At the beginning of the season I made a series of bets based on reasonable expectations for the Oilers. These were my estimates and it should be mentioned that many of them inspired disagreement from the knowledgeable posters who drop by this blog.
Still, the AS break is a logical time for us to review the numbers and see how these players are progressing.
Let’s begin by agreeing that the Oilers are about where they should be in the standings at the break. Seriously. The way they went about the first half was wing and a prayer but the results (thanks to a late run) imply it’s a playoff team.
Let’s look at the pre-season top 6 forwards (predicted V actual)
Hemsky P:41gp, 15-37-52 (1.27) A:36gp, 14-27-41 (1.14)
A strong finish to the first half improved his numbers as he was actually 1/1 much of the season until the games he played coming back from the concussion. His numbers suggest this might be his first season at >1/1 but my prediction may have been a little aggressive. My guess is he’ll need to perform at a little higher level (and stay healthy) if the Oilers are to make the playoffs. His Corsi (10.8) is the best on the club, as is his 2.53 5×5/60. The only member of my original top 6 who covered his first half bet.
Horcoff P: 40gp, 15-24-39 (.975) A: 46gp, 11-21-32 (.696)
The tendency is to say he needs to be better but part of me thinks he should have a little more luck after halftime. Horcoff’s CORSI (5.0 against tough opposition) should improve as the season rolls along and Tambellini is going to have to address the center situation before or at the deadline. He needs to post better numbers, this season most closely resembles the 06-07 season statistically (although that season had all kinds of tells that are not indicated in the boxcar numbers). 5×5/60: 1.36
Penner P: 46gp, 17-13-30 (.652) A: 44gp, 11-12-23 (.523)
Like Horcoff, Penner suffered when not on the Hemsky line. His Corsi (8.1) and 5×5/60 (2.11) are solid and he’s got skills that one sometimes doesn’t associate with big men (he’s an excellent passer, very good in the offensive zone). Considering his slot in the batting order and the dollars he’s making, Penner needs to have a better second half.
Gagner P: 44gp, 10-20-30 (.682) A: 43gp, 4-13-17 (.395)
He’s had a poor first half in the hockey card categories. Gagner’s secondary numbers (2.8 Corsi/1.445×5/60) show us that the underlying numbers are better than the boxcars but if this team is going anywhere this fellow needs to improve. His final 13 games leading up to the break saw Gagner score 2-7-9 and his plus minus number (EV) towers over his total one year ago at this time (-14). A second half that sees him score 30 points would save his season.
Nilsson P:43gp, 9-19-28 (.651) A: 36gp, 6-7-13 (.361)
Nilsson had all kinds of problems this half. His 5×5/60 is 0.70, and although his Corsi is a solid -2.2 this is against softer opponents with good linemates. On top of that, his coach called him out in a very public way and then he got hurt. Nilsson spent time in the minors last season in order to get his game turned around, the smart money this winter suggests he’ll be in another town by the time he gets his hat on straight again.
Cole P: 40gp, 11-15-26 (.650) A: 46gp, 11-10-21 (.457)
Cole started off so badly most of us were astounded by it. NHL veterans sometimes take awhile to adjust but here was a veteran winger with a good reputation who looked lost on the ice. Goals came few and far between and he was eating minutes with little result for a long time. He got very hot in the last 13 games before the break (7-5-12 including a hat-trick) and saved his secondary numbers (Corsi: -0.7; 5×5/60: 1.46) from being a disaster.
Next up: 6 more forwards.