Lose the Battles but Win the War

I am always amazed how sometimes hockey makes no sense. The Oilers win on Friday night must be driving the Ducks coaches and players over the edge. Other than two areas, the Ducks played a very strong game. Usually against a weaker team two areas don’t make a big difference.

The Ducks powerplay was not good at all. It looks very predictable. Getzlaf is having a great season but there was too much of everyone looking for the captain.

He was setting up all over the ice and I thought his teammates were not really sure where to go to support him, especially during the five-on-four situations. They set up in a two/three. This looks just like it sounds. Three Ducks along the goal line, one of these in front of goalie, and two guys at the top of the circles as shooters. This leaves only the two high guys as shooters. That makes it a lot easier for the Oilers’ penalty killers. The only have to worry about getting into two shooing lanes.

For a team that is near the top of the standings their specialty teams are weak. I think their pp misses Souray’s big point shot. Just like the Oilers this weakness really limits their options and their ability to make low plays.

With their personnel I don’t understand the weak penalty kill. They have veteran defencemen who have been great killers. Their forwards are fast and very responsible defensively at full strength. It should translate to the shorthanded situations but has not. You can have playoff success without a great PP, but I think a good PK is needed. They will need to straighten it out quickly.

The second area the Ducks struggled in was defending the Oilers transition on the rush. The Oilers scored all four of their goals off of the rush. Actually that is pretty amazing when you think about it. You don’t see four rush goals a game in the NHL.

Hiller didn’t play his best game and I think he could have had one maybe two of those rush goals. To the Oilers credit attacking off the rush is an area of strength. I know opposing teams talk about stopping this when playing Edmonton. The Ducks missed their assignments.

30-Scrivens-9

The Oilers were outshot fifty-one to twenty-three! Scrivens had to be great to keep them in the game. Ben got some help from his buddies the posts and slow tricklers that didn’t get over the line.

The Ducks had extended periods of offensive zone time. Cycling the puck is a strength for them. The Oilers could not break it up. When the Oilers’ D got the puck and passed it to their wingers the Ducks’ D were very good on the pinch. They overpowered the wingers and the puck was kept in the Oilers zone.

The Oilers did have success off the rush but very little in the way of offensive zone time. It was usually a quick visit to the Ducks end with little sustained pressure.

The top duo of the Ducks of Getzlaf and Perry were dominant against the Oilers. They had a four-on-four shift that was incredible. They kept the puck in the Oilers zone for over a minute with some scoring chances. Their size, skating ability and passing were more than the Edmonton defence could handle.

84-Klefbom-3

Now to be fair they are a handful for most NHL D-men — trust me! They are a unique duo to play against. But if the Oilers want to compete in the Pacific Division they will need to find a way to handle them. They will need a pair of D that have the unique blend of size, ability and nasty. That might include Darnell Nurse at some point, or maybe Aaron Ekblad or Oscar Klefbom. These three will take time to get to that level so we are back to where all conversations end. The D needs an upgrade.

I watched the game again this morning. The Oilers did not win many battle but ultimately they won the war. This is not a recipe for long term success. A team can’t ask the goalie to be superman every night.

Strudwick D man camp for Kids

This May long weekend, May 17th and 18th, I am running another D man camp at Callingwood Arena. From Atom up to Midget we will work on specific areas of need for those ages.

Last year’s camps were a lot of fun and the players learned a lot. My approach is to break down the position to small parts that can be worked on. My goal is for each player to get a better idea of how to work on some of their areas of weakness.

Check out jasonstrudwick.com for more information and to sign up. See you in May!

  • D-Unit

    If we started the year with the current lineup how much better would our record have been? Klefbom and Marincin in my mind are an upgrade over Potter and Schultz the elder even if they lack the experience and still make costly mistakes but so did the previously mentioned veterans.

  • D-Unit

    Just back from the kootenay ice game where they knocked off the calgary hitman in 6 games, Reinhart got at least three points possibly four and has 17 points in 6 games. Made some real bad giveaways that put Calgary into the game. Thanks to his linemate #14 Descheneau though they salvaged the win. In fact in my opinion Descheneau, who got the hat trick, was the catalyst on the line and only has one point less than Reinhart in the series. Too bad he is another small Eberle type.

  • Bryzarro World

    Can’t wait till my kids hit Atom! One is moving on to Novice and one into Tom Thumb next year.

    Hope you have a lot of patience and a loud whistle 2 years from now Coach Struddy, you’ll need it!

  • dougtheslug

    I think I’ve been too hard on Dallas Eakins.

    I’ve been harsh in my criticism of the Swarm, the 1-3-1 PP, the line blender at the first sign of adversity.

    But I’ve got to admit, the 50 Defence is an innovation that shows signs of genius.

    In the games this season when the Oiler Defence has yielded 50 or more shots, they are clipping along at a .667 win percentage. Extrapolate that over a season, and they would finish with 109 points.

    Credit where credit is due. Mr. Eakins, I tip my hat.

      • The Soup Fascist

        Well why not in the play-off’s, after all they were in 29th place last year.

        Rarely if ever does the media in Edmonton like or want to make the comparison to Colorado, for fear in might hurt MacT’s and Lowes feelings.

        For another thing, Colorado does not have an idiot coach, and he never even worked in the AHL.Neither did Cooper in Tampa.

        Colorado did not hide behind some 7 year rebuild plan. They went out got things done to win,and screw their fans.

      • dougtheslug

        Come on, man, a rebuild is like a fine wine. It takes years in the cellar to mature. Don’t you trust Kevin?

        That one year stuff in Colorado is cheap plonk. Kevin is like a master winemaker. Patience. Wait a year or three. Or five. Or ’til I die of old age. Or liver failure. Whichever comes first.

  • Lofty

    Good to see coaching wasn’t one of the areas cited as being weaker for the Ducks. I don’t think Ference is going anywhere as captain but if I had my pick, the team captain would be Ben Scrivens. Not going to happen but I think he has all of the tools to be that guy. He’s got the respect of the fanbase and his teammates.

    • Jason Strudwick

      Making a goalie Captain would be a huge mistake. I have been on teams where the goalie is a leader without a letter. He is a part of making decisions of the leadership group but to give him a letter? I would want no part of that.

      • tboneWazoo

        I wholeheartedly disagree. In your infinite wisdom Jason, why would making a goalie captain be such a schmoz? Is the goalie not an integral part of the team? I think a goalie could and should be a major part of the leadership on the team. You have said it yourself – they can be a difference maker on the ice…why should they not be a part of leadership too? Are you prejudiced against goalies for some strange reason?

  • Lofty

    I don’t think we’ll see a radical change in the Oilers top6 this off season. The defense is priority one.

    Asking Hall,RNH and Eberle to compete against the likes of Getzlaf,Perry,Thornton and Marleau is ludicrous.

    They line of Marleau,JT and little Joe have what in terms of combined experience in the NHL.30 years? Hall Ebs and RNH have what 11? Not even close.

    Size matters of course. But what matters more is experience. JT at 21 is not even half the player he is today. Messier was so raw at 21 he was only beginning to scratch the surface of his ability.

    Sid Crosby is today a better all round player and leader than he was when he entered the league.

    Joffry Lupul. How long did it take him to reach the level he is at now?

    You can trade for a couple of behemoths to play in the top 6 all you like but if they do not have experience it won’t matter a lick.

    Its going to be 3 years before this team is ready to compete night in and night out.

  • The Last Big Bear

    I am posting this everywhere, looking for feedback, what do you think?

    If I were MacT these are my moves:

    At the draft trade Ebs + Schultz for Coburn + Courturier + 2nd (2014)
    Trade Gags + 2015 1st to Columbus for Dubinsky + 2nd (2014)
    Sign Moulson (7milx3yrs) – is it enough?
    Sign Winnick
    Sign Hainsey
    Sign Gilbert
    Sign Frolin (NCAA Free Agent R-Dman, same alma mater as MacT, Swedish connection with Klef and Lander, who are well-known in Sweden as leaders, is this enough to lure him?)
    Re-sign Smyth (1 yr – 1.5mil)
    Re-sign Belov
    Re-sign Petry
    Send Jonessu to AHL
    Re-sign Arcobello to a 2-way deal
    Draft Eckblad (likely not there when Oil Draft 3rd, but he would be my target)

    1. Hall-RNH-Moulson
    2. Perron- Dubinsky – Yakupov
    3. Winnick-Courturier-Pitlick
    4. Smyth-Gordon-Hendricks – this line has impressed in the few shifts they’ve played together. Used as tough-minutes line, conserved during season and elevated as 3rd line as game dictates. Would be valuable in play-offs.
    Lander (Can play all positions)

    1. Coburn-Gilbert
    2. Marincin – Petry
    3. Hainsey – Ferrence (neither would be everyday players/interchange with 4)
    4. Belov – Frolin
    Klefbom 1st call-up

    Cap Hit

    • D-Unit

      If only a GM could do whatever he wanted, without having to consider what other teams may want or need in trades, and every free agent would just sign with a bottom feeder team, no questions asked, for below market value, as it seems the Salary Cap doesn’t exist in your world. Maybe in your fantasy world, MacT or Lowe or Katz has convinced the entire NHL and NHLPA that the cap shouldn’t apply to the Oilers, because the have been terrible for so long.

      Also, exactly how do you think it is going to work out having a 3.25 million dollar cap hit Dman not be an everyday player, when he has 3 years left on a deal and a no trade.

      • Bryzarro World

        Cap hit is just under $68 million.

        With this team it is what it is, the core needs to be surrounded by vets who play the right way. In order for them to come to Edmonton you will have to overpay. That is my point.

        You hang to Ferrence for another year and then buy him out in the 3rd. The idea is to supplement the youth with vets allowing a cultural change, a grittier line-up and the prospects to develop, so when they are ready, the team can sustain the momentum.

        The reality is this is what it will take to get this team out of the basement.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    That footrace between Hall and Cogs is still blowing my mind. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two guys haul that much ass.

    I want to see Hall and Yak race like that, Yak is straight up explosive when he’s hustling.

      • The Soup Fascist

        To be fair I am not sure how many fans would have been on the Cogs will be better player than Gagner bandwagon at the time.

        I realize that the “brain trust” gets paid to make the right call and the fans don’t. I just think there would have been a revolt had Gagner been shipped to Anaheim for peanuts at the time.

        The brain trust, has a lot to answer for but not many of us can say “told you so” in this example. Hindsight is truly 20 / 20 plus a Cogliano is not what the Oilers need right now.

  • Jason Strudwick

    There isnt another team in the NHL [ I am including Buffalo and Islanders ] at getting the puck out of their own end. This is not new.. this has been in the picture for years now. How is that possible,, worse than Buffalo and Islanders.???

    These guys all can skate , pass the puck…etc.

    Oh ya, you have to have the puck first before you can shoot it out. Mind you when they do have it they are not capable of NHL stick to stick passes.

    Too much time in their own end, results in getting out shot. Poor Scrivens.

  • Jason Strudwick

    If the Dallas Stars make the playoffs, Taylor Hall will be the highest scoring Canadian not in the playoffs.

    He will be a lock on team Canada for the world championship Canadian team. It will give us a good look at him regarding leadership skills, clutch player, etc.

    Next year he should be captain of the Oilers, their most game changing player and getting better every game

    • Rick Stroppel

      TAYLOR HALL AS CAPTAIN?

      I cannot get over what happened a week ago. Hall threw a water bottle which drenched his coach. Rather than turn around and say “sh!t Coach, I am SO sorry”, he looked straight ahead and and smirked (and maybe said something). Eakins threw a towel at him. They both said it was nothing…them spent 18 minutes talking about it at practice the next day.

      More importantly, they lost the game 8-1, Hall was minus 3, and he said that he wasn’t embarrassed and the team wasn’t embarrassed. A real leader doesn’t play like that or talk like that.

      Right now, the real leaders on the Oilers are Ference, Perron, Hendricks and Scrivens. Hall isn’t even in the top five on the team for leadership

      • tboneWazoo

        Hendricks for captain…he has more OVERALL compete in his game than most players on the team. If Hall had an ounce of the grit Hendricks has, there wouldn’t even be a conversation right now. Hall still has a ways to go. Give him a few more years to become truly seasoned and not afraid of what will happen if he chooses to mix it up. PLUS – Hendricks hasn’t been tainted by the Oiler’s system … YET!

  • orangepylon

    “I watched the game again this morning. The Oilers did not when many battle but ultimately they won the war. This is not a recipe for long term success. A team can ask the goalie to be superman every night. ”

    Struds! Don’t mean to bust your balls, but that was hilarious.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    Who would you look at signing this off season or trading for to fill out the Oilers 3rd/4th line. Also of the FA defencmen on the market this off season who do you think would be the best fit for this team.

    The Oilers have several solid pieces up front. They need a more balanced dcorp going into next year.Belov is a 7 guy.

    • Jason Strudwick

      I am not worried about the 3rd and 4th line. I am concerned about players able to battle against the getzlafs of the world in the top two lines. As it is set up right now the top 6 of the Oil would be in trouble in a 7 game series against the top teams of the west.

      • The Last Big Bear

        There is not enough sarcasm is the world to properly reply to this post.

        The Oilers top-6 would be in trouble in a 7 game series against the kids from Southpark, never mind St Louis, or Chicago, or the California teams.

        Heck, lets look at supposedly the worst Top-6 in the west in Calgary:

        1LW: Hall and Cammalleri are the trigger men. Offensive juggernaut Hall has 25 goals in 67 games, while has-been Cammalleri has 24 in 57 games. And since we’re talking about a playoff series, Cammalleri has 32 points in 32 games, vs Hall’s “He’d probably try a bit harder in the playoffs” record.

        2LW: Glencross or Perron? Flip a coin.

        1C: Monahan has more goals than RNH, and IMO is better defensively. RNH is more proven, but I couldn’t honestly say he’s been significantly better this year.

        2C: Mikael Backlund has continued to slowly improve, and has progressed to the point where he is better than Gagner in pretty much every aspect of the game.

        On a healthy roster the 2RW spot belongs to David Jones. Davey Jones has the same career goals-per-game as Yakupov, is twice the size of Yakupov, and is a plus player. It might be over stating the case a little to say Jones is better than Yakupov, but I’d take Jones for a playoff series 10 times out of 10.

        Jiri Hudler vs Eberle: very different players, and difficult to compare head-to-head. I honestly don’t evn know who I would say is better. Ebs may or may not be better, but Hudler has actually won the actual Stanley Cup as a top-6 winger.

        For my money, the Oilers top-6 would have trouble in a 7 game series against what is supposedly the WORST top-6 in the west.

        The Emperor of Something Special has no bloody clothes on.

      • Cold Hard Truth

        Struds, not sure why you continue to bang this drum along with Jason Negative. 3rd lines traditionally check top lines. Oilers only have 2 NHL bottom 6 players. Need to improve there before giving up on talented kids that are 6′ 200lbs. You never slam Chicago for the same “mix”.

        • Jason Strudwick

          I know that getting heavier players in the top 6 is needed. They are a skilled group but so are the top 6 on the other pacific division teams. But those players are bigger. In a long playoffs series I think they would get worn down.

          Yes Chicago isn’t huge but there is a difference.

          Kane is incredible offensive talent, one of the best in the NHL.

          Toews is one of the top centres in the NHL

          Hossa is a big beast.

          Sharp is a bigger guy at just over 6’1

  • tboneWazoo

    Hey Struds…is it just me, or do your post never really reveal anything interesting. Yeah we all know the ducks played hard and outshot the Oil – yada, yada, yada. Step up your game bro! You gotta’ bring it to be a journalist man…so BRING IT! By the way, love your hair…