Andy Dufresne: Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
Sometimes being an Oiler fan is like working in the Shawshank laundry room.
Last night, Devan Dubnyk delivered a solid performance in a losing cause, and more importantly (should have) established there’s no need to go goalie hunting. I’m not absolutely sure Craig MacTavish sees things that way, but there is at least one encouraging sign.
The Edmonton Oilers can’t get it right: their goaltending stood up well last night, but the special teams play remains a horrific item and their Corsi 5×5 went south for only the second time all year. The result? 1-6-1. With Craig MacTavish out trying to MacGyver the other NHL GMs, is there an area of need that is glaring or is this a matter of chasing the latest downfall? What is wrong here?
This is last night’s game. Smid-Petry, Gordon-Smyth-Hemsky and Hall did some nice things, but the other pairings and Nuge-Perron-Yakupov (who faced the Tavares line often) were exposed. I think this is a matter of Nuge getting up to speed, and some lack of experience on Yakupov’s part. The 4line can’t be trusted and the penalty killing is ghastly. I think the “swarm” may end up at the “dump” sometime this season. Michael Parkatti has similar information and a quality look at who’s playing against who here.
I mentioned yesterday we’re probably going to see a trade (or two) in the next few days. Oilers often return from a road trip down a Bergeron and up a Grebeshkov, and that could happen soon because the Russians rehab is pretty much done. One good thing? The Dubnyk fever seems to have broken, although MacT is still looking to improve the depth throughout the organization (but has cooled on the idea of throwing over parts of the cluster in a search for a #1). Oiler fans may owe a debt of gratitude to Tyler Dellow, who wrote two articles (here and here) on the subject and (although uncredited) may well be the ‘information’ MacT refers to in the Jones piece.
This is a key item: Dellow wrote a thoughtful and informative piece that provided great insight into a real and difficult problem. That isn’t news, Dellow’s done that for years on his blog. However,the Oilers (beginning with MacT) were OPEN to the idea of getting information and considering it–and that is news. I’m not certain we’ve seen an example this obvious before, and for me that’s an amazing (and positive) development. Good on Dellow, good on MacT.
Now, about the swarm.
Devan Dubnyk must have slept pretty well last night, that was a solid performance. His .925SP helped his season total (.854) by a bunch and although shakey early Dubnyk settled down and had a good game. A much needed development.
I’ll be honest and tell you the “swarm” looks a little different in action that I thought it would when it was theory. Changing from man-to-man to zone defense seems like a good idea, but this is a game where recovery isn’t possible once a decision has been made to change direction, and the Oilers look for all the world like men who wave lanterns at runaway trains. I’m not saying flush it, I’m just saying that it looks from here as though the Oilers players aren’t going to figure this out until after the season is lost.
“I knew this renovation would be messy, but not this messy.” Dallas Eakins.
This is an excellent opportunity for the coach to adapt, to change the plan in an effort to cut down on the open looks opponents are getting every night. The Oilers aren’t sending out a bunch of raw rookies anymore–Smid, Ference, Nick Schultz are all veterans and Jeff Petry is getting there–but this group isn’t performing well enough in this system.
I would hope that the quote above represents a willingness to go with what is working–if it’s more conventional, so be it–and that change has to come soon.
- Pierre Lebrun: Wayne Gretzky’s reaction via text re: Taylor Hall breaking his Oilers record for fastest 2 goals: `That is so cool, good for him. He’s a great kid. Records are so made to be broken, it’s good for the game. If Kevin Lowe would have got me the puck quicker it would have been seven seconds!”
Ha! Hope to see many more records broken by these brilliant young men over the next decade.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
10 this morning, TSN 1260. A busy day, scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, Big Mouth Sports. We’ll talk about the Hall record, the Oilers road trip from hell and famous trades made by Canadian NHL teams over the last 25 years or so.
- Scott Taylor, the huddle.co. We’ll talk Oilers and Jets, Blue Bombers and Eskimos, and periods of time when goaltending failed both NHL teams.
- Michael Parkatti, Boys on The Bus. We’ll break down last night’s game, talk about Dubnyk and the swarm.
- Andreas Morse from FC Edmonton. Eddies get ready to play the New York Cosmos this weekend.
- Jungle Jim Hunter will be by to talk about Olympic readiness for athletes.
10-1260 via text, @Lowetide_ on twitter.