The media often runs out in front of things by weeks and weeks, and I suspect that’s the case in the Dallas Eakins employment case. From the Ottawa Sun this morning, Bruce Garrioch frames the issue thusly:
- At what point do the Oilers have to do something just to make their fanbase happy? GM Craig MacTavish made a bold move by hiring coach Dallas Eakins. MacTavish may be forced to make a bold move and fire Eakins two seasons into his four-year deal if this doesn’t get turned around quickly. If that happens, you have to think MacTavish may have to go back behind the bench. Source
As the pressure builds, there’s no doubt the possibility of change comes into view, but I think we’re at least one transaction away from that happening. If the Oilers start 0-9-1 I can see a change, but that’s extremely doubtful. There are some good things here, and the club has left points they earned on the table this season. Bad teams do that, and still don’t go 0-9-1. I expect the coming week will bring better days.
I do find it interesting that every newspaper guy from Abbotsford to Zhoda is writing about the demise, yet the blogs see the improvement and patiently wait for the turnaround. There are signs, and here’s one that just happened and another that will.
MARINCIN REPLACING NURSE
A quick trip through BTN tells us Dallas Eakins is deploying the troops properly (example: Check out Marincin’s zone starts for game one) and the ‘roster trades’ are going to have their desired impact. Trading Nurse for Marincin gives the team a push defensively and Marincin can also move and pass the puck. He takes fewer risks too, so that’s a net gain of some significance. Added to the massive change in zone starts—Eakins can now play other pairings in the offensive zone—and that’s going to help.
The result should be improved play from the entire group. Certainly to my eye (and others) Andrew Ference was more effective, and as the season rolls along the veterans in this six should really begin to make a difference.
THE DRAISAITL SITUATION
First a few things: Although I rated Sam Bennett No. 1 overall, I was absolutely in favor of the Edmonton Oilers selecting Leon and believe he will have a long and successful career. However, it’s time to send him down. After five games in the NHL, and after five games of getting an extreme zone start push, Leon isn’t delivering and his Corsi number is leaking. What’s more, Nail Yakupov’s number is also alarming and the Russian has made terrific strides by eye. When the math and the eye don’t mesh, there’s usually a reason and in this case it’s the rookie center.
Again. I’m not suggesting it’s a failed pick or that Draisaitl will never be the player Edmonton projected him to be, only that he is not that player now. With his coach in peril, Craig MacTavish has to do the right thing and make the call. Even if it means Anton Lander or Will Acton or Bogdam Yakimov or Jason Williams, it is time. The Carolina game simply has to be the first game where the team is locked, loaded and balanced (or the Oilers’ version of balanced).
LEON DRAISAITL 14-15 (all numbers BTN)
- 5×5 points per 60: 1.16 (5th among regular forwards)
- 5×4 points per 60: nil
- Corsi For 5×5 %: 49.02%
- Qual Comp: 7th toughest among regular forwards (3 line opp)
- Qual Team: poorest teammates among regular forwards (4line)
- Corsi Rel: -12.9 (12th best among regular forwards)
- Zone Start: 78.3% (3rd easiest among regular forwards)x
- Shots on goal/percentage: 7 shots, no goals
- Boxcars: 5gp, 0-1-1
As you can see, the numbers aren’t terrible but Edmonton (so far) hasn’t been scoring enough goals. The wingers on this team are very good—don’t let a small sample size fool you—and the club has had opportunities when Draisaitl is on the ice. In another season, maybe if the Oilers had won G1 against Calgary and won the shootout in VCR, you’d be inclined to ponder keeping Draisaitl beyond the 9 games.
I’m in the decided column. Before his 10th game, Leon Draisaitl should be sent away.