You know, I was really ready for the Oilers to win this thing. We had dropped a quarter of a thousand dollars to attend this game in person, and milked every possible cent out of it. We got there 45 minutes early, tried kids-sized jerseys on the wife to mess with the merchandise staff, and spent $7 on poutine that would be outclassed at your local A&W. And hey, the home squad were up 2-0 at one point in this game. However, it seems the Oilers demons against the Canucks are not yet fully exorcised, as they ended up losing 3-2 in OOOOOOOoooooovvvvvvertime. Overall shots:
Any way you slice it, that’s a ton of rubber thrown Dubnyk’s way today. The Oilers started this season with games in which they allowed Corsi events against in the 30s and 40s. 62 volleys against is a terrible statistic. The worst offenders were a listless 2nd period, where the Oilers began sitting on their lead (badly), and an overtime period in which they were out Corsi’d 10-3.
Here’s the Oilers chart:
The only plus Oilers on the night were Anton Lander and Magnus Paajarvi. No really, I’m not high on peyote, they were +3 and +2 respectively. Not really much to be proud of here, especially when your first, second, and third lines are all outshot. The RNH line started the night decently enough, taking over a couple of shifts against the Sedins, but eventually the wheels fell off and the undercarriage was scraping against the ground for the balance of the night. Here’s the player-vs-player breakdown:
The Sedins and Burrows ended the night above or equal to zero vs every single Oiler on the roster. Hall, for example, went -7, -8, and -8 vs Burrows, D. Sedin, and H. Sedin. I really am amazed at how much this line got killed by the Sedins after that fairly positive first period. But when you reflect back on the 2nd and much of the third period, that line was seemingly dormant, cocooning themselves in their hockey sweaters expecting to become moths of some variety. Yes, the RNH line essentially outplayed the rest of the roster, but when you’re playing against the Canucks without Kesler, the rest of their lineup is as dangerous as the guy redeeming tickets at Bullwinkles.
And it’s not just the RNH line that got pushed around by the Sedins — the Gagner line also managed to get felt up almost to the point of negative double digits against them, while playing the rest of the roster to a draw. Smytty’s goal was wonderful, but he ended the night in the green against only two Canucks (Raymond & Schroeder).
Mark Fistric went down midway through the game, which caused the first real defensive carousel this year — basically each of the 5 defencemen left played some portion of the night with each other. This caused the first real divergence in the numbers of the Schultz’s, with Justin ending up an ugly -10, while Nick battled them to an even score. In fact, Nick was the only defender to not get his heart ripped out at even strength against the Sedin line — everyone else averaged worse than -5.
Here is the chart for the Canucks:
Ugh, it’s sickening. Henrik Sedin’s +24 is the most registered against the Oilers this year — he was on the ice for 34 shots for, and 10 against. The rest of the roster could have been playing dungeons and dragons, considering how effective that line was.
So what went wrong?
- I hated Krueger’s coaching decision to put Eberle and Yakupov on the ice in the last minute of OT to protect the tie. The Oilers were roundly getting pillaged in that OT period, and the Canucks were throwing both Sedins onto the ice to try to ice the win. Considering how they had played against the Oilers on the night, you would think a coach would try to send his best defensive pairing to try to close this out — Smytty and Petrell, RNH and Paajarvi, whatever. Instead he sends his two most pure offensively thinking forwards out onto the ice. Sure enough, Eberle cherry picks like he’s in Atom hockey, and the Canucks have a free 4-3 with a rookie in Yakupov trying to outbattle the Sedins, reigning robot scoring champions of the universe. It was bad in theory, and ended up even worse in execution.
- I realize I wrote a post earlier today making a case for Dubnyk to be a starting goalie in the NHL, but he really could have won this game for the Oilers. Yes, I get that he made a lot of good saves and kept the Oilers in it vs a lopsided shot chart. But the scoring chances were a lot closer than the shots (I think Dennis King had them tied) — Luongo made those hard saves as well. The difference was that Dubnyk let in two goals than an NHL goaltender simply needs to stop 100% of the time — the first a harmless shot to his shortside that bounced in off his hip, and the second an arrant shot from the point that he had ample time to pick up even if it was made more difficult via traffic or redirection. If he makes one of those saves, the Oilers likely win that game in regulation. Instead they give 2 points to a rival and end up with only 1 point. Think of it this way — if Curtis Joseph circa 1997 had that lead going into the final minutes of a game, do you think he’d give up that bad of a goal to tie it? Would Dwayne Rolosen? Would Tommy Salo? Dubnyk’s played great all year, but he’s still letting in the odd goal that an NHL goaltender should never, ever be letting through. He didn’t lose this game for the Oilers, but he sure didn’t win it for them either.
- Hall’s overtime penalty shot needs to be better. These guys must do hundreds upon hundreds of breakaways in practice each week. Just think about how many opportunities they have to learn which areas of the net to shoot at, how to fool a goaltender, what angle leads to more success, etc etc. With the game on his stick, he elected to shoot, and put it right into Luongo’s right leg pad. Luongo didn’t even need to move, Hall shot it right at him. There is no opposing pressure, you have all the time and space in the world, you can get as close as you want, select the exact kind of shot you want. From three feet out, if you hit your spot on a shot, it will go in (unless the goalie reads the play perfectly). Shoot five hole, shoot for a corner. Jesus, shoot wherever the goalie is NOT from 3 feet out and nine times out of ten it’ll go in. I realize the crowd was on its feet, and its a lot of pressure. But you’re a third year pro, making millions of dollars to perfect a game every single day, and have practiced that situation relentlessly since you were 5 years old. It’s a breakaway. I cannot overemphasize how weak and underwhelming Hall’s attempt was. I don’t even care if the concept of clutch is real or not. The attempt needs to be better.
- The top line has some nice things going at times, but they really are playing to be cute out there. I actually kind of hate they were able to score that nice give and go goal versus the Sharks the other day — it almost emboldens their thinking that they are anointed super-players who only score the most beautiful goals in the world. It’s almost like a potential scoring chance isn’t worth taking sometimes because it won’t be beautiful enough. It’s getting tiring watching Hall skate into a well positioned D-pairing with the same damned outside-inside toe drag attempt that has worked exactly zero times this year. They are very good hockey players, but I think Krueger needs to break up the slumber party and slot them onto different lines. The objective is to score goals.