I was on the road yesterday to Crooked Creek (in between Valleyview and Grande Prairie) for my uncle’s 65th birthday party so I had to PVR the Oilers game. Even with the snowy conditions, that drive is so much easier now that highway 43 is twinned the entire way. It will be great, and much safer, when HWY 63 to Fort McMurray is complete.
I got up this morning to watch the Oilers play the Rangers. I luckily didn’t know the score before watching, so it was like I was seeing it live.
Here are some thoughts on last night’s game, the NHL, the CFL playoffs and some interesting comments on what players think about their head coach.
- Yesterday was the Oilers most complete game of the season. They out shot, out Corsi’d, out Fenwicked, out chanced, out hit and out worked the Rangers.
- They cut down on their giveaways. Jeff Petry was very good again, except for his bad pass through the slot that went to Hayes when the Oilers were leading 2-1 in the third period. Luckily Hayes couldn’t take advantage of the errant pass. Giveaways and turnovers will happen, but once the Oilers realize they don’t need to gift wrap chances to the other team they will win more games.
- Keith Aulie has been very steady in his three games. He has earned the right to stay in the lineup. Until he plays bad, he should keep playing. The time is past to just give guys icetime because the Oilers hope they develop. Marincin, Klefbom and any young forwards need to earn their icetime, not be handed it.
Yakupov continues to play hard and his overall game is improving. He is much more aware away from the puck, especially in his own end, and while many don’t want to hear it, much of that is due to Eakins and him talking about defence last year. The other major difference in his game is that Yak is shooting the puck more this year. He has learned to get himself into more open areas and he is not hesitating.
He hasn’t been rewarded yet, but if he keeps firing he should start seeing a few more pucks go in. I’ve long heard that Ralph Krueger used Yakupov better, but I’ve never believed it. Yes, Yakupov scored more in 2013, but six goals in the final three games really altered his overall performance. Here is a quick look at his EV numbers during his first three years.
Year ES TOI/game shots/60min goals shots SH%
2013 12:04 5.56 10 52 19.2
2014 12:07 7.01 7 87 8.1
2015 12:09 10.90 2 32 6.2
- Yakupov is shooting way more now than he did in 2013, but he just hasn’t found the net yet. The arrows are pointing up on Yakupov and both he and coach deserve some credit.
- Pakarinen is doing what very few other AHL call ups have done over the past few seasons. He is making the most of his opportunities. He is only playing 7:02 a game, but he’s finding ways to contribute. He has a goal and seven shots in three games, which is huge considering how few minutes he is playing.
- Viktor Fasth seems to have found his game after a brutal start. He allowed 11 goals on 79 shots in his first three starts, .860sv%, but in these back-to-back wins over Buffalo and New York he’s stopped 49 of 52, .942sv%.
- The Oilers have allowed only ten goals during their six victories. They have a .941sv%, a 1.66 GAA and are allowing 28.1 shots per game.
- In their eight losses and one SO loss they allowed 40 goals, an average of 30.7 shots/game, a 4.44 GAA and a .855sv%.
- Goaltending isn’t the only reason they are losing games, but when Fasth and Scrivens struggle the Oilers have no chance. They just need their goalie to be steady and they should be close to a .500 team.
- The Oilers are the least penalized team in the league. They’ve been shorthanded 38 times in 15 games. They have the league’s best PP time to PK time ratio at +23:09, but their PP is not contributing at all thus far. It needs to wake up.
- So far the Oilers have the 11th most PP time at 87:36, but they only have six PP goals, which puts them 27th in goals per minute ratio. The Oilers still refuse to shoot the puck on the PP. They sit 22nd in PP shots/60 at 45.6.
A quick comparison from this year to 2013, when the Oilers PP was very effective, and you will notice they didn’t shoot much then either. The Oilers were actually 29th in shots/60 at 41.5, but their team shooting % was 2nd in the league at 16.86. So either they were constantly in better shooting positions, or their players were just finishing more frequently (luck).
Maybe it was a combination of the two, but keep in mind that since 2008 when the stat was available only Philadelphia in 2009 (17.99) and Washington in 2013 (20.5) had a better team SH% on the PP than the Oilers in 2013. I believe the Oilers moved the puck a bit quicker in 2013, but this group of players has consistently refused to shoot the puck on the PP.
Collectively, they all need to start shooting more on the man advantage.
OTHER SPORTING THOUGHTS…
- David Poile looks like a magician right now. He absolutely fleeced George McPhee when he traded him Martin Erat for Filip Forsberg at the 2013 NHL trade dealine. Forsberg, the 11th overall pick in 2012, leads the Predators with 15 points in 14 games. Poile also acquired James Neal, a top-10 goal scorer over the past six seasons, and he leads the Predators with eight goals and he has given the Preds some much needed size and edge in their top-six.
Mark Giordano is having an incredible season. He has 18 points in 16 games which puts him on pace for the best offensive season by a D-man since 1993 when Phil Housley (97 points) and Ray Bourque (91) had more than 90 points.
Even if Giordano slips to a 70-point pace (he’s on pace for 92) he’d still be in very elite company.
During the last 20 seasons the only seven D-men have scored 70+ points:
Brian Leetch three times: 85 points in 1996, 79 in 2001 and 78 in 1997.
Ray Bourque: 82 points in 1996.
Nick Lidstrom four times: 80 points in 2006, 73 in 2000, 71 in 2001 and 70 in 2008.
Erik Karlson twice: 78 points in 2012 and 74 in 2014.
Mike Green twice: 76 points in 2010 and 73 in 2009.
Paul Coffey: 74 points in 1996.
Sergei Zubov: 71 in 2006.
- Flame D-men Giordano and TJ Brodie are on pace for 92 and 72 points respectively. If they maintain those numbers, they will become only the 7th set of teammates to accomplish that.
Bobby Orr (135) and Carl Vadnais (74) did it first in 1975 with the Bruins.
Denis Potvin (98) and Jean Potvin (72) did it in 1976 with the Islanders.
Larry Robinson (85) and Guy Lapointe (76) in 1977 with the Canadiens.
Ian Turnbull (79) and Borje Salmaing (78) also in 1977 with the Maple Leafs.
Sergei Zubov (89) and Brian Leetch (79) in 1994 with the Rangers.
Al MacInnis and Gary Suter did it a whopping three times as teammates with the Flames.
In 1988, Suter had 91 points and MacInnis 83,
In 1990, MacInnis had 90 points and Suter had 76.
In 1991, MacInnis had 103 points and Suter had 70.
- It was interesting listening to Edmonton Eskimos players describe what head coach Chris Jones has instilled in his team to make them more successful this season.
- Is Joe Philbin the worst clock management coach in the NFL? Does he not realize that if his team gets a first down and keeps the ball it limits the Lions’ chances of winning? His decision to go conservative on offence in the final two minutes cost his Dolphins’ games against the Packers and Lions…brutal.
- Jim Nill has done a good job acquiring offensive players in Dallas, but his goaltending and defence are terrible. How bad are they? The Stars are allowing more goals per game, 3.50, than the Oilers’ 3.33.
- The Eskimos are being very quiet about Mike Reilly’s foot injury. No one has confirmed he has a broken foot, but no one has denied it either. I’ve been told that Reilly could still start even if he doesn’t practice all week. The Eskimos can wait until the last moment to decide if he can go. Obviously, if he can’t play on Sunday, 2:30 kickoff, against the Riders that is a huge blow for the Eskimos.
Recently by Jason Gregor:
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- GDB 13.0: Unlucky in Boston
- A large Hall to climb
- Injuries, suspension and waivers: Ference out three games
- Hall out 2-4 weeks
- Ben’s Netminders
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