Twenty-one games into this NHL season, the Edmonton Oilers were 4-15-2 and they were hopeless. Pressure mounted on all fronts, the money ran out, the engine blew, the rent was due and the dog ran away. Since then, the Edmonton Oilers—the team with more #1 overall picks than actual NHL defensemen—are 5-2-0 in their last seven–for a total of 9-17-2 on the season. Yes! A little sunshine in the room.
THE POWER PLAY
- Dallas Eakins: “We’re probably going to have to shake that right up, get new units going.”
The power play sucks! Since the club went away from the 5F set-up things have been scrambled eggs, and the thing they were most concerned about with the 5F came last night with 4F! So, one assumes they’ll just use two defensemen from now on and the power play will continue to dive. Coach Dallas Eakins has some great ideas and some bad ones, but he seems to be flushing some of the good ones too soon. I hope they bring that back.
- Management believes Dubnyk was unready for the season ala Theo Peckham and he will be sacrificed to the hockey Gods (probably at the deadline)
- Bryzgalov sold management on needing a lot of work right away to get into the swing of things. Cagey damn Russians!
Either way, the big man from Regina is probably going to be a good to excellent starting goaltender in another NHL city by this time next season. MacT’s a smart guy, but he’s a new guy, and like all older guy’s he believes his Bible. I think his Bible says Dubnyk let the team down.
BLUE, BLUE WINDOWS BEHIND THE STARS
Eakins has figured out the 4line, is running three sets of forwards on the PK, MacT has found him hot and cold running goaltenders, but the defense remains the teenage bagger at the supermarket who forgets to double bag, doesn’t endear himself to the little old ladies and pisses off the other patrons by saying “you don’t want a hand with these do you?” instead of trying to be helpful.
They’re not lollygaggers and they’re not without talent, they’re just being placed in spots in the batting order that doesn’t suit them. The Punch and Judy’s are batting cleanup and the speed merchants are in the 7 slot, and there’s no cleanup hitter for miles and miles and miles.
24 minutes a night, all three disciplines. There are 28 in the NHL this morning, Christian Ehrhoff is #28 and Dion Phaneuf is just ahead of him, but who knows if that guy is coming here this season. There’s a chance the Oilers believe Darnell Nurse is that player, and we’d be silly to think he’s more than a year away from heavy duty in blue and orange.
Denis Grebeshkov turned the wrong way and was beaten on goal one (he made an error, but lordy where was the support on that play—this team sells each other out like no Oiler team I’ve ever seen) and didn’t get a chance to do much after that (two shifts) and it’s interesting to look at TOI overall last night:
- Andrew Ference 27:04, 30 shifts, a goal and a plus 1
- Jeff Petry 25:36, 28 shifts and a minus 1
- Justin Schultz 24:41, 28 shifts and a plus 1
- Nick Schutz, 17:07, 24 shifts and even
- Anton Belov 16:19, 24 shifts and a plus 1
- Denis Grebeshkov 7:55, 11 shifts and a minus 1
That’s a lot of miles for the top 3, but then again end of road trip, trying to make things matter, good call by Eakins. Ference is absolutely the least popular Oiler this season, which suprises me because Ference is an Oiler kind of player. I expect once they get things rolling in a good way fans will like him plenty.
EXTRA SKATER, BLUE 5X5 CLOSE, CORSI FOR %
- Nick Schultz 168-195 (46.3%)
- Jeff Petry 205-240 (46.1%)
- Anton Belov 175-207 (45.8%)
- Andrew Ference 215-255 (44.8%)
- Justin Schultz 147-184 (44.5%)
- Ladislav Smid 102-143 (41.6%)
- Corey Potter 21-14 (60%)
- Denis Grebeshkov 35-33 (51.5%)
- Taylor Fedun 26-30 (46.4%
- Phil Larsen 40-70 (36.4%)
I don’t know that these numbers tell us much beyond the team performance has been significantly below par. I suspect the math folks would tell us that the difference between the #’s Schultz the elder v younger are positing is so small that Random would claim most of it and Luck would claim the other.
Need the Pronger, and right soon.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
- Tyler Dellow from mc79 hockey. We’ll talk wins, power play, goalies and Taylor Hall.
- Travis Yost from Hockeybuzz. Sens and Bills, he’ll hate me by 10:40 this morning.
- Scott Cullen from tsn. Leafs, NFL fantasy and trades before Christmas.
- Neal Livingston from Tend the Farm. Prospect update, plus MacT was in the city on the weekend. What did he see?
- Guy Flaming from the Pipeline Show. WJ invite is announced at 11 this morning. Guy gives us the poop.
Text 10-1260, @Lowetide_ on twitter.