GDB 3.0: Facing the Champs

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.

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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.

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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.

LINEUP

image (20)

Hall-Arcobello-Purcell
Pouliot-Draisaitl-Yakupov
Perron-Yakimov-Joensuu
Hendricks-Gordon-Acton

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.

Nikitin-Fayne
Ference-Nurse
Hunt-Schultz

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. 

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Fasth

Fasth played well in Vancouver and it makes sense to play him tonight and go with Scrivens tomorrow.

FIGHTING STATS…

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.

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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.

Team 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Total
1 Philadelphia Flyers 40 63 74 77 47 57 33 45 436
2 St. Louis Blues 42 53 62 72 78 42 21 32 402
3 Boston Bruins 29 52 46 47 71 61 32 46 384
4 Columbus Blue Jackets 39 58 53 49 54 57 34 39 383
5 Calgary Flames 36 70 61 74 35 35 22 32 365
6 New York Rangers 35 47 58 52 62 65 18 25 362
7 Vancouver Canucks 27 68 62 62 29 38 28 43 357
8 Edmonton Oilers 46 49 69 59 55 27 13 36 354
9 Toronto Maple Leafs 24 25 52 57 50 35 44 48 335
10 Anaheim Ducks 71 69 82 78 67 44 23 40 334
11 Pittsburgh Penguins 33 48 39 48 71 31 22 27 319
12 Dallas Stars 36 52 45 50 51 28 26 25 313
13 Colorado Avalanche 21 48 48 60 43 36 22 30 308
14 San Jose Sharks 34 42 42 57 48 35 18 31 307
15 Ottawa Senators 26 33 32 51 46 53 26 39 306
16 Tampa Bay Lightning 33 38 52 73 20 23 31 30 300
17 Chicago Blackhawks 40 57 54 36 28 41 16 16 288
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
21 Winnipeg Jets 24 30 53 40 33 35 26 33 274
22 Buffalo Sabres 37 26 37 26 30 40 25 36 257
23 Florida Panthers 29 38 34 50 24 31 20 30 256
24 Minnesota Wild 14 46 38 32 32 42 24 27 255
25 Montreal Canadiens 17 32 45 32 32 28 25 41 252
26 Washington Capitals 40 33 28 20 45 26 16 36 244
27 Nashville Predators 40 37 42 23 18 19 21 37 237
28 Carolina Hurricanes 25 44 26 34 25 19 23 8 204
29 Arizona Coyotes 47 40 56 30 23 27 16 18 170
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
SJ 111 57 96 105 113 117 108 107 814 14th
PIT 109 72 108 106 101 99 102 105 802 11th
DET 93 56 102 104 102 112 115 113 797 30th
VAN 83 59 111 117 103 100 88 105 766 7th
BOS 117 62 102 103 91 116 94 76 761 3rd
CHI 107 77 101 97 112 104 88 71 757 17th
ANA 116 66 80 99 89 91 102 110 753 10th
WSH 90 57 92 107 121 108 94 70 739 26th
NJD 88 48 102 81 103 106 99 107 734 19th
NYR 96 56 109 97 87 95 97 94 727 6th
NSH 88 41 104 99 100 88 91 110 721 27th
MTL 100 63 78 96 88 93 104 90 712 25th
STL 111 60 109 87 90 92 79 81 709 2nd
DAL 91 48 89 95 88 83 97 107 698 12th
MIN 98 55 81 86 84 89 98 104 695 24th
PHI 94 49 103 106 88 99 95 56 690 1st
OTT 88 56 92 74 94 83 94 105 686 15th
CGY 77 42 90 94 90 98 94 96 681 5th
BUF 52 48 89 96 100 91 90 113 679 22nd
ARI 89 51 97 99 107 79 83 67 672 29th
LAK 100 59 95 98 101 79 71 68 671 20th
COL 112 39 88 68 95 69 95 95 661 13th
CAR 83 42 82 91 80 97 92 88 655 28th
TBL 101 40 84 103 80 66 71 93 638 16th
TOR 84 57 80 85 74 81 83 91 635 9th
WPG 84 51 84 80 83 76 76 97 631 21st
CBJ 93 55 65 81 79 92 80 73 618 4th
FLA 66 36 94 72 77 93 85 86 609 23rd
NYI 79 55 79 73 79 61 79 92 597 18th
EDM 67 45 74 62 62 85 88 71 554 8th

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.

TONIGHT…

13

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.

Recently by Jason Gregor:   


  • Reg Dunlop

    As a hockey fan, the Kings are the best team I’ve seen in years. They are rock solid, they can play the game anyway you want, they are not cheap shot types at all, they just ooze character. I can’t find a way to dislike them. Looks like they will repeat as champs.

  • Spydyr

    Katz….Lowe has six rings he knows something about winning.

    Lowe ……MacT has his MBA he knows how to build a team.

    MacT….Eakins is an excellent coach and Schultz will win the Norris.

    Eakins….We need Hunts shot on the powerplay and our best defenceman last year should be in the minors

    “The Braintrust” all think they are the smartest people in the room.

  • Andy7190

    i really think the kings can get a few more i think they got the nod from sutter to go ahead and score once more so the crowd at staples center doesnt fall asleep. must be like watching practise

  • Burnward

    Right now, Louie Debrusk is thinking “thank god I don’t have to spend my night trying to dress up this turd”. Looks to his left at Doug MacLean. Crys a little.

  • Serious Gord

    This team is putrid right now. We have players on this roster that should not be, we have players not on this roster that should be, we have players sitting in the press box who should not be, we have players sitting on the bench that should be on the press box. I could forgive it if it wasn’t such blatant incompetence but my god.

  • Spydyr

    I am out. I feel like a pathetic loser but…I just can’t take it. Called in with one day left and canceled my CI account after 8 years. Catholic guilt overwhelming. Game 3 of this season overwhelms overwhelming. Somehow…

  • Spydyr

    Eakins post game comments include:

    I am going to have the Gretzky statue removed.I thought banishing all the memorabilia from the dressing room and banning donuts would turn this team around.Clearly we need stronger methods.

    “Chop wood, carry water”

  • Spydyr

    Not dressing a full squad during exhibition, Tkachev face plant, perplexing demotions (marincin), baffling healthy scratches(petry), weird infatuations(hunt). This is just getting more bizarre and it’s only game 3. I’m beginning to think we are all trapped in purgatory.

  • Burnward

    I have a few questions that need answers:

    Who will the Oilers new coach be for the remainder of this year and will that person want to stay for 2015-16?

    Who will the Oilers select this year with the 1st or 2nd overall?

    How many games this season before the first trade demand from a current player?

    • Hemmercules

      If hall or nuge request a trade I’m officially done until Lowe and all his goons are flushed. When your best players are asking out that’s about as rock bottom as it gets.

      Shultz thinking he had any contract leverage over any NHL team is a complete joke. Terrible defenceman.

  • Spydyr

    Did you just hear that, shots are 26 a piece, yet I don’t think it’s our goalies fault, and it’s not because we have run in4o a hot goalie, hmmmmm must be the corsi

  • BlazingSaitls

    I think Ill keep repeating this post for a bit.

    -Thornton traded to Sharks for three players-

    -Bruins trade Kessel to Leafs for draft picks-

    -Bruins trade Tyler Seguin to Stars, get Loui Eriksson-

    It has gotten so bad I think the only way out of this nightmare is trading the best player for the best return. Ala Bruins.

    Oilernation what would you trade Hall for?
    Keep in mind this is not an indictment of Hall.

    Its an indictment of the Oilers. The only way
    out is to trade scoring for real defense. Without Hall Oilers will still score. With Hall Oilers will still get outscored. sux. I know.

    Sorry Oilernation. The only way out, imo, is trading Hall for a proven NHL Center or a proven NHL defensmen and then some.

    Oilers have to start anew. Again.

    • Serious Gord

      Interesting.

      The leaf trade was a disaster. And it was because the rest of the roster wasnt on the cusp of being an elite team.

      I think trading hall at this point would be a waste.

      • BlazingSaitls

        Hall, arguably the games best left winger, has a great contract.

        Oilers problems are far deeper than scoring.

        Im only trying to find solutions. Please shoot some better ideas.

        • Spiel

          The time for moves was in the last two summers. Unfortunately Mac-T has been really great at acquiring wingers and not centers or top 4 d-men.

          The only center with NHL experience that he has brought in is Boyd Gordon.
          He has brought in a slew of 3rd pairing and lower d-men an wingers to play in the top 9.

          Going in a season with an 18 yr old and a career AHLer in as two of your top 3 centers is a recipe for disaster. Are they holding spot for McDavid/Eichel? Who knows? When one injury can sink your season, then that falls on management for not having enough depth.

          I understand that every team is trying to improve down the middle, but the Oilers have really failed in this regard. In the last two offseasons the Oilers have added over $12M in cap hit for 3 wingers (Purcell/Pouliot/Perron) that are slotted to play on the 2nd/3rd lines while having two 1st overall draft picks in Hall and Yakupov in their system that both play wing and another $6M per season top 6 winger in Eberle. Perron, Purcell, Pouliot may be good players but they are not money wisely spent when you consider the glaring the holes on this team. That $12M per year cap space should have been able to get at least one veteran center and top 4 d-man as free agents or in trade with other assets.

          Further adding to the problem is that Oilers have whiffed on a lot of 2nd and 3rd picks in rebuild 2.0. The defense seems to have some candidates in the system, but most are not ready for the big minutes yet.

          So, my advice is to bite the bullet and trade for need, even it means an overpay or losing offensive skill for some defensive acumen and leadership down the middle and on the blue line. In my books, all wingers would be available. Obviously the price for Hall would be very high, but at this point no one can be untouchable. Maybe a culture change and trading one of Hall/Eberle for a Johansen in CBJ or an O’Reilly in COL would balance the roster?

          The other option is stay the course and hope to get a center or d-man with a high pick. I think fans are getting a little tired of that storyline.

  • I liked Nurse tonight! lotsa heart and yeah he made a rookie mistake….but he’s a rookie. that normally happens. overall played with poise though.

    That’s about all I liked…really trying to stay postive!

    If they can beat phoenix, it’s 1-2-1, could be far worse!

    • Serious Gord

      Difficult to see how this line-up wins tomorrow night against AZ. Thus they play van in EDM 0-2-1. And van is undefeated and will have six freaking days of rest!!

      Are we in the midst of the worst season start in oilers history?

  • Slapshot

    Wow!!! 3 games into the season and it’s looking very bleak for Oilers fans again,after 8 seasons of missing the playoffs and the talent that was drafted this should never have happened ,yet it continues to happen year after year ,there is something seriously wrong with this team and organization.

  • Andy7190

    I know Krueger probably wasn’t going to get the Oilers to the promised land.

    But he was probably a better fit with the kids, and more likely to show progress in their play.

    This is pure regression underway now.