The Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets don’t really have much of a rivalry, they’ve been poor clubs for years and spent their time miles and miles from the playoffs. Columbus made the playoffs one time–2009–with Ken Hitchock as their coach and names like Rick Nash, Kristian Huselius, Manny Malhotra and Jan Hejda leading the way. Since 2000, the year the Jackets entered the league, Edmonton has been in the playoffs three times out of 12 sorties–2001, 2003, 2006–and since then they’ve been at the bottom of the league standings.
About the only time you see the two teams together is at their draft, with their tables often side by side (tables go in draft order) and their choices easily comparable as the years go by:
- 2007: Gagner v Voracek.
- 2012: Yakupov v Murray.
Long way to go on both draft years, I’ll take the Oilers pair and consider it a good day but you could certainly make an argument for Voracek over Gagner and the other race is just getting started.
The ninja people have a new toy (thanks to Woodguy for the link and the head’s up) that gives us a look at a player’s usage over his career. Sam Gagner:
If it is unreadable click on it and that might help, I think this is an excellent way to look at a player’s usage over several seasons. Gagner has been in the blue (positive) since arriving but facing easy qual comp and getting (for the most part) good to excellent zone starts. This season the zone starts are more severe and the qual comp is easily the most difficult he’s faced, and we have a rote luftballon. Taylor Hall graph is here, fun toy.
Yesterday the Oilers faced the Red Wings, who feature two of the greatest centermen of the era (Datsyuk, Zetterberg). I heard a lot of talk on the broadcast about faceoff failures, but for me the game showed how far the Oilers are from being able to match up on the road against clubs like Detroit. Gagner-Hemsky are posting CorsiRel numbers that show them struggling, and that line needs to perform at par (imo) in order for the team to make the second season. The Qual comp numbers (and I know its early and we do have to be careful with the qual comp results) show the Hall line is getting the hard matching giant opponents, and his line is also king of CorsiRel.
That’s a concern, folks. I can see why RK moved the rookie off that line (although adding Hall didn’t help to my eye) for the tough road game.
I’m going to be a Krueger fan for a long time. After a loss in Detroit and facing his toughest early test today in Columbus (this team needs a win, in fact an easy win would be grand) the coach had this to say:
- Krueger: “They’re willing to put in the work, and more than anything it’s about learning how to win,” Krueger said. “They’re pushing each other in the right direction and we’re making steps every day.”
Oilers didn’t send Chris VandeVelde back after yesterday’s game, so that means Eric Belanger is not a certainty to play this afternoon in Columbus.
I’m going to have an article up on Theo Peckham at ON later, but I wonder if the Oilers will cut down from their current 8D when he is recalled. Currently the Oilers–with Ryan Jones close and Belanger likely to come off IR today–have this 23-man roster:
- G Devan Dubnyk
- G Nikolai Khabibulin
- D Justin Schultz
- D Ladislav Smid
- D Jeff Petry
- D Nick Schultz
- D Ryan Whitney
- D Corey Potter
- D Mark Fistric
- D Theo Peckham (on roster, on rehab)
- C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
- C Sam Gagner
- C Ryan Smyth
- C Chris VandeVelde
- L Taylor Hall
- L Teemu Hartikainen
- L Magnus Paajarvi
- L Ben Eager
- L Darcy Hordichuk (4 games, 2:02 ATOI)
- R Ales Hemsky
- R Jordan Eberle
- R Nail Yakupov
- R Lennart Petrell
It is easy to get Eric Belanger (Chris VandeVelde) on the roster, and you could get Ryan Jones back on the roster by sending out Paajarvi. However, he’s averaging 10 minutes a night and playing well. I think moving off one of the defensemen via trade is the better way, and if ST can find a new home for Peckham (or Whitney) then it makes sense to do it now.
Khabibulin was very good yesterday. Credit where due, I guess rehab assignments are overrated.
You’ll see a lot of numbers today, but the important ones are 2.18 (goals per game) and shooting percentage (8%, 24 goals on 300 shots). That number was 9.5 a year ago, meaning the Oilers would have 4 or 5 more goals if the shooting percentage from last season had followed along.