The Oilers played well last night in a losing cause and that might be the best moment of the entire weekend. Vancouver tonight and Anaheim Sunday means some difficult moments for the young group. So it’s time to take a moment and talk about the positives from last night:
- David Perron is a wonderful player. An absolutely terrific winger who has quickly become one of my favorite Oilers. I don’t know what this season would look like without Perron, and suspect he’s going to post a goal total that’s close to 35. What a great trade.
- Ales Hemsky was flying last night, really working hard and setting up plays. I hope they sign him, but he’s certainly improving his trade value if the NHL scouts are paying attention to these games.
- Jeff Petry who skated miles and displayed calm feet. And he got a point.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was very good, he’s such a smart hockey player. I think he’s Dave Keon, and that’s a compliment.
- Anton Belov had an excellent game to my eye, strong play.
- Mark Arcobello continues to play well, I think he’s going to get a push when Gordon returns.
- Jesse Joensuu seems to be healthy again and brings a different look to the powerplay along with some impressive 5×5 play.
- Andrew Ference played a simple but effective game.
- Luke Gazdic did some nice things, interrupting the play in the neutral zone a couple of times.
That’s my list, you may have your own and I welcome your input.
THE CURIOUS CASE OF DEVAN DUBNYK
Devan Dubnyk had his detractors over the years but he also supplied the Oilers with good goaltending, certainly in the seasons he played significant minutes. Here are his even-strength save percentages over the seasons:
- 2010-11: .921
- 2011-12: .927
- 2012-13: .922
- 2013-14: .890
The NHL changed equipment sizes and stick length, and this team is a defensive nightmare many nights. I can name several people who write and comment on the Oilers who claim to have seen this coming, but save for the odd wonky goal and the criticisms of big men (moves slow, looks slow) I never bought into it.
However, we are here. I think it’s bad for him, and wouldn’t be surprised to see him backing up tonight or in Union City Blue next week. This is a miserable end for a good guy by all accounts. I sincerely hope I’m wrong about the Oilers and Dubnyk, he’s going to bounce back to career norms and if he’s still an Oiler that’s even better.
Yakupov is a great shooting option. He needs to be a trigger man on the number 1 powerplay and I don’t understand the hesitancy.
This morning, Extra Skater has the Oilers Corsi For % at 47.3 5×5, last season it was 44.6 5×5. If the Oilers had even average goaltending this season we’d be talking a different season, and if they had Toronto’s we’d be irritating the internet like madmen (and women). The season is gone, but all hope is not lost. We’re 33 games into the season now, leaving 49 games to go. If the Oilers went 24-18-7 (and that seems reasonable if the goaltending stands up and injuries don’t tear them apart) Edmonton would end this season 35-37-10 and with 80 points. I think 35 wins is a reasonable target for this team. Agreed?
I would never have guessed David Perron and Mark Arcobello would be having the seasons we expected to see from Taylor Hall and Sam Gagner, but we are here. Whatever ails Hall—and I don’t think his speed has been impacted by the injury—Dallas Eakins has to fix it. Gagner is part of a Bermuda triangle line for the second year in a row (remember Gagner-Hemsky last season?) and sometimes when people say “it’s not you, it’s me” they’re telling the truth.
Edmonton can’t progress without a productive Hall, Eberle, Nuge, Yakupov. The other parts of those lines are less important than these four horsemen, and that includes Gagner.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
TSN1260 at 10, we’ll preview the NFL weekend and have Oiler/NHL talk. Scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky from Big Mouth Sports. We’ll talk about life being unfair for Jay Feaster and a few other things.
- Corey Pronman from ESPN and Hockey Prospectus. We’ll talk about the Flames and Oilers prospect stable.
- Rob Vollman from ESPN, Hockey Prospectus and Bleacher Report. We’ll talk about the Oilers positive trending in shot differential and what this team might look like with average goaltending.
- Andreas Morse from FC Edmonton. The offseason signings continue.
- Jungle Jim Hunter. Canadians are performing very well leading up to the Olympics, but a late coaching change may impact the Canadian Women’s national hockey team.
10-1260 via text and @Lowetide_ on twitter. See you on the radio!