GDB 70.0: Sharing the pain

TankFans

There isn’t much love between Leafs fans and Oilers fans, however, both groups share one common bond: both have endured a decade of despair. The Oilers and Leafs have only made the playoffs once in the past ten years. The Oilers made it in 2006, but haven’t been close since, while the Leafs missed the dance for the first seven years, made it in 2013 only to suffer a painful game seven loss to the Bruins, and are now starting another streak of two seasons without the postseason.

No fan base in Canada has suffered more than those who cheer for the Leafs and Oilers since the beginning of the 2005/2006 season, and only fans in Florida can relate to your struggles.

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All three cities have experienced the playoffs only once in the past decade, and they’ve all seen significantly more losses than wins.

Here are the bottom five teams in total points during the past decade:

            TEAM        W        L     OT      PTS

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26th: Toronto        344 – 333 – 97       785

27th: Florida         326 – 328  – 118    770

28th: NYI               336 – 346 –  93     765

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29th: CBJ              335 – 351 – 86      756

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30th: Edm             302 – 378 – 93       697

The Islanders will be in the post season for the third time this year, while even the lowly Blue Jackets have made it twice, 2009 and 2014.

Florida has played in front of half empty buildings often during their run of futility, but Leafs and Oilers’ fans continue to support their team by paying big dollars to watch their teams lose. You can make the argument no fans in the country are as loyal, or as vocal, as Oilers and Leafs fans.

The Leafs have acquired most of their best players via trade: Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul, Jonathan Bernier, James Van Riemsdyk, while the Oilers have drafted theirs: Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin and Nail Yakupov.

Neither organization has seen much success.

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NEW COACHES…

Coaching

Edmonton fired Dallas Eakins after 31 games due to a 7-19-5 record. Craig MacTavish stepped in for five games and went 0-3-2, before handing the reigns to Todd Nelson. Nelson is 11-17-5 in 33 games, an improvement over MacEakins, but the team still isn’t close to being a playoff contender, and as I stated for the past five years, constantly hoping a new coach will fix things is the wrong approach.

A coach can make a positive impact, no doubt — Nelson’s approach on the PP has been obvious, and he’s bean able to get more out of Nail Yakupov and others — but a coach doesn’t win or lose battles. He doesn’t make split second decisions all over the ice. The players do, and if you don’t have enough players committed to winning in the dirty areas of the ice, you likely won’t win.

The Leafs also changed coaches mid-season, but it had the opposite impact that Nelson has had on the Oilers.

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Randy Carlyle’s Leafs were in a playoff spot 40 games into the season, 21-16-3, but management felt the coach’s system and style wasn’t conducive to winning so he was fired on January 6th.

Peter Horachek was named interim head coach, but since he took over the Leafs have plummeted down the standings. They Leafs are 6-21-3 since Carlyle was fired.

Carlyle:
Record: 21-16-3
Outscored opponents: 127 -121 (3.17 GF/game and 3.03 GA/game)
Outshot by opponents: 1373-1196 (34.3 SA/game and 29.9 SF/game)
PP: 29 on 144 (20.1%) 
PK: 24 of 135 (82.2%)  

Horachek:
Record 6-21-3
Outscored 56-98 (3.26 GA/game and 1.86 GF/game)
Outshot: 940-849 (31.3 SA/game and 28.3 SA/game)
PP:  13 on 101 (12.8%) 
PK:  18 on 89 (79.7%)

The Leafs have been brutal since Carlyle left. Their PP and PK are worse, they are barely scoring,  but their SF/SA ratio has improved. Their effort without Carlyle has been extremely low many nights, and that has to be a concern for management.

It seems clear that Carlyle’s disciplinarian approach kept the team in line, but since his departure they’ve slid down the eastern conference standings. The Leafs best players look like they have mailed it in too often, while many of the Oilers players have played more inspired with their new coach.

The negative for Edmonton is that despite the better effort, they still aren’t winning often enough. Nelson stated he feels his team had made strides, but they need to play more consistent for longer stretches if they want to win. 

QUICK HITS…

LeafsVsOilers

  • The Oilers PP has been on fire lately. They are 23 of 92 (25%) since Nelson took over, and are on a ridiculous run in their last five games, 9 of 21 (42.8%). I asked Eberle what has been the difference on the PP.

    “I don’t think there has been many tweaks. I think part of it has been familiarity, because you gain momentum when you play with the same guys all the time. We have had to change some guys out, due to injuries, but Todd has kept both units together for the most part.

    “I think at the start of the year we were so worried about Corsi numbers and shots per powerplay per minute, and it got to the point we were just shooting to shoot the puck. Now we are just going out there and trying our best to score whether it is one shot in two minutes and we put the puck in the net or we get ten shots and finally get a goal. Obviously you have to shoot the puck to score, but I don’t think you want to be in a situation where you are shooting it just for the sake of shooting. You need net front traffic and make sure you battle to get the rebound back.”

    It sounds like the focus under Eakins was making sure they got a lot of shots, especially early in powerplays, or at least his delivery of the importance of shots was what the players heard. The Oilers aren’t shooting less with Nelson actually, but according to Eberle the message is different.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From TheLeafsNation

The Lerfs and Oilers have been so bad for so long, the last time the two teams faced off in a season where both teams made the playoffs, Eric Brewer led the Oilers in ice time. March 10, 2003, to be exact.

Here’s the box score from that game, if you’re curious. The Lerfs won 3-2, with goals from Mats Sundin, Tomas Kaberle and Alexander Mogilny.

Tonight’s game will have a marginal impact on the chance that some ping-pong balls will come up with one team over another. That’s about it. Other than that, it’s the closest thing the NHL has to relegation.

TONIGHT…

RexallPlace

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Leafs are brutal right now. They are 1-15-2 in their 18 road games since Carlyle was fired. Nelson talked about how flat his team was in Toronto last month, and I expect a much better effort from the Oilers tonight. They end their seven-game losing streak with a 5-3 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers score two PP goals.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Lander becomes the 8th Oiler to have a multi-goal game this season joining Pouliot (3), Eberle (3), RNH (2, one hat trick), Yakupov, Hendricks, Arcobello and Hall.

Recently by Jason Gregor:         

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  • Oilfaninvan

    The “advanced stats community” knew Eberle was no good doe.

    In all seriousness, I think Carlyle would make a significant impact coaching the Oilers. He should be a candidate.

    • WTF2

      Dion would look awesome in an oiler jersey if he was a second pairing despite the haters. If the oiler brought in phaneuf along with another guy like OEL, it would completely transform the Dcore into a legitament NHL defence. He just can’t be the go to guy.

      Phaneuf would be a perfect second pairing dman

      • pkam

        I will agree with you that he will be a great 2nd pairing dman on ice if there is no salary cap. His 7M (I believe there is at least 6 years left) contract will make him the worst 2nd pairing dman. But regardless of his salary, he will always be a problem in the dressing room.

        • pkam

          I won’t argue that, his cap hit is probably 1-2 mill higher than your want it, but maybe the contract lets you get him for less of a cost. Get rid of Nikitin and Ference bring in phaneuf, and your cap hit goes down and your defence improves

          • pkam

            Nikitin has one year left and Ference 2 so if the management does not make another stupid signing or trade, we suffer 2 more years. Phaneuf will extend the suffering for another 4 years.

            And don’t forget he is known to be a dressing room problem. Why would we want to overpaid a dressing room problem?

          • camdog

            Won’t disagree again, but judging on history do you trust they won’t make another stupid signing? They’ll be in panic mode yet again to upgrade the defence and overpay another average dman to once again try the “defence by commitee” approach. I’m not buying what they’re selling

            Sure Nikitin only has another year, then they’ll just go out and do the same thing. All I’m saying is I’d rather have an over paid phaneuf then 2 bottom pairing guys averaging 4 mil. As for dion’s ‘locker room issues’ that’s all high school gossip. I’ve heard alot of his teammates stick up for him aswell. Sure, maybe he’s a bit of an @ss, but couldn’t the oilers use a little more @ssh0les?

            Again, I wouldn’t bring him in to be the guy, in my perfect world I’d make a major move to bring in an OEL type. Boston’s in cap purgatory, do they want Chara to retire a bruin?

            This idea of “Klefbom and nurse will be thrown into the deep end and thrive” is ridiculous. We need good vets to lean on while these guys work their way into the league. Like him or not, phaneuf is a top 30 dman in the league and also plays with a physical edge.

            Ps, pronger was a complete d!(k

          • pkam

            Top 30? I don’t think so. In my opinion, near the bottom of top 60.

            Just ask yourself, why would the Leafs trade him when he is their best defense? Because they figured out that they can’t make the playoff, not to mention winning the cup, with his contract.

        • YFC Prez

          How do you know Phaneuf to be a problem in the dressing room? I recall Phil Kessel ripping into the media for about ten minutes a couple weeks ago because of what he felt was unfair treatment of his captain by the media. If he was such a problem his teammates wouldn’t be going out of their way to defend him so adamantly.

          Phaneuf is a top pairing D-man. Take 2 million off of his salary and he becomes a very highly sought after asset.

          I’ve said it before. Phaneuf is miles ahead of any of our D-men. Acquiring Phaneuf makes this team better. The defence is the worst group ever assembled in the NHL for at least the past 2 decades. I really don’t see how oiler fans are in any position to be sticking their noses up in the air at Phaneuf.

          • vetinari

            Phaneuf – a problem with team mates?

            I was at the executive airport in Calgary where the Flames (he was a Flame then) were about to catch their private plane.

            Phaneuf was eating a sandwich in the airport lounge when the plane started to load. All the players were on board including the coaches (Mike Kennan). Phaneuf continues to chew on his sandwich. He could have easily carried it on board and finished eating it there. After he finished (plane was loaded for about 5 minutes) he threw the wrapper in the garbage and grabbed his bag and boarded.

            That small sample that I saw demonstrated a selfish individual and not a team player

          • YFC Prez

            You think that’s bad? If you wanna talk about terrible teammates, my buddy told me he knows a guy that said one of the oilers training staff told him that after a game last month Eberle was taking off his equipment in his stall, he took the tape off his shin pads, balled it up and threw it at the garbage. Now get this, he missed the garbage can and didnt get up to pick it up, just left it sitting there on the floor!! Can you believe it?? I thought ebs was a way better teammate than that!!!

          • The Soup Fascist

            See, and I heard that Ebs was throwing peels from orange slices that ‘Lil Nuge’s mom had cut up the night before.

            It was Joey Moss’s sister’s ex-boyfriend that told me – so it must be true!

          • YFC Prez

            I heard after the first period Taylor Hall sneezed. Not one oiler went upstairs to say ” bless you” after the fact.

            This can only mean he is a lousy teammate and a cancer in the dressing room.

            Ps. It was my dog walker that told me this, she also walks the dogs of the best friend of the second cousin of the usher who happend to witness said sneeze.

            So it must be true.

          • YFC Prez

            He’s such a jerk I’m willing to bet he had an apple juice instead of an orange juice!! And it wouldn’t surprise me to find out be didnt even bother to eat the crust! What a d!(k

          • YFC Prez

            That example shows just how much the hate for Dion is all based on hog wash.

            Those jets, even the private ones have scheduled take offs. I can guarantee Dion wasn’t holding the plane from taking off on time. What does it matter if he sits in the restaurant or on the jet. Plane still leaves when it’s scheduled with or without all passengers on board.

            All that matters to me is Dion is way better than any of our D-men. And that’s why I would take him in a heartbeat. Improve the D.

          • YFC Prez

            This^ is the reason you think Phaneuf is a bad person/teammate? Good grief

            I will say that every leaf on the ice including Phaneuf is playing absolutely brutal hockey right now. But I wouldn’t call Dion a bad teammate for eating lunch. That’s making a mountain out of an ant hill.

          • Cool story, bro

            Maybe you can tell us where the “calgary executive airport” is and why an NHL team would fly out of it.

            Considering all NHL teams travel on charters except for the couple of teams who have a private plane, of which calgary is not one.

          • pkam

            It’s also been rumoured that the USA never landed on the moon, 9/11 was an inside job and that there’s an alien race of lizard shape shifting beings that control the world. What does any of this have to do with hockey?

          • pkam

            9/11 being an inside job is not a rumor. The lizards are the people on the inside, and “lizards” is just a code name for the nation of religious bigots behind it.

  • S cottV

    Sometimes you have to take a chance (bold move) and take advantage of unusual circumstances where other teams will part with top players.

    Leafs probably need to move Phaneuf – there best d man and a legit top pairing guy.

    Phaneuf has probably had enough of the Toronto circus and being a local product – maybe he wouldn’t mind playing back home, as part of a fresh start.

    Unless MacT has a better first pairing d man up his sleeve, he would do well to swing a deal for Phaneuf.

      • S cottV

        Agreed – that might be a critical part of the deal, for MacT to factor in.

        Phaneuf has warts – no question, but so do a lot of players and we have to remember that Edmonton and the Oilers are among the least preferred destinations for ufa’s and players with no trade contracts.

        There are better first rotation d men, but they are not likely to be coming here.

        The Oilers desperately need a big minutes first rotation d man, along the lines of a Phaneuf – or we can all forget about the playoffs for the foreseeable future – like the next 3 or 4 seasons.

        Unless this is resolved – forget it – no playoffs. You can’t win consistently without his kind of presence in the back end.

        A local kid who grew up in Edmonton, as an Oiler fan – whose family is still here – might just be up for the challenge of taking the club to the next level. To the point where – he might just make some mature adjustments to his demeanor and play, toward the huge benefit of the Oilers.

        He would have one hell of chance to shut up a whole lot of naysayers and establish the kind of legacy to his career, that I am sure he would prefer to possess.

        Would make for much more entertaining – Battles of Alberta.

  • Kevwan

    Lets say hypothetically that the Oilers finish 2cd in the lottery and the leafs 4th.

    The Leafs have no 2cd round pick but have Nashvilles first round pick this year.

    Oilers needs include Bernier , Phaneuf , Gardiner.
    The Leafs issues include Kadri who is an RFA.

    The Oilers have 2 second round picks and 2 3rd round picks as of today. Maybe a 3rd pick if Montreal can score.

    If there were ever two teams who are going in opposite direction I dont recall.

    When push comes to shove this June MacT needs to trade for at least one of his teams needs. The goalie market will be slim and it may only cost him money.To get a top 2 dman which Phaneuf is he will have to expend assets in either picks players or prospects.

    The Oilers need what Toronto has and would trade for the right deal. It may come down to the lottery and where the chips fall.

    • Craig1981

      I’m really regretting the Fasth trade. Its not a drastic trade, but with maybe 4 3rd round picks the Oilers would of been able to maybe really move up and get even some ‘bluer’ chip prospects

      #3

      #20

      #32

      #60

      #62!!!!

      #71

      #86

      #88

      In a very deep draft the I would argue the Oilers could of had the depth to walk away with one NHL ready (or near) pick and 3 very high end picks after using the 62,71,86,88 picks to move up with the 20, 32, 60, picks

      Its not drastic, but the Oilers will have less flexibly at the draft, for a player that has been zero benefit to them.

        • Craig1981

          Ya, that one makes me want to pull my hair out too.

          But i disagree…..having the depth to move a couple extra prospects next time there is a myers, boychuk, or leddy available is one of our only chances

          • vetinari

            With OKC becoming a strong feeder team, I’ve been wondering why MacT hasn’t used some of our farm depth to bring in some depth veterans for the Oilers?