I honestly didn’t think they’d get out of this one with anything, but give the Oil credit for pulling it together and getting a point from a pretty scare-inducing Sharks club that had clobbered them 6-3 in recent memory. Here’s the overall Corsi chart:
The Oilers were leading 30-29 in Corsi by the end of the second, but then proceeded to get demolished 25-8 in the final 25 minutes of play. The Sharks definitely played more aggressively as the end of the game approached, pushing first for the regulation victory and then pushing that advantage into Overtime. I’d say the first star of the game was easily Dubnyk, whose two goals against were fantastic shots by Couture and Pavelski. If Khabibulin starts this game, the Oilers leave without a point, so at least Krueger got one coaching decision right. The Sharks really could have made the 38-28 conventional shot margin look even more lopsided by not missing on 14 shots.
Here’s the Oilers chart:
What strikes me first off is how poorly the top and bottom defensive pairings played: Petry, Smid, Whitney, and Fistric had advanced shot differentials that they’d likely prefer not to be explained to them, even with shadow puppets and some iced tea. Only the Schultz’ left the ice with decent marks, +3 for Nick and -1 for Justin.
The most encouraging thing is likely the performance of the RNH line, who ended up +3, +1, and -1, even though they seemed to play against the Thornton line almost all night. So how did this specific matchup do? Let’s look at my new favourite graph, a player-vs-player Corsi chart:
Red means bad, green means good. Really red means really bad, etc. Look up Joe Thornton on this table, and see that Hall, RNH, and Eberle were +4, +3, and +3 vs Jumbo Joe at even strength over the entire game, even with the onslaught in the 3rd period. The Sharks were matching Joe against them all night, and I’m guessing they thought they were getting the better of the matchup. Well, they weren’t. I hope (think) we’re witnessing the beginning of the kid line as a true tough minutes line — seeing the best the other team has to throw at it and coming out ahead more often than not. Seriously, this is a major accomplishment.
Look at all that bloody red vertically under Dan Boyle’s name — not one Oiler finished in the green against him. Ditto Ryan Clowe, Logan Couture, and … Matt Irwin? Uhh, really? Well anyways, Boyle and Irwin seemed to particularly feed on the Gagner line, whom all had forgettable nights. The Schutlz’ got assaulted by Boyle as well, but made up for it by dominating the Stuart/Vlasic pairing along with the kid line.
Hordichuk had 4 shots against with only 2:45 of icetime. Boy, I’m betting the Oilers were glad they suited him up instead of Corey Potter or Theo Peckham on the 4th line. Lander played some low-event hockey out there, but was obviously not even close to NHL ready. I only need to think of Lander playing 56 games as a rookie to understand why Tom Renney was fired. There is no excuse for that misallocation of resources.
Here’s the chart for the Sharks:
Again, this is complete domination by Boyle/Irwin and the Sharks’ second line, but surprisingly tepid nights out of the Thornton line and the Stuart/Vlasic pairing.
The Oilers goals were fairly decent, with Sam Gagner supposedly tipping a nicely-played Fistric slapshot from the point, and Hall and RNH completing a back-and-forth passing sequence to perfection. I’ve been ragging on the kids for trying too many low percentage plays, but this particular play was smart work to create a better scoring chance. If you think of Gretzky and co, yes they did have a lot of pretty plays, but if you watch them now you realize 99 didn’t compile points by putting passes through 8 pairs of skates, he did it by creating the space and angles for scoring chances so accessible that anyone could cash them in. I’d like these kids to learn the same lesson, that you’re not going to do much trying to deke out an entire team, but to use your speed, smarts, and intelligence to make it easier on yourself.
Krueger gets an automatic fail for dressing Hordichuk and calling up Lander. Petrell could have centered the 4th line, MPS could have played wing on the 3rd, and one of the two extra defenceman could have suited up at forward instead of Hordichuk.
On to the next one…