The Edmonton Oilers matched up very well against Chicago a year ago:
- they lost 6-3 on November 13, 2011 in Chicago
- won 9-2 on November 19, 2011 in Edmonton (Hall hat-trick)
- won 4-3 on January 2, 2012 in Chicago
- won 8-4 on February 2, 2012 in Edmonton (Gagner 8 points)
Oilers won three of four, and out scored the Blackhawks 24-15 in those games. Two of the big offensive games in Edmonton’s season came against them and sometimes it seems a team matches up against another despite the standings.
This is not last season’s Blackhawks team. They now own the third longest consecutive points streak at 24 games, which dates back to last season and their prime problem a year ago (goaltending is a strength). Corey Crawford (.941) and Ray Emery (.930) back stop a team with insane scoring (Kane 9 goals, Hossa 8 goals, Toews 7 goals, Bolland 5 goals, Sharp 4 goals, Stalberg 4 goals and two more with 3 goals each) depth.
The Oilers have good goaltending (Dubnyk .917, NK .942) but lack the kind of scoring depth Chicago can send out every night. Hemsky 7 goals, Eberle 6 goals, Gagner 5 goals, Yakupov 5 goals, Justin Schultz 4 goals and Taylor Hall 3 goals represents the Oilers heart of the order.
Chicago’s won-loss record looks too good to be true, and I believe the Oilers are better than their record (but this is an Oilers blog and I still think this team can make the playoffs). I believe this Oilers team to be good enough now that we can’t really look at a schedule and say they’ll definitely lose, and tonight they might catch an over confident Chicago team that is on a historic run. They have to lose some time, maybe it is tonight. I’ll say this: better to face Chicago tonight than LA, the Kings have their swagger back and look ready to roll.
Krueger: “In my experience, in the past two seasons during the longer road trips, we seemed to get into a losing funk where we just accepted the fact we weren’t going to get points. That’s unacceptable now. The expectation is that we will get points every night, whether it’s our sixth game in nine days or the first game in Chicago.”
Love the Krewg. Hope he knows what he’s doing with the goalies, though.
Deadman Waking is a legendary contributor to this blog, and in last night’s thread he posted a brilliant thought which I now present in its entirety One note: Oilers chances have increased to 37.4% after last night’s Calgary win over Phx.
- DMW: For my taste, the best tool for following playoff prospect is Western Conference Playoff Chances 50/50. I don’t like the weighted projection until half a season is played: it gives too much weight to team strength on small sample size. The 50-50 tool doesn’t give a home ice advantage. This is nuts, but doesn’t matter much for the first half of the season (since for most teams remaining home games minus remaining away games usually stays within a fairly narrow bracket).Right now the Oilers are about 33% to make the playoffs and I don’t think they’ve shown what they can do yet. By the end of the season, you’ll often see seven teams at 80 to 99%, then four stragglers all around 30%. If two of those straggles meet, you might see one at 60% the morning after, and the other clinging to fate at 10% (that this adds up to more implies the other chumps watching the scoreboard that night would have preferred the opposite outcome, and that’s not even counting the Bettman disaster).If we come back from the road trip with eight points, our season is far from flushed, but at some point they’ll be needed to win four in a row (counting lucky ties). If we can’t manage that, we hardly deserve to be there. Eight points isn’t very hard if we can drag four games into extra time and Yak picks an auspicious occasion to light up some aching goalie up for his first career hatty.Here’s a question: How much is home ice worth, anyway, when you can’t win a face-off? We might be just as good on the road as at home right now (not good enough, but not abjectly terrible, either).In a regular season, if a team drops to 15% by xmas (this is extremely poor) and then turns it around and crawls back up to 30% by the trade deadline, the GM has a tough decision to make on whether to buy or sell.I tend to view 30% as indication that there’s still plenty of daylight to prove we belong. It’s no great accomplishment to sleep-walk into the second season on nothing but warm milk and Bettman cookies.If instead we put a streak together and bang some heads and we’re still at 30% then it begins to mean “too little / too late”.Another truism: a mediocre team usually sucks the hind banana on a least one critical statistic. Ours right now is 5V5. But OK–I admit it–it’s a shockingly pendulous hind banana.Oh yeah, on that chart 53.5 points gets it done. It comes out with this tool to 0.589. Around 0.560 is par with the Bettman point.
Jason Gregor has an interesting article up on Taylor Hall here. Young man is showing some maturity:
- Hall: “I’ve started to realize that getting hit and taking big body checks doesn’t mean you are tough or playing well, it just means you are being a little stupid and reckless. You can still go to the hard areas, and you can still get a lot of pucks and make a lot of plays without taking a big hit.”
Tighter than a drum for second in the NW, DMW’s post really gives us a nice line in the sand. If we combine Waking’s post with Krueger’s thoughts above, that’s about where we should be feeling this morning.
One final note: Over the years, the Oilers often offload players while on road trips. They may send out Paajarvi today in order to get Petrell on the roster, but I do believe the club may trade Whitney or Khabibulin on this trip. If there’s a market, I don’t think there’s a good reason to wait. Make room by flushing a veteran who won’t be here when the going gets good. jmo.