TC: THE POWERPLAY

One thing we’ll be talking about this season that we didn’t discuss a lot last time a lockout ended: the powerplay. Last season’s Oiler powerplay was 3rd overall, scoring 54 goals in 262 opps (20.6%) which towered over the MacT “Edsel” powerplay of 03-04 (13%, 29th overall, 44 goals in 338 opps).

The Barons powerplay scored 40 goals in the club’s first 35 games this season. OKC’s 26.1% success rate (40 goals in 153 sorties) ranks number on in the AHL the big club should be able to take advantage early and often 5×4 and 5×3. Lots of chatter about the powerplay options, but to my surprise none of them (that I’ve heard) have Ales Hemsky on the top unit. For my money, the best option for Oilers PP would be: Nuge at center, Hall on LW, Hemsky on RW, Schultz and Eberle or Whitney on the blue. Fair? If these fellows keep their feet moving there may be a chance for the club to score at better than last year’s 20.6% clip. If they can do that, I’d say that playoffs are a strong possibility. Second unit could include Gagner, Smyth, Yakupov, Whitney and Potter.

Eric Tulsky has been doing some outstanding work on zone entries over the last several months and I think having Hall-Hemsky on the same PP would be a brilliant idea. “Gaining the zone” is a major part of a PP, and no amount of players moving their feet or “set plays” can help a bunch of hockey players who can’t gain the zone. I think they’d be wonderful together at even strength–and believe Gagner would be an outstanding choice to center that line–but on the PP Hall and Hemsky have a chance to look like the late 90s Red Wings with all those beautiful Russians making all the fans dizzy from the ecstasy.

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56 Responses to "TC: THE POWERPLAY"

  1. billymadison says:

    Any idea why petry isn’t ever considered for the 2nd unit? I definitely feel he’s a more viable option than Corey potter

  2. Lowetide says:

    I think it’s the shot, but agree he’s a quality option. Buddy is the best passer among the D (although Schultz wasn’t here last season).

  3. hunter1909 says:

    Hall, RNH, Eberle, Yakupov and J.Schultz on the 1st powerplay will be insanely effective.

    But hey, nothing like a balanced overall team.

    Methinks Oilers are going to be like the 1972 Medicine Hat Tigers, scoring like crazy but way too imbalanced to actually win anything.

    It’s going to be a riot watching the opposition trying to contain them.

  4. Lowetide says:

    The 1972 Medicine Hat Tigers? Did you see them?

  5. Matt.N says:

    Hemsky and RNH play the same position on the power play. They both like to set up on the half wall and distribute. Both have been very, very successful and productive at the NHL level doing this. While I agree that these are two of the best offensive players, I would have each as the focal point of PP1 and PP2.

    That being said, in my brief viewings of Nail in the WJC and the KHL he also played the half wall on the right side on the PP.

  6. hunter1909 says:

    Lowetide,

    LOL no!

    But remember hearing from an uncle who played hockey in the 70s about how Tom Lysiak, Lanny MacDonald and others routinely demolished the rest of the Western Hockey league by 10-1 scores, after their goons put the opposition in hospital or something.

    The Tigers were like a hybrid between the Broad Street Bullies who provided the, ahem “spark”, while Lysiak and company(who weren’t too much worse than some in the HOF) did their thing of scoring goals. Kind of like the dynasty Oilers, when you think about it.

    Oilers won’t intimidate anyone with goons, but should have a similar kind of scoring threat.

  7. Lowetide says:

    Hunter: lol, didn’t mean to put you on the spot. My father-in-law used to tell me stories about that team, would have loved to have seen them back in the day. Stan Weir was on that team, Lysiak, Lanny, but my father-in-law said the Gassofs were the ones everyone talked about.

  8. Radman says:

    RHH, Eberle, Hall, Hemmer, Yakupov, Gagner, Schulz,,Whitney, Petry. Wow. Lots of intriguing options. Have been licking my chops waiting to see how the powerplay looks, these long months.

    Interested to see if Eberle gets a look on the point in the NHL version of the pp. Also wonder if there is a role for Harski at some point, for the big body net presence. It starts with the draw. Hope that is not our undoing.

    Can’t wait.

  9. Lowetide says:

    Radman: I wonder too about Hemsky at the blueline. He did that in Hull as a junior, and Gagner did that in Europe this season. Neither has a booming shot, but I think the Oildrop are going to be able to throw all kinds of tricks at opponents.

    THIS IS THE SLOWEST WEEK I’VE EVER LIVED THROUGH! DROP THE FREAKING PUCK!!!!!!!!!

  10. DeadmanWaking says:

    Wilkinson would play the balance of his career in a two-quarterback system. First with Bruce Lemmerman and then with Warren Moon.

    First 1A and 1B. Then 1A and 1AA. There’s nothing like a revolving
    door between Wilkinson and Moon to give the other team’s defensive coordinator a bad case of flubber cheeks.

    Or, say, substituting Nugent with Hemsky on the top PP, if one or the other is flat that evening. 1AA or 1A. Damn, I hope Krueger is cagey. Or, how about 1A and 1AA?

    Options, man.

    While I broadly agree with Lowetide at the player level one by one, there’s an intangible where I place a lot more weight. Dynamism. Options. Creative mixology. Picking your spots.

    I’m not going to get too excited until I’ve seen how Krueger balances his chariot with two fist-fulls of twisted reins, three stallions a side.

    Six Horse Statue

    Hemsky is the horse almost completely cropped from the frame. I don’t even know if there is a chariot in that picture. Krueger must be the conehead with the strange trident. Bareback! Cool.

    No, wait. That’s actually Doug Risebrough informing Lowbellini “You shall not pass!”.

    Chariot statue in Tuban Bali

    Come on, guys. The bow. Shoot the bow.

    Or maybe it is Krueger, and he’s just trotted to the back of the bus to give his post-game scouting assessment.

  11. Radman says:

    How many sleeps LT ?!

    On the subject of draws. Any stats on how RNH and Gagner were doing in the circle on their respective teams? Watched RNH taking draws during the WJs and he didn’t blow my socks off ?

    Please please tell me Kreuger isn’t thinking of throwing Belanger out there on the pp to take the draws….

  12. dessert1111 says:

    You need RNH, Schultz and Eberle on PP1. If you want a net presence, you have Smyth or Hartikainen. Then you have Hall. I could imagine all 5 untouchables on the first unit PP but I can’t imagine where all of them would set up. Will Hall go in front of the net? He seems to set up near the right post anyway.

    Potter was more effective on the PP last year than Petry, but I could see wanting Petry on the second unit because he’s part of the future and Potter isn’t. I could also imagine a scenario where they go four forwards for both units and have a guy like Paajarvi on the left point on PP2. He’s a good puck distributor, defensively-minded and fast, and he’s looked good in limited viewings there in OKC.

    There are a myriad of options to consider, really.

  13. hunter1909 says:

    DeadmanWaking,

    Re Kreuger: He’s stepping into the NHL equivalent of a gold filled dream chamber – all he needs to do is not fuck everything up and he’s a cinch for the HOF ha ha ha ha ha.

    From what we’ve already seen Kreuger appears innovative, dynamic as anything, and appears willing to listen to others before making up his mind. In short he might be the perfect type of coach for a youthful collection of players assembled by Steve Tambellini(and his smarmy faced grin that Blue Jacket fans know all too well).

  14. DeadmanWaking says:

    Yeah, it’s cold shower week. Morning, noon, and night.

  15. Lowetide says:

    Radman:
    How many sleeps LT ?!

    On the subject of draws. Any stats on how RNH and Gagner were doing in the circle on their respective teams? Watched RNH taking draws during the WJs and he didn’t blow my socks off ?

    Please please tell me Kreuger isn’t thinking of throwing Belanger out there on the pp to take the draws….

    Well if those GD lawyers would get going maybe they could release the schedule. Seriously. Dammit!

  16. DeadmanWaking says:

    There’s one more good angle, if you click on the photo.

    Ghatotakach statue near the Ngurah Rai International Airport

    The hand gesture most resembles a “Gimme now!” Jeebus. Maybe it’s actually Lowetide.

  17. Lowetide says:

    DMW: In my dreams.

  18. Radman says:

    Lowetide: Well if those GD lawyers would get going maybe they could release the schedule. Seriously.Dammit!

    Why don’t sharks attack lawyers ?……….Professional courtesy.

    C’mon dammit. Feels like we’re off to church before we get to open the presents

  19. billymadison says:

    Lowetide:
    I think it’s the shot, but agree he’s a quality option. Buddy is the best passer among the D (although Schultz wasn’t here last season).

    I was thinking that too, but i checked out the Oilers skills competition from last year and Petry had the 2nd hardest shot on the team behind sutton at 99.7 mph. Potter’s measured at 93.3 mph. Always seemed strange to me. Especially considering he was the best offensive option from the blueline the oilers had last year.

  20. godot10 says:

    You have already gained the zone at the start of the powerplay. It is more important to win the faceoff at the start of the powerplay, which is why Horcoff or Gagner (or Arnott) will be on the first unit to take the faceoff and be the net presence.

    I expect Nugent-Hopkins still can’t win a faceoff against the top PK centres in the NHL.

    Smyth, Hemsky, Yakupov, Whitney, and Petry/Potter can be unit 1b to Nugent-Hopkins, Hall, centre, Eberle, Schultz’s 1a.

  21. justDOit says:

    godot10,

    I think that when the pk team has cleared the zone (and they’re gonna – just a matter of time unless you score), the next most repeated and difficult task is entering the zone again. Faceoff is important too, but you can’t disregard zone entry.

  22. Lowetide says:

    GoDot: losing the faceoff is 20 seconds. Gaining the zone can take an hour. Surely MacT’s PP taught us that much.

  23. justDOit says:

    We’ll still need to have some patience with the PP, regardless of how much talent oozes from the roster. All of these guys are going to be playing against the absolute best competition they’ve faced in the better part of a year or more, they’re young and they have a new(ish) head coach.

    But yeah, I hope the goal judges at Rexall develop such a blister!

  24. ASkoreyko says:

    This belongs in the previous thread, alas.

    Just finished watching the raw video of Nail being interviewed today and all of Terry Jones questions revolved around where Nail was living and who he will be living with. Credit to Nail however, when Jones asked when his family is arriving in Edmonton Nail replied back with a nice stand-offish “Why do you want to know?”. It then proceeded to get awkward and Jones mumbled out something about being a “reporter”. I have a feeling this could turn into an excellent little side-show in Edmonton, Nail vs. Whale (I know I know).

    Also why would a reporter ask Nail Yakupov a 18-year old rookie about Ilya Kovalchuk? Nothing like making one dirty Russian answer for another dirty Russian. I really hope the Edmonton media gets over this anti-russian thing, after all there is a lot of immigrants in Alberta from that neck of the woods.

    Next Saturday is going to painful waiting for the puck to drop. Also I heard a rumor the NHL was considering making NHL Gameday free for everyone as an apology. Using the special view online you can watch 4 games at once, it would be a quick way to simulate viewing a full seasons worth of games.

  25. Kert says:

    My second PP unit would include Linus Omark.
    (As well as my fourth line.)

    Maybe that’s why I’m not an NHL GM. :)

  26. Ryan says:

    Not saying it was Hemsky’s fault, but Lordy do I have vivid memories of shouting at the TV while Hemsky ran the PP clock down dangling at the halfwall. Okay, I’m not really that guy… Shouting in my head more like it…

    You know he was going to a) pass to the point for a shot or b) try to thread it thru traffic for the back door play and typically turn it over. Sure was good at gaining the zone though.

  27. Yakupov me says:

    Imagine how good that PP would have been last year if they started with the puck! I love the Nuge but his face-off work still looked horrible at the World Juniors. I’d like to see that puck coming back to Shultz this year, not shot around the glass and out.

  28. jp says:

    godot10,

    justDOit,

    Lowetide,

    I’m concerned about RNH’s faceoff ability too. True it’s not the most important thing in the world, but it sure would be nice if he could at least get up to 40-something %. A lost 20 seconds 6 times out of 10 isn’t necessarily fatal, but it certainly isn’t ideal. He was even getting schooled at the WJrs (at least against Russia, USA, Russia). I figured a year against NHL centers would set him up pretty well against the Jrs, but apparently not… It pains me to say, but I think there might be some good merit to continuing to play Horcoff or Smyth with his PP unit just for the draws (and because Horcoff seemed to actually fare well in PP points/60 last year).

    LT, not sure if you have the data easily available from the OKC games (just the home games if I remember correctly??), but wasn’t RNH doing decently in the dot with OKC?

    You’ve obviously got to take the good with the bad with these kids (or any player), but this is a/the major weakness in his game. He should be staying after practice working with Belanger every day.

  29. Lowetide says:

    JP: Decent at home, horrible on the road. As we might expect. Nuge couldn’t win a faceoff for love nor money a year ago, but the kid was stunning at posting points on the PP. Just saying.

  30. justDOit says:

    ASkoreyko,

    Exactly my thoughts on asking Nail such a stoopid question (you KNOW it’s really stupid when spelled like that). Yak is not exactly commanding his will upon this language, and the guy asks him about another Russian player in the KHL?

    It was nice to see Nail giving TJ a bit-o-the-sh!t in that interview.

  31. Woodguy says:

    . Lots of chatter about the powerplay options, but to my surprise none of them (that I’ve heard) have Ales Hemsky on the top unit

    No one loves Hemsky more than me except maybe LMHF. Maybe.

    He’s not a PP1 option on the 2013 Oilers.

    For a long, long, long time Hemsky was the best offensive option on this club, including on the PP.

    He’s not anymore.

    He’s still a 5v5 killer. One of the best in the NHL when healthy. Hall will be/is too. Both of them are really good 5v5 NHL hockey players, which is the most rare and valuable type.

    He’s never been a top NHL 5v4 player.

    RNH lead the league in 5v4 pts/60 as an 18 year old. He’s a 5v4 witch/savant.

    You are right that both Hemsky and Hall are the best on the Oilers at gaining the zone (which is why they are the best 5v5), but PP1 doesn’t need 2 of them.

    I think Hemsky would do well on a PP2 that had Gagner on the point so there were two puck distributors and they couldn’t key on Hemsky.

    Did anyone see the Oilers skate yet?

    Can Whitney pivot on his left ankle?

    If he can then I actually like most of the D.

    If he can’t then they need someone soon.

  32. jp says:

    Lowetide:
    JP: Decent at home, horrible on the road. As we might expect. Nuge couldn’t win a faceoff for love nor money a year ago, but the kid was stunning at posting points on the PP. Just saying.

    Like I said – take the good with the bad. I’m certainly not suggesting he shouldn’t be out there on the PP1. Just nitpicking I guess, but if he could manage to improve his FO skills it would be really nice. Gotta give it time I suppose…

  33. Dave Casselman says:

    With the additions of Schultz and der Yak, the Oilers powerplay has the potential to be number 1 in the league. (Don’t know a whole lot of people who would dispute this.) IF Ralph has the time to work the PP as he did last year, and IF he gets his 1 and 1A units squared away, (or maybe I should say ‘when?’} short of bad luck or lack of team spirit, the PP should be deadly.Way too much offensive talent, way too many uber-skilled players. And them’s the facts, Jack.

  34. Lowetide says:

    JP: I think it’s a strength thing. Nuge should be good when he’s 23. I wish we could find Sakic’s progression.

    WG: Noooooooo…..We came ALL this way to put Hemsky on the 2? No. I won’t have it. I will accept him playing left side on the point, though. That puts Hall, Nuge and Eberle as F’s up front and Schultz at RH point.

    The 2PP still has Gagner, Yakupov, Smyth or Hartikainen Whitney and Petry.

    I’ll call Ralph. :-)

  35. stevezie says:

    Woodguy,

    Everything this guy said is correct. I just wanted to add a voice to the chorus.

  36. Rebilled says:

    3rd best power play. 3rd best team in the NHL.

    Very glad Yak got on the plane. Still have to wonder who will/won’t be involved in this wow trade, if there is one. My guess was Yak because he hasn’t played yet. Part of a plan. If there is one.

    The Goilers need help at Centre, D, and Goal. They also need a Yak. But they also need a centre, a dman, and a goalie(although hopefully it’s the year of the giraffe).

  37. Lowetide says:

    There is no wow trade. There’s a series of “Paajarvi for Dick Dyck” trades.

  38. justDOit says:

    Lowetide:
    There is no wow trade. There’s a series of “Paajarvi for Dick Dyck” trades.

    Any relation to the Dyck’s from Saskatoon? Believe I went to public school with one of the boys…

  39. Lowetide says:

    lol. I had an Ed Dyck hockey card as a kid, think he was a Canuck.

  40. justDOit says:

    Lowetide,

    I wonder how many times the Oilers can trade MPS? Hopefully more than twice. Whitney says they should be talking to the Colorado management about trades.

  41. Gerta Rauss says:

    http://oilers.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=649765&navid=DL|EDM|home

    Update on Whitney posted a couple hours ago…it’s generally good news I think, but we’ll know for sure when they are playing for real.

    http://oilers.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=649746&navid=DL|EDM|home

    And an update on Jones-”mid to late Feb at least”-man that’s a tough break for the guy but a big opportunity for Harski or PRV or whoever grabs that roster spot

  42. Lowetide says:

    If Whitney is healthy then this gets much easier imo. He’s a stud when he can wheel.

  43. hunter1909 says:

    Lowetide:
    If Whitney is healthy then this gets much easier imo. He’s a stud when he can wheel.

    Whitney will never be healthy.

  44. jp says:

    Lowetide:
    JP: I think it’s a strength thing. Nuge should be good when he’s 23. I wish we could find Sakic’s progression.

    WG: Noooooooo…..We came ALL this way to put Hemsky on the 2? No. I won’t have it. I will accept him playing left side on the point, though. That puts Hall, Nuge and Eberle as F’s up front and Schultz at RH point.

    The 2PP still has Gagner, Yakupov, Smyth or Hartikainen Whitney and Petry.

    I’ll call Ralph.

    Hopefully you’re right – I think you probably are. Gagner has certainly made strides since his rookie year. Cogs seemed to get stuck at “suck” though, so it’s not a given.

  45. jp says:

    hunter1909: Whitney will never be healthy.

    At this point any improvement from Whitney is gravy. We’re all hoping that Whitney can be a good 3rd pairing/average 2nd pairing guy this season. If he’s any more this team is in very good shape. If not, we have 4M this summer to replace a low 2nd/good 3rd pairing D. Even with UFA overpays, 4M gets you a top 4 D, so things are not so bad.

  46. LMHF#1 says:

    Woodguy:
    . Lots of chatter about the powerplay options, but to my surprise none of them (that I’ve heard) have Ales Hemsky on the top unit

    No one loves Hemsky more than me except maybe LMHF.Maybe.

    He’s not a PP1 option on the 2013 Oilers.

    For a long, long, long time Hemsky was the best offensive option on this club, including on the PP.

    He’s not anymore.

    He’s still a 5v5 killer.One of the best in the NHL when healthy.Hall will be/is too.Both of them are really good 5v5 NHL hockey players, which is the most rare and valuable type.

    What a skilled coach would do is play #83 on the PK and routinely double-shift him 5-on-5 to get to around 20/night. While I’m optimistic about Krueger, I don’t think he’ll run that way. You could play Hemsky on the point on either PP unit and move him to unit 1 when they hit a bump in the road, but he’s never actually played the spot where he’d be most effective, in front of the net just off to the side. Again, I see no imagination within the staff to try this, but we can hope.

  47. hbc262 says:

    Back to the Med Hat Tigers. I was a Tiger’s season ticket holder as a 14 yer old in 1972. Remember that team well. Gassoff brothers were something to watch. Bob Gassoff and Phil Russel from the first Edmonton Oil Kings frequently squared off. Lanny and Lysiak were an awesome duo. Loved the hockey.

  48. jake70 says:

    The Oilers have guys and hopefully a team culture where you shoot first, ask questions later. I see them doing this more. If the PP, not buy coaching but the players themselves get into this “pass it into the net” BS, then I have my TV brick ready to go.

  49. Wes Mantooth-11 says:

    LT, good read.

    I appligize in advance if anyone has mentioned this yet but here it goes.

    The reason I dont see Hemsky on the first PP unit is simple.

    RNH controls the plays on the one half wall while Hemsky controls the plays on the otherside which is usually where you would find Hall.

    Hemsky on the 2nd PP would be able to feed Yakupov who will be occuplying the area of where RNH set’s up.

    I started to realize that RNH and Hemsky may not be the best suited players together 5×4 because they occupy different side’s of the PP .
    Both are primary set up players.
    RNH for Hall,Eberle
    Hemsky for Yakupov who also sets up in RNH’s spot during a PP

    I would split Whitney and Schultz

    Whitney on 1 PP Schultz on 2nd PP until Schultz is comfortable with the speed of the NHL.

  50. Zipdot says:

    justDOit: http://deadspin.com/5974950/i-was-wayne-gretzkys-hungover-linemate-an-nhl-journeyman-picks-the-wrong-night-to-drink

    Thank you SO MUCH for this. I LMAO at this great story. Whatever else they may be, those Pronger brothers are some funny, funny guys.

  51. hags9k says:

    Sorry LT, I admire your loyalty to 83 but this is the kind of thinking that holds teams back. Hemsky should not be on the 1PP. Yak should be the other point with Schultz due to his shot and one timer. Eberle should stay left wing low across from Hall, and looking for that seam pass from Nuge.

    If Hemmer is to go on the 1PP it should be to replace Nuge on the half wall, but it seems more likely he would have that spot on the second unit. Lots and lots of toys to play with here for Ralph but I think Yakupov HAS to be out there with the studs if it’s crunch time.

  52. spoiler says:

    hags9k:
    Sorry LT, I admire your loyalty to 83 but this is the kind of thinking that holds teams back.Hemsky should not be on the 1PP.Yak should be the other point with Schultz due to his shot and one timer.Eberle should stay left wing low across from Hall, and looking for that seam pass from Nuge.

    If Hemmer is to go on the 1PP it should be to replace Nuge on the half wall, but it seems more likely he would have that spot on the second unit.Lots and lots of toys to play with here for Ralph but I think Yakupov HAS to be out there with the studs if it’s crunch time.

    With Yak on the other point, I think it will heavily cut into Schultz’s shot count.

  53. Bruce McCurdy says:

    I remember the ’72 Tigers. They wore same orange and black unis as Philly Flyers and played a similar style. Besides the Gassoff Gang they also had Jim McCrimmon who was a crazy bastard, and a guy named Barry Dean who used to goon it up as well. But the ringleader was Bob Gassoff who was completely off the rails, had five straight seasons in “organized” hockey with over 300 PiM before only getting 254 his last year before he offed himself in a motorcycle crash. 24 years old.

    I was at a game at the Edmonton Gardens in the ’72-73 season where a huge brawl broke out and carried on right into the stands, with a few members of the Tigers getting right up there in the seats and going at it with some of the patrons, Mike Milbury style. It was absolutely nuts. I had my new bro-in-law with me, who was from England and had never seen a hockey game, and he was beside himself. Couldn’t believe his eyes. Neither could I, come to that. It was a goddam disgrace.

  54. Lowetide says:

    lol. My father in law told me similar stories. I’m like “how good was McDonald” and he was “outstanding junior, now Bob Gassoff would usually be the instigator but Brad and Ken would join in and then everyone’s over the boards and I’m off home.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Peqt6YOybWw

  55. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Lowetide:
    lol. My father in law told me similar stories. I’m like “how good was McDonald” and he was “outstanding junior, now Bob Gassoff would usually be the instigator but Brad and Ken would join in and then everyone’s over the boards and I’m off home.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Peqt6YOybWw

    Oh, yeah, Lanny was really, really good. So was Lysiak. Deadly duo. Both went top 4 in the draft after that ’72-73 season.

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