GDB 69.0: ELPH

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Last night was a classic edition of ELPH. Oilers were down 4-0 in the first 21 minutes of the game. Some of you might have stopped watching, but for those who stuck around they witnessed the Oilers storm back to tie the game with ten minutes remaining in the third period.

Penguins dominated for the first 20, then the Oilers took over scoring four goals in the next 30 minutes, before the Penguins tallied twice in the final 5:22 to win 6-4.

It was Exciting Last Place Hockey at its best.

You can’t ask your team to lose. Todd Nelson is coaching for an NHL job, some players are playing for contracts and those who aren’t owe it their teammates who are to play hard. At this point, I think most of us are just hoping for an entertaining game.

I will never complain that I have to watch the games. I’ve had “real” jobs that were much more tedious or more physically demanding, but I will admit that I watch the games for different reasons now than I did at the start of the season.

I focus on specific players more, especially at home games when you can watch their entire shift. I’m watching for little things.

Is Martin Marincin more engaged in his own zone and in the tough areas? He has been.

What is Nail Yakupov doing away from the puck? His work ethic is never an issue, but is he going to the right areas? I’ve seen an improvement, but like many young, skilled guys he is on the wrong side of the puck too often. He’s trying though.

Anton Lander leadership qualities are becoming more apparent. He battles in the tough areas of the ice, and he’s showing he can be a complementary offensive player. If he can gain a bit more speed this off season he’ll be more effective next year.

Derek Roy is very good offensively, but his defensive play on Steve Downie’s winning goal illustrate his defensive shortcomings. He has to make life harder for Downie at that time in the game.

Tonight, I’ll be watching to see how the team reacts. They are 1-5-2 in the second game of back-to-backs, and Columbus is a hard working, grinding team. This will be a tough game, and while I don’t expect the Oilers to win, they have to show a desire to compete. Winning is the obvious goal, but this group needs to find a more consistent work ethic.

LINEUP…

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The Oilers didn’t skate this morning, but Luke Gazdic will draw in for Hamiton or Fraser.

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Nikita Nikitin will be a game time decision. Nelson hinted he might be ready, but they won’t rush him back.

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Scrivens will start after playing only 21 minutes last night.

QUICK HITS…

  • What an incredible race for the Presidents trophy. Six teams are tied with 91 points. This is the closest race at the top we’ve ever seen with a 30-team league this late in the season.

    Here are the standings on March 13th over the past 14 years. Cup winner in bold.

    2001: Colorado 105, Detroit 95, St.Louis 91 New Jersey and Ottawa 89.
    2002: Detroit 102, Philly and Colorado 84, Boston 82 and San Jose & Toronto 80.
    2003: Ottawa 98, Dallas 95, Vancouver 93, Detroit 92 and New Jersey & Colorado 89.
    2004: Tampa 95, Detroit 94, Philly 93 and Boston & Colorado 91.
    2005: NHL and NHLPA break the hearts of their fans.
    2006: Detroit 93, Carolina 92, Ottawa 91 and Buffalo & Dallas 89.
    2007: Nashville 98, Detroit 97, Anaheim 95, Buffalo 94 and New Jersey 92.
    2008: Detroit 100, San Jose 90, Dallas 89, New Jersey 88 and Pitt, Mont & Ottawa 87.
    2009: Detroit & Boston 97, San Jose 96, New Jersey 91 and Washington 90.
    *Pittsburgh was in 11th with 79 points. Finished season with 8th most points.
    2010: Washington 99, San Jose 96, Chicago 93 and Vancouver & Phoenix 87.
    2011: Vancouver 99, Philly 91, Detroit & Washington 90 and Pittsburgh 89.
    *Boston was in 7th with 85 points. Finished season tied for 7th most points.
    2012: St.Louis 98, NYR 95, Vancouver 92, Detroit 91 and Pittsburgh and Nashville 89.
    *Los Angeles was tied for 16th with 78 points. Finished season with 13th most points.
    2013: Used April 10th (82.5% of GP) Chicago 64, Pitt 60, Anaheim 59, Boston 56 & MTL 55.
    2014: St.Louis 97, Boston, San Jose & Anaheim 93 and Pittsburgh 92.
    *Los Angeles was tied for 8th with 82 points. Finished season with 9th most points.

    Today the NHL has played 82.4% of the total games and the Rangers, Blues, Canadiens, Lightning, Predators and Ducks all have 91 points. The Islanders have 90 and Pittsburgh has 88.

    Only twice, since the NHL expanded to 30 teams, has a team outside of the top-eight in the standings this late in the season went on to win the Cup. Pittsburgh in 2009 (and they finished the season with 8th most points) and LA in 2012. It is something to consider when you are making your Stanley Cup picks at the start of the playoffs.

  • For Oilers fans here is where Edmonton was positioned on March 13th. Playoff years in bold.

    2001: 81 points, 11th place. Finished 12th.
    2002: 70 points, tied for 16th place. Finished 15th in points, but 9th in west.
    2003: 76 points, 14th place. Finished 14th.
    2004: 72 points, 18th place. Finished 17th and 9th in west.
    2006: 76 points, tied for 12th place. Finished in 14th.
    2007: 66 points, 24th place. Finished 25th.
    2008: 73 points, 25th place. Finished 19th.
    2009: 72 points, 17th place. Finished 21st.
    2010: 49 points, 30th place. Finished 30th.
    2011: 55 points, 30th place. Finished 30th.
    2012: 59 points, 29th place. Finished 29th.
    2013: *April 10th (82.5%) 22nd place 39 points. Finished in 24th.
    2014: 54 points, 29th place. Finished in 29th.
    2015: 47 points, 29th place.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Todd Cordell at HockeyBuzz

1) Ryan Murray is set to return to the lineup in tonight’s game. The Blue Jackets obviously aren’t making the playoffs, so the development of their young players is the most important thing as we finish this season. Murray is at the forefront of that, so hopefully he can settle in, stay healthy, and finish off strong. Injuries have undoubtedly slowed down his development.

2) After recording just one point in 10 games, Cam Atkinson has found his way onto the score sheet picking up a point in consecutive games. He generally gets a lot of shots/chances so when they start to go the points really start to come in bunches.

3) Neither team is very good at even-strength, but the Blue Jackets have a decisive advantage in terms of special teams. If they can stay out of the box themselves they should have a good chance at winning this game, especially if Edmonton gets in any penalty trouble.

4) Columbus likes to play a power game, get pucks behind the net and work the defense. They should be able to do that tonight, as Edmonton’s defense isn’t overly good, and can be prone to turnovers in the defensive zone. Strong forecheck pressure should make that even more noticeable.

5) Marko Dano: 17 shots on goal and two points in his last five. As he gets more comfortable the points should continue to pile up.

TONIGHT…

Tinder

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers are 30-11-8 all-time vs. the Blue Jackets, but they are only 11-7-7 on the road. Both teams played last night, and they go to a SO, with CBJ winning 3-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Eberle continues his hot streak. He has 11-19-30 in his last 31 games. He scores his 18th goal of the season.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nikitin returns to the Oilers lineup and Ryan Murray returns (only 8th game this year) for the Blue Jackets. Murray ends up -1 with a 42% Corsi, while Nikitin is even and 48%. MacTavish is visually and statistically impressed.

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  • kab

    Remember when Yakupov was supposedly a bust and said we shouldn’t have drafted him 1st overall? That we should have drafted Murray or Galchenyuk? Galchenyuk who had played all of 2 games in his draft year and before he got hurt was usually put in the 5th spot of the draft. Murray who has gotten hurt every year of the 3 years and has only played 72 nhl games TOTAL. Who was the next player drafted? Reinhart from yours truly oil kings who has played a whole 8 games in the nhl. Two other guys who were in consideration of top 3 in the draft ended up falling to the 11th and 12th pick in Forsberg and Grigorenko. THEY WERE CONSIDERED TOP 3. Forsberg is just starting to make a name for himself now in his first full season. Grigorenko has 10 points in 56 nhl games. Yakupov was the right choice. It was a weak draft year. No one in their right mind would have taken a kid who had missed his entire draft year and had been projected 5th overall before that season with the very first pick. As for Forsberg 10 other teams decided to pass on him before he got taken. Yakupov was the right choice at the time and I believe will prove to be the right choice in the future. Sorry for the rants boys…

    • Simmerdown

      I think many on this site were wanting the Oilers to trade down at that time rather than take a 1 dimensional forward with no defensive awareness. If you look at the list of defenders taken in the top 20, I don’t think it can be called a weak draft.

    • Jason Gregor

      Montreal drafted Galchenyuk two spots later, so they were wrong in the mind?

      Oilers scouts didn’t want to take Yakupov, they were overruled by an owner.

      Montreal did their due diligence with the injury research on Galchenyuk and it paid off for them.

      I’m curious why you believe Yakupov will be the right choice in the future? What aspects of his game make you so excited. Just curious.

      • cmandev77

        Put Yakupov on a better team with the players that Galchenyuk is surrounded with and you see a totally different player stats wise.

        Yakupov was and still is the most skilled player from that draft. I agree the draft was a weak draft but I believe Edmonton made the right decision. (There is a first for everything.)

        Yakupov brings excitement and a truly loves playing the game. I love his excitement when he plays and he is always trying to do more and more. He is not afraid to hit, and loves to shoot the puck.

        All he needs and needed before was an older player to help him out. When he is the longest tenured player on a line, how the hell do you expect him to produce. The kid is still learning.

        Not saying anything is wrong with Galchenyuk but Yakupov would of been my pick that year and still is the best pick right now.

        • Jason Gregor

          Yak’s forward teammates he played most with in Edmonton last year:

          Gagner, RNH, Perron and Eberle.

          They played 305 games and had 85 goals and 215 points.

          Yak had 11 goals and 24 points.

          Galchenyuk played most with: Lars Eller, Gallagher, Plekanec and Gionta.

          They played 320 games and had 69 goals and 150 points.

          Galchenyuk had 13 goals and 31 points.

          Galchenyuk produced more points than Yakupov despite the forwards he played with producing fewer goals.

          I don’t see anything from Yakupov’s game that suggests he’d score more there. I’d argue the four Oilers Yak played with are more skilled than the four Galchenyuk played with.

          • O.C.

            Seems we are forgetting which defencemen these groups of forwards play with.

            Or even the goaltending to give the skaters the confidence.

            Unless you put Yak in Quebec and Galchenyuk in Alberta, no one knows for sure.

          • ubermiguel

            Gregor knows, he always knows.

            That is why he uses irrelevant comparisons to show you how much he knows and why you should agree with.

            I would also question the accuracy of those stats he is using. I highly doubt them to be correct yet alone relevant.

      • camdog

        Not me you’re responding too but I’d like to give my opinion. Maybe the scouting staff wanted to take Murray instead, but that doesn’t seem like he would’ve been an upgrade to yakupov.

        The aspects of yaks game that I like is obviously his shot, but he needs to work on his accuracy. His physical edge makes me think he’d be a gamer in the playoffs and big games(not that the oilers would care about that) and I’m a fan of his work ethic. The kid is always going hard, which is somthing the oilers don’t have alot of.

        He’s got alot to work on, but he’s getting there. Nelson is starting to use him for his strengths instead of the constant complaining about his weak points. He’s never had good players to play with, I’m not about to write him off. Although I would like to see him traded to my new team calgary. They’d be able to use a 1 shot scorer properly.

        • Alsker

          I have yet to see Yak go hard heading back to the defensive end. He provides no back pressure and coasts to the bench on a change. If there is an opportunity to get a scoring chance, he works very hard but I haven’t seen much else.

        • Jason Gregor

          “”He’s never had good players to play with, I’m not about to write him off.””

          Players he played most with last year, Gagner, RNH, Perron and Eberle. Nothing about Yakupov and that comment is accurate. Sorry.

          • ubermiguel

            yak plays his off wing when hes with eberle. I wouldnt say gagner is better than gionta or gallagher.

            gionta and plekanec are seasoned vets to learn from and develop quicker. you’ve said yourself kids dont learn from kids. RNH, gagner, and eberle are all roughly the same age as yak.

            look how yak plays with a vet like roy. big difference that he needed early in his career.

            now thats more of an indept comparison.

      • D-Unit

        Is there an article, audio or video clip where an Oilers scout, or someone with the Oilers is actually quoted that Yak was only taken because of Katz?

        I have heard this from media a lot, but don’t know if I have ever read or heard it from an actual quoted Oilers source.

    • northof51

      Remember when Yakupov was supposedly a bust and said we shouldn’t have drafted him 1st overall? That we should have drafted Murray or Galchenyuk?…
      …Yakupov was the right choice at the time and I believe will prove to be the right choice in the future.

      I agree. This is even more evident as Yak has clearly turned a corner under Nelson. Since Nellie took sole control of the coaching staff, Yak has much better underlying numbers than Galchenyuk (Yuk), despite Yak having a shooting % less than half of what Yuk is shooting (7.6% compared to 15.5%). Yak also has 6G 16P compared to Yuk’s 10G 15P in that same time frame.

      Yak has been fun to watch and we can only hope he keeps getting better and gaining confidence.

    • Craig1981

      Agreed….The Oil’s problem is not their choice of the top pick (like many people try an say) it has been the use of their other picks (their 30ish picks over the last 5 have been terrible!) And them not a dressing the blue line properly

  • cmandev77

    2008- Went from 25th overall to 19th… We drafted Paajarvi instead of Ekman-Larsson. See what playing to win does when you have no chance of making the play-offs. Tank Hard Edmonton and don’t make the same mistake as we did in 2008! Noone wants another Paajarvi!

  • Newj

    Time to switch to Flames game. This was is over once again after the 1st period.

    This is another embarrassing effort.

    I dunno if Nelson is the man for this team next year. They need Scotty Bowman; Mike Babcock; Ken Hitchcock to all coach this team next year.

    What a sad sack franchise.

    • Robert (AKA Hockey Fan)

      Or watch on the internet the Alberta Golden Bears as they are leading 3-1 and the 3rd period is about to start!

      Though no shame in catching the Flames vs Leafs game either!

  • TKB2677

    Gregor, I’d love your take on how to fix the uneven work ethic. This has been an issue over this re-build. They are inconsistent between games and even in games. the coaching has changed over the re-build, as have most of the players, but they still play one great hard-working game or period, followed by poor efforts.

    • Jason Gregor

      The most difficult thing for young players to learn is consistency. Having veterans around to learn from helps, but players ultimately need to do it.

      I still see too many players not being consistent enough in all facets of their game. Eberle, RNH, Hall, Schultz, Yak, Klefbom, Marincin etc…they are t core young players, but collectively they need to be more consistent.

      How it happens? Great question. I think the first four can’t be considered young anymore. They need to be the leaders and set the bar for consistency within the organization.

      I think one of the issues in Edmonton was they didn’t have enough of a consistent, “you have to play to this level of consistency,” set out to the young players.

      They, like many of us, believe we are working hard, but often we need to work harder to have success. This team must recognize they have to increase their work ethic (consistency) to improve.

      Coaching will help, but much of it has to come from the players themselves. They need to challenge each other.

  • northof51

    I liked the Yak pick at the time. I pictured a Brett Hull type player. Hoping he will still get there and maybe pass him. The Oilers have long lacked someone that you could consider a goal scorer.

    I do covet Galchenyuk at times, mainly because he’s bigger and I believe he was a center. I thought he’d be okay pick too. It would be nice if Yak made us forget that debate.

    Murray was very much in the ON conversation as well with concerns on how long it takes a defenceman to develop.