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Game Notes: Oilers/Hawks Feb 25

So how do you define a blowout?  The Oilers somehow managed to leave Chicago with a point after having been handed one by the Black Hawks.  I mean, it was pretty obvious this game wasn’t going well, yet every period I would spit out my Fresca when looking at the numbers.

Hawks1

The Hawks almost tripled the Oilers in shot attempts. Think about that.  Not just a player got tripled, or a line. The entire team almost got tripled.  The Hawks managed to get 58 shots off at even strength at the Oilers’ net, while the Oilers managed just 21 of their own at the Hawks net.  I love that I read Cam Charron’s piece from earlier today about how bad teams outblock other teams, because this one just goes to prove that.  Bad teams get outshot, and therefore get the chance to block a lot of shots.

The Oilers got doubled in shot attempts in the first period, tripled in the 2nd and third periods, and sextupled in overtime.  Considering the length of the game, they got off a shot attempt about once every two minutes of even strength play. Yeah, that’s bad.  If you can believe it, they’ve had less shot attempts in a game this year, with 19 against the Blue Jackets in the Dubnyk stolen game.  But they haven’t had a game worse than the net -37, with the closest being a -31 just a few games ago vs the Kings.

Hawks2

We have a couple of new record holders for the worst Corsi total of the year!  At -18, Jeff Petry and Jordan Eberle now beat the -16 Sam Gagner posted against the Kings.  Ladi Smid and RNH should be thankful, because they would have beaten it as well at -17.  The first line had their faces removed at even strength with Smytty on the left side.  I’m not sure you can put all the blame at Smytty’s feet — the entire night it seemed like that line was fumbling passes, stickhandling to nowhere, and messing up opportunities to clear their own zone.  Without the turbocharged diesel of Taylor Hall, the first line got caught outside with their clothes off.

But who put up the best Corsi rate? Can you believe it — it was the Gagner line, with MPS, Hemsky, and Gagner ending the night 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in Corsi per minute.  Paajarvi was, in fact, the only player on the entire team to end the night in positives vs the Hawks.  His play has been very solid for quite some time now, and he should be allowed to stay in the NHL to hone his craft.  He looked perfectly fine on the 2nd line — in fact, he might be the best fit I’ve seen so far.  He’s able to think quickly and complete short, direct passes to Hemsky while not getting in his way and providing some support to keep the zone.  His positioning is excellent, and gives that line a bit more breathing room to finish their work offensively by how aware he is getting back.

Even though Eberle and Petry had the worst level of Corsi, the worst rate belonged to the bottom line of VandeVelde, Yakupov, and Petrell, ending up last, 2nd last, and 3rd last in Corsi/min.  They got off one shot attempt at the Hawks goal THE ENTIRE GAME.  One.  The 3rd line with Belanger was only slightly better than the rate of the first line, which is to say it was not very good.

And for the 2nd game in a row, Mark Fistric had one of the best Corsi rates of any defenceman.  His pairing with Corey Potter didn’t see the hardest competition, but they were able to end the game at -9, which is simply Bobby Orr-ish on this Oilers’ backend.

Hawks3

If I thought the Kings chart looked bad, wait till you get a load of this. This is that scene from The Shining where the blood rushes out of the elevator.

  • Petry, Smid, Eberle, RNH, and Smyth all ended the night without being in the green against any Hawk.  Petry and Smid pulled the rare trick of not fighting any Hawk to even.  Smid’s best score against any Hawk was -2. Really, quite epic.
  • Who on the Hawks can you even concentrate on as having a good game?  They all had a good game — the Corsi victory was so spread out between each Hawk line.
  • Surprisingly, the RNH line battled the Toews line to a -3.  The Sharp line was only +1 against the RNH line.  So who slaughtered them so badly? It was the Hawk’s line involving Bickell, Stalberg, and Frolik. Doesn’t this just completely betray your eyes?  Duncan Keith was only +1 against RNH — but Oduya and Hjalmarsson were +16 and +14 against him.  Is this normal?  Is this pairing usually so dominant against good players?  What the hell is going on here?
  • The Bickell line might have been killing the RNH line, but the Gagner line battled them to even. The Gagner line actually ended up ahead of the Keith/Seakbrook pairing.  In fact, that line played evenly against most everyone.
  • Here’s an oddity — in a game where they only both ended up against two players, the two players the Schultz/Schultz pairing ended ahead of were Sharp and Pat Kane. Bizarre.

Hawks4

The intra team chart has a fair amount of white on it, which implies to me that Krueger was sticking firm with his lines and not trying new combinations out mid-game.  He was going to be damned to switch up a first line that was getting its ass handed to it by Brian Bickell!  He’ll be damned to move Yakupov off a line with borderline AHL players! He’ll be damned to break up Smid/Petry, which obviously wasn’t working and was on the ice for one of the uglier defensively-played goals I’ve ever seen for the OT winner.

The only sustained green on this chart is the Schultz paring with BOTH the Gagner and Belanger lines.  No, I mean it, all three members of both lines are in the green with N/JSchultz.  But they sure were getting demolished while playing with the first and fourth lines.

I think we can agree that Smytty has a negative influence on the first line.  I’ve made comments before about how he doesn’t seem to be able to play against the opposition’s best anymore, and this game kind of underlines the point.  Why not try Yakupov on that first line?  It was obvious that those two lines were messed up from the first 10 minutes of this game.  I’ll ask again, how can there be no in-game adjustments to try to address some of the obvious shortcomings?

And I talked about it on Twitter, but I strongly disagreed with Krueger’s choice to play Khabibulin.  Other than the 3 save sequence immediately preceding the winning goal, I don’t remember seeing any saves he made that Dubnyk might not have.  And I can say with some certainty that Dubnyk would be very likely to stop the Hawks’ second goal — which was a broken play in front of the net that Khabi was in poor position to stop by not taking the bottom of the net away.  This is an area where Dubnyk excels — if he had started this game, the Oilers would probably have left this game with two points in regulation, however they were being out possession’ed.

The Khabi start genuinely troubles me. I take note of things that Krueger does that breaks the conventional wisdom of the hockey world.  Sit Ryan Whitney?  Good, he’s watching the games and understands that they have a better chance to win without him in the lineup.  But starting Khabi is just such an obvious coaching mistake that I wonder whether the good things are just a series of flukes.

3 Comments

  1. mchlevns
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:41 pm | #

    Yah, so I’m in Vancouver and didn’t get to see the game/score. But even I can tell by the blood red charts that something went horribly horribly wrong tonight. Yikes. Are we sure the team was actually dressed?

    • Michael Parkatti
      Posted February 26, 2013 at 8:25 am | #

      Haha — yes, it wasn’t the best effort out there, but we were basically playing a team of robots. One point isn’t the worst outcome — I just think they could have stolen two out of it!

  2. chesterfieldking
    Posted February 26, 2013 at 9:52 am | #

    As a hawk fan, I can tell you that Quenneville has been using Oduya and Hjalmarsson as his shutdown pair this season– they’ve been getting the toughest assignments and both have been superb out of the gates.

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