If Only There Was Some Way To Know

MacTavish

If only there was some way to know that putting Ference and Schultz out for OT was a bad decision.

I have been especially hard on the Oilers lately for not learning lessons that keep getting repeated. Turnover after turnover, lazy backcheck after lazy backcheck, drop passes all day every day. The coach has to be hammering these points home every single practice but last night the Oilers lost because Dallas Eakins refused to learn from his mistakes. That wasn’t on the players.

Make no mistake, Justin Schultz’ complete disregard for his team, the situation, and the position he plays is the reason the Oilers lost, but the loss is on Eakins because he should have known that putting Ference and Schultz on the ice together was a horrible, horrible idea. He is the one who put the players on the ice and there was no reason whatsoever that those two should have been playing at the same time.

WATCH THE GAME, NERD

I’m not even going to get into the facts just yet. If you had paid attention at all watching that game you could have seen Ference and Schultz were over-matched physically all night. The Jets were dropping the boom every chance they could. In fact, at one point Jultz was out of the game after he was dropped (on a play that should have been interference). When he was playing he avoided contact at all costs, as is his style, and poor Ference couldn’t handle the Jets all night by himself either. 

The tying goal by Byfuglien was scored because it was physically impossible for Ference to handle big buff in front of the net. The little guy tried his heart out but that’s roughly 260 lbs of mean determination being handled by a guy who’s listed at 184. Even for a veteran who knows how to handle himself and use all his tools to their fullest that’s a tall order. 

So Eakins paired Ference with a player who refuses to play a hard game at the beginning of OT and yet again the club takes it on the chin. But am I being too hard on Justin Schultz? I’ve been accused of just that this year. 

Nope. It isn’t just me.

You don’t need to an excel spreadsheet to see that Schultz was terrible last night, especially when paired with Ference.

MAYBE YOU’RE JUST SEEING WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE

Maybe it was all in my head that the Jets really enjoyed playing against Justin Schultz last night. Sometimes you see things one way and the facts just don’t match.

However that just wasn’t the case last night.

From the opening faceoff (where starting lineup was Gazdic, Arco, Pinizzotto, Ference, and Schultz) the Jultz/Ference duo were atrocious. They started poorly and ended poorly. After the 1st Period HockeyStats.ca had Schultz and Ference at 20% and 21% respectively in Corsi For. That is to say that roughly 80% of the time when they were on the ice the puck was in Edmonton’s zone. That number is so bad that just that 1 period alone should have killed the experiment. 

But it continued.

After the 2nd period Schultz and Ference were even worse. The pairing had sunk down to a 15% CF after 40 minutes. This is “Kill it with fire!” bad, if you aren’t sure what the numbers translate to in English. They could not get the puck out or stop a single Jet all night. Schultz took the hit and for a while Eakins used Ference with other players because Nikitin had also gone down with a back injury. It was as if the Hockey Gods were willing the Oilers to play their defensemen with some kind of common sense.

Alas, it was not to be.

Schultz returned and Eakins put the pair back together whenever possible. Schultz finished the night at 22% and Ference at 33%, obviously boosted after his time away from Jultz. 

When Overtime reared its head the Coach made the decision that sealed the fate for the team. He was starting OT with Justin Schultz and Ference on the back end.

17 seconds was all it took. Schultz and Evander Kane arrived at the puck at the same time but possession for Winnipeg was never in doubt. Kane never even felt Schultz’ presence. Jultz made an empty gesture towards Kane. He pushed with his arms extended but on video it looks like Justin was doing his best to stay far away as he waved at Evander.

That left Ference in front of the net to clear the Jets forward. A task he had been unable to accomplish all night.

Shot from the point.

Game over.

LEARNING FROM MISTAKES

duncecap

The players aren’t the only ones who need to learn from their mistakes. It was clear what Justin Schultz was going to do before he did and the coach went ahead and put him out there when the game was on the line anyway. There are only so many times you should be allowed to make that mistake before you’re forced to sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done. 

Justin Schultz and Andrew Ference bring out the worst in each other. They have for 2 years. It’s even more pronounced this year and in that last game it was evident that icing them together was a mistake. Schultz in particular was terrible all night. He was exposed by the Jets with the physical brand of hockey they played and Dallas Eakins gift wrapped that game by throwing him over the boards again.

If a player is having a bad game the coach has to recognize that. That’s his job. Eakins couldn’t see what was right in front of his face and this losing streak has hit 11.

Justin Schultz made the soft play that lead to the loss, Dallas Eakins bears responsibility.

  • Positive Ray of Sunshine

    I wonder if Eakins and MacTavish have ever had a conversation that began with Eakins complaining about how bad Jultz is playing, and ended with a story about Paul Coffey and Glen Sather. If they have, then I think we would be getting to the root of the problems and MacT/Klowe need to go.

    Hall is not Messier,
    Eberle is not Kurri,
    RNH is not Gretzky (Nobody is or ever will be, it’s not fair to Nuge, deal with it),
    Yak is not Anderson
    and Jultz is most f**king certainly not Paul Coffey.

    Coffey was the best skater in the game (in the top 3 at least), he had competent D men like Huddy and Greg to cover for him, and most importantly, he was willing to battle for the puck.

  • Darth Oiler

    That is the best ever first sentence to a blog and sums up just how bad Eakins is. I know others have said it, but honestly, I think the average hockey fan could coach this team better. He really can’t be THAT inept can he?

  • 24% body fat

    I floated this idea in the summer and it got panned. After this year’s gong show I will try again.

    The Oilers should play a trap similar, but not as severe, to what Tampa did a few years ago.

    Think about it. They are told to dump it in and then go retrieve it. Guess what? This doesn’t work when you are giving up 20 or more pounds on the guys you are battling with.

    It works for the 4th line as they have the requisite speed and size to pull it off. It occasionally works well for the top line. Great. They now have the puck and cycle it for a bit with no one in front of the net, eventually losing possession (this is why their possession numbers are up this year).

    If you trap effectively you create several neutral zone turnovers and this is where the Oilers’ skill set should kick in with odd man rushes.

    Is it boring? Maybe. But if not losing 11 straight games is the alternative, I’ll take my chances.

    And to all those that are going to trash this post, think back to the Detroit series when the Oilers last went the the Cup final. They trapped like crazy. It works.

    Management needs to get over “Oiler hockey”. It. Simply. Doesn’t. Work.

  • Andy7190

    Oilers defense is terrible. Their team defense is terrible and their actual d-men are terrible. If a team has such poor quality defensemen then the “team D” must be executed to perfection and for years now the Oilers have looked like pee wees in their own zone. This should not be tolerated but it is.

    Mac T has made some good moves and some relaly bad moves. Remember Dennis Grebeshkov ?

    I think its fair to say Nikitin is a failure. I would actually much rather have Belov back for 1/4 the price.

    Petry was bad last year, too soft. But has played much better as of late but when you talk about soft d-men, Petry, Nikitin, and Jultz are all very soft players physically. Ference plays hard but is undersized and intimidates no one. Marincin? Klefbom? Fayne? None overly hard to play against.

    The last d-men the Oilers had who were really tough to play against were Jason Smith and Chris Pronger. The same time they went to the cup finals, weird.

  • Andy7190

    It’s been bad match ups all year, that falls in Eakins.
    I also never liked the rocky Thompson hiring, if he is that voice in Eakins ear then that would have been a job worth interviewing for as well…

      • Andy7190

        Well, I guess that just goes to show statistics are for losers. (kidding)

        Honestly, I think advanced stats have their uses, but clearly they only paint a very small part of the picture.

        The Flames were winning games earlier in the year without leading. Now they are getting more leads as they become more confident.

        The Oilers led most of last night, but when the Jets decided to win, the Oilers had no answer.

        I just found the contrast in what advanced stats say about the Flames and the Oilers, given their relative spots in the standings, patently absurd.

        Obviously, those dratted immeasurable intangibles still count for something.

  • Visually McDavid

    It’s ironic that a management team and coach, seemingly incapable of learning lessons, love teaching them so much. Maybe Yak and Marincin can find some kind of moral in that?

  • Coppperhead

    I’m all for advanced stats and think it’s a great tool to analyze players and teams. That said I think some people are leaning on it too hard.

    Yes it is true that Corsi correlates to winning. However that correlation is found over a very large sample of games. And like any statistical analysis there are outliers.

    It is pretty clear to me that the Oilers are an outlier and I don’t see that changing. Corsi doesn’t account for the Oilers lack of net presence (just look at Winnipeg’s GTG and GWG for the impact that has) and doesn’t account for the number of Grade A mistakes they make. So for those of you suggesting that the Corsi bodes well for the Oilers long term it flat out doesn’t if they continue to play their way.

    • Justincredible

      I dont think that is what people are saying (at least not me). I am saying that they have had bad results for years. And for all those years the bad results agreed with their poor possession numbers. They were not outliers in the past. They were as bad as expected.

      This year for the first time they have decent possession numbers but aren’t seeing the results in the standings. Based on historical data in the NHL, the oilers, if their possession numbers remain around 50%, will start winning more games.

      That all said I am not pretending like any of this is more important that plain old wins and loses, just that it is an improvement over the last 5 years.

  • How else are the Oil supposed to lock up 30th? Eakins had no choice. This is draft city, and we aren’t about to let Eakins put Petry or Klefbom or Fsyne out there when McDavid/Eichel are on the line. Come on. Seems obvious.

  • Justincredible

    It’s quite clear to me ( with personnel and coaching decisions ) the Edmonton Oilers are loosing on purpose in an effort to land McDavid. I can’t see any other logical explanation for the decisions being made. If that is indeed the case just admit it publicly, so I can at least enjoy the losses.

  • ….Thank you MacT for appearing to face the music, you deserve some credit.
    I agree there is no way to keep this ship afloat this season.
    As a deprived Oiler fan I can see what is plaguing the team. Continual mistakes, giveaways from Schultz.
    It seems obvious that the team is too small and lack hockey sense to compete with LA’s, Anaheim, Jets and the rest of NHL.
    Taylor our best player has the heart of a lion no question, but is still developing hockey sense, MacT has made more bad moves than good. The good=Gordon, Hendrix, Gazdic, Fane. Bad=Schultz, Nikitin, Grebeskov, Belov (liked him), Scrivens, Fasth, Purcell, Gagner, and list goes on…..

  • Joe Mamma

    ……MacT has clearly demonstrated he is not capable of managing, two summers to acquire players which would have made a difference, all other teams have been successful, MacT’s assessment of players is flawed and this is demonstrated in his insistence of thinking Schultz is Norris material when any fan can see that this guys play has cost the team time after time, doesn’t display any effort, can’t read plays, a giveaway machine, teams are looking forward to play against Justin because its the path of least resistance, yet he plays big minutes with no consequences, I think Dallas has been told to keep playing Schultz disregarding his performance, why else would Eakins keep playing him. I couldn’t believe the amount of screw ups he made during the game and he was out for the next shift, would this happen on any other team?
    I respect and long for the Oil of old, but that is history.
    Its time to amend and admit mistakes, how much more losing have we to witness.
    Lets concentrate on getting a bonafide goal tender as the #1 priority and then go from there.
    Oilers just waste away seasons hoping some one is going to develop and they don’t, we have seen this season after season. Why have other clubs been successful and not us in the players they have acquired, eg. Flames, Islanders, Vancouver, nearly every team is better than us at everything.

  • …..MacT you say that you understand the fan base frustration and need time to evaluate the problems. Well MacT, I don’t think you do understand our frustration, we need time to evaluate? are you f..ing joking? whats there to evaluate? we don’t have a team, we have individuals playing with no direction. ask any fan and they will help you out. When asked a relevant question from Specs you articulately misdirected the answer to be about your recent tenure with the Oil and how it was inappropriate of Specs to lump him in with the rest of the management, yet you have been a coach here, and had a losing record. I fail to see any competence in the management including the owner.
    So basically get use to it fans because nothing is going to change. We have been use to it for nine years and the same message, we need time to evaluate. What a redundant sentence.