The Kings have won the Stanley Cup twice in the past three seasons. They have become one of the dominant franchises in the NHL, and last season the gap between the Oilers and the Kings was as large as the Grand Canyon.
The Kings outscored the Oilers 11-3 in four games, but they out shot them 186-86. The Kings fired 48, 40, 50 and 48 shots while the Oilers countered with 18, 24, 27 and 17. The Oilers did manage a SO loss point in the first meeting when Richard Bachman stood on his head, but every game clearly illustrated the chasm between the Oilers and a Cup contending team.
Tonight will be our first opportunity to see how much closer, if any, the 2014/2015 Oilers are to competing with the elite in the western conference.
The Oilers have had two days rest to prepare for the Kings. Fatigue cannot be an excuse, but injuries and a complete head scratching coach move might. (more on that later) The Oilers are winless through two games, and the biggest concern has to be that they’ve allowed nine goals in two games.
The Oilers have to lower their goals against if they have any hopes of battling for a playoff spot. This is not new to anyone, but much of the focus continues to be around the lack of centre depth. There is no arguing that is a concern, but the Oilers inability to keep the puck out of their net is the bigger problem.
Leon Draisaitl and Mark Arcobello haven’t made egregious errors that have led to goals. Arcobello was on the ice for the first two Vancouver goals at ES, but Sedin’s shot from the side boards should have been stopped, and Nick Bonino’s goal was a deflection from the high slot.
The Oilers have allowed nine goals to teams who were 23rd and 28th in total goals last year. I realize the Canucks have changed their coach and have a new system in place, but the Flames are far from an offensive juggernaut. The Oilers must improve in the D-zone to compete for a playoff spot.
Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle are injured. Both are ailing after being on the receiving end of some big hits in Vancouver on Saturday. Eakins said RNH did not get injured in his fight with Dan Hamhuis. This is the nightmare Oilers fans were worried about. RNH gets hurt and their top-three centres tonight have a combined 46 games of NHL experience. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, and even though everyone wrote, talked and discussed this possibility all summer Craig MacTavish elected to not bring in any centres with NHL experience. The Oilers management has no one to blame but themselves.
In one of the most bizarre moves I can recall, Eakins elected to bench Petry because, “he is a bit behind from not having a training camp.” Even if that was the case, why wouldn’t you rest him tomorrow night instead. It is truly a baffling decision. If “not up to speed” means he is still not 100% from his training camp injury, then I ask why was he in the lineup for the first two games? They had Klefbom and Nurse, there was zero reason to rush him. Petry being a healthy scratch makes no sense to me. None.
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) October 14, 2014
Fasth played well in Vancouver and it makes sense to play him tonight and go with Scrivens tomorrow.
I’m not here to debate the merits of fighting. You either like it or you don’t. I believe it has a place in the game, and I didn’t have an issue with Nugent-Hopkins fighting Dan Hamhuis. I don’t think anyone expects him to do that regularly, and he won’t, but he felt it was necessary to not back down from Hamhuis. I respect that.
Some don’t want him fighting due to the risk of injury. If you don’t want him fighting, that is fine, but the risk of injury in a fight is actually very low. Considering how much emphasis has been put on statistics lately, let’s look at the probability of an injury occurring during a fight.
Most of you have witnessed an Oiler getting hurt in a fight during this painful eight-year losing streak. Ethan Moreau’s shoulder popped out in a fight with Danny Markov. They were given roughing minors, because they never landed a punch due to Moreau’s injury.
Sheldon Souray broke his hand in a fight with Jarome Iginla. Steve MacIntyre broke an orbital bone, Theo Peckham was concussed, Zach Stortini hyper extended his knee, Ben Eager was concussed, Ladislav Smid was concussed when Sean Avery jumped him and Taylor Hall injured his knee.
That is eight injuries (If I forgot one or two the % will change very little). The Oilers have had 354 fights since the beginning of the 2006/2007 season. Over the past eight seasons the injury rate is 2.3% of the time (Moreau didn’t receive a fighting major, but I gave him one since the injury occurred while preparing to fight, so it was 8 out of 355). You can say you don’t want fighting in the game, but suggesting that injuries occur often due to a fight is simply false.
The Oilers are also a team that has fought more than most over the past eight seasons. I compiled these stats courtesy of Hockeyfights.com and found out that the Oilers have had the 8th most fights during the past eight seasons.
|2||St. Louis Blues||42||53||62||72||78||42||21||32||402|
|4||Columbus Blue Jackets||39||58||53||49||54||57||34||39||383|
|6||New York Rangers||35||47||58||52||62||65||18||25||362|
|9||Toronto Maple Leafs||24||25||52||57||50||35||44||48||335|
|14||San Jose Sharks||34||42||42||57||48||35||18||31||307|
|16||Tampa Bay Lightning||33||38||52||73||20||23||31||30||300|
|18||New York Islanders||18||29||52||33||68||27||18||39||284|
|19||New Jersey Devils||32||46||57||45||37||39||16||10||282|
|20||Los Angeles Kings||42||22||48||37||49||33||19||27||277|
|30||Detroit Red Wings||10||21||11||19||13||15||14||7||110|
Some of the best teams in the league fight often, while teams like Detroit and Montreal don’t. Teams can be successful with no fighters just as much as they can having a team of guys who like to fight, as long as both teams have good players.
One of the usual arguments for those opposed to fighting is that the Red Wings don’t fight and they win. That is true, but the Bruins, Ducks, Penguins, Rangers and Canucks have racked up a lot of wins while also dropping the gloves at a high rate.
Here is a quick look at each team’s point totals over the past eight seasons combined with their frequency of fights.
|2014||2013||2012||2011||2010||2009||2008||2007||Total Pts||Fight Rank|
Teams that fought regularly like Vancouver, Boston, Anaheim, Pittsburgh and NYR won just as often as teams like Detroit, Chicago or Washington. A few other things stood out.
- This illustrates how far the Oilers need to go to improve. It is daunting, but it is the truth.
- San Jose is the best regular season team in the NHL, and while they’ve yet to win a Stanley Cup, or even make the final, I’m sure many fanbases would change places with Sharks’ fans in an instant.
- I’m pretty sure Nick Lidstrom’s absence has been a bigger factor in Detroit’s recent drop in points than their decision not to dress many pugilists.
To me the above charts illustrate that you can either build your team by having skilled players who don’t fight, or with a rugged, skilled team that doesn’t mind dropping the mitts and you can have success both ways. Their is no perfect formula. You just need to build a team that fits with your philosophy.
Right now the Oilers are still trying to figure out what style they want to play, and what type of team they want to build. It shouldn’t have taken this long, but that is another story. For me, if Nugent-Hopkins wants to fight once a year because he is mad, I’m okay with that. I never criticized him when he didn’t fight, so I surely won’t rip him for fighting.
Other teams have constantly taken liberties with the Oilers, and I’ve always believed you have to stand up for yourself if you want that harassment to stop. In the NHL, you have to let the opposition you are willing to stand your ground. It doesn’t always have to be with a fight, but once in awhile it is the only option. Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Joe Thornton, Ryan Getzlaf and many other stars will fight now and then. Not because they have to, but because they choose to.
I respect Nugent-Hopkins for feeling that was the right time to defend himself.
If you need a chuckle Oilers fans check out what the Royal Half is saying about tonight’s Kings/Oilers tilt. Keep your chin up Oilers fans.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Life is full of challenges. Some are harder than others, and tonight is one of those games for the Oilers. Like our beloved tryout attendee #13, they will give it their best, but come up short. Oilers lose 4-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Nation will be fired up over Petry being a healthy scratch.
NOT-SO-OBVOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Darnell Nurse scores in his first NHL game. The Oilers always find a way to keep the diehard fan believing that the future will indeed be brighter.
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