As an old timer Oiler fan, about 20 years ago I began asking younger fans how they came to be enchanted by the Oildrop. It especially became an issue when encountering young people who didn’t see the Glory team. Almost without fail, it was the Marchant OT goal. I don’t know how long youngsters lay dormant as Oiler fans before the Marchant explosion, but it has been one long sustained primal scream since the puck went past Moog.
Sometimes I’d hear about “the save” that went down just before the goal (still don’t know how he saved it).
The fun thing about a new coach is that each injury, each challenge offers us a new opportunity to see inside the coaching strategy. Calling up Arcobello is not the traditional Oiler way (VandeVelde’s a ‘big body’) but this isn’t the man who put JF Jacques on a feature line. There are lots of options:
- Move Hall down to the Gagner line and Yakupov to the Nuge line (keeping the RW’s as is).
- Moving Smyth or Hall to C.
Ben Eager has also been cleared, so there may be more than two moves tonight (Whitney in for Fistric, likely Arcobello in for Horcoff).
It’s way too early, but what the hell let’s run my RE against the tsn projections to see who is kicking ass and who is coming up short:
RE (tsn projections) (plusminus)
- Sam Gagner 43, 11-21-32 (48, 16-37-53) (+17)
- Nail Yakupov 45, 11-15-26 (48, 27-11-38) (+10)
- Taylor Hall 39, 21-19-40 (48, 11-37-48) (+1)
- Jordan Eberle 44, 14-18-32 (48, 16-21-37) (-2)
- Ales Hemsky 35, 8-24-32 (48, 16-11-27) (-17)
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 42, 13-26-39 (48, 0-27-27) (-18)
Gagner, Yakupov and Schultz the younger are beating reasonable to a pulp, I’m close on Hall and Ebs, but Hemsky and the Nuge projections were too strong. Ironically, the one everyone thought was an insult (Eberle) has been accurate to this point.
Long way to go.
A few game notes:
- The Oilers offense blooms on the PP. They rank 3rd in the NHL with 12 PP goals.
- Dallas leads the league in times shorthanded, 50.
- Oilers special teams are a gem so far. 4th in PP, 5th in PK. Horcoff’s injury will impact both disciplines.
- The FO percentage of Nuge, Gagner and Lander has been talked about a lot lately, but I talked for a former pro player yesterday who said part of the problem is the wingers don’t engage enough on a ’50-50′ draw that is in doubt. I’m going to look for that tonight.
I’m not as concerned about faceoffs as I used to be, and as usual it’s that damn Tyler Dellow and his slide rule. Quoting a Dellow article from a couple of years back:
- I did the math to calculate the expected penalty kill percentage of a team that wins 65% of the initial faceoffs when killing penalties and a team that wins 35% of them. I am, if anything, being generous with those bounds. I come up with the difference in faceoff percentage resulting in the 65% team killing penalties at an 81.2% rate and the 35% team killing them at an 80.1% rate. Over 266 opportunities, we’re talking about 2 or 3 goals.
I’m not saying it isn’t a concern, but the Oilers shouldn’t fold like a cheap suit tonight either.
I read somewhere that Horcoff won’t need surgery but is gone for a month. I know it isn’t in the Oilers management DNA to address need in the early part of the season but this would be a time to throw these kids a lifeline. Perhaps an expiring Mark Streit-type contract (although for a center, obviously. Pick up Streit too if he’s there) or someone they could use in Belanger’s role starting next season.
If they make a move, or if the Nordic line continues to impress, I think the seeds are sewn that will send Darcy Hordichuk off the roster. Hordichuk has been holding on to a roster spot all this time while play 2 and a half minutes.