If the Oilers purport to be a contending team this year, they need to win games like this. They had 3 out of 4 points on the 3 game road trip so far, and had a chance to end up with 5 out of 6 against a weaker NHL team missing 3 of their top players (Landeskog, O’Reilly, and some other guy that’s supposedly well-known). Now it’s been awhile since the Oilers won any games during daylight, likely since the late summer sun of the ’06 Cup run. I’m not accusing them of being vampires en masse, but the suggestion should be brought forward. They lost the game 3-1 with an empty netter, and played fairly meekly while doing. Here’s the overall shot chart:
I must confess, the closeness of the shots in this game at even strength surprised me. The Oilers actually won the Corsi battle in the 2nd period, and weren’t too far off in the other ones either. Let’s have a look at the even strength Corsi chart for the Oilers:
On the surface, this chart isn’t all that interesting. The team lead for Corsi was Yakupov with +4, while the lowest rated players were -3 (Eberle, JSchultz, Petrell). It’s hard to get a bead on who played well and who played bad, unless we look at the player-vs-player matrix:
First off, the RNH line had a tough game in this one. They were held off the scoresheet, yes, but these numbers show that the Avs’ Duchene line beat up on Hall/RNH/Eberle in the ostensible power-vs-power matchup of the night. It’s a little hard to believe how well the RNH line can perform against Thornton/Marleau/Pavelski, and then lay such at egg against Duchene/Paranteau/McGinn less than 2 days later. The RNH line did play pretty well when matched against Paul Stastny’s line with Hejduk, but considering that Paul Stastny sucks now that’s not really all that impressive.
Erik Johnson and Matt Hunwick had a dominant game as a D pairing, faring well against the RNH line and basically every other matchup vs the Oilers (with the notable exception of Hemsky being +3 against Johnson).
Not surprisingly, whenever Gagner’s line got out against anyone other than the top 6 or top defence of the Avs they seemed to do pretty well (see their marks against Zanon, Kobasew, Macleod).
The bottom 6 forwards of both these teams are in varying degrees of shambles, so it’s only fitting that the matchups down the batting order were a mixed bag. Here’s the Avs chart:
This really puts the defensive matchups into perspective. Hunwick and Johnson had amazing games, along with the Duchene line. They drove the bus vs the Oilers, and it’s not surprising that they hit the scoresheet as well.
- I heard one rationalization for Lander playing vs the Sharks & Paajarvi being sent down was that Hordichuk couldn’t pass through waivers in time. Well, he certainly could have passed through since then to be able to call Paajarvi up. Hordichuk played a season high 3:23, didn’t fight anyone, threw a couple of ‘checks’, and sat on the bench. If the Oilers honestly believe it’s better to dress Hordichuk than to ‘risk’ him on waivers in order to play Paajarvi, then there are larger problems afoot. I thought MacT would even out some of this groupthink the Oilers are prone to falling prey to, but this continuing decision is delirious.
- Dubnyk played incredibly well, stopping 37 out of 39 shots, including all 17 on the penalty kill (which have a higher degree of difficulty). He’s playing so well that I can almost guarantee that the first game Khabi plays will be a loss, what with the Oilers getting used to relying on quality goaltending.
- The Oilers powerplay was a complete mess, only managing 2 shots out of 6 minutes of having a man advantage. The kids seemed incredibly tentative when on the PP, passing around while looking stationary. Their strength has come from their movement and unpredictability. The second they all start milling around waiting for something to happen, they lose any hint of offering a threat.
- Whitney again looked terrible, this time allowing what was basically a short handed goal by letting a pass go right through his feet on the way to a back door tip… and this was after he’d lost possession at the offensive point and proceeding to allow the Avs possession on the attack.