Nail Yakupov is apparently moving from the 2line to the 3line, as coach Krueger plans to take him away from Gagner-Hemsky (which is a very good spot) to the Belanger-Smyth line (those are two veterans, nice soft landing spot for the kid AND he gets to play RW).
I’m excited to see Yakupov have another scoring spree. He had 4 goals in 7 January games, but has scored only once in 6 contests this month. It doesn’t really matter, he’s such a ridiculous talent the goals will come–Nail Yakupov is a wonderful young hockey player.
Let’s compare him to the other #1′s through each of their first 13 NHL games:
- Yakupov 13, 5-3-8 -7 12pims 22shots 14:45TOI
- Hall 13, 3-3-6 -5 4pims 26shots 16:15TOI
- Nuge 13, 6-6-12 +4 6pims 26shots 16:55TOI
I don’t know which of these men will have the better career, but believe each will enjoy significant success. As an Oiler fan since 1972, I’m so thrilled to be along for the ride.
The early HNIC game will salute the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Stanley win, so expect a late start to the game and possibly missing the early minutes of the Oiler game. The Leafs always do this crap, but this time around it’s going to be long because Dave Keon will be in attendance. Keon was (along with Frank Mahovlich) the best skater for Toronto in the 1960s and 1970s, and does not attend these events because Harold Ballard.
So this is a rare item, expect a long ovation and men older than me in tears. I don’t blame them, childhood heroes are special no matter your age, and those with the courage of their convictions are even more worthy.
Nail Yakupov, Chris VandeVelde, Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry, Mark Fistric and Teemu Hartikainen got their heads shaved at WEM yesterday in the annual Hair Massacre in support of children with life threatening illnesses. What a wonderful cause, and God bless these young men for doing it. (photo courtesy the Edmonton Journal).
We talked about Toni Rajala last night, he had a good evening for the Barons (who got a Bettman point but lost in the shootout). Rajala’s arrows are heading up, but 2007 1st round pick Alex Plante is down, down in a coal mine underneath the ground. The three first round picks from 2007 (Oilers edition)–a draft class that should have set them up for years–looks like this in terms of NHL action:
- Sam Gagner #6 overall: 379, 81-152-233
- Alex Plante #15 overall: 10, 0-2-2
- Riley Nash #21 overall: 5, 0-1-1
Gagner is an NHL regular and tied for 27th in points this season; Nash is enjoying his best AHL season (his entry level contract expires this year); Plante has been a healthy scratch for three games in a row. Those concussions, along with some foot speed issues look like they had a major impact on his lack of development. I doubt he’s in the organization as part of the 50 man roster next year.
The five names taken right after Plante (Colton Gillies, Alexei Cherepanov, Ian Cole, Logan MacMillan, Angelo Esposito) are as a group underperforming their draft number (and of course Cherepanov passed away before he had the opportunity to show us his skill), suggesting a soft area in the first round (although Max Pacioretty, Michael Backlund and David Perron were still available).
2007 was an opportunity missed.
Brandon Davidson had a helluva debut in Stockton.
Michael Parkatti has been posting scoring chance numbers over at his blog and they are (as always) revealing interesting things. For instance, the club’s successful lines are filled with kids. Here are the numbers for the Dallas game (I believe these are even strength):
- Jordan Eberle +11
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins +8
- Taylor Hall +8
- Teemu Hartikainen +4
- Eric Belanger +1
- Magnus Paajarvi -1
- Sam Gagner -5
- Ales Hemsky -5
- Nail Yakupov -6
- Lennart Petrell -8
- Chris VandeVelde -8
- Ben Eager -11
Faced with those numbers at even strength, I’d think the coach would:
- leave the top line the hell alone
- give the Nordic line (w/Belanger sitting in for Lander) more minutes
- suffer through the Yak growing pains with Gagner-Hemsky knowing that good times are on the way
- rotate as many new people onto the 4line as humanly possible
Krueger, who has been impressive in media scrums and in both in-game decision making and lineup decision-making, decided to tweak this way:
- leave the top line the hell alone
- give Gagner-Hemsky another LW (Hartikainen) in the hopes the chance plus minus edges toward level par
- move Yakupov to his natural position (RW) and give him two veterans (Belanger-Smyth) to make things easier. That’s a rocking chair for the kid, and might have added value if Smyth can post some offense.
The Oilers are averaging only 2.15 goals per game, ranking 28th in the 30-team NHL. The Avs are 27th at 2.17. Sooner or later the Oilers are going to break out, and maybe it will be tonight against an injury riddled Quebec Nordique lineup. Edmonton (apparently) got some good news late yesterday, as it looks like Justin Schultz and Jeff Petry will both play despite some bumps and bruises.
A few places on the Al Gore have suggested this is a “must win” for the Oilers, but I think with their streaky past and the relative youth on the roster they could just as well go on a winning streak away from home as they could at Rexall. I do think there are a lot of good arrows, but that’s been the case for some time. As Taylor Hall said after the Dallas game, if they play as well as last game every night, they’ll do just fine.
We’re a long way from the first “must win” game of this season.