We’re just 4 games into the NHL season, but one of the early themes for the Oilers is scoring at even strength. During the first week of the year Edmontoon has scored just 4 even strength goals and allowed 9. That’s a terrible ratio and a major cause for concern.
Lets begin by posting EV points per 60. I’m using NHL.com here so the numbers will differ from behind the net, where we can use 5×5/60 (nhl.com doesn’t break it down like that, all even events are piled into the same category). I am also assuming that late night reports that changed the second assist on the Gagner goal from Schultz to Hall are accurate.
OILERS EV SCORING 12-13 (AFTER 4 GAMES)
- Taylor Hall 1-3-4 (3.67/60)
- Jordan Eberle 1-1-2 (1.87/60)
- Nail Yakupov 1-0-1 (1.26/60)
- Ladislav Smid 0-1-1 (1.18/60)
- Sam Gagner 1-0-1 (1.15/60)
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 0-1-1 (0.91/60)
- Justin Schultz 0-1-1 (0.85/60)
In the comments section below the knives are out for Hall, calling him a bust.
- hunter1909: I’m kind of happy that I am the first Oiler fan to suggest Taylor Hall is no more than another Daigle, a bust.
I’m kind of happy Taylor Hall is an Oiler, but these things have a way of deciding themselves miles from the debate and I like my side of the Hall argument. The numbers suggest Hall is once again delivering in the difficult even strength discipline and we can see there’s a pulse on the top 2 lines (with Gagner and Yakupov registering). These totals will change as we march along but the only forwards with acceptable totals are Hall and Ebs at this point in time.
5X5 ZONE STARTS (FORWARDS)
This is courtesy behind the net and after only 3 games. The Nuge line is getting the offensive push–no harm there, they’re the best offense the club has 5×5–and the defensive zone starts went to the Gagner line in the first three games (we knew this, although Gabe’s site gives us the harshness of the situation in black and white–well, blue). I do have a point here and will get to it, but the important item here is rookie Yakupov getting a 35.3% offensive zone start.
5X5 CORSI REL (FORWARDS)
Three games in, there’s that top line chewing up everything in its path and the Horcoff line has things going in a good direction too. The Gagner line lags badly early in the season (and more on that in a minute) and our old friend Lennart Petrell is showing early signs that last season was not a fluke.
5X5 PDO (FORWARDS)
For those who don’t know, PDO is the sum of “On-Ice Shooting Percentage” and “On-Ice Save Percentage” while a player was on the ice. It regresses very heavily to the mean in the long-run: a team or player well above 1000 has generally played in good luck and should expect to drop going forward and vice-versa. Definition again courtesy Gabe and behind the net. The site is here.
So, PDO is telling us that Gagner’s line will recover and that the Nuge’s line will regress. It may not happen tomorrow or next week or next year, but baby its going to happen as sure as death, taxes and me catching my dog chewing my shoes.
5×5 QUAL COMP (FORWARDS)
This graph tells me that coach Krueger may just be rolling lines–or, and perhaps more likely–he is more concerned with getting the zone start than the matchup. The tough minutes line so far looks to be the Nuge line–followed by the Belanger line, or vice versa–but that may be the opposition coach wanting to run against them and coach Krueger having no quarrel with the matchup (and that’s a concern if it continues). It’s early, and I’m no expert at this, but suspect we’ll see Horcoff and Smyth face tougher opps and Gagner and Hemsky the same. I’ll tell you what I’m hoping for in the conclusions segment.
BEFORE WE MOVE ALONG, a moment to talk about sample size. We are three games into the season (the behind the net numbers are after the LA game) and we should not make sweeping statements based on any of it. This is a snapshot from the train as we enter the mountains, not a clear view of Lake Louise on a calm, lovely day. We’ll get there, but it is interesting to look at the early information.
I “think” that Ralph Krueger is going to use Horcoff-Smyth as his tough minutes line and Nuge-Ebs as his zone start darlings, with Gagner-Hemsky getting the 2nd toughest minutes and the difficult zone starts. I also “think” he’s probably just figuring out this lineup and what he can and cannot do with them.
I “hope” he’s going to change the lines and have them look like this:
- Nuge-Yakupov-Eberle (offensive zone start darlings, soft parade when available)
- Gagner-Hall-Hemsky (defensive zone start darlings, tough as they come opposition)
- Horcoff-Smyth-Paajarvi (defensive zone start darlings, tough as they come opposition)
I suspect it’ll result in less impressive EV/60 numbers for Hall, and in a perfect world the Oilers would have a LW who could play with Gagner-Hemsky and push the river, but they don’t. It will result in more comments like the one from hunter 1909, but then again his post was the product of frustration and that frustration is understandable.
The season has begun, Mr. Krueger. Games count. Taylor Hall is the key, ride your thoroughbred to glory and don’t spare the whip. This season is 48 games long, that’s a short track, and if there’s too much time wasted the season will be gone with the wind.