In a completely predictable turn of fate, the Oilers received their comeuppance and lost 4-1 to the Stars last night on some goals that proved the existence of evil in this world.
For the 13th game in a row (ie, all games this season for those scoring at home), the Oilers had less shot attempts than their opponents at even strength, 42 to 46. That’s not to say that they didn’t have some fine stretches of play in this game, because they did. The first period was at least in the top 3 periods of the year from a possession and chance standpoint, as the RNH line single-handedly steamrolled their opposition. The Oilers did have more shots on net (26 to 24), but Dallas made that difference up in attempts that missed the net.
Check out the performance of the RNH line, with Hall at +8, RNH at +8, and Eberle at +11. Eberle’s performance tied the team best for Corsi in a game this year, tying Hall’s performance in the first game against the Avalanche. Slightly disconcerting is that Hall ended the first period with 7 shots attempts for and zero against, but only finished the game +8, meaning he was essentially battled to a draw over the final 40 minutes.
I also like the look of the 3rd line’s performance, with Harski, Belanger, and Paajarvi ending up ranked 2nd, 6th, and 8th in Corsi per minute of even strength icetime. They had a quietly efficient game.
Goats on the night? Well I’m going to have to nominate the 2nd and 4th lines here. Gagner’s reassembled line with Yakupov was dreadful, ending up 13th through 15th in team Corsi per minute. They had some good sequences, including one where it seemed every member of the line got a shot attempt blocked by a different Star within 5 seconds of eachother, but on the whole gave up a lot at even strength. If the Gagner line was bad, the VandeVelde line was an abomination, ending up 16th through 18th in team Corsi per minute, and their rates were 2 to 3 times worse than Gagner’s line, bleeding well over a shot per minute at even strength. The callup VandeVelde was a team worst -1.39 shots per minute. I’m wondering if he gets another shot, or who will sit for Smyth to get back into the lineup.
If you look to the columns to the right of the RNH line, there is a lot of green. The first line absolutely killed the Stars best line of Morrow, Benn, and Jagr, and trounced the Stars pairing of Daley and Rome (who killed us last game).
The Gagner line did very poorly against the Derek Roy line, along with Eriksson and Ryder, and also did poorly in limited minutes against the Stars first line. They only came out ahead of the Stars 4th line with Eakin and Vincour — which suggests at this point, that line can only be fed the softest minutes to succeed. I really have no idea how a line with Gagner and Hemsky can turn out so poorly, as Gagner and Hemsky have played together power-vs-power in the past and done decently. That is not the case this year. Is it Yakupov? He certainly does seem invisible throughout most games, with the play dying on his stick quite a bit. Should he go to a bottom six, 2nd line PP role at this point? Who would replace him?
Petry and Fistric looked a lot better than Smid with Potter, with the former pairing obviously getting more icetime with the Hall-induced juggernaut. It looked like the Schultz pairing saw some time against the Stars best as well, but then they subsequently got obliterated against the Stars second line while playing with Gagner’s line.
All in all, it was a decent effort to be sure. If they can transplant that first period and extrapolate it over an entire game, they’d win most of them 5-1. The percentages are almost laughable at this point and I’m sure those goals will start to come. The effort needs to be there, along with the new realization that pucks in scoring positions should be shot at the net, not sent for another pass that may or may not be in a better scoring position. The kids will learn that goals are created organically and unexpectedly at times — not every goal needs 100% confidence in being such the second it leaves your stick.