent at getting it back.

Many consider Pittsburgh to be a puck possession team, and they are, but they also are top-ten in hits/game. Delivering a hit hasn’t hurt them, and clearly they win despite not playing a "perfect game."

A major benefit from being physical is that your aggressive play will force teams to move the puck quicker than they want, which often leads to turnovers. Having players who can separate opponents from the puck through body contact is also valuable and a significant part of the game.

The problem with the Oilers is that their overall skill isn’t good enough to be a puck possession team, and right now they aren’t very good at retrieving the puck once the opposition has it.

I’m sure Eakins will strive to build his team to become more of a puck possession team, but I’d hope he realizes that until they become great at protecting the puck and not turning it over, they will need to improve their puck retrieval skills at the same time, and often pressuring the puck carrier, hitting and being physical is the best way to create turnovers.

I respect that he wants his team to have the puck, but I felt bringing up the notion of the "perfect game" was an attempt to deflect attention away from an area of their game, physicality and aggression, that has been lacking for years.





Hemsky is still nursing a deep bone bruise, but Nail Yakupov returns to the lineup.

The optics don’t look great having Yak on the fourth line and Smyth on the second, but I doubt they stay that way very long. They were hoping Hemsky was ready and he’d be playing there.

Gazdic hasn’t had a fight in 13 games and while Eakins stressed being a healthy scratch wasn’t performance-related, I wonder if his lack of aggressiveness recently is the reason he is in the pressbox? If your job is to play physical and get the opposition’s attention, then you have to find a way to do it. However, Eakins defended him in the post-game presser on Tuesday saying he tried to do his job.

So either he isn’t doing it well enough or he is sitting because Phoenix rarely dresses a tough guy. What do you think?


  • I would have liked to see Eakins put Gazdic on the ice more often against Kassian. I never expected him to jump him, but had he been on the ice more often the chances of a "heat of the moment" altercation would have been higher.
  • I don’t buy the Bertuzzi/Moore argument as a reason why Gazdic couldn’t have done something to Kassian. That happened a decade ago, and since then many teams and players have found ways to send a message to the opposition without being suspended.

    Andrew Ference didn’t ask Lee Stempniuk to fight earlier this year. He dropped his gloves and Stempniuk had no choice but to eat a few rights or defend himself. In the past week I’ve seen Milan Lucic and Tom Sestito go after Jordan Nolan instead of waiting for him to politely oblige their request to fight.

    Sestito and Lucic went after Nolan after he hit one of their teammates earlier in the game. Had Gazdic been on the ice for more than one and a half shifts against Kassian, he would have had a much better chance of engaging him.

  • I wouldn’t have worried about Gazdic taking an instigator or even worse a 7-minute penalty like Sestito did in LA last week. Was getting the win that important in the overall picture? The Oilers are in 29th, had the won they’d still be in 29th and out of the playoffs in late January.

    Whether they like it or not, the perception from players around the league is that teams can take liberties with the Oilers skilled players without fear of retribution. If Gazdic had got a hold of Kassian and landed a few shots that wouldn’t have stopped every team from trying to hit the Oilers in the future, but at least it would show that if you do there will be some consequences to your actions.

    If the Oilers were in a battle for a playoff spot, I could understand being worried about giving up an extended powerplay, but that wasn’t the case on Tuesday and it won’t be the rest of the season. I’d hope the next time someone cheap shots one of the Oilers skilled players, Eakins will at least give his physical players an opportunity to try and even the score; in a manner that won’t lead to a suspension like Lucic or Sestito managed to do. 

  • It is smart not to rush Hemsky back. You want him healthy for the deadline.


GAME DAY PREDICTION: I’m taking a night off. The first person to tweet @jasongregor their GDP I will add it to this post. Look deep into your crystal ball.

Update…Courtesy of @JaredGorbahn GDP: Oilers 4-1. Bryz forced to stand on his head and Hall adds 2 assists.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Yakupov and Arcobello combine to score and many will suggest they should be playing with Perron.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Eberle ties a career-high with goals in four consecutive games, but it is his game celebration that surprises many. After the game he sends Wanye a tweet, "I know yesterday was difficult for you with the Biebs’ arrest. Don’t worry I won’t let you down. I’m not getting traded." Wanye promptly retires from twitter saying his life can’t possibly get any better. 


  • Batfink

    I don’t think it’s to do with Gazdic’s aggressiveness. Just going on what Eakins is saying and the fact that Perron has not been his usual pest self, it seems self evident that Eakin’s answer to the terrible PK is to never, ever do anything that puts the other team on the PP. Quicker than teaching/showing them how to PK, I guess. A little bit like the ‘nobody works, nobody gets hurt’ mentality that some companies are taking in regards to OH&S.

  • Jason Gregor

    So since I guess the moral of the story is that you build from net/defense out…not offense back. Oilers serve as a great lesson to the rest of the league in that respect. We’re rebuilding right now all right…defense out, and it’s going to take 4-5 years, Ekblad or not.

  • papler

    “the suggestion that being physical will automatically decrease your chances of winning is somewhat misleading.”

    that is your personal takeaway from Eakins’ answer I guess. But imho that is absolutely not what he was saying. What he was trying to say (imho again) is that hitting is not the key to winning a game or even competing in a game.

    i loved the answer (and the eye roll) The only better answer I can think of would’ve been:


    • Batfink

      But hitting in it’s proper place does affect the outcome of games. Pronger destroying Cheechoo? If a defender or attacker knows, without a doubt, that the player coming to challenge him for the puck will absolutely finish his check and hard, then that cuts down on decision and response time. Time that the player in possession has to decide what play to make and to make it AND to prepare for the hit, to protect himself. That is why from time et memorium, the mantra “finish your checks” remains in the game.

      Put it this way. If you were a d-man and saw Hemsky coming for you but knew, just knew he would do a famous fly-by, well then that allows you something that is the most precious commodity on Earth; time. If you knew it was an LA King and he was going to plaster you to the boards before changing up and it was going to hurt, makes you feel a bit of trepidation. Maybe you cough up that puck.

      Eakin’s comments maybe an indicator of why we’re terrible on the forecheck.

    • outdoorzguy

      I would go further. Eakins said nothing like what Gregor implied he said. In fact, he even gave the exact same example in distinguishing between effective hits (those that cause the opposition to rush the play) and ineffective hits (running around with your head cut off).

      Gregor’s version of the press conference strips Eakins’ answer of all of its nuance.

      • Jason Gregor

        I was at the presser. Not one reporter mentioned or infered that they run around with head cut off to make a hit. Again, I felt he tried to use examples that would stray attention away from issue.

        Using “perfect game” and Bertuzzi examples did just that.

        • pkam

          I watched the press conference.

          Within every question is an implied argument. Eakins, appropriately, turned the questions around to identify what this implied statement was. Once identified, he responded to the intellectual core of the question.

          This isn’t distracting attention from the issue, it’s called answering the question, and in answering the question in the way that he did everyone who was paying attention understood a little better what Eakins thinks leads to winning hockey and what Spector thinks leads to winning hockey.

          Now, in terms of winning the media over to his side it may not have been effective (because no one likes to have their “show run” like Spector did) but as someone who wants people in sport to provide genuine and substantive answers, and who would prefer that the media be put in their place a little, it was a joy.

  • outdoorzguy

    I thought Oilers should have done “flames” opening brawlers line-up for the drop of the puck – consider the price of admission covered in the first 30 seconds!! To see the faces of the 3 Assistant Canuck coaches and players would have been priceless!

    Edmonton has a bigger grudge for the Gagner incident than flames did – so not sure why Gadzic never did.

    The reality is Edmonton plays soft – the league knows this – even non-hitting teams come here knowing they can run Oilers Top 6, have no retribution (and no deadly PP to back it up), and get Edmonton off their game.

    Jason I would like to see opposing “non-hitting” teams stats in our building I’m sure it would be telling.

  • camdog

    Completely agree with you points on how the Kassian thing should have been handled. The reference to Ference pummeling Stempniak is right on the money. I’m not buying Eakins excuse,”Well he asked him to fight and one player wasn’t interested”. No kidding he wasn’t interested, his team was winning the game and him fighting would do nothing for his club. Well i guess that means he;s free to skate around untouched then. Might as well toss him the GWG while you’re at it. Can’t believe he scored the winner and left without a finger laid on him. Absolute joke. Say Gazdic would have actually dont something instead of just talk, say he would have taken a 3-5 game suspension for it as well. Would that really have been so bad? Is Gazdic’s presence in the line-up really that important that we could not affored to lose him to suspension? One thing is for certain, the pummeling of Kassian would have endeared whoever it was doing the pummeling to not only the fans but also to every member of that Oilers locker room. Instead, we are left wondering why nothing happened. I also agree that other teams are taking notice about the lack of on-ice accountability players who take liberties on our team have to face. Not going after Kassian is inexcusable in my eyes, no matter how you cut it.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    Jason, I thought the comment about the perfect game wasn’t so much to deflect the criticism of our lack of physicality, but rather that Eakins was becoming frustrated with the vein of questioning he was being subjected to and wanted to end it.

    It’s true, the question was framed as a ‘aren’t you concerned we’re being pushed around’ line, but this was an aside to the Kassian-running-your-show bit. Perhaps the question should have been phrased ‘yeah, but why didn’t someone wipe that stupid grin off of Kassian’s face?’

    He’s not wrong to point out that we out-hit the opposition by a wide margin. Until we become a more defensivly responsible team, we’ll continue to lose more games than we win regardless of our physical engagement.

    That’s my opinion anyways.

    • Jason Gregor

      I did ask him about being pushed around…then he mentioned the Bertuzzi/Moore situation, which again I felt was attempt to distract from a core issue with team…they lack pushback factor.

  • outdoorzguy

    Gregor I don’t get you. On your show yesterday you were pretty much little girl hysterical for wanting Gazdic on the ice in a one goal game just to scare or shadow Kassian? It would then become a two goal then a three goal game. I just don’t get it. Do you want to attempt to win or do you just want to see Kassian get pummelled and we lose the game?

    • Jason Gregor

      Pretty simple to see.

      The Oilers lost. Is losing 3-1 worse in the standings than losing 2-1. At some point I would say it is time to send a message.

      The Oilers still lost the game, and the message to rest of league is that it is still okay to cheap shot their stars. So tell me what did they gain from not putting Gazdic out against Kassian? Rather than resort to immature comparisons to a little girl, maybe try to focus that losing 3-1 is no worse than 2-1 in the standings.

      • Robert (AKA Hockey Fan)

        Until Eakins releases the hounds……it’ll be a crime scene every time Hall, Nuge or Eberle get run over so bad they’ll be needing goon insurance!

      • jonrmcleod

        Yes, a 3-1 loss is no worse than a 2-1 loss, but a 3-1 loss is worse than a 3-2 win. You play to win the games. And that game was a winnable game for the Oilers. Wipe the smiles of the Canucks’ faces by taking points in the standings away from them.

        Did you comment on the Stanley Cup champs being last in hits?

        • Jason Gregor

          Did you mention the team that is 2nd in hits won the Cup in 2012.

          And the point is that winning the game wouldn’t impact the standings of future of the Oilers. You feel the Oilers should never send a message. You’re entitled to that, but I feel last game but show me the guarantee that playing Gazdic vs. Kassian would have automatically resulted in them losing worse?

          • Hopeless in Etown

            So hitting is irrelevant to winning is what you are saying. There is no direct correlation.

            Some teams use it to win.
            Some teams use alternative strategies.

            Based on how the Oilers are built which is going to win them more games?

            Sending a message is kind of pointless, makes for good radio shows, but show me a player in the NHL that is chicken &&&& and I’ll show you a player in the AHL. Find me one player that lays off a hit because he is scared…

            As Eakins said early it is a bigger boost for your own team.

            I think you’d rather create good habits as a coach, if I told a player this year to go psycho on Kassian – then again later in the season on Ladd, then later on Giordano… suddenly you have a habit formed. Next year when the results matter, he does something stupid because the habit is there. There is a big chance at some stage he does a Thornton, pushing it to far to get revenge.

            Yes, you guys have a story to write about that sells your brand of journalism, but the player suffers, and the coach could pay a price as well (Hartley recently).

          • Jason Gregor

            I think you are grossly overrating the situation, if you believe doing it once means the players will suddenly become undisciplined every game.

            I never said attack or jump a player, but you can do what Ference did earlier to Stempniak or Lucic did to Nolan.

            I don’t see Lucic and Ference doing it all the time. Players are smart enough to know when to do it, but they need to be in spot to do it and have a coach that will allow it.

          • Jason Gregor

            Maybe the oilers should have more pesky players on their team. Gazdick could have jumped kassian, but in the end would would have ended up short handed. Maybe we should look at the make up of this team. If the oilers had maybe a hard working agitator type player or another player in the mold of Perron that goes out of his way to get in the head of the other team, we would instead “retaliate” different ways. Why not have a guy like Hendricks make life hard and abuse the p!ss out of a Sedin? Kassian made the NHL being a certain type of player, one scrap with Gazdick isnt gonna change the way he plays the Oilers.

            You cant fault the players that we do have for not playing they way we want them to play. The oilers are made up a certain way and they will only play a certain way until the make up of the team is different.

          • jonrmcleod

            “Yes, you guys have a story to write about that sells your brand of journalism”-bang on bud. nail on the head!

            If this was any other hockey market not in canada, where the city had a population over 1 million, this wouldnt even be news! The media here is probly a huge reason that makes it difficult to play here (Canada). Just look at the whole twitter fiasco with Scrivens’ wife when he got traded here.
            The media (tsn/sportsnet/cbc/bloggers…) have way too much airtime that they are forced to drum up stories for the sake of viewers and a lot of it is just plain silly.

          • From everything I’ve read and seen about that presser suggests that Eakins is plenty annoyed with guys like Mark Spector who just try to hard to be the biggest personality in the sports media world. When was the last time Spector added something useful during his intermission chats with Gene? He’s repetitive, obnoxious and loud. The guy basically speaks like he has run a successful sports team.

          • Lowe But Now High Expectations

            I’m just curious why you keep using my screen name? It doesn’t bother me at all but it makes you come across like a little knee pad wearing copy cat trying to be accepted. Did your mommy not hug you enough growing up? Or have you even grown up yet?

          • jonrmcleod

            Exactly. There are multiple ways to win games. The hits chart above seems to indicate that hits aren’t all that important. (There are 7 playoff teams in the bottom half.) And didn’t the Oilers lead in the hits department in the game against the Canucks?

            Being in Edmonton, you seem to be infected by the losing. What’s important is not how much you lose by but WINNING THE GAME. I’m saying the better way of sending a message to the Canucks is to win that game. Those points in the standings are vital to the Canucks.

          • Jason Gregor

            You are the one seems accustomed to losing, so that you don’t want change. Oilers are too soft and have been for years. They rarely stand up to other teams. This is a major issue.

          • jonrmcleod

            You’re putting words in my mouth. I’m not saying I’m against having a tough team. I’m all for that if they’re tough AND can play. Of course I don’t want the Oilers to be soft. I’m saying (as Eakins said) that the most important thing in that game is to win it. And Kassian is going to continue to be Kassian whether he’s roughed up or not.

            The major problem with the Oilers is not that they’re not tough enough; it’s that they’re not talented enough–not enough talent on D and not good enough in net.

          • jonrmcleod

            I kind of agree with a few other comments on here in saying that the comment was basically just Eakins flipping the bird to Spector.
            Spector was just looking for an answer that he could use and spin for whatever his agenda was that night.

            Why is it that media members like you that have a platform like this to interact with fans, dont criticize other members of the media (Spector…) for being ridiculous sometimes, especially when a lot of other fans want to bring it up?

          • Jason Gregor

            I said he didn’t word his question properly, which happens, but the point was still fine.

            I have no issue when coaches and players give it back if they don’t like it…both sides talk about it after and move on…

            You can’t hold a grudge to do the job properly. Many reporters and players/coaches/gms have had run ins and still talk later. It is part of the job.

          • papler

            I did, and I don’t care where the Canucks finish or how hurt their egos are because the Oilers play 28 other teams in the NHL still. So sending a message to the other 28 teams to say “we aren’t weak” by using an incident that proves how vulnerable the Oilers are to their advantage is a bit smarter than trying to prevent 2 points.

      • outdoorzguy

        Gregor I think what he’s getting at is that you would love to have a full set of flowing hair to rock out in front of Strudwick…shoulder length swoosh and all it’s glory…he just happened to toss a hockey reference in there somewhere.

      • papler

        Except that during the game no one knew what the score will be at the end.

        if they are down 3 goals then fine, let Gazdic run amok on Kassian. But in a close game? It should always be about winning and not retaliation.

        • Jason Gregor

          Sending a message when game is out of reach, never has the same impact.

          If the Oilers were about winning then they would start building a winning atmosphere…and allowing teams to take advantage of you isn’t a winning atmosphere…

          • papler

            Going after a player weeks or even months after the guy hurt one of your team isn’t building a winning culture. That is plain and simple: revenge.

            I agree about your point re: not letting other teams take advantage. But a reaction has to come instantly, in the same game. And absolutely NOT with headhunting but with hard checks on every frigging player on the other team. You need real players able to do that, and not some knucklebuster playing 5 minutes a night

    • bwar

      See Kassian get pummeled and lose the game obviously. Does it really matter if we won that game vs Vancouver when we have been out of playoff contention since October?

      Lose 2-1 or 5-1 it really doesn’t matter at this point. What could have and should have mattered would have been someone drawing a line in the sand and taking a stand sending a message that says ” You cannot run around doing whatever you want without being held accountable”. That would have been the moral victory fans and players so desperately need. Who cares about 2 pts in an already abysmal season?

      • Thumby

        I don’t think it’s weird at all. Lots of successful organizations draft a guy first overall and then completely shatter their confidence by benching, humiliating, and putting them in the best possible position to fail.

        Why even bother to care anymore? Didn’t you get the memo? We are on pace for another possible first overall pick, our POHO has more rings than anybody else in the business and the rebuild is going exactly as planned.

        This organization is f*$%&d and it starts from the top down.

        Here’s hoping for another jersey on the ice tomorrow and another K. Lowe billboard. Keep up the pressure boys, eventually they can’t ignore the common sense and reason and will have to act………………or can they?

    • J.R.

      He’s coming off a “head” injury, I’d say the minutes he’ll get on the fourth line will suffice for getting him back out there. Plus he’s playing with Arcobello, so he should have someone who will try and set him up all night (for 6-8 minutes).

        • Jason Gregor

          You do have to admit, -31 is a pretty bad +/- statistic no matter how you want to try and play it off. On any other team he’d be in the minors right now or with a permanent pressbox station set up.

          • J.R.

            You bet it’s bad (really bad).. but asking a purely offensive young #1 overall draft pick to fix his defensive game before he gets minutes is silly.

            If the team was in the playoffs I can understand it but given the current state of affairs I’d play him consistently no lower than the second line and get him regular minutes on the power play.

            He hasn’t played in a few games and the Oilers still can’t win. He needs ice time to improve and he can’t get ice time until he improves….lousy catch 22 for someone drafted to score goals.

            Playing with good players will only make him better in my opinion.

          • Problem is, he consistently played with the second line and still didn’t produce points…but brings his team mates down. If he were a pure offensive talent he’d be putting the puck in the net when he gets the chance out there. But he wasn’t and he was a defensive liability, so they demoted him. I’d send him to OKC to play on the 1st line, because in the NHL he looks lost whether it’s on the 1st line or the 4th line.

  • D-Unit

    GDP: 3-1 Phoenix. Mike Smith has been shakey the past couple of games and the only consistency the Oilers have shown is getting other NHL players back on… Just in time for the Olympics, You’re welcome Mike.

  • J.R.


    On the weekend I got in Brownlee’s bad books for suggesting your judgement may have been less than optimum when you stated the Oil would get between 40 and 46 points in the last half of the season. I think we would all now agree that 40 to 46 points is very unlikely.

    I still think you are being unrealistically optimistic wrt the Oil’s prospects. You state that ” there is no reason this team shouldn’t be able to match 18 wins or better it.” That would mean you are calling for 10 victories in the last 18 home games. Six of these games are against the Kings, Ducks and Sharks. Teams the Oil have not been in the same league as this year. That could mean the Oil have to win 10 of the 12 “winable” games from here on in.

    The Oil keep trending to the worst record ever and I can’t see any reason to expect it won’t happen

    • Jason Gregor

      If you read what I wrote after the quote I mentioned that if the 2010 team could win 18 then this team should be able to match it. If not, that is major issue.

      As for your 46 points in 2nd half, not sure what you are referring to.

      • J.R.

        I’m going from memory, but I recall a piece your wrote at the half way point suggesting the Oil should get between 40 to 46 points in the last 41 games. If you didn’t, my apologies.

        The Oil certainly do have major issues.