Tonight would be a very good time for Dallas Eakins to unleash the Yak. He didn’t play much in Calgary last night, but did create—playing with skill last night probably means a point, certainly PP time would have been a good idea—and at some point this season, the rookie coach is going to need all of his bullets in order to crawl from the wreckage.
CORSI FOR PERCENTAGE, 5X5 CLOSE (FORWARDS)
- Ales Hemsky 49%
- Ryan Smyth 48.3%
- Jordan Eberle 47.7%
- Sam Gagner 47.6%
- Taylor Hall 47.0%
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 46.9%
- Mark Arcobello 46.9%
- David Perron 45.9%
- Nail Yakupov 44.2%
- Jesse Joensuu 43.7%
- Boyd Gordon 43.0%
- Luke Gazdic 40.1%
- Ryan Jones 39.6%
- Anton Lander 33.8%
This is a nice set of numbers considering the gales of November. Eakins is starting to suss this out now, he’s riding Hemsky on the Gordon-Smyth line and then has Nuge-Hall-Perron firing on all pistons. The Gagner-Eberle duo needs a third, and to my eye Joensuu isn’t it. I’m a MacT guy, but for me don’t really see what Joensuu brings that Hartikainen didn’t—although in the first period of game one this season the Finn looked great. The obvious answer is to put Nail on that line, but the coach is hesitant to do it. I suspect this is part of the breaking down of Yakupov, and would respectfully suggest that giving him a Horcoff would do him a world of good.
CORSI FOR PERCENTAGE, 5X5 CLOSE (DEFENSEMEN)
- Corey Potter 51.1%
- Jeff Petry 47.4%
- Andrew Ference 46.2%
- Anton Belov 45.9%
- Phil Larsen 44.9%
- Nick Schultz 44.6%
- Justin Schultz 43.6%
- Ladislav Smid 41.6%
Petry is damn near 50% when apart from Ference (and Smid) and works well with Belov although the coach has gone away from the tandem. The Schultz boys haven’t been good enough, and I’m beginning to wonder what young Justin’s contract will look like in the summer. To my eye, he’s costing himself millions. All of this is courtesy Extra Skater, and that’s a brilliant site.
One conclusion we can draw from these numbers: Eakins isn’t going to abide guys who can’t move the puck. Enjoy Nick Schultz while you can, I suspect that’s the last of them we’ll see until the book of Eakins is closed in Edmonton.
A loss tonight puts the Oilers at 13-25-3 (29points) at the conclusion of the season’s first half. Grim. However, I think it does offer us a chance to put some expectations on the second half of the year:
- Low bar: 17-17-7. That would put the 82-game total at 30-42-10 for 70 points.
- Good bar: 21-16-4. That would put the 82-game total at 34-41-7 for 75 points.
- High bar: 24-12-5. That would put the 82-game total at 37-37-8 for 82 points.
I don’t think the Oilers can look at a losing record in the second half of the season as a productive four months. Stop the bleeding. Oilers have played 18 at home and 22 on the road, so should get a little push there.
HISTORY IS WRONG
For some reason, I know not why, the Philadelphia Flyers of the Shero era are being framed incorrectly online and in hockey history discussions. They did intimidate, they did rely on the best goalie in history not named Dom Hasek, they certainly won more than they would have without Fred Shero’s innovations (notably short shifts and coverage).
However, the idea that the Flyers had no skill is batshit crazy. The 1974-75 team boasted the following offensive leaders:
MacLeish is nearly forgotten now, but was a brilliant player. Philadelphia’s two-year run as Stanley Cup champions was denied a third championship by Montreal, and the Habs rightly get much of the credit. However, an injury to MacLeish during the 1975-76 season had an enormous impact on the Flyers, and that little nugget is also long forgotten.
As for this version of the Flyers, well have a look at their players tonight. Chances are many of them will be on a new team next season, it is the way of Ed Snider.