Oilers at Kings, G43 ’10-’11

This is Bobby Orr, summer 1967. Clarence Campbell is presenting the award in front of a bizarre set of microphones and a member of the media who clearly overdid the Brylcreem.

In the rich (though not yet long) history of the Edmonton Oilers, the Calder trophy has eluded all of their young men. The original one available to the team (Gretzky’s, 79-80) was held back because the NHL old men needed to punish the new kids and 99 paid the price. The NHL was full of dolts and fuddy-duddy’s then, but they’ve cleaned it up and all of the men in suits are happening and forward thinking in all areas.

Not.

IF Chipper Jones wins the Calder trophy in the summer, I believe the point where the rubber hit the road will be the SJS game this week. Whereas Mike Comrie was handed the best wingers early on, young Hall has been a “mix and match” player until this past week. The results against the Sharks were impressive and one imagines the gifted kid will move up this chart as time rolls along:

  1. Jeff Skinner 43pg, 15-19-34
  2. Logan Couture 44gp, 19-9-28
  3. Taylor Hall 42gp, 14-12-26
  4. Derek Stepan 45gp, 12-12-24
  5. Bryan Bickell 42gp, 11-13-24
  6. Jordan Eberle 37gp, 9-14-23

It’s a long season and Hall could struggle, but man he’s in a good spot right now. Ales Hemsky’s sublime passes combined with Penner’s overall effectiveness? Prime time for Hall.

The 2line of Sam Gagner, Magnus Pääjärvi and Linus (it is Leenus by the way) Omark did some nice things. I see a lot of people mention Pääjärvi as being soft, but to my eye he has a lot of try in puck battles and I don’t see any fear. I know he’s from Europe and there is a long tradition in Canada of questioning the heart of men from Europe (hi Don Cherry), for me it seems miscast when describing 91. Confidence is more of an issue imo and he seems to be at a high ebb based on performance last game.

Omark is quickly turning Gilbert Brule into an Edsel. Although he’s making rookie mistakes by the dozen, he can win battles and is like a dog with a bone along the boards. Gagner is in a bit of a slump and appears to be forcing things a little, but history tells us he’ll right the ship and make the smart play. One thing I like a lot about Samwise this season is he’s getting chances no matter the linemates. A good sign.

I think it’s about time we admitted that Andrew Cogliano has a friend in Tom Renney. He’s getting between 16 and 20 minutes a night these days. Here are the C minutes by situation for the Oilers since Hall moved to C:

EVEN STRENGTH
  1. Hall 16:08
  2. Gagner 14:17
  3. Cogliano 13:27
  4. Fraser 4:45

Fraser’s minutes have been cut the last few games in this situation (he’s averaging 7:44 a night) and it reflects coach Renney’s use of the 4line as a specialty unit (PK, ultimate fighter, JF Jacques).

SHORT HANDED
  1. Fraser 3:06
  2. Cogliano 3:00

Both men are playing more on the PK during this two-game stretch, which again owes to the 4line “Roadhouse” group. Gagner and Hall are not used as penalty-killers (Gagner less than 20 minutes, Hall 1.5 minutes for the entire season). I think Renney sees Cogliano as a PK guy, that is part of his role moving forward despite the FO number. Some have suggested the team is showcasing him, but letting him get killed in the dot doesn’t seem like a showcase move.

POWERPLAY
  1. Hall 3:19
  2. Gagner 2:19

Hall is getting increased minutes and Gagner’s TOI in this situation has been cut back slightly. Makes some sense, as Hall is on the 1line and there’s no real reason to break up the lines to move Gagner up to the 1line with the man advantage. This is a very short snapshot (2 games) but something to pay attention to moving forward.

5×5/60
  1. Hall 1.82
  2. Gagner 1.74
  3. Cogliano 1.32
  4. Fraser 0.58

As this season wears on I’d expect Hall to move up (past 2.00) if he spends a lot of time with Penner and Hemsky at evens. These numbers are after game 41, so Hall’s 5×5/60 is going to jump to 1.91 or so (I don’t have 5×5 numbers, nhl.com uses only “even strength”).

It’s a long season of losing and looking strictly at the standings this is one ugly baby. However, with each passing game we’re reminded of just how much fun it’ll be playing Calgary in the next few seasons. Can’t wait.

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