Time Has Come Today

We’re now 4 games into the NHL season and most of the skaters have had close to one hour (or more) of flying time in the 10-11 season. How are things going? Well, there appears to be a “target group” of players who are not delivering on that one hour investment. Time is running out.

Here’s a quick look at the “total minutes” breakdown by Edmonton’s forwards in 2010-11:

  1. Sam Gagner 75
  2. Ales Hemsky 74
  3. Shawn Horcoff 70
  4. Jordan Eberle 67
  5. Dustin Penner 67
  6. Taylor Hall 63
  7. Magnus Pääjärvi 58
  8. Andrew Cogliano 52
  9. Gilbert Brule 50
  10. Colin Fraser 45
  11. Ryan Jones 42
  12. Zack Stortini 14
  13. Steve MacIntyre 9

A quick glance at those numbers makes it really easy to break down the lines. Gagner’s line (with Penner and Hemsky) are getting the most work, Horcoff and the kids come in second and then Pääjärvi and his linemates are the third group. Forwards 10-14 are the 4line. Things change a little when we look at EV minutes:

  1. Sam Gagner 59
  2. Ales Hemsky 57
  3. Dustin Penner 54
  4. Magnus Pääjärvi 52
  5. Taylor Hall 51
  6. Shawn Horcoff 49
  7. Jordan Eberle 49
  8. Andrew Cogliano 45
  9. Gilbert Brule 44
  10. Colin Fraser 32
  11. Ryan Jones 30
  12. Zack Stortini 14
  13. Steve MacIntyre 9

I was going to write something today about moving Pääjärvi up the depth chart, but it looks like Tom Renney is already in the process of doing it. Where are those EV shifts coming from? Part of it has to do with moving the Swedish rookie around (spent some time with the 4line last night, as an example) and part of it has to do with squeezing Cogliano (he played 15+ minutes opening night, 12 last night) and using other centermen more often. I won’t list the PK numbers, but Jordan Eberle is 4th in SH TOI (behind Fraser, Jones and Horcoff) which is an interesting stat.

What can we learn from this? Well I think Cogliano needs a change of linemates, but that isn’t news. Maybe the Oilers will move Penner onto his line or they might replace Brule (who looks like he might be playing injured) for their next game. Either way, Cogliano has been on the ice for close to an hour and doesn’t have a point. The Oilers have made a decision to keep this player and find a role for him.

Tom Renney’s first big challenge is straight ahead; job 1 for any Oiler coach during this rebuild is to maximize the talent level of the young players. We entered this season wondering about how the kids would do in the NHL, and we’re 4 games in and Andrew Cogliano is once again trailing the field that includes those youngsters. Is he a victim of bad linemates or does he lack the skills required to contribute at center ice on a successful line? Should Renney re-run the kid line by putting Gagner-Cogs together with a rookie winger (or someone like Ryan Jones)? Does it make sense to break up the Gagner line when they’re posting offense?

Dennis is doing strong work over at MC’s again this season, tracking scoring chances. Cogliano is 5/13 in chances for/against and his line hasn’t had a scoring chance since G2. Time has come today, and the only way I see this having a successful outcome is moving Cogliano onto a more offensive line, which means either breaking up the Gagner line or moving Cogliano to the wing.

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