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

26th: Toronto        344 – 333 – 97       785

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27th: Florida         326 – 328  – 118    770

28th: NYI               336 – 346 –  93     765

29th: CBJ              335 – 351 – 86      756

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.

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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.

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.

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  • freelancer

    Would love to see your NSOGDP come true. Lander has been a bright spot in the last few games. At this point of the season, I watch games less for the outcome and more watch specific players. Lander is finally starting to look like what I hoped he would become. A third line centre who can put up some points and be that guy who can go to the tough areas.

    • Justice4Tkachev

      That game was in Arizona in December. Most of the people who saw us loved it. There were a few folks who were insulted by it but it was all for fun. I was surprised about all the pictures people wanted to take with us!

      • Butters

        That photo is hilarious. I used to love going to games in PHX. Fans were always good natured to us Oiler fans. Flyer fans on the hand, I have seen a few scraps in the stands when the Orange and Black were in town.

  • Rob...

    Conspiracy Theory: The leafs canned Carlyle right after the world juniors in Toronto. Did management get a first hand glimpse of McJesus and had to start taking by firing the coach?

    Me thinks so.

    • And the Leafs are co-owned by both of the TV/internet rights holders in Canada. And we don’t actually get to see the lottery happen. I may change sports if the Leafs get McDavid. Who’s good in team handball these days?

      • Butters

        I find it odd that the lottery process is not above reproach. I think there should be an independent auditing firm overseeing the process. My two cents anyway.

  • Prongers Promises

    It feels like less and less people are commenting on the nation. people are not caring anymore. Hopefully they can turn it around next year, otherwise it is going to get ugly in the city.

  • I liked the point about the power play. I remember under Kreuger the team would live and die on any given night based on Power Play production. Eakins destroyed what was like 3rd best in the league. So it’s nice to see a team that should have no trouble scoring on man advantage, not having as much.

    Or, even less than the team scoring on the PP, it’s nice to see them limiting the short handed goals against. That has to be come kind of record. How many short handed goals against did the team have under Eakins?

    As for the team not winning enough, well let’s be honest, the tank is on. As a management group, if the season is over and you are in a position for the last ever time to be guaranteed a top two pick, especially if one of those is a guy like McDavid, how can you not go for it? Just sucks for Nelson.

  • pkam

    Both of these teams have been bad, but the Oilers occupy their own level of ineptitude. When was the last time the Leafs were out of the playoffs before Christmas?

    (Not a Leafs fan)

  • pkam

    Honest to god who gives a s%#£ anymore? Both these teams are a joke and there really won’t be a winner tonight anyways. Until everyone gets through their head that the Oilers will never make the playoffs with our incompetent management team in place than nothing will ever chance in Edmonton.

    I found a nail on the floor, I think I’ll poke my eye with it, that will be more fun than watching this garbage tonight.

  • Kevwan

    I hope the Oilers go nowhere near Phaneuf and it has nothing to do with the locker room.

    When Dion was in his early years in Calgary he was very good. He moved the puck quickly and made simple plays, he hit everything in sight and he hammered away from the point on the PP.

    Now he over handles the puck causing turnovers and is way less physical. His skating seems to have fallen off also. He has been regressing for at least 5 years.

    Sure he’s probably better than a couple of the Oilers D. So what – Ference and Nikitin are horrible. There are several D I would target before Phaneuf.

  • vetinari

    You can outflank us but you cannot out-tank us!(TM2015)

    GDP: Oilers 4 Leafs 3

    OGDP: The pre-game will be a salute to all things McDavid. Here’s what he would look like in a Leaf jersey. Now an Oiler jersey. Now someone throwing a McDavid jersey when his team is still in the bottom three of the league next year at this time.

    NSOGDP: A rare post-deadline trade happens prior to the opening faceoff between the two teams… Eakins to the Leafs (who is promptly demoted to coach the Marlies) for an Ice Girl to be named later. Both sides claim to have won the trade…

  • camdog

    5 years of re-build and we are second last in the league. Pathetic. I read the prospect update the other day and can’t believe how little we have considering we have been picking first or near first for what feels like forever. Todays bottom five of the last 10 years is insulting. We are not only the worst over these last 10 years but worst by a long shot. Kblowe should retire immediately. What an embarrassment to himself and this on e proud franchise. Here come the Coilers.

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    Gotta wonder how many points Ebs and Nuge would have now if anyone other than Eakins coached the team from the beginning of the season.

  • 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.

  • The decade records illustrate how bad this Oilers organization has been. Sadly, while this is a tank battle, no one can truly out tank this organization. I can’t believe Katz can look at that decade record and leave this mgmt especially Lowe, in place. Awful.

  • pkam

    “The negative for Edmonton is that despite the better effort, they still aren’t winning often enough.”

    This is what sucks. The guys are still trying (most nights) and are still losing. This is a great concern in my opinion. Next year could actually be worse than this year if you can believe it.

    Also, seems like yakupov was at the crashed ice to check things out, not get hounded by media. Leave the players alone.